Then the Israelites traveled to the plains of Moab and camped along the Jordan across from Jericho.
Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites,
and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.
The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, "This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field." So Balak son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time,
sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, who was at Pethor, near the River, in his native land. Balak said: "A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me.
Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed."
The elders of Moab and Midian left, taking with them the fee for divination. When they came to Balaam, they told him what Balak had said.
"Spend the night here," Balaam said to them, "and I will bring you back the answer the LORD gives me." So the Moabite princes stayed with him.
God came to Balaam and asked, "Who are these men with you?"
Balaam said to God, "Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me this message:
'A people that has come out of Egypt covers the face of the land. Now come and put a curse on them for me. Perhaps then I will be able to fight them and drive them away.' "
But God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed."
The next morning Balaam got up and said to Balak's princes, "Go back to your own country, for the LORD has refused to let me go with you."
So the Moabite princes returned to Balak and said, "Balaam refused to come with us."
Then Balak sent other princes, more numerous and more distinguished than the first.
They came to Balaam and said: "This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me,
because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me."
But Balaam answered them, "Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the LORD my God.
Now stay here tonight as the others did, and I will find out what else the LORD will tell me."
That night God came to Balaam and said, "Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you."
Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.
But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road.
Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides.
When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again.
Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left.
When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff.
Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?"
Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."
The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" "No," he said.
Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.
The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me.
The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her."
Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back."
The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you." So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite town on the Arnon border, at the edge of his territory.
Balak said to Balaam, "Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn't you come to me? Am I really not able to reward you?"
"Well, I have come to you now," Balaam replied. "But can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth."
Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth.
Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and gave some to Balaam and the princes who were with him.
The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he saw part of the people.
Balaam said, "Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me."
Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
Then Balaam said to Balak, "Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet with me. Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you." Then he went off to a barren height.
God met with him, and Balaam said, "I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.
The LORD put a message in Balaam's mouth and said, "Go back to Balak and give him this message."
So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the princes of Moab.
Then Balaam uttered his oracle: "Balak brought me from Aram, the king of Moab from the eastern mountains. 'Come,' he said, 'curse Jacob for me; come, denounce Israel.'
How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the LORD has not denounced?
From the rocky peaks I see them, from the heights I view them. I see a people who live apart and do not consider themselves one of the nations.
Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my end be like theirs!"
Balak said to Balaam, "What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but you have done nothing but bless them!"
He answered, "Must I not speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?"
Then Balak said to him, "Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will see only a part but not all of them. And from there, curse them for me."
So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah, and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
Balaam said to Balak, "Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there."
The LORD met with Balaam and put a message in his mouth and said, "Go back to Balak and give him this message."
So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the princes of Moab. Balak asked him, "What did the LORD say?"
Then he uttered his oracle: "Arise, Balak, and listen; hear me, son of Zippor.
God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill
I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.
"No misfortune is seen in Jacob, no misery observed in Israel. The LORD their God is with them; the shout of the King is among them
God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox.
There is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, 'See what God has done!'
The people rise like a lioness; they rouse themselves like a lion that does not rest till he devours his prey and drinks the blood of his victims."
Then Balak said to Balaam, "Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!"
Balaam answered, "Did I not tell you I must do whatever the LORD says?"
Then Balak said to Balaam, "Come, let me take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for me from there."
And Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, overlooking the wasteland.
Balaam said, "Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me."
Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not resort to sorcery as at other times, but turned his face toward the desert.
When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came upon him
and he uttered his oracle: "The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly,
the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:
"How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!
"Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters.
Water will flow from their buckets; their seed will have abundant water. "Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted.
"God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them.
Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness--who dares to rouse them? "May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!"
Then Balak's anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, "I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them these three times.
Now leave at once and go home! I said I would reward you handsomely, but the LORD has kept you from being rewarded."
Balaam answered Balak, "Did I not tell the messengers you sent me,
'Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the LORD --and I must say only what the LORD says'?
Now I am going back to my people, but come, let me warn you of what this people will do to your people in days to come."
Then he uttered his oracle: "The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly,
the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth.
Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong.
A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city."
Then Balaam saw Amalek and uttered his oracle: "Amalek was first among the nations, but he will come to ruin at last."
Then he saw the Kenites and uttered his oracle: "Your dwelling place is secure, your nest is set in a rock;
yet you Kenites will be destroyed when Asshur takes you captive."
Then he uttered his oracle: "Ah, who can live when God does this?
Ships will come from the shores of Kittim; they will subdue Asshur and Eber, but they too will come to ruin."
Then Balaam got up and returned home and Balak went his own way.