And he said unto them, lodge here this night
Which shows that he was at once inclined to do their business for them, and would readily engage in it if he could be permitted; and it looks as if it was in the night season that he got knowledge of things, either in dreams, or by familiar spirits, or by consulting the stars, or other methods used by him at such seasons; or it may be, this was only said to get time before he gave them a peremptory answer, that he might, if he could, get leave to do what they desired, to which he showed a good inclination:
and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak unto me;
by which it appears he had some knowledge of the true God, and pretended great familiarity with him, thereby to make himself the more respectable; and indeed he was surprisingly favoured with some degree of intimacy with him, which, for the sake of Israel, he was now admitted to; whether at any other time, or on any other occasion, is not certain; however, he promised the princes he would let them know the next morning what was said to him, and so accordingly what he should or could do:
and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam;
that is, that night, and so very probably the princes of Midian likewise; though some of the Jewish writers think F5 they departed as soon as they heard Balaam say he would consult the Lord about this matter; from whence they concluded there was no room to hope for success, since he would never consent to destroy a nation so dear unto him, and for whose sake he had wrought so many miracles; but if this was the case, how came the princes of Moab to stay, with whom the same objection would have place? but the reason why they only are named may be what Aben Ezra gives an hint of, that these were the principal persons in the embassy, in whom the rest were included, as Balak their king was the principal person that sent them.
F5 Jarchi, Ramban, & Isaac Arama, apud Muis in loc.