Numbers 24:1-13

1 Since Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go to seek omens as on previous occasions, but turned[a] toward the wilderness.
2 When Balaam looked up and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God[b] descended on him,
3 and he proclaimed his poem: The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eyes are opened,[c]
4 the oracle of one who hears the sayings of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty,[d] who falls [into a trance] with [his] eyes uncovered:
5 How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwellings, Israel.
6 they stretch out like river valleys,[e] like gardens beside a stream, like aloes the Lord has planted, like cedars beside the water.
7 Water will flow from his buckets, and his seed will be by abundant water. His king will be greater than Agag,[f] [g] and his kingdom will be exalted.
8 God brought him out of Egypt; He is like[h] the horns of a wild ox for them.[i] He will feed on enemy nations and gnaw their bones; he will strike [them] with his arrows.
9 He crouches, he lies down like a lion or a lioness-who dares to rouse him?[j] Those who bless you will be blessed, and those who curse you will be cursed.[k]
10 Then Balak became furious with Balaam, struck his hands together, and said to him, "I summoned you to put a curse on my enemies, but instead, you have blessed [them these three times].
11 Now go to your home! I said I would reward you richly,[l] but look, the Lord has denied you a reward."
12 Balaam answered Balak, "Didn't I previously tell the messengers you sent me:
13 If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go against the Lord's command, to do [anything] good or bad of my own will? I will say whatever the Lord says.[m]

Numbers 24:1-13 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO NUMBERS 24

In this chapter we are told, that Balaam leaving his enchantments, the Spirit of God came on him, and he spake of the happiness of Israel, and prophesied of their future greatness and glory, Nu 24:1-9 which so exasperated Balak, that he ordered him at once to depart from him, Nu 24:10,11. Balaam justified himself in what he said and did, and suggested that before they parted, he had something to say in a prophetic manner, concerning what Israel should do to Moab in "future" times, Nu 24:12-14 and then prophesies concerning the Messiah, and the destruction of Moab, and of some neighbouring nations, and even of some at a greater distance, as the Assyrians and Romans, Nu 24:15-25.

Numbers 24:1-13 In-Context

1 Since Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel, he did not go to seek omens as on previous occasions, but turned toward the wilderness.
2 When Balaam looked up and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God descended on him,
3 and he proclaimed his poem: The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eyes are opened,
4 the oracle of one who hears the sayings of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls [into a trance] with [his] eyes uncovered:
5 How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwellings, Israel.
6 they stretch out like river valleys, like gardens beside a stream, like aloes the Lord has planted, like cedars beside the water.
7 Water will flow from his buckets, and his seed will be by abundant water. His king will be greater than Agag, and his kingdom will be exalted.
8 God brought him out of Egypt; He is like the horns of a wild ox for them. He will feed on enemy nations and gnaw their bones; he will strike [them] with his arrows.
9 He crouches, he lies down like a lion or a lioness-who dares to rouse him? Those who bless you will be blessed, and those who curse you will be cursed.
10 Then Balak became furious with Balaam, struck his hands together, and said to him, "I summoned you to put a curse on my enemies, but instead, you have blessed [them these three times].
11 Now go to your home! I said I would reward you richly, but look, the Lord has denied you a reward."
12 Balaam answered Balak, "Didn't I previously tell the messengers you sent me:
13 If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go against the Lord's command, to do [anything] good or bad of my own will? I will say whatever the Lord says.
14 Now I am going back to my people, but first, let me warn you what these people will do to your people in the future."
15 Then he proclaimed his poem: The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eyes are opened;
16 the oracle of one who hears the sayings of God and has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls [into a trance] with [his] eyes uncovered:
17 I see him, but not now; I perceive him, but not near. A star will come from Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel. He will smash the forehead of Moab and strike down all the Shethites.

Footnotes 13