He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor
In consequence of the consultation held by the king of Moab with the elders of Midian; and very probably through a motion of theirs, and by advice they gave, Balak dispatched messengers of both people to the person here described by his name and parentage; but who he was is not easy to say: the Jews sometimes make him to be a magician in Pharaoh's court, at the time when Moses was born F26, which is not probable; and it is still more improbable that he should be Laban the Syrian, as the Targum of Jonathan here, and the Targum on ( 1 Chronicles 1:44 ) though others say
to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his
the land of his people, of his birth or habitation, was Aram or Syria, ( Numbers 23:7 ) that is, Aram Naharaim, which lay between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates, or what is sometimes called Mesopotamia, as is clear from ( Deuteronomy 23:4 ) , and the river of that land, which was eminently so called, is the river Euphrates, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it here, and by that river was Pethor, where Balaam now lived; and is by some thought to be the same with the Pacoria of Ptolemy F3, which was by that river: the messengers were sent
to call him:
to invite him to Balak's court:
saying, behold, there is a people come out from Egypt;
Balak speaks of them, as if he knew not who they were, only that they were come from Egypt, and were seeking a new habitation to settle in, and so were in danger from them, lest they should invade his country, and settle there:
behold, they cover the face of the earth;
not the face of the whole earth, unless an hyperbolical expression is supposed, to set forth the greatness of their numbers; but a large part of the earth, all within sight almost, even the plains of Moab:
and they abide over against me;
were very near him, lay encamped before his country, and his metropolis, and so he thought himself in great danger, and threatened with an invasion, as the pitching of their tents so near made him surmise.
F26 Dibre Hayamim Shekmoaseh, fol. 3. 2.
F1 Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 7. 2.
F2 Quaest. "see Traditiones" in Gen. fol. 69. D.
F3 Geograph. l. 5. c. 18.