Numbers 24:23

Balaam’s Seventh Message

23 Then he spoke his message: “Alas! Who can live when God does this?[a]

Numbers 24:23 in Other Translations

23 And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!
23 And he took up his discourse and said, "Alas, who shall live when God does this?
23 Balaam concluded his messages by saying: “Alas, who can survive unless God has willed it?
23 Balaam spoke his final oracle-message: Doom! Who stands a chance when God starts in?
23 Once more he proclaimed his poem: Ah, who can live when God does this?

Numbers 24:23 Meaning and Commentary

Numbers 24:23

And he took up his parable, and said
Or delivered another prophecy, having made some little pause:

alas, who shall live when God doeth this?
referring not to what goes before, but to what follows; though Jarchi and Aben Ezra think it refers to the Assyria conquering and carrying captive, not only the Kenites, but all the nations of the world, so that there was no living comfortably in it on his account; but this is said after Balaam had taken up his parable again, and so respects what follows, as the destruction of the Persian empire by Alexander, in which Ashur or the Assyrians were included; and the destruction of the Jews by the Romans more especially; which was such as had not been the like from the beginning of the world, ( Matthew 24:21 Matthew 24:22 ) , and perhaps may have a further respect to the affliction of the witnesses and church of Christ by antichrist; see ( Daniel 12:1 ) .

Numbers 24:23 In-Context

21 Then he saw the Kenites and spoke his message: “Your dwelling place is secure, your nest is set in a rock;
22 yet you Kenites will be destroyed when Ashur takes you captive.”
23 Then he spoke his message: “Alas! Who can live when God does this?
24 Ships will come from the shores of Cyprus; they will subdue Ashur and Eber, but they too will come to ruin.”
25 Then Balaam got up and returned home, and Balak went his own way.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Masoretic Text; with a different word division of the Hebrew "The people from the islands will gather from the north" .
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