Bamidbar 22

1 2 And the Bnei Yisroel set forward, and encamped in the plains of Moav on the bank of the Yarden by Yericho.
2 And Balak ben Tzippor saw all that Yisroel had done to the Emori.
3 And Moav was exceedingly afraid of the people, because they were many; and Moav was filled with dread because of the Bnei Yisroel.
4 And Moav said unto the Ziknei Midyan, Now shall this kahal lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the sadeh. And Balak ben Tzippor was Melech of Moav at that time.
5 He sent malachim (messengers) therefore unto Balaam ben Beor to Petor, which is by the River [Euphrates] in his native land, to summon him, saying, Hinei, there is a people come out from Mitzrayim; hinei, they cover the face of ha’aretz, and they are settling next to me;
6 Come now, therefore, please, curse for me this people; for they are too mighty for me; perhaps I shall prevail, that we may strike them, and that I may drive them out of ha’aretz; for I know that he whom thou blessest is m’vorach (blessed), and he whom thou cursest is cursed.
7 And the Ziknei Moav and the Ziknei Midyan departed with the divination remuneration in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spoke unto him the words of Balak.
8 And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as Hashem shall speak unto me; and the sarim of Moav abode with Balaam.
9 And Elohim came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
10 And Balaam said unto HaElohim, Balak ben Tzippor, Melech Moav, hath sent unto me, saying,
11 Hinei, there is a people come out of Mitzrayim, which covereth the face of ha’aretz; come now, curse for me them; perhaps I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.
12 And Elohim said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people; for baruch hu (it [the people] is blessed).
13 And Balaam rose up in the boker, and said unto the sarim of Balak, Go back to your land; for Hashem refuseth to give me permission to go with you.
14 And the sarim of Moav rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us.
15 And Balak sent yet again sarim, more, and more distinguished than they.
16 And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak ben Tzippor, Let nothing, please, hinder thee from coming unto me;
17 For I will exceedingly reward thee, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me; come, therefore, please, curse for me this people.
18 And Balaam answered and said unto the avadei Balak, If Balak would give me his palace full of kesef and zahav, I cannot go beyond the Devar Hashem Elohai, to do ketanah or gedolah.
19 Now, therefore, please, tarry ye also here this night, that I may have da’as of what more Hashem will say unto me.
20 And it was lailah when Elohim came unto Balaam, and said unto him, Since the men come to summon thee, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.
21 And Balaam rose up in the boker, and saddled his donkey, and went with the sarim (princes) of Moav.
22 But the Af Elohim (G-d’s anger) was kindled as he was going; and the Malach Hashem stood in the derech (road) l’satan (for an adversary, opposer) against him. Now he was riding upon his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
23 And the donkey saw the Malach Hashem standing in the derech, and his cherev drawn in his hand; and the donkey turned off the derech, and went into the sadeh; and Balaam beat the donkey, to turn her back onto the derech.
24 But the Malach Hashem stood in the closed-in path among the kramim (vineyards), a wall being on this side, a wall on that side.
25 And when the donkey saw the Malach Hashem, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s regel against the wall; and he beat her again.
26 And the Malach Hashem went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no derech to turn either to the right or to the left.
27 And when the donkey saw the Malach Hashem, she lay down under Balaam; and af Balaam was kindled, and he beat the donkey with his staff.
28 And Hashem opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast beaten me these shalosh regalim (three times)?
29 And Balaam answered the donkey, Because thou hast mocked me; If only there were a cherev in mine hand, would I have killed thee.
30 And the donkey said unto Balaam, Am not I thine donkey, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? Was I ever accustomed to do so unto thee? And he said, Loh.
31 Then Hashem opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the Malach Hashem standing in the derech, and his cherev drawn in his hand; and he bowed down his head, and fell facedown.
32 And the Malach Hashem said unto him, Why hast thou beaten thine donkey these shalosh regalim? Hinei, I came l’satan (as adversary, opposer) to thee, because thy derech is perverse before me;
33 And the donkey saw me, and turned from me these shalosh regalim; had she not turned from me, surely now also I would have slain thee, and saved her alive.
34 And Balaam said unto the Malach Hashem, Chatati (I have sinned); for I was without da’as that thou stoodest in the derech against me; now, therefore, if it displease thee, I will return home.
35 And the Malach Hashem said unto Balaam, Go with the anashim; but only the devar (message) that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the sarim (princes) of Balak.
36 And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto the city of Moav at the Arnon border, which is in the farthest point of the boundary.
37 And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee to summon thee? Why camest thou not unto me? Am I not able indeed to honor thee?
38 And Balaam said unto Balak, Hinei, I am come unto thee; have I now any power at all to say anything? The devar (word, message) which Elohim putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.
39 And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kiryat Chutzot.
40 And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the sarim that were with him.
41 And it came to pass on the next day, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up on the high places of Baal, that thence he might see a portion of HaAm.

Bamidbar 22 Commentary

Chapter 22

Balak's fear of Israel, He sends for Balaam. (1-14) Balaam goes to Balak. (15-21) The opposition to Balaam by the way. (22-35) Balaam and Balak meet. (36-41)

Verses 1-14 The king of Moab formed a plan to get the people of Israel cursed; that is, to set God against them, who had hitherto fought for them. He had a false notion, that if he could get some prophet to pray for evil upon them, and to pronounce a blessing upon himself and his forces, that then he should be able to deal with them. None had so great a reputation as Balaam; and Balak will employ him, though he send a great way for him. It is not known whether the Lord had ever spoken to Balaam, or by him, before this; though it is probable he had, and it is certain he did afterwards. Yet we have abundant proof that he lived and died a wicked man, an enemy to God and his people. And the curse shall not come upon us if there is not a cause, even though men utter it. To prevail with Balaam, they took the wages of unrighteousness, but God laid restraint upon Balaam, forbidding him to curse Israel. Balaam was no stranger to Israel's cause; so that he ought to have answered the messengers at once, that he would never curse a people whom God had blessed; but he takes a night's time to consider what he should do. When we parley with temptations, we are in great danger of being overcome. Balaam was not faithful in returning God's answer to the messengers. Those are a fair mark for Satan's temptation, who lessen Divine restraints; as if to go against God's law were only to go without his leave. The messengers also are not faithful in returning Balaam's answer to Balak. Thus many are abused by the flatteries of those about them, and are prevented from seeing their own faults and follies.

Verses 15-21 A second embassy was sent to Balaam. It were well for us, if we were as earnest and constant in prosecuting a good work, notwithstanding disappointments. Balak laid a bait, not only for Balaam's covetousness, but for his pride and ambition. How earnestly should we beg of God daily to mortify such desires in us! Thus sinners stick at no pains, spare no cost, and care not how low they stoop, to gratify their luxury, or their malice. Shall we then be unwilling to do what is right? God forbid! Balaam's convictions charged him to keep to the command of God; nor could any man have spoken better. But many call God theirs, who are not his, not truly because not only his. There is no judging men by their words; God knows the heart. Balaam's corruptions at the same time inclined him to go contrary to the command. He seemed to refuse the temptation; but he expressed no abhorrence of it. He had a strong desire to accept the offer, and hoped that God might give him leave to go. He had already been told what the will of God was. It is a certain evidence of the ruling of corruption in the heart, to beg leave to sin. God gave Balaam up to his own heart's lusts. As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.

Verses 22-35 We must not think, that because God does not always by his providence restrain men from sin, therefore he approves of it, or that it is not hateful to him. The holy angels oppose sin, and perhaps are employed in preventing it more than we are aware. This angel was an adversary to Balaam, because Balaam counted him his adversary; those are really our best friends, and we ought so to reckon them, who stop our progress in sinful ways. Balaam has notice of God's displeasure by the ass. It is common for those whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil, to push on violently, through the difficulties Providence lays in their way. The Lord opened the mouth of the ass. This was a great miracle wrought by the power of God. He who made man speak, could, when he pleased, make the ass to speak with man's voice. The ass complained of Balaam's cruelty. The righteous God does not allow the meanest or weakest to be abused; but they shall be able to speak in their own defence, or he will some way or other speak for them. Balaam at length has his eyes opened. God has many ways to bring down the hard and unhumbled heart. When our eyes are opened, we shall see the danger of sinful ways, and how much it was for our advantage to be crossed. Balaam seemed to relent; I have sinned; but it does not appear that he was sensible of this wickedness of his heart, or willing to own it. If he finds he cannot go forward, he will be content, since there is no remedy, to go back. Thus many leave their sins, only because their sins have left them. The angel declared that he should not only be unable to curse Israel, but should be forced to bless them: this would be more for the glory of God, and to his own confusion, than if he had turned back.

Verses 36-41 Balak has now nothing to complain of, but that Balaam did not come sooner. Balaam bids Balak not depend too much upon him. He seems to speak with vexation; but is really as desirous to please Balak, as ever he had pretended to be to please God. See what need we have to pray every day, Our Father which art in heaven, lead us not into temptation. Let us be jealous over our own hearts, seeing how far men may go in the knowledge of God, and yet come short of Divine grace.

Chapter Summary


The children of Israel being come into the plains of Moab, put the king of Moab into a panic, who expressed his fears to the elders of Midian, Nu 22:1-4 and sent for Balaam the soothsayer to curse the people of Israel, but he, upon consulting the Lord refused to come, Nu 22:5-14, on which the king of Moab sent to him a second time, making large promises of preferment to him, and who at this time got leave from the Lord to go with the messengers, Nu 22:15-21, but was met with in the way by an angel of the Lord, who would have slain him had it not been for his ass, of which a very wonderful revelation is given, Nu 22:22-35, and the chapter is closed with the interview between Balak king of Moab and Balaam, and an account of what passed between them, and what was done by them, Nu 22:36-41.

Bamidbar 22 Commentaries

The Orthodox Jewish Bible fourth edition, OJB. Copyright 2002,2003,2008,2010, 2011 by Artists for Israel International. All rights reserved.