Numbers 22

1 And ye children of Israel remoued and pitched in the feldes of Moab on the other syde of Iordane by Iericho.
2 And Balac the sonne of Ziphor sawe all that Israel had done to the Amorites
3 and the Moabites were sore afrayed of the people because they were many and abhorred the childern of Israel:
4 And Moab sayed vnto the elders of Madian now this companye hath lickte vpp all that are rounde aboute vs as an oxe lycketh vp the grasse of the felde. And Balac the sonne of Ziphor was kinge of the Moabites at that tyme.
5 And he sent messangers vnto Balam the sonne of Beor the interpreter whiche dwelt vppon the ryuer of the lande of the childern of his folke to call him sayenge: beholde there is a people come out of Egipte which couereth the face of the erthe and lye euen harde by me.
6 Come nowe a felashippe and curse me this people. For they are to myghtie for me so perauenture I myghte be able to smyte them and to dryue them oute of the londe. For I wote that whome thou blessest shalbe blessed and whome thou cursest shalbe cursed.
7 And the elders of Moab went with the elders of Madian and the rewarde of the sothe sayenge in their handes. And they came vnto Balam and tolde him the wordes of Balac.
8 And he sayed vnto them: tary here all nyghte and I will bringe you worde euen as the Lorde shall saye vnto me. And the lordes of Moab abode with Balam.
9 And god came vnto Balam and sayed: what men are these which are with the?
10 And Balam sayed vnto god: Balac the sonne of Ziphor kynge of Moab hath sent vnto me sayenge:
11 beholde there is a people come out of Egipte and couereth the face of the erthe: come now therfore and curse me them that so peraduenture I maye be able to ouercome them in batell and to dryue the out.
12 And god sayed vnto Balam: thou shalt not goo with them nether curse the people for they are blessed.
13 And Balam rose vp in the mornynge and sayed vnto the lordes of Balac: gett you vnto youre lande for the Lorde will not suffre me to goo with you.
14 And the lordes of Moab rose vpp and went vnto Balac and sayed Balam wolde not come with vs.
15 And Balac sent agayne a greatter companye of lordes ad more honorable than they.
16 And they came to Balam and tolde him: Thus sayeth Balac the sonne of Ziphor: oh let nothynge lett the to come vnto me
17 for I will greatly promote the vnto great honoure ad will doo whatsoeuer thou sayest vnto me come therfore I praye the curse me this people.
18 And Balam answered and sayed vnto the servauntes of Balac: Yf Balac wolde geue me his housfull of syluer and golde I can goo no further than the worde of the Lorde my god to do lesse or moare.
19 Neuerthelesse tarye ye here all nyghte: that I maye wete what the Lorde will saye vnto me once moare.
20 And God came to Balam by nyghte and sayed vnto him: Yf the men come to fett the ryse vppe and goo with them: but what I saye vnto the that onlye thou shalt doo.
21 And Balam rose vppe early and sadelde his asse and went with the lordes of Moab
22 But God was angrye because he went. And the angell of the Lorde stode in the waye agenste hym. And he ryd vppon hys asse and two seruauntes with him.
23 And when the asse sawe the angell of the Lorde stonde in the waye and his swerde drawen in his hande she turned a syde oute of the waye and went out in to the felde. And Balam smote the asse to turne her in to the waye.
24 And the angell of the Lorde went and stode in a path betwene the vyneyardes where was a wall on the one syde and another on the other.
25 When the asse sawe the angell of the Lorde she wrenshed vnto the walle and thrust Balams fote vnto the wall and he smote her agayne.
26 And the angell of ye Lorde went forder and stode in a narowe place where was no waye to turne ether to the right hande or to the lyfte.
27 And when the asse sawe the angell of the Lorde she fell downe vnder Balam: and Balam was wroth and smote the asse with a staffe.
28 And the Lorde opened the mouthe of the asse and she sayed vnto Balam: what haue I done vnto the that thou smytest me this .iij tymes?
29 And Balam sayde vnto the Asse: because thou hast mocked me? I wolde that I had a swerde in myne hande that I myghte now kyll the.
30 And the asse sayed vnto Balam: am not I thyne asse whiche thou hast rydden vppon sence thou wast borne vnto this daye? Was I euer wont to do so vnto the? And he sayed nay.
31 And the lorde opened the eyes of Balam that he sawe the angell of the Lorde stondinge in the waye with his swerde drawen in his honde. And he bowed him selfe and fell flatt on his face.
32 And ye angell of ye Lord sayed vnto him: Wherfore smytest thou thyne asse this .iij. tymes? beholde I came oute to resyst the for the waye is contrary vnto me:
33 and the asse sawe me and avoyded me thre tymes: or else (had she not turned fro me) I had suerly slayne the and saued her alyue.
34 And Balam sayed vnto the angell of ye Lorde: I haue synned: for I wist not that thou stodest in the waye agenst me. Now therfore yf it displease thyne eyes I will turne agayne.
35 And the angell sayde vnto Balam goo with the men: but in any wise what I saye vnto the that saye. And Balam went with the lordes of Balac.
36 And when Balac herde that Bala was come he went out agenst him vnto a cytie off Moab that stode in the border of Arno whiche was the vttmost parte of his contre.
37 And Balac sayed vnto Balam: dyd I not sende for the to call the? wherfore camest thou not vnto me? thinkest thou that I am not able to promote the vnto honoure?
38 And Balam sayed vnto Balac: Loo I am come vnto the. But I can saye nothynge at all saue what God putteth in my mouthe that must I speake.
39 And Balam went with Balac and they came vnto the cytie of Huzoth.
40 And Balac offered oxen and shepe and sent for Balam and for the lordes that were with hym.
41 And on the mornynge Balac toke Balam and brought him vpp in to the hye place of Baall ad thece he sawe vnto the vttmost parte of the people.

Numbers 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.

Numbers 22 Commentaries

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