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23 Balaam said to the king, “Build seven altars here, and prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for sacrifice.”

Balak followed his instructions, and a young bull and a ram were sacrificed on each altar.

3-4 Then Balaam said to the king, “Stand here by your burnt offerings and I will see if the Lord will meet me; and I will tell you what he says to me.” So he went up to a barren height, and God met him there. Balaam told the Lord, “I have prepared seven altars and have sacrificed a young bull and a ram on each.” Then the Lord gave Balaam a message for King Balak.

When Balaam returned, the king was standing beside the burnt offerings with all the princes of Moab. 7-10 This was Balaam’s message:

“King Balak, king of Moab, has brought me
From the land of Aram,
From the eastern mountains.
‘Come,’ he told me, ‘curse Jacob for me!
Let your anger rise on Israel.’
But how can I curse
What God has not cursed?
How can I denounce
A people God has not denounced?
I see them from the cliff tops,
I watch them from the hills.
They live alone,
And prefer to remain distinct
From every other nation.
They are as numerous as dust!
They are beyond numbering.
If only I could die as happy as an Israelite!
Oh, that my end might be like theirs!”

11 “What have you done to me?” demanded King Balak. “I told you to curse my enemies, and now you have blessed them!”

12 But Balaam replied, “Can I say anything except what Jehovah tells me to?”

13 Then Balak told him, “Come with me to another place; there you will see only a portion of the nation of Israel. Curse at least that many!”

14 So King Balak took Balaam into the fields of Zophim at the top of Mount Pisgah, and built seven altars there; and he offered up a young bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Then Balaam said to the king, “Stand here by your burnt offering while I go to meet the Lord.” 16 And the Lord met Balaam and told him what to say. 17 So he returned to where the king and the princes of Moab were standing beside their burnt offerings.

“What has Jehovah said?” the king eagerly inquired.

18-24 And he replied,

“Rise up, Balak, and hear:
Listen to me, you son of Zippor.
God is not a man, that he should lie;
He doesn’t change his mind like humans do.
Has he ever promised,
Without doing what he said?
Look! I have received a command to bless them,
For God has blessed them,
And I cannot reverse it!
He has not seen sin in Jacob.
He will not trouble Israel!
Jehovah their God is with them.
He is their king!
God has brought them out of Egypt.
Israel has the strength of a wild ox.
No curse can be placed on Jacob,
And no magic shall be done against him.
For now it shall be said of Israel,
‘What wonders God has done for them!’
These people rise up as a lion;
They shall not lie down
Until they have eaten what they capture
And have drunk the blood of the slain!”

25 “If you aren’t going to curse them, at least don’t bless them!” the king exclaimed to Balaam.

26 But Balaam replied, “Didn’t I tell you that I must say whatever Jehovah tells me to?”

27 Then the king said to Balaam, “I will take you to yet another place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them from there.”

28 So King Balak took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor, overlooking the desert. 29 Balaam again told the king to build seven altars, and to prepare seven young bulls and seven rams for the sacrifice. 30 The king did as Balaam said, and offered a young bull and ram on every altar.

Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Balaam’s First Message

23 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams(A) for me.” Balak did as Balaam said, and the two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.(B)

Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I go aside. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet with me.(C) Whatever he reveals to me I will tell you.” Then he went off to a barren height.

God met with him,(D) and Balaam said, “I have prepared seven altars, and on each altar I have offered a bull and a ram.”

The Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth(E) and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”(F)

So he went back to him and found him standing beside his offering, with all the Moabite officials.(G) Then Balaam(H) spoke his message:(I)

“Balak brought me from Aram,(J)
    the king of Moab from the eastern mountains.(K)
‘Come,’ he said, ‘curse Jacob for me;
    come, denounce Israel.’(L)
How can I curse
    those whom God has not cursed?(M)
How can I denounce
    those whom the Lord has not denounced?(N)
From the rocky peaks I see them,
    from the heights I view them.(O)
I see a people who live apart
    and do not consider themselves one of the nations.(P)
10 Who can count the dust of Jacob(Q)
    or number even a fourth of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous,(R)
    and may my final end be like theirs!(S)

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies,(T) but you have done nothing but bless them!”(U)

12 He answered, “Must I not speak what the Lord puts in my mouth?”(V)

Balaam’s Second Message

13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place(W) where you can see them; you will not see them all but only the outskirts of their camp.(X) And from there, curse them for me.(Y) 14 So he took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Pisgah,(Z) and there he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.(AA)

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering while I meet with him over there.”

16 The Lord met with Balaam and put a word in his mouth(AB) and said, “Go back to Balak and give him this word.”

17 So he went to him and found him standing beside his offering, with the Moabite officials.(AC) Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”

18 Then he spoke his message:(AD)

“Arise, Balak, and listen;
    hear me, son of Zippor.(AE)
19 God is not human,(AF) that he should lie,(AG)
    not a human being, that he should change his mind.(AH)
Does he speak and then not act?
    Does he promise(AI) and not fulfill?
20 I have received a command to bless;(AJ)
    he has blessed,(AK) and I cannot change it.(AL)

21 “No misfortune is seen in Jacob,(AM)
    no misery observed[a] in Israel.(AN)
The Lord their God is with them;(AO)
    the shout of the King(AP) is among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;(AQ)
    they have the strength of a wild ox.(AR)
23 There is no divination against[b] Jacob,
    no evil omens(AS) against[c] Israel.
It will now be said of Jacob
    and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’
24 The people rise like a lioness;(AT)
    they rouse themselves like a lion(AU)
that does not rest till it devours its prey
    and drinks the blood(AV) of its victims.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!”

26 Balaam answered, “Did I not tell you I must do whatever the Lord says?”(AW)

Balaam’s Third Message

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, let me take you to another place.(AX) Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for me(AY) from there.” 28 And Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor,(AZ) overlooking the wasteland.

29 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.” 30 Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.(BA)

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 23:21 Or He has not looked on Jacob’s offenses / or on the wrongs found
  2. Numbers 23:23 Or in
  3. Numbers 23:23 Or in
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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