New English Translation
19 God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a human being,[a] that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen?[b]
20 Indeed, I have received a command[c] to bless;
he has blessed,[d] and I cannot reverse it.[e]
21 He[f] has not looked on iniquity in Jacob,[g]
nor has he seen trouble[h] in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them;
his acclamation[i] as king is among them.
- Numbers 23:19 tn Heb “son of man.”
- Numbers 23:19 tn The verb is the Hiphil of קוּם (qum, “to cause to rise; to make stand”). The meaning here is more of the sense of fulfilling the promises made.
- Numbers 23:20 tn The Hebrew text simply has “I have received [to] bless.” The infinitive is the object of the verb, telling what he received. Balaam was not actually commanded to bless, but was given the word of blessing so that he was given a divine decree that would bless Israel.
- Numbers 23:20 sn The reference is probably to the first speech, where the Lord blessed Israel. Balaam knows that there is nothing he can do to reverse what God has said.
- Numbers 23:20 tn The verb is the Hiphil of שׁוּב (shuv), meaning “to cause to return.” He cannot return God’s word to him, for it has been given, and it will be fulfilled.
- Numbers 23:21 tn These could be understood as impersonal and so rendered “no one has discovered.”
- Numbers 23:21 sn The line could mean that God has regarded Israel as the ideal congregation without any blemish or flaw. But it could also mean that God has not looked on their iniquity, meaning, held it against them.
- Numbers 23:21 tn The word means “wrong, misery, trouble.” It can mean the idea of “disaster” as well, for that too is trouble. Here it is parallel to “iniquity” and so has the connotation of something that would give God reason to curse them.
- Numbers 23:21 tn The people are blessed because God is their king. In fact, the shout of acclamation is among them—they are proclaiming the Lord God as their king. The word is used normally for the sound of the trumpet, but also of battle shouts, and then here acclamation. This would represent their conviction that Yahweh is king. On the usage of this Hebrew word see further BDB 929-30 s.v. תְּרוּעָה; HALOT 1790-91 s.v.