Numbers 23

 

וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם אֶל־בָּלָק בְּנֵה־לִי בָזֶה שִׁבְעָה מִזְבְּחֹת וְהָכֵן לִי בָּזֶה שִׁבְעָה פָרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֵילִים   23:1

Numb. 23:1  And Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars in this place for me and provide seven bullocks and seven rams for me in this place.”

וַיַּעַשׂ בָּלָק כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר בִּלְעָם וַיַּעַל בָּלָק וּבִלְעָם פָּר וָאַיִל בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ   23:2

Numb. 23:2  And Balak did as Balaam had spoken, and Balak offered, with Balaam, a bullock and a ram to an altar.

וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם לְבָלָק הִתְיַצֵּב עַל־עֹלָתֶךָ וְאֵלְכָה אוּלַי יִקָּרֵה יְהוָה לִקְרָאתִי וּדְבַר מַה־יַּרְאֵנִי וְהִגַּדְתִּי   23:3

לָךְ וַיֵּלֶךְ שֶׁפִי

Numb. 23:3  And Balaam said to Balak, “Stand by your burnt offerings and I will go; maybe the Lord will happen to meet me; and whatever the thing He will show me, so I will make known to you,” and he went to a bare hill.

In this verse we find a non-inverting vav prefix to a first-person imperfect verb that is the seventh word in the verse, hk'l.aew, and I will go.

וַיִּקָּר אֱלֹהִים אֶל־בִּלְעָם וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֶת־שִׁבְעַת הַמִּזְבְּחֹת עָרַכְתִּי וָאַעַל פָּר וָאַיִל בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ   23:4

Numb. 23:4  And God came to Balaam, and he said to Him, “I have prepared the seven altars and have offered a bullock and a ram to an altar.”

וַיָּשֶׂם יְהוָה דָּבָר בְּפִי בִלְעָם וַיֹּאמֶר שׁוּב אֶל־בָּלָק וְכֹה תְדַבֵּר   23:5

Numb. 23:5  And the Lord put a word in the mouth of Balaam and He said, “Return to Balak and thus you shall speak.”

וַיָּשָׁב אֵלָיו וְהִנֵּה נִצָּב עַל־עֹלָתֹו הוּא וְכָל־שָׂרֵי מֹואָב   23:6

Numb. 23:6  So he returned to him and behold, he stood by his burnt offerings, with all the chiefs of Moab.

וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלֹו וַיֹּאמַר מִן־אֲרָם יַנְחֵנִי בָלָק מֶלֶךְ־מֹואָב מֵהַרְרֵי־קֶדֶם לְכָה אָרָה־לִּי יַעֲקֹב וּלְכָה זֹעֲמָה   23:7

יִשְׂרָאֵל

Numb. 23:7   Then he lifted up his parable and said,

                          “Balak, king of Moab, shall bring me from Aram,

                                 from the mountains of the east: 

                           ’Come, curse Jacob for me,

                                 and come, denounce Israel.’”

מָה אֶקֹּב לֹא קַבֹּה אֵל וּמָה אֶזְעֹם לֹא זָעַם יְהוָה   23:8

Numb. 23:8      “How can I curse?  The Almighty has not cursed.” 

                                  “And how can I denounce?  The Lord has not denounced.”

כִּי־מֵרֹאשׁ צֻרִים אֶרְאֶנּוּ וּמִגְּבָעֹות אֲשׁוּרֶנּוּ הֶן־עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן וּבַגֹּויִם לֹא יִתְחַשָּׁב   23:9

Numb. 23:9      “For from the top of the cliffs I shall see it,

                                  and from the hills I shall behold it.”

                            “Lo, a people shall dwell by itself,

                                  and shall not be reckoned with the nations.”

מִי מָנָה עֲפַר יַעֲקֹב וּמִסְפָּר אֶת־רֹבַע יִשְׂרָאֵל תָּמֹת נַפְשִׁי מֹות יְשָׁרִים וּתְהִי אַחֲרִיתִי כָּמֹהוּ   23:10

Numb. 23:10    “Who has counted the dust of Jacob,

                                   and can number a quarter of Israel?”

                            “Let my body die a death of the righteous,

                                   and let my reward be like his!”

This is an incredible and profound prophecy.  Verse 23:8 says the Lord has not cursed or denounced Israel (and never will).  Verse 23:9 foretells the present and the future of the people of Israel, and v. 23:10 reveals that their reward (after death or at the end of time?) will be great.  Please recall how spiritually blind Balaam was in the last chapter.  The Lord shows us here that He will make even the blind prophesy.  And this prophecy tells the whole story of history for us Jews without mentioning our age-long suffering.  But if I’m right (see Deuteronomy 28), our suffering is a very critical consequence of our belief.

וַיֹּאמֶר בָּלָק אֶל־בִּלְעָם מֶה עָשִׂיתָ לִי לָקֹב אֹיְבַי לְקַחְתִּיךָ וְהִנֵּה בֵּרַכְתָּ בָרֵךְ   23:11

Numb. 23:11   Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me?  I brought you to curse my enemy; instead, behold, you blessed abundantly.”

וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמַר הֲלֹא אֵת אֲשֶׁר יָשִׂים יְהוָה בְּפִי אֹתֹו אֶשְׁמֹר לְדַבֵּר   23:12

Numb. 23:12   And he answered and he said, “What the Lord will have put in my mouth, must I not take heed to speak it?”

וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו בָּלָק (לְךָ)־נָּא [לְכָה] אִתִּי אֶל־מָקֹום אַחֵר אֲשֶׁר תִּרְאֶנּוּ מִשָּׁם אֶפֶס קָצֵהוּ תִרְאֶה   23:13

וְכֻלֹּו לֹא תִרְאֶה וְקָבְנֹו־לִי מִשָּׁם

Numb. 23:13   So Balak said to him, “I pray you, come with me to another place where you can see it.  From there you can see the outermost limit of it, but you cannot see all of it.  And you can curse it for me from there.”

An apparent error in the parentheses is corrected in the brackets.

וַיִּקָּחֵהוּ שְׂדֵה צֹפִים אֶל־רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה וַיִּבֶן שִׁבְעָה מִזְבְּחֹת וַיַּעַל פָּר וָאַיִל בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ   23:14

Numb. 23:14   And he took him to the wild of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and he built seven altars and offered a bullock and a ram to an altar.

The name Zophim means watchers.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־בָּלָק הִתְיַצֵּב כֹּה עַל־עֹלָתֶךָ וְאָנֹכִי אִקָּרֶה כֹּה   23:15

Numb. 23:15   And he said to Balak, “You stay here near your burnt offerings and I will meet there.”

וַיִּקָּר יְהוָה אֶל־בִּלְעָם וַיָּשֶׂם דָּבָר בְּפִיו וַיֹּאמֶר שׁוּב אֶל־בָּלָק וְכֹה תְדַבֵּר   23:16

Numb. 23:16   And the Lord came to Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.”

וַיָּבֹא אֵלָיו וְהִנֹּו נִצָּב עַל־עֹלָתֹו וְשָׂרֵי מֹואָב אִתֹּו וַיֹּאמֶר לֹו בָּלָק מַה־דִּבֶּר יְהוָה   23:17

Numb. 23:17   Then he went to him, and behold, he stood by his burnt offerings, and the chiefs of Moab were with him.  And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?”

וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלֹו וַיֹּאמַר קוּם בָּלָק וּשֲׁמָע הַאֲזִינָה עָדַי בְּנֹו צִפֹּר   23:18

Numb. 23:18   Then he lifted up his parable and said,

                            “Arise, Balak, and hear!”

                                  “Listen up to me, son of Zippor!”

לֹא אִישׁ אֵל וִיכַזֵּב וּבֶן־אָדָם וְיִתְנֶחָם הַהוּא אָמַר וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה וְדִבֶּר וְלֹא יְקִימֶנָּה   23:19

Numb. 23:19   “The Almighty is not a man that He would lie,

                                  or the son of a man that He would be sorry.”

                           “He has said, then will He not do?”

                                  ”And spoken, then not establish it?”

הִנֵּה בָרֵךְ לָקָחְתִּי וּבֵרֵךְ וְלֹא אֲשִׁיבֶנָּה   23:20

Numb. 23:20    “Behold, I have snatched a blessing,

                                  so He will bless, and I cannot take it back.”

לֹא־הִבִּיט אָוֶן בְּיַעֲקֹב וְלֹא־רָאָה עָמָל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו עִמֹּו וּתְרוּעַת מֶלֶךְ בֹּו   23:21

Numb. 23:21    “He does not behold iniquity in Jacob,

                                  and does not see mischief in Israel.”

                            ”The Lord, his God, is with him,

                                  and the battle cry of a King is in him.”

אֵל מֹוצִיאָם מִמִּצְרָיִם כְּתֹועֲפֹת רְאֵם לֹו   23:22

Numb. 23:22    “The Almighty Who is bringing them out of Egypt

                                  is like the lofty horns of a buffalo for him.”

כִּי לֹא־נַחַשׁ בְּיַעֲקֹב וְלֹא־קֶסֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כָּעֵת יֵאָמֵר לְיַעֲקֹב וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל מַה־פָּעַל אֵל   23:23

Numb. 23:23    “For He does not use enchantment with Jacob,

                                  and He does not practice divination with Israel,

                            that now it could be said of Jacob and of Israel,

                                  ‘What has the Almighty done?’”

הֶן־עָם כְּלָבִיא יָקוּם וְכַאֲרִי יִתְנַשָּׂא לֹא יִשְׁכַּב עַד־יֹאכַל טֶרֶף וְדַם־חֲלָלִים יִשְׁתֶּה   23:24

Numb. 23:24    “Lo, the people shall arise like a lioness,

                                  and like a lion it will lift itself up.”

                            ”He shall not lie down until he eats the prey

                                  and drinks the blood of the slain.”

וַיֹּאמֶר בָּלָק אֶל־בִּלְעָם גַּם־קֹב לֹא תִקֳּבֶנּוּ גַּם־בָּרֵךְ לֹא תְבָרֲכֶנּוּ   23:25

Numb. 23:25   Then Balak said to Balaam, “Then you should not curse him at all; also not bless him at all.”

וַיַּעַן בִּלְעָם וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־בָּלָק הֲלֹא דִּבַּרְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ לֵאמֹר כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־יְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֹתֹו אֶעֱשֶׂה   23:26

Numb. 23:26   Then Balaam answered and said to Balak, “Did I not speak to you saying, ‘All that the Lord shall speak, it I must do?”

וַיֹּאמֶר בָּלָק אֶל־בִּלְעָם לְכָה־נָּא אֶקָּחֲךָ אֶל־מָקֹום אַחֵר אוּלַי יִישַׁר בְּעֵינֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וְקַבֹּתֹו לִי מִשָּׁם   23:27

Numb. 23:27   And Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place.  Perhaps it will be upright in the eyes of God that you shall curse him for me from there.”

וַיִּקַּח בָּלָק אֶת־בִּלְעָם רֹאשׁ הַפְּעֹור הַנִּשְׁקָף עַל־פְּנֵי הַיְשִׁימֹן   23:28

Numb. 23:28   So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, looking down over the face of the desert.

The name Peor, besides being the name of a mountain in Moab, is also that of a Moabite god.  This choice by Balak  also seems full of irony.

וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם אֶל־בָּלָק בְּנֵה־לִי בָזֶה שִׁבְעָה מִזְבְּחֹת וְהָכֵן לִי בָּזֶה שִׁבְעָה פָרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֵילִים   23:29

Numb. 23:29   And Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars for me in this place and provide seven bullocks and seven rams for me in this place.”

וַיַּעַשׂ בָּלָק כַּאֲשֶׁר אָמַר בִּלְעָם וַיַּעַל פָּר וָאַיִל בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ   23:30

Numb. 23:30   And Balak did as Balaam had said, and he offered up a bullock and a ram to an altar.

 

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