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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Numbers 23

Verses 1-30


Balaam’s announcements (22:36-24:25)

Balak welcomed Balaam and took him to a high place where he could see the vastness of the Israelite camp. Balak no doubt hoped that Balaam, on seeing this, would be convinced that the Israelites were a serious threat and would put a destructive curse upon them (36-41). But Balaam announced God’s approval of the Israelites. Their vast number, their place in history and their present migration were according to God’s will. Balaam comforted himself with the thought that if Balak killed him for giving a blessing instead of a curse, he would at least die for doing right (23:1-12).
Not giving in easily, Balak tried again to get Balaam to curse Israel, hoping that a change of place might bring a different result. As on the previous occasion, Balaam foresaw no misfortune or trouble for Israel, because God was on Israel’s side. God had saved the people from Egypt and he would give them victory over other enemies (13-24).
Angrily, Balak told Balaam that even if he would not curse the Israelites, he had no need to bless them (25-26)! For a third time Balak looked for a way to make Balaam curse them. This time, apparently in an effort to please Balak, Balaam did not look for omens as he had done previously, but just looked out over Israel and waited to see what words came to him. But God’s Spirit came upon him. The sight of Israel’s vast camp spreading over the countryside prompted Balaam to prophesy a prosperous and victorious future for the nation (23:27-24:9).
In bitterness Balak dismissed Balaam, saying that if Balaam was disappointed at not receiving the offered reward, he had only God to blame (10-11). Balaam replied with his fourth and final announcement, prophesying Israel’s conquest of Moab. In addition the Edomites, Amalekites, Kenites and Assyrians (Asshur) would be destroyed, but Israel would progress (12-25).


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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Numbers 23". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/numbers-23.html. 2005.