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Wednesday, June 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 22

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-41

Numbers 22:1-20 Balak Invites Balaam to Come Curse the Children of Israel In Numbers 22:1-20 Balak invites the prophet Balaam to come to Moab and curse the children of Israel.

Numbers 22:2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.

Numbers 22:2 Comments - Balak and Balaam saw what God was doing in the midst of the children of Israel, and the Lord spoke to Balaam about it. However, these two men refused to serve the Lord. It is not those who hear God’s word are justified, but those who obey or do God’s word (Romans 2:13).

Romans 2:13, “(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

Numbers 22:5 He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:

Numbers 22:5 “Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people” Comments - Pethor was located in Mesopotamia on the Euphrates River (Deuteronomy 23:4). T. G. Pinches says Pethor is believed to be the ancient city of Pedru(i), located on the west bank of the Euphrates River near the Sagura River. [30]

[30] T. G. Pinches “Pethor,” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Deuteronomy 23:4, “Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.”

Numbers 22:7 And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.

Numbers 22:7 “the rewards of divination” Comments - Peter calls these rewards of divination the “wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15-16). God’s prophets took no wages or rewards for speaking God’s Words.

2 Peter 2:15-16, “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness .”

Numbers 22:21-35 Balaam’s Journey to Moab In Numbers 22:21-35 Balaam response to Balak’s request by travelling to Moab. Along the way an angel of the Lord blocks the path. The angel appeared three times. Each time it was more difficult for the donkey to avoid the angel. Finally, after been beaten by the prophet, the donkey speaks to Balaam. Note other references to this story in the New Testament:

2 Peter 2:15-16, “Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.”

Jude 1:11, “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.”

Revelation 2:14, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.”

Note other verses related to this story:

Proverbs 1:10, “My son, if sinners entice thee , consent thou not.”

Proverbs 1:15-16, “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

Proverbs 1:19, “So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain ; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.”

Numbers 22:28 Comments - The Lord opened the mouth of the ass, which implies that its mouth had been closed. The Book of Jubilees tells us that on the day when Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eve that God closed the mouths of all beasts because they had all spoken with one tongue until that time. We know that the serpent spoke to the woman in the Garden in order to deceive her. So, his mouth was open before the Fall.

“And on that day was closed the mouth of all beasts, and of cattle, and of birds, and of whatever walks, and of whatever moves, so that they could no longer speak: for they had all spoken one with another with one lip and with one tongue.” ( The Book of Jubilees 3.28) [31]

[31] The Book of Jubilees, trans. R. H. Charles, in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English With Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes to the Several Books, vol 2, ed. R. H. Charles, 1-82 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), 17.

These are not the only two occurrences of animals speaking in the Scriptures. We see in Revelation 5:13 that all of God’s creatures in heaven, on the earth and under the earth spoke and praised God.

Revelation 5:13, “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”

The last verse in the book of Psalms tells every creature that has breath to praise the Lord.

Psalms 150:6, “Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.”

Numbers 22:32 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:

Numbers 22:32 “thy way is perverse before me” Comments - The way became harder and harder in order to avoid the angel.

Numbers 22:33 And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.

Numbers 22:32-33 Comments The Angel’s Concern for the Donkey - The angel of the Lord showed concern for the donkey.

Proverbs 12:10, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Numbers 22". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/numbers-22.html. 2013.
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