Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Numbers 24

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

Verses 1-25

Numbers 24:5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!

Numbers 24:5 Comments - Matthew Henry and John Gill suggest that the “admirable” arrangement of the Israelite encampment provoked Balaam’s statement in Numbers 24:5. [32] Some scholars suggest that the beauty seen in the encampment of the children of Israel was the fact that it took the shape of the Cross of Christ.

[32] Matthew Henry, Numbers, in Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, New Modern Edition, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1991), in P.C. Study Bible, v. 3.1 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc., 1993-2000), notes on Numbers 24:5; John Gill, Numbers, in John Gill’s Expositor, in e-Sword, v. 7.7.7 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Numbers 24:5.

Numbers 24:7 He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.

Numbers 24:7 “and his king shall be higher than Agag” Comments - The name “Agag” ( אֲגַג ) (H90) occurs in only two passages in the Old Testament (Numbers 24:7, 1 Samuel 15:8-33). Agag, king of the Amalekites, was defeated and captured by King Saul and killed by Samuel the prophet. Phillip J. Budd expresses the popular view that the reading of the MT as “Agag” is a prophecy of King Saul conquering King Agag in 1 Samuel 15:1-35. [33]

[33] Phillip J. Budd, Numbers, in Word Biblical Commentary: 58 Volumes on CD-Rom, vol. 5, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas: Word Inc., 2002), in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004), comments on Numbers 4:7.

The ancient Hebrew texts show two variant readings in Numbers 24:7. The Masoretic Text, the Targum of Jonathan, and the Latin Vulgate read ( אֲגַג ) “Agag,” while the Samaritan Pentateuch, Septuagint, Aquila’s Greek Translation of Old Testament, Symmachus, and Theodotion read ( גּוֹג ) “Gog” (H1463). [34] John Sailhamer suggests this verse is an example of post-biblical interpretation where the variant readings emerge from scribal efforts to explain a difficult text, with “Agag” being prophetic of the events in 1 Samuel 15:8, while “Gog” provides a messianic interpretation with a reference to Ezekiel 38:3.

[34] John H. Sailhamer, Introduction to Old Testament Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, c1995), 220-1.

Ezekiel 38:3, “And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:”

Commenting on Numbers 24:7, John Gill, Adam Clarke, KD, Espin, and JFB suggest that the name “Agag” is a royal, hereditary title for the Amalekites, such as “Pharaoh” with the Egyptians and “Abimelech” with the Philistines, rather than a proper name. Gill bases his view on Jewish tradition from Jarchi (Rashi) and Aben Ezra. Gesenius defines “Agag” as “the proper noun of the Amalekite kings.” Thus, the term “Agag” may have been a familiar term to Balaam. Matthew Henry and JFB suggest the royal title of Agag was used by this prophet because this king was the most powerful ruler in this region of the Middle East.

Numbers 24:8 God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.

Numbers 24:8 Word Study on “an unicorn” Gesenius says the Hebrew word “unicorn” ( רְאֵם ) (H7214) refers to “a wild animal, fierce and untamed, resembling an ox.” Strong says it refers to “a wild bull.” BDB says it is “a wild ox, as fierce and strong.” The BDB says it probably refers to “the great aurochs or wild bulls which are now extinct. The exact meaning is not known”. Therefore, it is often translated “wild ox.” This Hebrew word is found 9 times in the Old Testament and is translated “unicorn” all 9 times in the KJV. This word is only found in Hebrew poetry.

Numbers 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

Numbers 24:17 Word Study on “Sheth” Strong says the Hebrew word “shayth” ( שֵׁת ) (H8352) means, “put, or substituted”. He believes this name comes from the primitive verb ( שִׁית ) (H7896), which means, “to place, to appoint”. This same Hebrew verb is used in Genesis 4:25, because God appointed another man-child to take the place of Abel. The Enhanced Strong says the word is used nine times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as “Seth 7, Sheth 2.” It refers to Seth, the son of Adam, in all nine occurrences.

Numbers 24:17 Comments - Numbers 24:17 is considered by many Christian commentators to be a Messianic prophesy of the coming of Jesus Christ. This poetic language suggests the coming of the Messiah as a ruler to deliver the children of Israel from their enemies.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Numbers 24". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/numbers-24.html. 2013.
Ads FreeProfile