Numbers 22:1-21 - Balak Hires Balaam

1 The Israelis continued their travels, eventually encamping on the plains of Moab beside the Jordan River opposite Jericho. 2 Zippor's son Balak saw everything that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 As a result, Moab greatly feared the people, because they were so numerous. Because a sense of impending doom was afflicting the Moabites as they faced the Israelis, 4 the Moabites told the elders of Midian, "This horde of people is about to lick up everything around us, like an ox licks up the green ground." 5 At that time, Zippor's son Balak was the king of Moab. He sent messengers to Beor's son Balaam in Pethor, near the Euphrates River, the land where the descendants of his people originated, to summon his aid. He said, "Look! A group of people have escaped from Egypt. They cover the surface of the whole earth, and are sitting here right in front of me. 6 So come right now and curse this people for me, because there are too many of them for me to handle. Perhaps I'll be able to strike them down and drive them out of the land, since I know that whomever you bless is blessed and whomever you curse is cursed."

7 So the elders of Moab and Midian left to visit Balaam, bringing an honorarium with them, and communicated Balak's concerns to him. 8 In answer, Balaam told them, "Stay here for the night and I'll bring back a message to you, depending on what the LORD says to me." So the officers of Moab stayed with Balaam overnight.

9 God visited Balaam and asked him, "Who are these men with you?"

10 Then Balaam told God, "Zippor's son Balak, king of Moab, sent them to me and said, 11 "Look! A group of people have escaped from Egypt. They cover the surface of the whole earth! So come right now and curse them for me. Perhaps I'll be able to fight against them and drive them out.'"

12 But God told Balaam, "Don't go with them. Don't curse the people, because they're blessed."

13 So Balaam got up the next morning and told Balak's officials, "Go back to your homeland, because the LORD has refused me permission to go with you."

14 So Balak's officials got up, returned to Balak and reported, "Balaam refused to come with us."

15 In response, Balak sent more officers higher ranking ones, at that! 16 who approached Balaam with this message: "This is what Zippor's son Balak says: "Don't let anything get in the way of your coming to me. 17 I'm determined to reward you generously, and I'll do everything you tell me to do. So come right away and curse this people for me.'"

18 Balaam responded to Balak's entourage by saying, "Even if Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I won't double-cross the command of the LORD my God in even the slightest way. 19 Meanwhile, stay here overnight so I may learn what the LORD might say to me."

20 God came to visit Balaam that same night and told him, "If the men come to call on you, get up and go with them, but be sure to do only what I tell you to do." 21 The next morning, Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started to leave, accompanied by the Moabite officials.


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