Amplified Bible

Numbers 23

The Prophecies of Balaam

1Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars for me here, and prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams here.” Balak did just as Balaam had said, and Balak and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering and I will go. Perhaps the Lord will come to meet me; and whatever He shows me I will tell you.” So he went to a desolate hill.

Now God met Balaam, who said to Him, “I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered a bull and a ram on each altar.” Then the Lord put a speech in Balaam’s mouth, and said, “Return to Balak, and you shall speak thus.” Balaam returned to Balak, and behold, he was standing by his burnt sacrifice, he and all the leaders of Moab. Balaam took up his [first] discourse (oracle) and said:

“Balak, the king of Moab, has brought me from Aram (Syria),
from the mountains of the east, [saying,]
‘Come, curse [the descendants of] Jacob for me;
And come, [violently] denounce Israel.’

“How shall I curse those whom God has not cursed?
Or how can I [violently] denounce those the Lord has not denounced?

“For from the top of the rocks I see Israel,
And from the hills I look at him.
Behold, the people [of Israel] shall dwell alone
And will not be reckoned among the nations.
10 
“Who can count the dust (the descendants) of Jacob
And the number of even the fourth part of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous [those who are upright and in right standing with God],
And let my end be like his!”

11 Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but here you have [thoroughly] blessed them instead!” 12 Balaam answered, “Must I not be obedient and careful to speak what the Lord has put in my mouth?”

13 Balak said to him, “Come with me, I implore you, to another place from where you can see them, although you will see only the nearest and not all of them; and curse them for me from there.” 14 So he took Balaam to the field of Zophim to the top of [Mount] Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering while I go to meet the Lord over there.” 16 Then the Lord met Balaam and put a speech in his mouth, and said, “Go back to Balak and you shall speak thus.” 17 When Balaam returned to Balak, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the leaders of Moab were with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?” 18 Balaam took up his [second] discourse (oracle) and said:

“Rise up, O Balak, and hear;
Listen [closely] to me, son of Zippor.
19 
“God is not a man, that He should lie,
Nor a son of man, that He should repent.
Has He said, and will He not do it?
Or has He spoken and will He not make it good and fulfill it?
20 
“Behold, I have received His command to bless [Israel].
He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.
21 
“God has not observed wickedness in Jacob [for he is forgiven],
Nor has He seen trouble in Israel.
The Lord their God is with Israel,
And the shout of their King is among the people.
22 
“God brought them out of Egypt;
They have the strength of a wild ox.
23 
“For there is no enchantment or omen against Jacob,
Nor is there any divination against Israel.
At the proper time it shall be said to Jacob
And to Israel, what has God done!
24 
“Behold, a people rises up like a lioness
And lifts itself up like a lion;
He will not lie down until he devours the prey
And drinks the blood of the slain.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all nor bless them at all!” 26 But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not say to you, ‘All that the Lord speaks, that I must do?’”

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Please come; I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God to let you curse them for me from there.” 28 So Balak brought Balaam to the top of [Mount] Peor, that overlooks the wasteland. 29 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars for me here, and prepare for me seven bulls and seven rams here.” 30 Balak did just as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

The Message

Numbers 23

1Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here, and then prepare seven bulls and seven rams.”

Balak did it. Then Balaam and Balak sacrificed a bull and a ram on each of the altars.

Balaam instructed Balak: “Stand watch here beside your Whole-Burnt-Offering while I go off by myself. Maybe God will come and meet with me. Whatever he shows or tells me, I’ll report to you.” Then he went off by himself.

God did meet with Balaam. Balaam said, “I’ve set up seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.”

Then God gave Balaam a message: “Return to Balak and give him this message.”

6-10 He went back and found him stationed beside his Whole-Burnt-Offering and with him all the nobles of Moab. Then Balaam spoke his message-oracle:

Balak led me here from Aram,
    the king of Moab all the way from the eastern mountains.
“Go, curse Jacob for me;
    go, damn Israel.”
How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
    How can I damn whom God has not damned?
From rock pinnacles I see them,
    from hilltops I survey them:
Look! a people camping off by themselves,
    thinking themselves outsiders among nations.
But who could ever count the dust of Jacob
    or take a census of cloud-of-dust Israel?
I want to die like these right-living people!
    I want an end just like theirs!

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What’s this? I brought you here to curse my enemies, and all you’ve done is bless them.”

12 Balaam answered, “Don’t I have to be careful to say what God gives me to say?”

13 Balak said to him, “Go with me to another place from which you can only see the outskirts of their camp—you won’t be able to see the whole camp. From there, curse them for my sake.”

14 So he took him to Watchmen’s Meadow at the top of Pisgah. He built seven altars there and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Take up your station here beside your Whole-Burnt-Offering while I meet with him over there.”

16 God met with Balaam and gave him a message. He said, “Return to Balak and give him the message.”

17-24 Balaam returned and found him stationed beside his Whole-Burnt-Offering and the nobles of Moab with him. Balak said to him, “What did God say?” Then Balaam spoke his message-oracle:

On your feet, Balak. Listen,
    listen carefully son of Zippor:
God is not man, one given to lies,
    and not a son of man changing his mind.
Does he speak and not do what he says?
    Does he promise and not come through?
I was brought here to bless;
    and now he’s blessed—how can I change that?
He has no bone to pick with Jacob,
    he sees nothing wrong with Israel.
God is with them,
    and they’re with him, shouting praises to their King.
God brought them out of Egypt,
    rampaging like a wild ox.
No magic spells can bind Jacob,
    no incantations can hold back Israel.
People will look at Jacob and Israel and say,
    “What a great thing has God done!”
Look, a people rising to its feet, stretching like a lion,
    a king-of-the-beasts, aroused,
Unsleeping, unresting until its hunt is over
    and it’s eaten and drunk its fill.

25 Balak said to Balaam, “Well, if you can’t curse them, at least don’t bless them.”

26 Balaam replied to Balak, “Didn’t I tell you earlier: ‘All God speaks, and only what he speaks, I speak’?”

27-28 Balak said to Balaam, “Please, let me take you to another place; maybe we can find the right place in God’s eyes where you’ll be able to curse them for me.” So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, with a vista over the Jeshimon (Wasteland).

29 Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars for me here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for sacrifice.”

30 Balak did it and presented an offering of a bull and a ram on each of the altars.