New International Reader's Version

Numbers 23

Balaam’s First Message From God

1Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here. Prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” Balak did just as Balaam said. The two of them offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering. I’ll go and try to find out what the Lord wants me to do. Maybe he’ll come and meet with me. Then I’ll tell you what he says to me.” So Balaam went off to a bare hilltop.

God met with him there. Balaam said, “I’ve prepared seven altars. On each altar I’ve offered a bull and a ram.”

The Lord put a message in Balaam’s mouth. The Lord said, “Go back to Balak. Give him my message.”

So Balaam went back to him. He found Balak standing beside his offering. All the Moabite officials were with him. Then Balaam spoke the message he had received from God. He said,

“Balak brought me from the land of Aram.
    The king of Moab sent for me from the mountains in the east.
‘Come,’ he said. ‘Put a curse on Jacob’s people for me.
    Come. Speak against Israel.’
But how can I put a curse on
    people God hasn’t cursed?
How can I speak against
    people the Lord hasn’t spoken against?
I see them from the rocky peaks.
    I view them from the hills.
I see a group of people who live by themselves.
    They don’t consider themselves to be one of the nations.
10 Jacob’s people are like the dust of the earth.
    Can dust be counted?
    Who can count even a fourth of the Israelites?
Let me die as godly people die.
    Let my death be like theirs!”

11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you here to put a curse on my enemies! But all you have done is give them a blessing!”

12 He answered, “I have to speak only the words the Lord puts in my mouth.”

Balaam’s Second Message From God

13 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come with me to another place. You can see the Israelites from there. You won’t see all of them. You will only see the outer edges of their camp. From there, put a curse on them for me.” 14 So Balak took Balaam to the field of Zophim. It was on the highest slopes of Pisgah. There Balak built seven altars. He offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offering. I’ll meet with the Lord over there.”

16 The Lord met with Balaam. He put a message in Balaam’s mouth. The Lord said, “Go back to Balak. Give him my message.”

17 So Balaam went to Balak. He found him standing beside his offering. The Moabite officials were with him. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”

18 Then Balaam spoke the message he had received from God. He said,

“Balak, rise up and listen.
    Son of Zippor, hear me.
19 God isn’t a mere human. He can’t lie.
    He isn’t a human being. He doesn’t change his mind.
He speaks, and then he acts.
    He makes a promise, and then he keeps it.
20 He has commanded me to bless Israel.
    He has given them his blessing. And I can’t change it.

21 “I don’t see any trouble coming on the people of Jacob.
    I don’t see any suffering in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them.
    The shout of the King is among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt.
    They are as strong as a wild ox.
23 There isn’t any magic that can hurt the people of Jacob.
    No one can use magic words to harm Israel.
Here is what will be said about the people of Jacob.
    Here is what will be said about Israel.
    People will say, ‘See what God has done!’
24 The Israelites are going to wake up like a female lion.
    They are going to get up like a male lion.
They are like a lion that won’t rest
    until it eats what it has caught.
They are like a lion that won’t rest
    until it drinks the blood of what it has killed.”

25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Don’t put a curse on them at all! And don’t give them a blessing at all!”

26 Balaam answered, “Didn’t I tell you that I must do only what the Lord says?”

Balaam’s Third Message From God

27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come. Let me take you to another place. Perhaps God will be pleased to let you put a curse on the Israelites for me from there.” 28 Balak took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor. It looks out over a dry and empty land.

29 Balaam said, “Build me seven altars here. Prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me to sacrifice.” 30 Balak did just as Balaam said. He offered a bull and a ram on each altar.