Balaam’s Donkey Speaks
21 Balaam got up the next morning and put a saddle on his donkey. Then he went with the Moabite leaders. 22 But God became angry because Balaam went, so the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord stood in the road to ·stop [challenge] Balaam. Balaam was riding his donkey, and he had two servants with him. 23 When the donkey saw the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, the donkey left the road and went into the field. Balaam ·hit [struck] the donkey to force her back on the road.
24 Later, the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord stood on a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 Again the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, and she walked close to one wall, ·crushing [squeezing; scraping] Balaam’s foot against it. So he ·hit [struck] her again.
26 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord went ahead again and stood at a narrow place, too narrow to turn left or right. 27 When the donkey saw the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam. This made him so angry that he ·hit [struck] her with his stick. 28 Then the Lord made the donkey talk, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to make you ·hit [strike] me three times?”
29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made me look foolish! I wish I had a sword in my hand! I would kill you right now!”
30 But the donkey said to Balaam, “·I am [L Am I not…?] your very own donkey, which you have ridden for years. Have I ever done this to you before?”
“No,” Balaam said.
31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam and let Balaam see the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord, who was standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand. Then Balaam bowed facedown on the ground.
32 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord asked Balaam, “Why have you ·hit [struck] your donkey three times? I have stood here to ·stop [challenge] you, because what you are doing is wrong. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me three times [C it was more spiritually sensitive than Balaam]. If she had not turned away, I would have killed you by now, but I would have let her live.”
34 Then Balaam said to the ·angel [messenger] of the Lord, “I have sinned; I did not know you were standing in the road to stop me. If I am wrong, I will go back.”
35 The ·angel [messenger] of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with these men, but say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s leaders.
36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at Ar in Moab, which was beside the Arnon, at the edge of his ·country [boundary]. 37 Balak said to Balaam, “·I had asked you before [L Did I not send for you…?] to come quickly. Why didn’t you come to me? ·I am [L Am I not…?] able to ·reward you well [give you wealth].”
38 But Balaam answered, “I have come to you now, but I can’t say just anything. I can only say what God tells me to say.”
39 Then Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath Huzoth. 40 Balak offered cattle and sheep as a sacrifice and gave some meat to Balaam and the leaders with him.
41 The next morning Balak took Balaam to Bamoth Baal; from there he could see the edge of the ·Israelite camp [L people].
Balaam’s First Message
23 Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here, and prepare seven bulls and seven ·male sheep [rams] for me.” 2 Balak did what Balaam asked, and they offered a bull and a ·male sheep [ram] on each of the altars.
3 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17] and I will go. If the Lord comes to me, I will tell you whatever he shows me.” Then Balaam went to a ·higher place [or barren height].
4 God came to Balaam there, and Balaam said to him, “I have prepared seven altars, and I have offered a bull and a ·male sheep [ram] on each altar.”
5 The Lord ·told Balaam what he should say [L put a word in the mouth of Balaam]. Then the Lord said, “Go back to Balak and ·give him this message [L thus you will speak].”
6 So Balaam went back to Balak. Balak and all the leaders of Moab were still standing beside his burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17] 7 when Balaam gave them this ·message [or oracle; or poem]:
“Balak brought me here from Aram;
the king of Moab brought me from the eastern mountains.
Balak said, ‘Come, put a curse on the people of Jacob for me.
Come, call down evil on the people of Israel.’
8 But ·God has not cursed them,
so I cannot curse them [L how can I curse what God has not cursed?].
·The Lord has not called down evil on them,
so I cannot call down evil on them [L How can I call down evil on/denounce what the Lord has not called down evil/denouced?].
9 I see them from the top of the ·mountains [cliffs];
I see them from the hills.
I see a people who live alone,
who think they are different from other nations [Ex. 19:5–6].
10 No one can number the ·many people [L dust; Gen. 13:16; 28:14] of Jacob,
and no one can count a ·fourth [or dust cloud] of Israel.
Let me die like ·good [virtuous; upright] people,
and let me end up like them!”
11 Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you here to curse my enemies, but you have only blessed them!”
12 But Balaam answered, “·I must [L Must I not…?] say what the Lord ·tells me to say [L put in my mouth].”
Balaam’s Second Message
13 Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place, where you can also see the people. But you can only see part of them, not all of them [C perhaps he could curse a part of Israel]. Curse them for me from there.” 14 So Balak took Balaam to the field of Zophim, on top of Mount Pisgah. There Balak built seven altars and offered a bull and a ·male sheep [ram] on each altar.
15 So Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17], and I will meet with God over there.”
16 So the Lord came to Balaam and ·told him what to say [L put a word in his mouth]. Then he said, “Go back to Balak and say ·such and such [L thus].”
17 So Balaam went to Balak, where he and the leaders of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering [Lev. 1:1–17]. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”
18 Then Balaam gave this ·message [or oracle; or poem]:
“Stand up, Balak, and listen.
Hear me, son of Zippor.
19 God is not a human being, and he will not lie.
He is not a human, and he does not change his mind.
What he says he will do, ·he does [L will he not do it?].
What he promises, ·he makes come true [L will he not fulfill it/make it come true?].
20 He ·told [commanded] me to bless them,
so I cannot change the blessing.
21 He ·has found [observes] no wrong in the people of Jacob;
he saw no ·fault [trouble] in Israel.
The Lord their God is with them,
and they praise their King.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;
they are ·as strong as [L like the horns of] a wild ox.
23 No ·tricks [divination] will work on the people of Jacob,
and no magic will work against Israel.
People now say about ·them [L Jacob],
‘Look what God has done for Israel!’
24 The people rise up like a lioness;
they get up like a lion.
Lions don’t rest until they have eaten prey,
until they have drunk ·their enemies’ blood [L the blood of corpses].”
25 Then Balak said to Balaam, “You haven’t cursed these people, so at least don’t bless them!”
26 Balaam answered Balak, “·I told [L Did I not tell…?] you before that I can only do what the Lord tells me.”
Balaam’s Third Message
27 Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come, I will take you to another place. Maybe ·God will be pleased [L it will be right in the eyes/sight of God] to let you curse them from there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, the mountain that looks over the ·desert [wasteland; or Jeshimon].
29 Balaam told Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare for me seven bulls and seven ·male sheep [rams].” 30 Balak did what Balaam asked, and he offered a bull and a ·male sheep [ram] on each altar.
God’s Word: Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” Nehemiah 1:11 NIV
“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. 7 We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.
8 “Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, 9 but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’
10 “They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. 11 Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”