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up himself as a young
he 27 And Balak said unto Bashall not lie down“ until he eat laam, Come, I pray thee, I will of the prey, and drink the blood bring thee unto another place: of the slain.
peradventure it will please God , 25 And Balak said unto Ba- that thou mayest curse me them laam, Neither curse them at all, from thence. nor bless them at all.
28 And Balak brought Ba26 But Balaam answered laam unto the top of Peor, that and said unto Balak, Told not looketh toward Jeshimon. I thee, saying, All that the 29 And Balaam said unto LORD speaketh that I must do ? Balak, Build me here seven al
h Gen. 49. 27.
i ver. 12. 13.
ites, the record of which is contained in God, etc. Heb. “Peradventure it will the book of Joshua. But beyond this be right in the eyes of God.” If Bawe recognize also the easy triumphs of lak, in uttering these words, had any the spiritual Israel over their various thought of the true God in his mind, enemies, Satan, sin, and the world, the absurdity as well as the impiety of wbich are all leagued against them, but the suggestion is astounding. To think which are destined inevitably to be over- that the Most High could be prevailed
The language of the final clause upon to turn from his purpose of blessis to be interpreted to the same effect. ing, and be pleased to curse his people,
V. 25. Neither curse them at all, nor was the height of delusion, and making bless them at all. Heb. “Neither curs- the Lord to be “a God who hath pleasing curse him, nor blessing bless him.” ure in wickedness.” But it is possible The impatience and vexation of Ba- that Balak, by the term “God,” had lak breaks out uncontrollably in these mental reference to some other deity, in words. Since Balaam will not say what which case we cannot so much wonder he would have him, he wishes him to at the crudeness of his apprehensions. say nothing. If he could procure no evil V. 28. And Balak brought Balaam to be done to Israel, he would at least de- unto the top of Peor. Gr. “ Phogor.” bar them from the reception of any good. Chald. “To the top of the high place
V. 26. Told I not thee, saying, etc. of Peor.” It was the name of a mounThe groundwork of Balak's reproach tain in Moab where the people of that was the consideration, that Balaam, by country used to sacrifice to their idol his very coming, had laid himself under Baal. It was hence called Baal-Peor, an obligation, at least, to do nothing ch. 25: 2, 3, 18, and they seem there to against the interest of the king. To have had a temple called Beth-pcor, or this Balaam replies by appealing to the the house of Peor, near which was a city declaration made on his first arrival, of the same name, that the Israelites that he could only utter what was put took from king Sihon, and afterwards into his lips. He is willing to own him- gave for a possession to the tribe of self overruled, although he does not Reuben, Deut. 3:29. Josh. 13:15, 20. confess that he would have been very - That looketh toward Jeshimon. willing to comply with Balak's order if That is, towards the desert so named. he had been able.
See Note on ch. 21:20. This wilderV. 27. Peradventure it will please I ness, according to ch. 24:1, compared
30 And Balak didas Balaam AND when Balaam saw that
tars, and prepare me here seven CHAPTER XXIV. bullocks and seven rams.
it pleased the Lord to bless had said, and offered a bullock | Israel, he went not, as at other and a ram on every altar. times, to seek for enchantments, with v. 2, is situated at the northern pears, that when the Israelites were extremity of the Dead Sea, and is the encamped in the plains, Beth-peor same tract which is elsewhere called was situated in the immediate vicinity Arboth Moab, or fields or plains of Moab, above them and looking down on the respecting which see Note on ch. 22:1. encampment below. We are led to the same conclusion by the words “that looketh toward the wilderness,” since they are not proba
CHAPTER XXIV. bly to be understood so much as a general geographical remark, as indicative Continuation of Balaam's Prophecy as of the suitableness of the place for Ba
relating to Israel. lak's object. A high peak or pinnacle V. 1. When Balaam saw that it like that of Peor could not properly be pleased the Lord to bless Israel. Heb. said to command one single view, but “ That it was good in the eyes of Jehorather an extended prospect in every vah.” The Most High always esteems direction ; but as it was important for it good to abide by his purposes and Balaam to have a distinct view of the promises. This fact respecting the Israelites in order to give efficacy to Lord it is said that Balaam “saw," by his curses, it is therefore intimated that which we are to understand that he besuch a view was especially to be obtain- came assured of it from the internal ed from the station now chosen. That consciousness of being overruled in his this wilderness is denoted Jeshimon is utterance by a superior power which moreover inferrible from the fact that he could not resist. - He went not, we find a place situated in it, to which as at other times, to seek for enchantthe Israelitish camp reached from Gil- ments. Heb. “Not at (this) time as the gal, bearing the name of Beth-jeshi- time (before).” Gr. “ According to his moth, ch. 33 : 48, 49. If, then, the custom.” Seeing there was no likeliJeshimon here mentioned denotes the hood of obtaining leave from God to Arabah of the northern extremity of the curse his people, he resolves no more Dead Sea, then by the clause, “that to seek for enchantments, but sets his looketh toward the wilderness,” the face towards the wilderness, that is, position of Peor is determined with told towards the place where Israel lay enerable exactness. It must have stood camped, apparently giving himself up somewhat to the eastward overlooking to the influence which had proved too the “plains of Moab.” This appears strong for his wicked will, and perhaps also from Deut. 3:29, “So we abode in disposed in his own mind to make a the valley over against Baal-peor.” So virtue of the necessity that he felt laid likewise Deut. 4: 45, 46, “These are upon him. His object in retiring on the testimonies, etc. which Moses the former occasions, while Balak was spake unto the children of Israel ... left standing by his altars, was not exon this side Jordan, in the valley over pressly stated, but here we are informagainst Beth-peor;” from which it ap- ed in effect that it was to practise in
but he set his face toward the 2 And Balaam lift up his wilderness.
eyes, and he saw Israel abiding private those cabalistic and magical Balaam turned his face in the direction arts which were common to sorcerers, of the wilderness from which they had and which he was in hopes might have recently emerged, as is to be inferred made him master of his impious pur- from their interpretation. Chald. “He pose, wherein, however, he was disap- set his face towards the calf that Israel pointed. These devices he now aban. had made in the wilderness," implying, doned, because he saw they were fruit- perhaps, that a people guilty of such a less, although his heart was in reality ilagrant iniquity might properly be the no better than before, as we infer from subjects of a curse.
But this supposes the sequel of the narrative. The orig- that Balaam knew of their transgresinal word for "enchantments” (nehå- sion, which might have been the fact, shim) is closely related to the Heb.or might not. Targ. Jerus. “He set term for serpent (nahash) and the rela- his face toward the wilderness, and retion between the ideas conveyed by membered concerning them the work serpent and divination or augury is of the calf, and would have cursed Isundoubtedly recognized in more places rael.” Finding all his previous incanthan one in the original Scriptures. tations of no effect whatever, he reThe literal rendering in the present in- solves to abandon them, and utter what stance is “to meet enchantment or was put into his mouth. It was moremagic-omens.” The phrase undoubt- over wisely ordered in providence that edly implies the meeting, or seeking the august and glorious predictions an interview with the Lord, for the that follow respecting the Messiah and purpose of making him propitious to the Lord's church should not be prehis design by certain ceremonies of a ceded by magical rites, which would cryptic or mysterious nature known as in some degree have weakened their divinations or auguries.- He set his credit or tarnished their lustre. face toward the wilderness. Heb. el V. 2. Saw Israel abiding (in his tents). hammidbar, the usual term to denote | Heb. shokën, the root of Shekinah. See the dreary desert through which Israel Note on Ex. 29 : 45. The addition in had wandered after leaving Egypt, but italics, “in his tents,” is very proper, implying in this connection a region as the allusion is to that mode of habiwhich could only be comparatively de- tation. Indeed, the Tabernacle, the nominated a desert or wilderness, as special residence of the Shekinah, was they were encamped in the valley of the a movable tent, though of peculiar and Jordan, while Balaam was beholding unique structure. Gr. “Saw Israel enthem from the heights above. It ap- camped by tribes.” The order prepears from the occasional usage of the scribed for the disposition of the several term, that any large and extensive tract tribes was always observed during their of champaign country, even though it encampment, and this exact and beaumay happen to have villages in it, is tiful order seems to have made a procalled in the Scripture wilderness. It found impression upon the spirit of would seem, however, that both the Balaam, as may be inferred from his lan. Chaldee and Jerusalem paraphrases guage in vs. 5–7.- - And the Spirit were somewhat misled by the use of of God came upon him. Chald. “The the term midbar, and supposed that I spirit of prophecy from before the Lord
in his tents according to their
3 And he took up his paratribes; and the Spirit of God ble, and said, Balaam the son came upon him.
of Beor hath said, and the
a 1 Sam. 10. 10.
rested upon him.” This Sol. Jarchi in- der that the impulse of prophecy might timates was with a view to keep him be stronger in him, as respecting a thing from cursing Israel. It'evidently im- actually before his eyes. But after the plies a strong compulsory influence Spirit had thus affected his senses, or emanating from the Lord himself, and at any rate had prepared them to be fit overruling and restraining him from instruments for the execution of his uttering the anathemas which he had office, it then also directed his tongue conceived in his heart, and inspiring to prophesy; but in an extraordinary him to see and to foretell future events. manner, so that a divine majesty shone The phrase imports a divine impulse or forth in the sudden change, as if he afflatus wbich was often imparted to were transformed into a new man. In men independent of their moral charac- a word, “the Spirit of God was upon ter. It was a species of possession or him,' showing by manifest token that inspiration for the time being, and those He was the author of his address, and who were subjects of it “spake as they that Balaam did not speak of his own were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Thus, natural intelligence. To the same init is said ch. 11:26, “The Spirit rested tent it is said that he took up his parupon them, and they prophesied.” So able,' because the character of his adalso v. 29 of the same chapter, “Would dress was marked with unusual grandGod that all the Lord's people were eur and magnificent brilliancy.” Dr. prophets, and that the Lord would put Chalmers also speaks in a similar vein his Spirit upon them.” In like manner of this prophecy. “He is made the inthe Spirit of God came upon Saul, con- voluntary instrument of further revelaverting him temporarily into a new tions; and what he now utters when man, but not making any permanent the Spirit of God came upon him, is in change in his character, ''Sam. 19:19- the very highest style and strain of 23. “'Tis sometimes said, “The Lord | lofty inspiration. We cannot fix on came to Balaam' as he did to Abime- any portion of Scripture that bears a lech, Gen. 20:3, and to Laban, Gen. 31: nobler or more sustained elevation than 24; but 'tis never said “The word of these effusions poured forth by Balaam the Lord' came to him, as to Jeremiah, from the mountains, as he looked down Jer. 1: 4, and to the rest of God's proph- on the tents of Israel stretched out in ets. God never vouchsafed his 'word' full and far perspective before him.”to any but to his prophets, of whom 'tis Bib. Readings in loc. Still the rhetorsaid always, that the word of the Lord ical or poetical merit of the utterance came to them.'”–Ness. The remarks is comparatively of very little conseof Calvin on this incident are very ap- quence when viewed in relation to its propriate. “It is said the Spirit of spiritual import. God was upon him,' not as if it had be- V. 3. Balaam the son of Beor hath gun to inspire him at that particular said. Heb. neum bilam, the saying, moment when he cast his eyes upon the affirmation, averment of Balaam. The camp of Israel; but because it prompt- term is applied for the most part to died him to look in that direction, in or- vine oracles or declarations, which are man whose eyes are open hath 4 He hath said, which heard said;
the words of God, which saw “ faithful sayings,” worthy of all confi- easy. The Chald. has “The man who dence and acceptation. It is of very sees fairly (pulchre).” Gr. “The truly emphatic import, and its use in this seeing man.” Syr. “The man whose exordium is no doubt to be referred to eye is disclosed, or laid open (retecthe Spirit who spake through Balaam, tus).” Vulg. “The man whose eye is and thus put a seal upon the prophecy stopped up (obturatus).” The original as a truly divine revelation. The Most (shethum) occurs only here and v. 15, High was greatly magnified in thus and Hengstenberg and others take it as ratifying his blessing upon his people the original form of the word, which through Balaam, a sorcerer and corrupt was afterwards softened into sâtham, a prophet who fain would have cursed word of not unfrequent occurrence, and them. And this circumstance, tending signifying to close, to shut. But Druso much to the divine glory, Balaam sius, on the other hand, and from him himself is made an instrument of pro- Rosenmuller, refer shethum to the claiming. He is virtually made to say, Chald. shatham, to perforate, and hence Even the man whose power to curse was to open, which is favored by some of so much relied on, and who leaned so the ancient versions, as the Syr. Sam. strongly to compliance with Balak's suit and Arab. We incline, on the whole, -even he must and will affirm it, and to embrace both senses, on the ground vigorously stand to it, that Israel shall that an ecstatic or trance state is debe blessed. The language of David, scribed, in which, as is well known, the 2 Sam. 23:1,2, is strikingly analogous, external sight is closed while the interas the same word which occurs there nal is opened. Glassius, in his “Sacred also conveys clearly the intimation that Philology,” gives a multitude of examwhat he said is not said from himself, ples from the Hebrew Scriptures in but from the inspiration of the Lord's which the same word conveys directly Spirit, though uttered by his organs. contrary meanings. In the Gr. of the “Now these be the last words of David. New Testament the same peculiarity David the son of Jesse said, and the man occasionally obtains. Thus, Mat. 6:2, who was raised up on high, the anointed “Verily I say unto you they have their of the God of Jacob, and the sweet reward ;” where the original (apechopsalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of mai) has both a negative and affirmthe Lord spake by me, and his word ative sense, implying that in having was in my tongue.”. | The man their reward they have it not, since in whose eyes are open hath said. Heb. seeking applause of men they lose that shethum haâyin, opened of eye. The higher and better blessing which comes margin of our version gives, “Who from God only. had his eyes shut (but now opened);” V. 4. He hath said which heard the from which it would naturally be infer- words of God. Heb. neum, the assured red that there was a degree of ambigui- saying,—the same form of expression ty in the original. This is the fact, as with that occurring v. 3, and implying commentators are very much divided a degree of emphasis and asseveration between “open ” and “shut” as the such as pertains to a divine oracle true rendering. A satisfactory decision rather than to a human utterance. “The between the claims of the two is not words of God” is in the original " the