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Numbers 22:4-7

Context

22:4 So the Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “Now this mass of people 1  will lick up everything around us, as the bull devours the grass of the field. Now Balak son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at this time. 22:5 And he sent messengers to Balaam 2  son of Beor at Pethor, which is by the Euphrates River 3  in the land of Amaw, 4  to summon him, saying, “Look, a nation has come out of Egypt. They cover the face 5  of the earth, and they are settling next to me. 22:6 So 6  now, please come and curse this nation 7  for me, for they are too powerful for me. Perhaps I will prevail so that we may conquer them 8  and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, 9  and whoever you curse is cursed.”

22:7 So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fee for divination in their hand. They came to Balaam and reported 10  to him the words of Balak.

1 tn The word is simply “company,” but in the context he must mean a vast company – a horde of people.

2 sn There is much literature on pagan diviners and especially prophecy in places in the east like Mari (see, for example, H. B. Huffmon, “Prophecy in the Mari Letters,” BA 31 [1968]: 101-24). Balaam appears to be a pagan diviner who was of some reputation; he was called to curse the Israelites, but God intervened and gave him blessings only. The passage forms a nice complement to texts that deal with blessings and curses. It shows that no one can curse someone whom God has blessed.

3 tn Heb “by the river”; in most contexts this expression refers to the Euphrates River (cf. NAB, NCV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

4 tn Heb “in the land of Amaw” (cf. NAB, NRSV, TEV); traditionally “in the land of the sons of his people.” The LXX has “by the river of the land.”

5 tn Heb “eye.” So also in v. 11.

6 tn The two lines before this verse begin with the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh), and so they lay the foundation for these imperatives. In view of those circumstances, this is what should happen.

7 tn Heb “people.” So also in vv. 10, 17, 41.

8 tn The construction uses the imperfect tense אוּכַל (’ukhal, “I will be able”) followed by the imperfect tense נַכֶּה (nakkeh, “we will smite/attack/defeat”). The second verb is clearly the purpose or the result of the first, even though there is no conjunction or particle.

9 tn The verb is the Piel imperfect of בָּרַךְ (barakh), with the nuance of possibility: “whomever you may bless.” The Pual participle מְבֹרָךְ (mÿvorakh) serves as the predicate.

10 tn Heb “spoke.”



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