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Numbers 23:11-17

Context
Balaam Relocates

23:11 Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, but on the contrary 1  you have only blessed them!” 2  23:12 Balaam replied, 3  “Must I not be careful 4  to speak what the Lord has put in my mouth?” 5  23:13 Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place from which you can observe them. You will see only a part of them, but you will not see all of them. Curse them for me from there.”

23:14 So Balak brought Balaam 6  to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, 7  where 8  he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 23:15 And Balaam 9  said to Balak, “Station yourself here 10  by your burnt offering, while I meet the Lord there. 23:16 Then the Lord met Balaam and put a message 11  in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and speak what I tell you.” 23:17 When Balaam 12  came to him, he was still standing by his burnt offering, along with the princes of Moab. And Balak said to him, “What has the Lord spoken?”

1 tn The Hebrew text uses הִנֵּה (hinneh) here to stress the contrast.

2 tn The construction is emphatic, using the perfect tense and the infinitive absolute to give it the emphasis. It would have the force of “you have done nothing but bless,” or “you have indeed blessed.” The construction is reminiscent of the call of Abram and the promise of the blessing in such elaborate terms.

3 tn Heb “he answered and said.” The referent (Balaam) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

4 tn The verb שָׁמַר (shamar) means “to guard, watch, observe” and so here with a sense of “be careful” or even “take heed” (so KJV, ASV). The nuance of the imperfect tense would be obligatory: “I must be careful” – to do what? to speak what the Lord has put in my mouth. The infinitive construct “to speak” is therefore serving as the direct object of שָׁמַר.

5 tn The clause is a noun clause serving as the direct object of “to speak.” It begins with the sign of the accusative, and then the relative pronoun that indicates the whole clause is the accusative.

6 tn Heb “he brought him”; the referents (Balak and Balaam) have been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Some scholars do not translate this word as “Pisgah,” but rather as a “lookout post” or an “elevated place.”

8 tn Heb “and he built.”

9 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Balaam) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tn The verse uses כֹּה (koh) twice: “Station yourself here…I will meet [the Lord] there.”

11 tn Heb “word.”

12 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Balaam) has been specified in the translation for clarity.



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