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  Discovery Box

Numbers 23:23-25

Context

23:23 For there is no spell against 1  Jacob,

nor is there any divination against Israel.

At this time 2  it must be said 3  of Jacob

and of Israel, ‘Look at 4  what God has done!’

23:24 Indeed, the people will rise up like a lioness,

and like a lion raises himself up;

they will not lie down until they eat their 5  prey,

and drink the blood of the slain.” 6 

Balaam Relocates Yet Again

23:25 Balak said to Balaam, “Neither curse them at all 7  nor bless them at all!” 8 

1 tn Or “in Jacob.” But given the context the meaning “against” is preferable. The words describe two techniques of consulting God; the first has to do with observing omens in general (“enchantments”), and the second with casting lots or arrows of the like (“divinations” [Ezek 21:26]). See N. H. Snaith, Leviticus and Numbers (NCB), 295-96.

2 tn The form is the preposition “like, as” and the word for “time” – according to the time, about this time, now.

3 tn The Niphal imperfect here carries the nuance of obligation – one has to say in amazement that God has done something marvelous or “it must be said.”

4 tn The words “look at” are not in the Hebrew text but have been added in the translation for clarity.

5 tn The pronoun “their” has been supplied for clarity; it is not present in the Hebrew text.

6 sn The oracle compares Israel first to a lion, or better, lioness, because she does the tracking and hunting of food while the lion moves up and down roaring and distracting the prey. But the lion is also the traditional emblem of Judah, Dan and Gad, as well as the symbol of royalty. So this also supports the motif of royalty as well as power for Israel.

7 tn The verb is preceded by the infinitive absolute: “you shall by no means curse” or “do not curse them at all.” He brought him to curse, and when he tried to curse there was a blessing. Balak can only say it would be better not to bother.

8 tn The same construction now works with “nor bless them at all.” The two together form a merism – “don’t say anything.” He does not want them blessed, so Balaam is not to do that, but the curse isn’t working either.



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