23:3 Balaam said to Balak, “Station yourself 1 by your burnt offering, and I will go off; perhaps the Lord will come to meet me, and whatever he reveals to me 2 I will tell you.” 3 Then he went to a deserted height. 4
Or number 8 the fourth part of Israel?
23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a human being, 15 that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen? 16
nor is there any divination against Israel.
and of Israel, ‘Look at 20 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 21 prey,
and drink the blood of the slain.” 22
23:30 So Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
1 tn The verb הִתְיַצֵּב (hityatsev) means “to take a stand, station oneself.” It is more intentional than simply standing by something. He was to position himself by the sacrifice as Balaam withdrew to seek the oracle.
2 tn Heb “and the word of what he shows me.” The noun is in construct, and so the clause that follows functions as a noun clause in the genitive. The point is that the word will consist of divine revelation.
3 tn The verb is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. This clause is dependent on the clause that precedes it.
4 sn He went up to a bald spot, to a barren height. The statement underscores the general belief that such tops were the closest things to the gods. On such heights people built their shrines and temples.
5 tn The question is again rhetorical; it means no one can count them – they are innumerable.
6 tn The perfect tense can also be classified as a potential nuance. It does not occur very often, but does occur several times.
7 sn The reference in the oracle is back to Gen 13:16, which would not be clear to Balaam. But God had described their growth like the dust of the earth. Here it is part of the description of the vast numbers.
8 tn Heb “and as a number, the fourth part of Israel.” The noun in the MT is not in the construct state, and so it should be taken as an adverbial accusative, forming a parallel with the verb “count.” The second object of the verse then follows, “the fourth part of Israel.” Smr and the LXX have “and who has numbered” (וּמִסְפָּר, umispar), making this colon more parallel to the preceding one. The editor of BHS prefers this reading.
9 tn The use of נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) for the subject of the verb stresses the personal nature – me.
10 sn Here the seer’s words link with the promise of Gen 12:3, that whoever blesses Israel will be blessed. Since the blessing belongs to them, the upright (and not Balak), Balaam would like his lot to be with them.
11 tn Heb “my latter end.”
12 tn Heb “his.”
13 tn The Hebrew text uses הִנֵּה (hinneh) here to stress the contrast.
14 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.
15 tn Heb “son of man.”
16 tn The verb is the Hiphil of קוּם (qum, “to cause to rise; to make stand”). The meaning here is more of the sense of fulfilling the promises made.
17 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.
18 tn The form is the preposition “like, as” and the word for “time” – according to the time, about this time, now.
19 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.”
20 tn The words “look at” are not in the Hebrew text but have been added in the translation for clarity.
21 tn The pronoun “their” has been supplied for clarity; it is not present in the Hebrew text.
22 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.
23 tn Heb “be pleasing in the eyes of God.”
24 sn Balak is stubborn, as indeed Balaam is persistent. But Balak still thinks that if another location were used it just might work. Balaam had actually told Balak in the prophecy that other attempts would fail. But Balak refuses to give up so easily. So he insists they perform the ritual and try again. This time, however, Balaam will change his approach, and this will result in a dramatic outpouring of power on him.