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him, If the men come to call thee,' rise up,
with them ; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do,
And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. * And God's anger was kindled because he went : and the angel of the Lord stood in the way, for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his 'ass, and his two servants were with him.
And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand : and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field : and Balaam smote the ass to turn her into the
way. But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: And he smote her again.
And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. * And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam. And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smcte the ass with a staff.
And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times ?
And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me; I would there were a sword in mine hand; for now would I kill thee.
And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine, unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.
Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand ; and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. : And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold I went out to withstaod thee, because thy way is perverse before me.
And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times : unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.
And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me ; now therefore if it displease thee, I will get me back again.
And the angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, Go with the men : but only the word that I shall speaks unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak,
And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him, unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost coast.
And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee, to call thee? Wherefore camest thou not unto me? Am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour ?
And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee : have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.
And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjath-huzoth.
And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
The Moabites were descended from Moab, one of the sons of Lot. They retained the worship of the true God among them till the time of Moses, but had corrupted their religion by mixing the worship of idols with it; they paid adoration in particular to Baal-Peory supposed by some to be an image of the Sun ; Baal signisies LORD, Peor the place where his temple was.
The Midianites (as we have before observed) descended from one of the sons of Abrahani, by his wife Keturah. We find from the scriptures, that in the days of Moses, sacrifices were offered to the LORD God in the southern parts of Midian, for Jethro was priest there, but in the nothern territories all kinds of abo minations were practised.
The Midianites were very numerous, sometimes they mixed with the Ishmaelites*, and at others united with the Moabites ; some of them were shepherds, who moved their tents, and drove their cattle before them, even in times of war; others were merchants who acquired immense riches; and, by exchanging their gold and jewels with their brethren, for flocks and herds, enriched them also.
Moses hrad received no commission to attack either the Moabites or the Midianites, therefore he would not have molested them; but it appears that these two nations had great dread of the Israelites.
It was a superstitious custom in use amongst the hea. thens t, to present gifts to magicians for pronouncing curses on their enemies, in the names of their idols, at
See Section lvi. vol. i.
+ Patrick's Commentaries.
the beginning of a wars which they thought would insure them' victory. All nations had heard of the wonders' performed by the God of Israel and it seems,' that Balaam was a Prophet, who had on some'occasions been inspired by the Lord, to utter predictions which had been "' remarkably accomplished. Balak therefore thought, that if Bålaam could be induced to invoke his GoD to curse Israel, that people would be intimidated from molesting the Moabites, and would depart in search of other conquests"; or that the LORD Himself might be prevailed on to assist that'nation whose cause His Prophet espoused. Balaam was a "very
i covetous man, and was tempted by these rewards-to' desire to curse those, who he knew were God's peculiar people; and instead of dismissing the messengers of Balak' with assurances," that the PROPHET of the Holy God despised all worldly riches and honours, he enquired of the LORD ; which in the present case was very impious, because God's "pur. poses, in respect to Israel," had been already revealed; and Balaam well knew that, unless they provoked their Heavenly King by, disobedience, no nation could prevail against them.
It is evident that Balaam regretted his having been forbidden to go to Balak, for when other messengers were sent, he discovered a strong inclination to attend them, notwithstanding the Lord's former interdiction. Though it was not the Divine Will that he should go, at the first, the LORD permitted him to accompany, the messengers the second time, commanding him, however, to speak those words only that he should put in his mouth. Balaam ought therefore to have immediately laid aside all mercenary, views, and to have resolved to perform the office of a prophet willingly, but he loved the wages of unrighteouspess", and deter* 2 Pet. ii, 15.
mined to gain them if possible ; he accordingly set off on his journey, and, it is likely, revolved in his mind as he rode along, how he should turn to his own profit the Divine Revelation he expected to receive on his arrival in the land of Moab. God, it is true, commanded him to go with the messengers of Balak, but not to curse Israel, yet
this was Balaam's purpose, therefore the Lord's anger was kindled because he went.
Balaam seems to have been one of that kind of men, who have no regard to the feelings of the brute creation. The text says,, that he went with the princes of Moab; but we find, that he was afterwards attended only by two of his own servants ; therefore it is nog unlikely, that, impatient to accomplish his journey, he got before them, and urged his ass to make greater speed than was consistent with the ! nature of so slow an ani. mal, and that he would have gone on till he had ridden her to death; for we cannot suppose, that the Angel of the Lore would have raised terror in a creature which was undoubtedly the object of Divine compassion, but with a view to the preservation of its life.
This poor ass was an old and steady' servant;, so that when she turned aside into a field, he might have supposed there was some extraordinary cause for her quitting the road; and he should have tried to get her back by gentle means : instead of this, he had recourse to blows; and the more her terror increased, the greater was his rage and cruelty towards this poor creature, which had carried him with ease and safety many a fatiguing journey, and which" had never 'before been disobedient to his will. Nay, to such an extreme did he suffer his anger to rise, that he was not even affected with the uncommon circumstance of her speak to him. The reply which Balaam made to his ass, when she first addressed him, was a very foolish one ; for in what could