The children of Israel move forward on their journeys into Canaan, pitching their tents in the plains of Moab.
New Character: Balak, king of the Moabites, son of Zippor
Balak has seen all that has happened with the Amorites, and he feared for his own people, so he consults with the elders of Midian and then reaches out for help.
Numbers 22:5 – He (Balak) sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pehtor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
Note the use of language here, while there is a “children of Israel” there is also a “children of Balak”, meaning Balak is a patriarch to his people the way Jacob/Israel was to his. Balak has a special request for Balaam:
22:6 – Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.
Balaam must have special powers, after all, as Balak affirms, when Balaam blesses or curses someone, they indeed are blessed or cursed. Take this as: not just ANYONE can bless or curse another. So the group of elders being consulted seek out Balaam:
22:7 – And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him words of Balak.
So it looks like, according to this verse, the cost of divination is considered “rewards of divination” which go to the diviner. Balaam tells the elders to stay the night there, because Jehovah is going to speak to him.
22:9 – And *elohim* came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
Now we have the Elohim speaking to Balaam, not only that (whether it is Jehovah or the multiple Elohim), this being is NOT All Knowing. He has to ask “who are these guys?”
Wouldn’t an all knowing god already know who they are!
Balaam speaks the words of Balak to Elohim, and Elohim denies his request to have them cursed. The group returns a second time, with more prominent princes to make the request to Balaam.
22:18 – And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of Jehovah my god.
So, despite not being part of the 12 tribes as mentioned so far, Balaam says that Jehovah is his god.
In a strange turn of events:
- Elohim speaks with Balaam at night, and tells him to go with the men who called him, but to wait for Elohim’s word on what to do
- Balaam wakes up in the morning and went with the men
22:22 – And Elohim’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of Jehovah stood in the way for an adversary against him.
Balaam does what Elohim tells him to do, and Elohim becomes angry? This type of illogical instruction is exactly what Jehovah does (remember how he sent Moses off to Egypt and then went to kill him?)
Let’s break off from the narrative and look at verse 22 again, this time in the Hebrew Interlinear:
22:22 – And was kindled the anger of Elohim because he went, and the malak (angel) of Jehovah stood in the way le*satan (for an adversary).
Note that the word for adversary is *Satan*, and that the Angel of Jehovah is technically a Satan. This is the ORIGINAL Hebrew, and it defines Satan as a title, not as an actual person. Remember in Genesis 2, with the Serpent that modern churches call the Devil, the word “serpent” was NOT Satan or Devil.
So “Satan” in the Old Testament is nothing more than a title meaning adversary.
It’s right there in the Original Hebrew of Numbers 22:22.
So this Satan stands before Balaam as he travels on his donkey. The donkey sees the Satan and buckles 3 times, and 3 times Balaam strikes the donkey to get it moving again.
22:28 – And Jehovah opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these 3 times? And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.
- The donkey is female (any significance to this?)
- We know the serpent is able to speak to mankind, now we find a talking donkey
- Balaam responds to the talking donkey with little surprise:
- Instead of “What is this, a talking donkey?!”
- Balaam answers the donkey as if talking donkey’s were normal
- The donkey could see the Satan, but Balaam couldn’t, until his “eyes were opened” by the angel
The angel repeats the words of Elohim “go with the men, and wait until I speak to you to tell you what to say” (which is odd because previous verse says he already went with the men.)
King Balak goes out to meet Balaam, and Balaam tells Balak he is only going to speak the words Elohim put in his mouth. They travel to Kirjath-huzoth “a city of streets.”
22:40 – And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.
Who did Balak offer oxen and sheep to? We already know Jehovah demands these offerings. Did he offer them to Chemosh? Another god?
The next day Balak took Balaam into the “high places” of Baal, so he could view all the people.