~Reading: Numbers: Chapters 21-24
Chapter 21: Israel defeats those who live in Negeb. As they travel, they request from the Amorites simple passage through the land. They refuse and the Israelites defeat them.
Chapters 22 through 24 cover a period of time when the Israelites are camped on the Plains of Moab. Balak, the king of Moab, was fearful of the Israelites after he saw what they had done to the Amorites. Therefore, he summoned a magician/soothsayer, Balaam, to curse the Israelites.
Chapter 22: 6-15, 20-21, 36-38
(6-15) [Balak to Balaam] "Please come and curse this people [the Israelites] for us; they are stronger than we are. We may then be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed and whoever you curse is cursed." Then the elders of the Moab and of Midian left with the divination fee in hand went to Balaam.
When they had given him Balak's message, he said to them in reply, "Stay here overnight, and I will give you whatever answer the Lord gives me." So the princes of Moab lodged with Balaam.
Then God came to Balaam and said, "Who are these men visiting you?" Balaam answered God, "Balak, son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent me the message: 'This people that came here from Egypt now cover the face of the earth. Please come and lay a curse on them for us; we then be able to give them battle and drive them out.'"
But God to Balaam, "Do not go with them and do not curse this people, for they are blessed."
The next morning Balaam arose and told the princes of Balak, "Go back to your own country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you." So the princes of Moab went back to Balak with the report, "Balaam refused to come with us."
Balak again sent princes, who were more numerous and more distinguished than the others.
(20-21) That night God came to Balaam and said to him, "If these men have come to summon you, you may go with them; yet only on the condition that you do exactly as I tell you." So the next morning when Balaam arose, he saddled his ass, and went off with the princes of Moab.
(36-38) When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the boundary city Ir-Moab on the Arnon at the end of the Moabite territory. And he said to Balaam, "I sent an urgent summons to you! Why did you not come to me? Did you think I could not reward you?"
Balaam answered him, "Well, I have come to you after all. But what power have I to say anything? I can only speak was God puts in my mouth."
Chapter 23: 11-12, 25-26 (words in brackets are my paraphrases)
[Balaam builds alters and then gives voice to his first oracle, which blessed the Israelites]
(11-12) "What have you done to me?" cried Balak to Balaam. "It was to curse my foes that I brought you here; instead, you have even blessed them." Balaam replied, "Is it not what the Lord puts in my mouth that I must repeat with care?"
[They go to another place and Balaam gives voice to his second oracle]
(25-26) "Even though you cannot curse them," said Balak to Balaam, "at least do not bless them." But Balaam answered Balak, "Did I not warn you that I must do all that the Lord tells me?"
Chapter 24: 10-13, 25
[They go to another place, build alters, and then Balaam gives voice to his third oracle]
(10-13) Balak beat his palms together in a blaze of anger at Balaam and said to him, "It was to curse my foes that I summoned you here; yet three times now you have even blessed them instead!" Be off at once, then to your home. I promised to reward you richly, but the Lord has withheld the reward from you!"
Balaam replied to Balak, "Did I not warn the very messengers whom you sent to me, 'Even if Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I could not of my own accord do anything, good or evil, contrary to the command of the Lord'? Whatever the Lord says I must repeat."
[Balaam gives voice to his fourth oracle]
(25) Then Balaam set out on his journey home and Balak also went on his way.
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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