The Israelites then set out and pitched their camp in the Plains of Moab, beyond the Jordan opposite Jericho.
Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites,
and Moab was terrified of the people, because there were so many of them. Moab was afraid of the Israelites;
he said to the elders of Midian, 'This horde will soon have cropped everything round us as closely as an ox crops grass in the countryside.' Now Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at the time.
He sent messengers to summon Balaam son of Beor, at Pethor on the River, in the territory of the Amawites, saying, 'Look, a people coming from Egypt has overrun the whole countryside; they have halted at my very door.
I beg you come and curse this people for me, for they are stronger than I am. We may then be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For this I know: anyone you bless is blessed, anyone you curse is accursed.'
The elders of Moab and the elders of Midian set out, taking the fee for the divination with them. They found Balaam and gave him Balak's message.
He said to them, 'Stay the night here, and I will answer as Yahweh directs me.' So the chiefs of Moab stayed with Balaam.
God came to Balaam and said, 'Who are these men staying with you?'
Balaam said to God, 'Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent me this message,
"Look, a people coming from Egypt has overrun the whole countryside. Come now and curse them for me; I may then be able to defeat them and drive them out." '
God said to Balaam, 'You are not to go with them. You are not to curse the people, for they are blessed.'
In the morning Balaam got up and said to the chiefs sent by Balak, 'Go back to your country, for Yahweh will not let me go with you.'
So the chiefs of Moab got up, went back to Balak and said, 'Balaam refuses to come with us.'
And again Balak sent chiefs, more numerous and more renowned than the first.
They came to Balaam and said, 'A message from Balak son of Zippor, "Now do not refuse to come to me.
I will load you with honours and do whatever you say. I beg you come and curse this people for me." '
In reply, Balaam said to Balak's envoys, 'Even if Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go against the order of Yahweh my God in anything, great or small.
Now please stay the night here yourselves, and I will learn what else Yahweh has to tell me.'
God came to Balaam during the night and said to him, 'Have not these men come to summon you? Get up, go with them, but do only what I tell you to do.'
Balaam got up and saddled his donkey and set out with the chiefs of Moab.
His going kindled Yahweh's anger, and the angel of Yahweh took his stand on the road to bar his way. Balaam was riding his donkey and his two servants were with him.
Now the donkey saw the angel of Yahweh standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, and she turned off the road into the open country. Balaam then struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road.
The angel of Yahweh then went and stood on a narrow path among the vineyards, with a wall to the right and a wall to the left.
The donkey saw the angel of Yahweh and scraped against the wall, scraping Balaam's foot against it, so he struck her again.
The angel of Yahweh then moved and stood in a place so narrow that there was no room to pass either to right or left.
When the donkey saw the angel of Yahweh, she lay down under Balaam. Balaam flew into a rage and struck the donkey with his stick.
Yahweh then gave the donkey the power to talk, and she said to Balaam, 'What harm have I done you, for you to strike me three times like this?'
Balaam answered the donkey, 'Because you have been making a fool of me! If I had been carrying a sword, I should have killed you by now.'
The donkey said to Balaam, 'Am I not your donkey, and have I not been your mount all your life? Have I ever behaved like this with you before?' 'No,' he replied.
Yahweh then opened Balaam's eyes and he saw the angel of Yahweh standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed his head and threw himself on his face.
And the angel of Yahweh said to him, 'Why did you strike your donkey three times like that? I myself had come to bar your way; while I am here your road is blocked.
The donkey saw me and turned aside because of me three times. You are lucky she did turn aside, or I should have killed you by now, though I would have spared her.'
Balaam said to the angel of Yahweh, 'I have sinned. I did not know you were standing in the road to stop me. But if what I am doing displeases you, I will go home again.'
The angel of Yahweh said to Balaam, 'Go with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.' So Balaam went on with the chiefs sent by Balak.
Balak learned that Balaam was coming and went out to meet him, in the direction of Ar in Moab, at the Arnon frontier on the country's furthest boundary.
Balak said to Balaam, 'Did I not send messengers to summon you? Why did you not come to me? Did you think, perhaps, I could confer no honours on you?'
Balaam said to Balak, 'I have come to you after all. I suppose you know I cannot say anything on my own? The words God puts into my mouth are what I shall say.'
Balaam set out with Balak. They came to Kiriath-Huzoth.
Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and offered portions to Balaam and the chiefs who were with him.
Next morning Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-Baal, from where he could see the edge of the camp.
The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) is a Catholic translation of the Bible published in 1985. The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) has become the most widely used Roman Catholic Bible outside of the United States. It has the imprimatur of Cardinal George Basil Hume.
Like its predecessor, the Jerusalem Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) version is translated "directly from the Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic." The 1973 French translation, the Bible de Jerusalem, is followed only "where the text admits to more than one interpretation." Introductions and notes, with some modifications, are taken from the Bible de Jerusalem.
Source: The Very Reverend Dom (Joseph) Henry Wansbrough, OSB, MA (Oxon), STL (Fribourg), LSS (Rome), a monk of Ampleforth Abbey and a biblical scholar. He was General Editor of the New Jerusalem Bible. "New Jerusalem Bible, Regular Edition", pg. v.
Ten Commandments | Books of the Bible | Buy a Bible
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