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Numbers - Chapter 23

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1 Balaam said to Balak, 'Build me seven altars here and prepare me seven bulls and seven rams.'

2 Balak did as Balaam said and offered a burnt offering of one bull and one ram on each altar.

3 Balaam then said to Balak, 'Stand beside your burnt offerings while I go away. Perhaps Yahweh will come and meet me. If he does, I shall tell you whatever he reveals to me.' And he withdrew to a bare hill.

4 God came to meet Balaam, who said to him, 'I have prepared the seven altars and offered a burnt offering of one bull and one ram on each altar.'

5 Yahweh then put a prophecy into his mouth and said to him, 'Go back to Balak, and that is what you must say to him.'

6 So Balaam went back to him, and found him still standing beside his burnt offering, with all the chiefs of Moab.

7 He then declaimed his poem as follows: Balak has brought me from Aram, the king of Moab from the hills of Kedem: 'Come and curse Jacob for me, come and denounce Israel!'

8 How shall I curse someone whom God has not cursed, how denounce someone God has not denounced?

9 Yes, from the top of the crags I see him, from the hills I descry him: a people that dwells on its own, not to be reckoned among other nations!

10 Who can count the dust of Jacob? Who can number the cloud of Israel? May I die the death of the just, and may my future be like theirs!

11 Balak said to Balaam, 'What have you done to me? I brought you to curse my enemies, and you have heaped blessings on them!'

12 Balaam replied, 'Am I to depart from what Yahweh puts into my mouth?'

13 Balak then said, 'Please come somewhere else. From here you can see only the fringe of them, you cannot see them all. Curse them for me over there.'

14 He led him to the Lookouts' Field on the top of Pisgah. There he built seven altars and offered a burnt offering of one bull and one ram on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, 'Stand here beside your burnt offerings while I wait over there.'

16 God came to meet Balaam, he put a prophecy into his mouth and said to him, 'Go back to Balak, and that is what you must say to him.'

17 So Balaam went to him and found him still standing beside his burnt offering and all the chiefs of Moab with him. 'What did Yahweh say?' Balak said to him.

18 Balaam then declaimed his poem, as follows: Stand up, Balak, and listen, give ear to me, son of Zippor.

19 God is no human being that he should lie, no child of Adam to change his mind. Is it his to say and not to do, is it his to speak and not fulfil?

20 The charge laid on me is to bless, I shall bless, and I cannot reverse it.

21 I have perceived no guilt in Jacob, have seen no perversity in Israel. Yahweh his God is with him, and a royal acclamation to greet him.

22 God has brought him out of Egypt, is like the wild ox's horns to him.

23 There is no omen whatever against Jacob, no augury at all against Israel. Well may people say of Jacob, of Israel, 'What has God achieved?'

24 for here is a people like a lioness rising, poised like a lion to spring; nor will he lie down till he has devoured his prey and drunk the blood of his slain.

25 Balak said to Balaam, 'Very well! Do not curse them. But at least do not bless them!'

26 Balaam retorted to Balak, 'Did I not tell you? Whatever Yahweh says, I must do.'

27 Balak then said to Balaam, 'Come with me now and I shall take you somewhere else. From there perhaps it will please God to curse them for me.'

28 So Balak led Balaam to the summit of Peor, overlooking the wastelands.

29 Balaam then said to Balak, 'Build me seven altars here and prepare me seven bulls and seven rams.'

30 Balak did as Balaam said and offered a burnt offering of one bull and one ram on each altar.


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Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

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