Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Balaam

The title of this blog, And the Ass Saw the Angel, comes from the story of Balaam in the Book of Numbers. Here are some of Balaams words after viewing the Hebrews he has been summoned to curse.

I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of
Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of
Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of
tumult.

Numbers 24:17


Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

5 comments:

JimII said...

I am not familiar with the story. Who summoned Baalam to curse the Hebrews?

I do know that Jacob and Israel are synonyms, so this verse demonstrates the oft used poetic repetition.

I don't remember for sure, but I think the Moabites are the descendants of Lot.

What were the Hebrews up to in this story?

Josh said...

It's a fascinating story. Numbers, chapters 22-24.

The Hebrews are wandering around running into people who don't want any newcomers around and fighting a lot. The Moabites are scared and solicit Balaam, local magic man, to curse the Hebrews. When Balaam sets out to meet the Moabite king, Balak, The Lord sends and angel to stop him. Balaam can't see the angel, but the ass he is riding sees the angel in the road with sword drawn, and turns aside. This happens 3 times, with Balaam getting more and more angry at the ass each time. Finally he's beating the ass and God gives the ass the ability to talk to Balaam.

Here's one of the great parts. The ass starts talking to Balaam, and Balaam just talks back, without a blink. Awesome. Finally God reveals the angel to Balaam and Balaams attitude changes. God tells Balaam to go on to meet the King, but to speak only the words that God gives him.

Then Balak takes Balaam up on some hills where he can see the Hebrews and instructs him to curse them. To Balak's chagrin, Balaam blesses the Hebrews instead. Here's my favorite bit. Balak says, "Hey, lets go over try it from over there and maybe He will let you curse them from there." So they do, and again Balaam blesses the Hebrews. This happens maybe 3 times. The text I quoted is from one of Balaam's blessings.

I also discovered last night that God really held a grudge about this. In DEUTERONOMY God says
23:3 An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:

23:4 Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.

23:5 Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.

By the way, these verses are quoted from the online KJV Bible I just found. Sweet. The Bible I just bought is a New King James. I didn't notice the "new" when I bought it. It's still good , but I prefer the old school KJV.

JimII said...

That's funny. I have no use for the KJV Bible, except maybe saying the 23rd Psalm.

JimII said...

Oh, and it is a really cool story. Thanks for filling me in.

BliNgBliNg6872 said...

Way ta tell the story in a way that's easily comprehendable *props* and it is a cool story! I was actually doing a project and found this picture of a fresco in the catacombs of Priscillia that refers to Numbers 24:17 that I clearly didn't understand, but thanks to you, clears everything right up! Thanks* ^.^

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