Bible Society of South Africa

Bible Reading Plan – Day 44

Bible text(s)

Balaam and his Donkey

22God was angry that Balaam was going, and as Balaam was riding along on his donkey, accompanied by his two servants, the angel of the LORD stood in the road to bar his way. 23When the donkey saw the angel standing there holding a sword, it left the road and turned into the fields. Balaam beat the donkey and brought it back on to the road. 24Then the angel stood where the road narrowed between two vineyards and had a stone wall on each side. 25When the donkey saw the angel, it moved over against the wall and crushed Balaam's foot against it. Again Balaam beat the donkey. 26Once more the angel moved ahead; he stood in a narrow place where there was no room at all to pass on either side. 27This time, when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down. Balaam lost his temper and began to beat the donkey with his stick. 28Then the LORD gave the donkey the power of speech, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you? Why have you beaten me these three times?”

29Balaam answered, “Because you have made a fool of me! If I had a sword, I would kill you.”

30The donkey replied, “Am I not the same donkey on which you have ridden all your life? Have I ever treated you like this before?”

“No,” he answered.

31Then the LORD let Balaam see the angel standing there with his sword; and Balaam threw himself face downwards on the ground. 32The angel demanded, “Why have you beaten your donkey three times like this? I have come to bar your way, because you should not be making this journey. 33But your donkey saw me and turned aside three times. If it hadn't, I would have killed you and spared the donkey.”

34Balaam replied, “I have sinned. I did not know that you were standing in the road to oppose me; but now if you think it is wrong for me to go on, I will return home.”

35But the angel said, “Go on with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.” So Balaam went on with them.

Balak Welcomes Balaam

36When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went to meet him at Ar, a city on the River Arnon at the border of Moab. 37Balak said to him, “Why didn't you come when I sent for you the first time? Did you think I wasn't able to reward you enough?”

38Balaam answered, “I came, didn't I? But now, what power have I got? I can say only what God tells me to say.” 39So Balaam went with Balak to the town of Huzoth, 40where Balak slaughtered cattle and sheep and gave some of the meat to Balaam and the leaders who were with him.

Balaam's First Prophecy

41Next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, from where Balaam could see a part of the people of Israel.

1He said to Balak, “Build seven altars here for me, and bring me seven bulls and seven rams.”

2Balak did as he was told, and he and Balaam offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 3Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering, while I go to see whether or not the LORD will meet me. I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So he went alone to the top of a hill, 4and God met him. Balaam said to him, “I have built the seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each.”

5The LORD told Balaam what to say and sent him back to Balak to give him his message. 6So he went back and found Balak still standing by his burnt offering, with all the leaders of Moab.

7Balaam uttered this prophecy:

“Balak king of Moab has brought me

From Syria, from the eastern mountains.

‘Come and speak for me,’ he said.

‘Put a curse on the people of Israel.’

8How can I curse what God has not cursed,

Or speak of doom when the LORD has not?

9From the high rocks I can see them;

I can watch them from the hills.

They are a nation that lives alone;

They know they are blessed more than other nations.

10The descendants of Israel are like the dust —

There are too many of them to be counted.

Let me end my days like one of God's people;

Let me die in peace like the righteous.”

11Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I brought you here to curse my enemies, but all you have done is bless them.”

12He answered, “I can say only what the LORD tells me to say.”

Balaam's Second Prophecy

13Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come with me to another place from which you can see only some of the Israelites. Curse them for me from there.” 14He took him to the field of Zophim on the top of Mount Pisgah. There also he built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each of them.

15Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offering, and I will meet God over there.”

16The LORD met Balaam, told him what to say, and sent him back to Balak to give him his message. 17So he went back and found Balak still standing by his burnt offering, with the leaders of Moab. Balak asked what the LORD had said, 18and Balaam uttered this prophecy:

“Come, Balak son of Zippor,

And listen to what I have to say.

19God is not like men, who lie;

He is not a human who changes his mind.

Whatever he promises, he does;

He speaks, and it is done.

20I have been instructed to bless,

And when God blesses, I cannot call it back.

21I foresee that Israel's future

Will bring her no misfortune or trouble.

The LORD their God is with them;

They proclaim that he is their king.

22God has brought them out of Egypt;

He fights for them like a wild ox.

23There is no magic charm, no witchcraft,

That can be used against the nation of Israel.

Now people will say about Israel,

‘Look what God has done!’

24The nation of Israel is like a mighty lion:

It doesn't rest until it has torn and devoured,

Until it has drunk the blood of those it has killed.”

25Then Balak said to Balaam, “You refuse to curse the people of Israel, but at least don't bless them!”

26Balaam answered, “Didn't I tell you that I had to do everything that the LORD told me?”

Balaam's Third Prophecy

27Balak said, “Come with me, and I will take you to another place. Perhaps God will be willing to let you curse them for me from there.” 28So he took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor overlooking the desert. 29Balaam said to him, “Build seven altars for me here and bring me seven bulls and seven rams.” 30Balak did as he was told, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

1By now Balaam knew that the LORD wanted him to bless the people of Israel, so he did not go to look for omens, as he had done before. He turned towards the desert 2and saw the people of Israel camped tribe by tribe. The Spirit of God took control of him, 3and he uttered this prophecy:

“The message of Balaam son of Beor,

The words of the man who can see clearly,

4Who can hear what God is saying.

With staring eyes I see in a trance

A vision from Almighty God.

5The tents of Israel are beautiful,

6Like long rows of palms

Or gardens beside a river,

Like aloes planted by the LORD

Or cedars beside the water.

7They will have abundant rainfall

And plant their seed in well-watered fields.

Their king shall be greater than Agag,

And his rule shall be extended far and wide.

8God brought them out of Egypt;

He fights for them like a wild ox.

They devour their enemies,

Crush their bones, smash their arrows.

9The nation is like a mighty lion;

When it is sleeping, no one dares wake it.

Whoever blesses Israel will be blessed,

And whoever curses Israel will be cursed.”

10Balak clenched his fists in anger and said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, but three times now you have blessed them instead. 11Now go off home! I promised to reward you, but the LORD has kept you from getting the reward.”

12Balaam answered, “I told the messengers you sent to me that 13even if you gave me all the silver and gold in your palace, I could not disobey the command of the LORD by doing anything of myself. I will say only what the LORD tells me to say.”

Balaam's Final Prophecies

14Balaam said to Balak, “Now I am going back to my own people, but before I go, I am warning you what the people of Israel will do to your people in the future.” 15Then he uttered this prophecy:

“The message of Balaam son of Beor,

The words of the man who can see clearly,

16Who can hear what God is saying

And receive the knowledge that comes from the Most High.

With staring eyes I see in a trance

A vision from Almighty God.

17I look into the future,

And I see the nation of Israel.

A king, like a bright star, will arise in that nation.

Like a comet he will come from Israel.

He will strike the leaders of Moab

And beat down all the people of Seth.

18He will conquer his enemies in Edom

And make their land his property,

While Israel continues victorious.

19The nation of Israel will trample them down

And wipe out the last survivors.”

20Then in his vision Balaam saw the Amalekites and uttered this prophecy:

“Amalek was the most powerful nation of all,

But at the end it will perish for ever.”

21In his vision he saw the Kenites, and uttered this prophecy:

“The place where you live is secure,

Safe as a nest set high on a cliff,

22But you Kenites will be destroyed

When Assyria takes you captive.”

23Balaam uttered this prophecy:

“Who are these people gathering in the north?

24Invaders will sail from Cyprus;

They will conquer Assyria and Eber,

But they, in turn, will perish for ever.”

25Then Balaam got ready and went back home, and Balak went on his way.

The People of Israel at Peor

1When the Israelites were camped in the Valley of Acacia, the men began to have sexual intercourse with the Moabite women who were there. 2These women invited them to sacrificial feasts, where the god of Moab was worshipped. The Israelites ate the food and worshipped the god 3Baal of Peor. So the LORD was angry with them 4and said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of Israel and, in obedience to me, execute them in broad daylight, and then I will no longer be angry with the people.” 5Moses said to the officials, “Each of you is to kill every man in your tribe who has become a worshipper of Baal of Peor.”

6One of the Israelites took a Midianite woman into his tent in the sight of Moses and the whole community, while they were mourning at the entrance of the Tent of the LORD's presence. 7When Phinehas, the son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest, saw this, he got up and left the assembly. He took a spear, 8followed the man and the woman into the tent, and drove the spear through both of them. In this way the epidemic that was destroying Israel was stopped, 9but it had already killed 24,000 people.

10The LORD said to Moses, 11“Because of what Phinehas has done, I am no longer angry with the people of Israel. He refused to tolerate the worship of any god but me, and that is why I did not destroy them in my anger. 12So tell him that I am making a covenant with him that is valid for all time to come. 13He and his descendants are permanently established as priests, because he did not tolerate any rivals to me and brought about forgiveness for the people's sin.”

14The name of the Israelite who was killed with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, the head of a family in the tribe of Simeon. 15The woman's name was Cozbi. Zur, her father, was chief of a group of Midianite clans.

16The LORD commanded Moses, 17“Attack the Midianites and destroy them, 18because of the evil they did to you when they deceived you at Peor, and because of Cozbi, who was killed at the time of the epidemic at Peor.”

Numbers 22:22-25:18GNBOpen in Bible reader
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