The Bible in Its Traditions

Numbers 22:1–41

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And the children of Israel journeyed, and pitched in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho.

And they set out and made camp in the plains of Moab, across the Jordan, where Jericho is situated.

And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.

Then Balak, the son of Zippor, seeing all that Israel had done to the Amorite,

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And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many; and Moab was overcome with dread because of the children of Israel.

then Moab feared the people exceedingly because they were many; and Moab was grieved before the face of the children of Israel.

and that the Moabites had great fear of him, and that they were not able to bear his assault,

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And Moab said unto the elders of Midian: 'Now will this multitude lick up all that is round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field.'--And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.--

said to those greater by birth of Midian: “So will this people wipe away all those who are dwelling within our borders, in the same way that the ox is accustomed to tear out grass, all the way to the roots.” At that time, he was king of Moab.

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And he sent messengers unto Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor, which is by the River, to the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying: 'Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt; behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me.

Therefore, he sent messengers to Balaam, the son of Beor, a seer who lived above the river of the land of the sons of Ammon, to call him, and to say: “Behold, a people has gone forth from Egypt, which has covered the face of the earth. They are encamped opposite me.

So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, an interpreter of dreams, who dwelt by the river of the land of the children of Ammon, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt; they cover the face of the land, and they are settled over against me.

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Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me; peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land; for I know that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.'

Therefore, come and curse this people, for they are stronger than I am. If only, in some way, I might be able to strike them and to drive them from my land. For I know that he whom you bless shall be blessed, and he whom you curse shall be cursed.”

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And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spoke unto him the words of Balak.

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And he said unto them: 'Lodge here this night, and I will bring you back word, as YHWH may speak unto me'; and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.

And he said to them, Tarry here the night, and I will answer you the things which the Lord shall say to me; and the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam.

he responded, “Remain for this night, and I will answer with whatever the Lord will say to me.” And while they stayed with Balaam, God came and said to him,

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And God came unto Balaam, and said: 'What men are these with thee?'

“What do these men want with you?”

10  And Balaam said unto God: 'Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me saying

10  He responded, “Balak, the son of Zippor, the king of the Moabites has sent to me,

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11  Behold the people that is come out of Egypt, it covereth the face of the earth; now, come curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to fight against them, and shall drive them out.'

11  Behold, a people has come forth out of Egypt, and has covered the face of the land, and it has encamped near to me; and now come, curse it for me, if indeed I shall be able to smite it, and cast it out of the land.

11  saying: ‘Behold, a people, which has gone forth from Egypt, has covered the face of the earth. Come and curse them, so that, in some way, I may be able to fight them and drive them away.’ ”

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12  And God said unto Balaam: 'Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people; for they are blessed.'

12  And God said to Balaam, “Do not go with them, and do not curse the people, for they are blessed.”

13  And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak: 'Get you into your land; for YHWH refuseth to give me leave to go with you.'

13  And he, rising up in the morning, said to the leaders, “Go into your own land, for the Lord has prohibited me from going with you.”

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14  And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said: 'Balaam refuseth to come with us.'

14  Returning, the leaders said to Balak, “Balaam was not willing to come with us.”

14  So the princes of Moab rose up and went to Balak, and said to him, Balaam refused to come with us.

15  And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.

15  Again, he sent many more persons, and these were more noble than those he had sent before.

15  And again Balak sent messengers who were greater and more honorable than they.

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16  And they came to Balaam, and said to him: 'Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor: Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me;

16  And when these had come to Balaam, they said: “So says Balak, the son of Zippor. Do not hesitate to come to me.

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17  for I will promote thee unto very great honour, and whatsoever thou sayest unto me I will do; come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.'

17  For I am ready to honor you, and whatever you would want, I shall give to you. Come and curse this people.”

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18  And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak: 'If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of YHWH my God, to do any thing, small or great.

18  Balaam responded: “Even if Balak were to give to me his own house, filled with silver and gold, I still would not be able to change the word of the Lord my God, neither to say more, nor to say less.

18  And Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not transgress against the word of the LORD my God, neither concerning a small matter nor concerning a great matter.

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19  Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what YHWH will speak unto me more.'

19  And now do ye also tarry here this night, and I shall know what the Lord will yet say to me.

19  I beg you to remain for this night also, so that I may know what the Lord will answer me again.”

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20  And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him: 'If the men are come to call thee, rise up, go with them; but only the word which I speak unto thee, that shalt thou do.'

20  Therefore, God came to Balaam in the night, and said to him: “If these men have arrived to call you, then rise up and go with them; yet only in so far as you shall do what I will command you.”

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21  And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.

21  Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddling his donkey, he set out with them.

21  So Balaam rose up in the morning and saddled his ass and went with the princes of Balak.

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22  And God's anger was kindled because he went; and the angel of YHWH placed himself in the way for an adversary against him.--Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.--

22  And God was very angry because he went; and the angel of the Lord rose up to withstand him. Now he had mounted his ass, and his two servants were with him.

22  And God was angry. And an Angel of the Lord stood in the way opposite Balaam, who was sitting on the donkey, and he had two servants with him.

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23  And the ass saw the angel of YHWH standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field; and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

23  The donkey, discerning that the Angel was standing in the way with a drawn sword, turned herself from the road and went through a field. And when Balaam beat her and intended to return her to the path,

23  The she-ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn and held in his hand; and the she-ass turned aside out of the way and went into the field; and Balaam struck the she-ass to turn her into the way.

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24  Then the angel of YHWH stood in a hollow way between the vineyards, a fence being on this side, and a fence on that side.

24  the Angel stood in a narrow place between the two walls, with which the vineyards were enclosed.

24  But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyard, a wall being on this side and a wall on that side.

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25  And the ass saw the angel of YHWH, and she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall; and he smote her again.

25  And the donkey, seeing this, drew herself close to the wall and scraped the foot of the rider. So he beat her again.

26  And the angel of YHWH went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.

26  And, nevertheless, the Angel passing on to a narrow place, where one would not be able to deviate either to the right or to the left, stood to meet him.

27  And the ass saw the angel of YHWH, and she lay down under Balaam; and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with his staff.

27  And when the donkey had seen the Angel standing there, she fell under the feet of the rider, who, being angry, struck her sides more vehemently with a club.

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28  And YHWH opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam: 'What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?'

28  And God opened the mouth of the ass, and she says to Balaam, What have I done to thee, that thou hast smitten me this third time?

28  And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said: “What have I done to you? Why do strike you me, behold now, for the third time?”

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29  And Balaam said unto the ass: 'Because thou hast mocked me; I would there were a sword in my hand, for now I had killed thee.'

29  Balaam responded, “Because you have deserved it, and you have mistreated me. If only I had a sword, so that I might pierce you.”

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30  And the ass said unto Balaam: 'Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden all thy life long unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee?' And he said: 'Nay.'

30  The donkey said: “Am not I your animal, on which you have always been accustomed to sit, even until this present day? Tell me, when did I ever do the same thing to you.” But he said, “Never.”

30  And the she-ass said to Balaam, Am I not your she-ass upon which you have ridden from your youth even to this day? Have I ever behaved in this manner toward you? And he said to her, No.

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31  Then YHWH opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the YHWH standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and he bowed his head, and fell on his face.

31  Immediately, the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the Angel standing in the way with a drawn sword, and he reverenced him prone on the ground.

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32  And the angel of YHWH said unto him: 'Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I am come forth for an adversary, because thy way is contrary unto me;

32  And the angel of God said to him, Why hast thou smitten thine ass this third time? and, behold, I came out to withstand thee, for thy way was not seemly before me; and when the ass saw me, she turned away from me this third time.

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33  and the ass saw me, and turned aside before me these three times; unless she had turned aside from me, surely now I had even slain thee, and saved her alive.'

33  And if she had not turned out of the way, surely now, I should have slain thee, and should have saved her alive.

33  And unless the donkey had turned aside from the way, allowing a place for my opposition, I would have killed you, and she would have lived.”

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34  And Balaam said unto the angel of YHWH: 'I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me; now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back.'

34  And Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, I have sinned, for I did not know that thou wert standing opposite in the way to meet me; and now if it shall not be pleasing to thee for me to go on, I will return.

34  Balaam said: “I have sinned, not knowing that you stood against me. And now, if it displeases you for me to continue on, I will return.”

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35  And the angel of YHWH said unto Balaam: 'Go with the men; but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak.' So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

35  The Angel said, “Go with them, but be careful not to speak anything other than what I shall instruct you.” And so, he went with the leaders.

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36  And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto Ir-moab, which is on the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost part of the border.

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37  And Balak said unto Balaam: 'Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour?'

37  And he said to Balaam: “I sent messengers to call you. Why did you not come to me immediately? Was it because I am not able to pay the cost for your arrival?”

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38  And Balaam said unto Balak: 'Lo, I am come unto thee; have I now any power at all to speak any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.'

38  And Balaam said to Balac, Behold, I am now come to thee: shall I be able to say anything? the word which God shall put into my mouth, that I shall speak.

38  He answered him: “Behold, here I am. Am I able to speak anything other than what God will put into my mouth?”

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39  And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kiriath-huzoth.

39  Therefore, they continued on together, and they arrived at a city, which was at the furthest borders of his kingdom.

40  And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.

40  And after Balak had killed oxen and sheep, he sent the gifts to Balaam, and to the leaders who were with him.

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41  And it came to pass in the morning that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into Bamoth-baal, and he saw from thence the utmost part of the people.

41  Then, when morning arrived, he led him to the heights of Baal, and he gazed upon the most distant portions of the population.