Numbers 24


‘Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times but turned his face toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God came on him and he spoke his message: “The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor, the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly, the prophecy of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened: “How beautiful are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places, Israel! “Like valleys they spread out, like gardens beside a river, like aloes planted by the LORD, like cedars beside the waters. Water will flow from their buckets; their seed will have abundant water. “Their king will be greater than Agag; their kingdom will be exalted. “God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them. Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness—who dares to rouse them? “May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” Then Balak’s anger burned against Balaam. He struck his hands together and said to him, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but you have blessed them these three times. Now leave at once and go home! I said I would reward you handsomely, but the LORD has kept you from being rewarded.” Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell the messengers you sent me, ‘Even if Balak gave me all the silver and gold in his palace, I could not do anything of my own accord, good or bad, to go beyond the command of the LORD—and I must say only what the LORD says’? Now I am going back to my people, but come, let me warn you of what this people will do to your people in days to come.” Numbers 24:1-14

In the previous chapter we saw how Balak took Balaam to a different location, the top of Peor. He had another seven altars made and another seven sacrifices are made. In this chapter, we read that Balak wanted some kind of divine help in defeating the threat of Israel.

Remember it’s been estimated that there were around 3 million Israelites at this point in time and we can only imagine what Balaam was thinking as he saw Israel living in tents according to their tribes.

Little did Balak or Balaam understood that God was going to bring about the Messiah of the world, through the Israelites.

When the Spirit of the Lord came upon Balaam, he prophesied what God plans and will was for Israel. Notice the text says, ‘may those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!’ Balak had no idea or couldn’t understand that God Himself was working in and through Israel to bring about the Messiah, Genesis 3:15.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following concerning, Agag.

‘The name Agag can scarcely refer to any other than Agag the king of the Amalekites known from the Saul story, 1 Samuel 15:8ff. On this account, this discourse must be dated in the time of Saul.’

‘Despite Balak’s very justifiable anger against Balaam and the threatening manner of his abrupt dismissal, it appears that Balaam did not actually return to his ‘own people’ at all, for it was not long until he died in the defeat of the Midianites, Numbers 31:8.’

Anyone who supported Israel in God’s plan to settle the nation in the land of Canaan, would be blessed, but those who didn’t support Israel, would soon discover they were actually working against god Himself.

Balaam’s Fourth Message

‘Then he spoke his message: “The prophecy of Balaam son of Beor, the prophecy of one whose eye sees clearly, the prophecy of one who hears the words of God, who has knowledge from the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth. Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong. A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city.” Numbers 24:15-19

Here we read that Balaam told Balak what Israel would do to Moab. He says, ‘a star’, that is, a king would come out of Israel and He will bring judgment upon Moab. although Balaam was speaking of earthly events among nations, some commenters suggest that this is a refence to the star that appeared during the time of the birth of the Messiah, Matthew 2:2-10.

The scepter implies a king who rules, and this ruler would crush the rule of Moab and He would have dominion over his enemies. In the immediate context of these events, the kings of Israel would eventually rule over Moab in the centuries to come.

Some commentators also suggest this is speaking of the kingship and rulership of the Christ, Genesis 49:10 / Daniel 2:44 / Daniel 7:13-14 / Philippians 2:5-11 / Revelation 2:2 / Revelation 3:21.

Leon Morris, in his commentary, says the following concerning, the city.

‘It is urban civilization in organized rebellion against God.’ It is the City of Mankind, that entire organization of rebellious Adam against his God, referred to in the plural in Revelation as ‘the cities of the Gentiles,’ Revelation 16:19. It is called ‘Mystery, Babylon the Great’. The message of Numbers 24:19 is simple enough. Even the remnant of Adam’s rebellious race shall at last perish in the final holocaust that shall terminate God’s Operation Adam, that occasion being depicted frequently in Holy Writ as the Judgment.’

Balaam’s Fifth Message

‘Then Balaam saw Amalek and spoke his message: “Amalek was first among the nations, but their end will be utter destruction.” Numbers 24:20

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Amalek was the first of the nations. Rather, is pre-eminent among the neighbouring nations, compare the same expression in Amos 6:1. Hence, the force of the words, Numbers 24:7 ‘higher than Agag’, i.e., than the king of this powerful nation (compare Numbers 14:45 / Exodus 17:8). This rank, due to the warlike prowess of the tribe, Balaam contrasts with its approaching downfall and extinction.’

Gill, in his commentary, says the following concerning Amalek’s end.

‘This was threatened to them by the Lord upon that battle and is confirmed by this prophecy of Balaam and after this, orders were given to Israel to blot out their remembrance, Deuteronomy 25:19, and which, in a good measure, though not completely, was done in the times of Saul, 1 Samuel 15:8, and after that they were distressed by David, 1 Samuel 27:9, and the rest of them were smitten by the sons of Simeon, in the days of Hezekiah, 1 Chronicles 4:41, after which we hear of them no more.’

Balaam’s Sixth Message

‘Then he saw the Kenites and spoke his message: “Your dwelling place is secure, your nest is set in a rock; yet you Kenites will be destroyed when Ashur takes you captive.” Numbers 24:21-22

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘First mentioned, Genesis 15:19, as one of the tribes whose territory was promised to Abraham. In Judges 1:16, where we read of them as moving with the children of Judah, to establish themselves in the pastures south of Arad, Moses’ father-in-law is spoken of as a Kenite (compare Judges 4:11). It appears therefore, since Moses’ father-in-law was a prince or priest of Midian (Exodus 2:15ff), that the Kenites must have been of Midianite extraction, and so descended from Abraham through Keturah, Genesis 25:2.’

Gill, in his commentary, says the following concerning the Kenites.

‘Though they were so strongly fortified, and closely immured and surrounded with rocks and mountains, yet they should gradually waste away, as they were but few in Saul’s time, 1 Samuel 15:6.’

Balaam’s Seventh Message

‘Then he spoke his message: “Alas! Who can live when God does this? Ships will come from the shores of Cyprus; they will subdue Ashur and Eber, but they too will come to ruin.” Then Balaam got up and returned home, and Balak went his own way.’ Numbers 24:23-25

In this final message Balaam turned his prophecy toward the nations. Edom would become the possession of Israel, which was fulfilled during the reign of David. Because of their despiteful actions against Israel when they initially came out of Egypt, they would be destroyed forever as a people.

The Kenites would be taken into captivity, Ashur and Eber would become like the Edomites, that is, they would perish forever.

And so, this ends the final message of God through Balaam, after which both Balak and Balaam went their way.

Go To Numbers 25


"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11