|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
22:36-41 Balak has now nothing to complain of, but that Balaam did not come sooner. Balaam bids Balak not depend too much upon him. He seems to speak with vexation; but is really as desirous to please Balak, as ever he had pretended to be to please God. See what need we have to pray every day, Our Father which art in heaven, lead us not into temptation. Let us be jealous over our own hearts, seeing how far men may go in the knowledge of God, and yet come short of Divine grace.
Verse 40. - Balak offered oxen and sheep. Probably these sacrifices were offered not to Chemosh, but to the Lord, in whose name Balaam always spoke. Indeed the known fact that Beldam was a prophet of the Lord was no doubt one of Balak's chief reasons for wishing to obtain his services. Balak shared the common opinion of antiquity, that the various national deities were enabled by circumstances past human understanding to do sometimes more, sometimes less, for their special votaries. He perceived that the God of Israel was likely, as things stood, to carry all before him; but he thought that he might by judicious management be won over, at least to some extent, to desert the cause of Israel and to favour that of Moab. To this end he "retained" at great cost the services of Balaam, the prophet of the Lord, and to this end he was willing to offer any number of sacrifices. Even the resolute and self-reliant Romans believed in the wisdom of such a policy. Thus Pliny quotes ancient authors as affirming "in oppugnationibus ante omnia solitum a Romanis sacrdotibus evocari Deum, cujus in tutela id oppidum esset, promittique illi eundem aut ampliorem apud Romanos cultum," and he adds, "durat in Pontificum disciplina id sacrum, constatque ideo occultatum, in cujus Dei tutela Roma esset, ne qui hostium simili modo agerent." And sent, i.e., portions of the sacrificial meats.
CHAPTER 22:41; 23, 24
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Balak offered oxen and sheep,.... Or "slew" (w) them, either for sacrifice; and if so Balak was the sacrificer, as it was common for kings to be priests; and then Balaam, who was sent for, was the prophet, that was to observe and explain any omen at the time of sacrificing, as Calchas did, when the chiefs of Greece sacrificed (x): or rather for a feast, as the following words seem to show; though it might be for both, it being usual, when sacrifices were offered to idols, to eat part of them in a festival way, in imitation of the peace offerings of the Jews, see Numbers 25:2,
and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him; either part of it to them, or he sent for them to come, and partake of the feast, he and the princes of Moab and Midian, that had been to fetch him, and still attended him; and this the king did in a way of rejoicing, being glad that Balaam was come, and as expressing his well pleasedness with the conduct of the princes, and their success, as well as to keep Balaam in high spirits, hoping to have his end answered by him.
(w) "cuinque occidisset", V. L. (x) Homer. Iliad. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
40. Balak offered oxen and sheep—made preparations for a grand entertainment to Balaam and the princes of Midian.
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