|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
22:1-14 The king of Moab formed a plan to get the people of Israel cursed; that is, to set God against them, who had hitherto fought for them. He had a false notion, that if he could get some prophet to pray for evil upon them, and to pronounce a blessing upon himself and his forces, that then he should be able to deal with them. None had so great a reputation as Balaam; and Balak will employ him, though he send a great way for him. It is not known whether the Lord had ever spoken to Balaam, or by him, before this; though it is probable he had, and it is certain he did afterwards. Yet we have abundant proof that he lived and died a wicked man, an enemy to God and his people. And the curse shall not come upon us if there is not a cause, even though men utter it. To prevail with Balaam, they took the wages of unrighteousness, but God laid restraint upon Balaam, forbidding him to curse Israel. Balaam was no stranger to Israel's cause; so that he ought to have answered the messengers at once, that he would never curse a people whom God had blessed; but he takes a night's time to consider what he should do. When we parley with temptations, we are in great danger of being overcome. Balaam was not faithful in returning God's answer to the messengers. Those are a fair mark for Satan's temptation, who lessen Divine restraints; as if to go against God's law were only to go without his leave. The messengers also are not faithful in returning Balaam's answer to Balak. Thus many are abused by the flatteries of those about them, and are prevented from seeing their own faults and follies.
Verse 7. - With the rewards of divination. קְסָמִים, "soothsayings." Septuagint, τὰ μαντεῖα. Here the soothsayer's wages, which St. Peter aptly calls the wages of unrighteousness. The ease with which, among ignorant and superstitious people, a prophet might become a hired soothsayer is apparent even from the case of Samuel (1 Samuel 9:6-8). That it should be thought proper to resort to the man of God for information about some lost property, and much more that it should be thought necessary to pay him a fee for the exercise of his supernatural powers, shows, not indeed that Samuel was a soothsayer, for he was a man of rare integrity and independence, but, that Samuel was but little distinguished from a soothsayer in the popular estimation. If Samuel had learnt to care more for money than for righteousness, he might very easily have become just what Balaam became.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the elders of Moab, and the elders of Midian, departed,.... By which it appears that they were princes and nobles; for such the elders were, that were sent on this errand to Balaam; and that they were some of both people, Midian and Moab, that went upon it, see Numbers 22:14 which shows, that if they were not one people, under one king, which yet seems likely, nevertheless they made a common cause of it, and joined in this expedient to save their country:
with the rewards of divination in their hands; not that diviners were sent along with them to Balsam, as Aben Ezra interprets it, that he might not deceive them, and put them off, by saying it was not a fit and proper day or hour to go out and curse, which these men would be able to refute; but if they were skilled in the art of divination as well as he, what need was there to send to him, when they had such at hand? nor instruments of divination, as Jarchi, which so famous a soothsayer could not be thought to be without; but, as we rightly render it, the rewards of divination, which were either fixed or left to the generosity of those that had recourse to such persons, and were presents which they brought them, in order to engage them to use the utmost of their art for them; and this sense is confirmed by the Apostles Peter and Jude, see 2 Peter 2:15,
and they came unto Balaam; at Pethor:
and spake unto him the words of Balak: told him the errand they were sent on to him by the king of Moab.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
7. the elders of Moab and … of Midian departed with the rewards of divination—like the fee of a fortune teller, and being a royal present, it would be something handsome.
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