|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
24:1-9 Now Balaam spake not his own sense, but the language of the Spirit that came upon him. Many have their eyes open who have not their hearts open; are enlightened, but not sanctified. That knowledge which puffs men up with pride, will but serve to light them to hell, whither many go with their eyes open. The blessing is nearly the same as those given before. He admires in Israel, their beauty. The righteous, doubtless, is more excellent than his neighbour. Their fruitfulness and increase. Their honour and advancement. Their power and victory. He looks back upon what had been done for them. Their power and victory. He looks back upon what had been done for them. Their courage and security. The righteous are bold as a lion, not when assaulting others, but when at rest, because God maketh them to dwell in safety. Their influence upon their neighbours. God takes what is done to them, whether good or evil, as done to himself.
Chapter 24:1. - As at other times, or, "as (he had done) time after time." Septuagint, κατὰ τὸ εἰωθός. To seek for enchantments. Rather, "for the meeting with aunties." לִקְםראת נְחַשִׁים. Septuagint, to συνάντησιν τοῖς οἰωνοῖς. Nachashim., as in Numbers 23:23, is not enchantments in the sense of magical practices, but definitely auguries, i.e. omens and signs in the natural world observed and interpreted according to an artificial system as manifesting the purposes of God. As one of the commonest and worst of heathen practices, it was forbidden to Israel (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10) and held up to reprobation, as in 2 Kings 17:17; 2 Kings 21:6; 2 Chronicles 33:6. Toward the wilderness. הַמִּדְבָּר. Not "Jeshimon," but apparently the Arboth Moab in which Israel was encamped, and which were for the most part desert as compared with the country around.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when Balsam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel,.... That it was good in his sight, what he approved of, and was well-pleasing to him, and that it was his determined mind that Israel should be blessed, and not cursed, from which there was no turning him, by offering sacrifices to him, and much less by his sorceries and divinations:
he went not as at other times; or, "as at a time in a time" (q), at two times, of which see Numbers 23:3, he abode in the place where the sacrifices were offered, and did not depart to another at some distance, as he had twice before done:
to seek for enchantments; which it seems he used before, for he not only offered sacrifices to the true God, which yet were attended with superstitious rites, but he made use of his divining art also; and not only went to meet with God, and hear what he would say to him, but consulted the devil also, being willing to have two strings to his bow, and that, if possible, he might carry his point, and get what his covetous and ambitious mind was desirous of: the words may be literally rendered, "to meet enchantments" (r); but what should be meant by the phrase is not easy to say; I should rather choose to render them, "to meet serpents", and make use of them in his divinations, make observations on them, and predictions from them: one sort of divination is called "ophiomancy", or divining by serpents; so Calchas, on seeing a serpent devour eight sparrows with their dam, foretold the duration of the siege of Troy (s):
but he set his face towards the wilderness: where the people of Israel lay encamped, not with an intention to bless them, though he saw it pleased the Lord, but to take an opportunity, if he could, without his leave, to curse them; and therefore he did not go out as he did before, to know his will, but stood by the sacrifice, with his face to the wilderness, where the people were, to take any advantage that offered.
(q) "sicut vice in vice", Montanus, Vatablus. (r) "in occursum auguriorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus. (s) Homer. Iliad. 2. see more instances in Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 1. c. 3. col. 21, 22.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Nu 24:1-25. Balaam Foretells Israel's Happiness.
1. to seek for—that is, to use enchantments. His experience on the two former occasions [Nu 23:3, 15] had taught him that these superstitious accompaniments of his worship were useless, and therefore he now simply looked towards the camp of Israel, either with a secret design to curse them, or to await the divine afflatus.
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