Numbers 24:17
Parallel Verses
New International Version
"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.

New Living Translation
I see him, but not here and now. I perceive him, but far in the distant future. A star will rise from Jacob; a scepter will emerge from Israel. It will crush the foreheads of Moab's people, cracking the skulls of the people of Sheth.

English Standard Version
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.

New American Standard Bible
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.

King James Bible
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
I see him, but not now; I perceive him, but not near. A star will come from Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel. He will smash the forehead of Moab and strike down all the Shethites.

International Standard Version
I can see him, but not right now. I observe him, but from a distance. A star streams forth from Jacob; a scepter arises from Israel. He will crush Moab's forehead, along with all of Seth's descendants.

NET Bible
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not close at hand. A star will march forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab, and the heads of all the sons of Sheth.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
I see someone who is not here now. I look at someone who is not nearby. A star will come from Jacob. A scepter will rise from Israel. He will crush the heads of the Moabites and destroy all the people of Sheth.

Jubilee Bible 2000
I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not near by; there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel and shall smite the corners of Moab and destroy all the sons of Seth.

King James 2000 Bible
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall crush the forehead of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

American King James Version
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

American Standard Version
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh: There shall come forth a star out of Jacob, And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, And shall smite through the corners of Moab, And break down all the sons of tumult.

Douay-Rheims Bible
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near. A STAR SHALL RISE out of Jacob and a sceptre shall spring up from Israel: and shall strike the chiefs of Moab, and shall waste all the children of Seth.

Darby Bible Translation
I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh: There cometh a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and he shall cut in pieces the corners of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.

English Revised Version
I see him, but not now: I behold him, but not nigh: There shall come forth a star out of Jacob, And a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, And shall smite through the corners of Moab, And break down all the sons of tumult.

Webster's Bible Translation
I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

World English Bible
I see him, but not now. I see him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob. A scepter will rise out of Israel, and shall strike through the corners of Moab, and break down all the sons of Sheth.

Young's Literal Translation
I see it, but not now; I behold it, but not near; A star hath proceeded from Jacob, And a sceptre hath risen from Israel, And hath smitten corners of Moab, And hath destroyed all sons of Sheth.
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

24:15-25 Under the powerful influence of the Spirit of prophecy, Balaam foretold the future prosperity and extensive dominion of Israel. Balaam boasts that his eyes are open. The prophets were in old times called seers. He had heard the words of God, which many do who neither heed them, nor hear God in them. He knew the knowledge of the Most High. A man may be full of the knowledge of God, yet utterly destitute of the grace of God. He calls God the Most High and the Almighty. No man could seem to express a greater respect to God; yet he had no true fear of him, love to him, nor faith in him; so far a man may go toward heaven, and yet come short of it at last. Here is Balaam's prophecy concerning Him who should be the crown and glory of his people Israel; who is David in the type; but our Lord Jesus, the promised Messiah, is chiefly pointed at, and of him it is an illustrious prophecy. Balaam, a wicked man, shall see Christ, but shall not see him nigh; not see him as Job, who saw him as his Redeemer, and saw him for himself. When he comes in the clouds, every eye shall see him; but many will see him, as the rich man in hell saw Abraham, afar off. He shall come out of Jacob, and Israel, as a Star and a Sceptre; the former denoting his glory and lustre; the latter his power and authority. Christ shall be King, not only of Jacob and Israel, but of all the world; so that all shall be either governed by his golden sceptre, or dashed in pieces by his iron rod. Balaam prophesied concerning the Amalekites and Kenites, part of whose country he had now in view. Even a nest in a rock will not be a lasting security. Here is a prophecy that looks as far forward as to the Greeks and Romans. He acknowledges all the revolutions of states and kingdoms to be the Lord's doing. These events will make such desolations, that scarcely any will escape. They that live then, will be as brands plucked out of the fire. May God fit us for the worst of times! Thus Balaam, instead of cursing the church, curses Amalek the first, and Rome the last enemy of the church. Not Rome pagan only, but Rome papal also; antichrist and all the antichristian powers. Let us ask ourselves, Do we in knowledge, experience, or profession, excel Balaam? No readiness of speech, even in preaching or prayer, no gifts of knowledge or prophecy, are in themselves different from, or superior to the boasted gifts of him who loved the wages of unrighteousness, and died the enemy of God. Simple dependence on the Redeemer's atoning blood and sanctifying grace, cheerful submission to the Divine will, constant endeavours to glorify God and benefit his people, these are less splendid, but far more excellent gifts, and always accompany salvation. No boasting hypocrite ever possessed these; yet the feeblest believer has something of them, and is daily praying for more of them.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 17. - I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh. Rather, "I see him, but not now: I behold him, but not near" (אַשׁוּרֶנּוּ...אֶראֶנוּ exactly as in Numbers 23:9). Balaam does not mean to say that he expected himself to see at any future time the mysterious Being of whom he speaks, who is identical with the "Star" and the "Scepter" of the following clauses; he speaks wholly as a prophet, and means that his inner gaze is fixed upon such an one, with full assurance that he exists in the counsels of God, but with clear recognition of the fact that his actual coming is yet in the far future. There shall come a Star out of Jacob. Septuagint, ἀνατελεῖ ἀστρον. It may quite as well be rendered by the present; Balaam simply utters what passes before his inward vision. The star is a natural and common poetic symbol of an illustrious, or, as we say, "brilliant," personage, and as such recurs many times in Scripture (cf. Job 38:7; Isaiah 14:12; Daniel 8:10; Matthew 24:29; Philippians 2:15; Revelation 1:20; Revelation 2:28). The celebrated Jewish fanatic called himself Barcochab, "son of the Star," in allusion to this prophecy. A Scepter shall rise out of Israel. This further defines the "star ' as a ruler of men, for the scepter is Used in that sense in the dying prophecy of Jacob (Genesis 49:10), with which Balaam was evidently acquainted. Accordingly the Septuagint has here ἀναστήσεται. Shall smite the corners of Moab. Rather, "the two corners" (dual), or "the two sides of Moab," i.e., shall crush Moab on either side. And destroy all the children of Sheth. In Jeremiah 48:45, where this prophecy is in a manner quoted, the word קַרְקַר (qarqar, destroy) is altered into קָדקֹר (quadqod, crown of the head). This raises a very curious and interesting question as to the use made by the prophets of the earlier Scriptures, but it gives no authority for an alteration of the text. The expression בְּנֵי־שֵׁת has been variously rendered. The Jewish commentators, followed by the Septuagint (πάντας υἱοὺς Σήθ) and the older versions, understand it to mean the sons of Seth, the son of Adam, i.e., all mankind. Many modern commentators, however, take שֵׁת as a contraction of שֵׁאת (Lamentations 3:47 - "desolation"), and read "sons of confusion," as equivalent to the unruly neighbours and relations of Israel. This, however, is extremely dubious in itself, for שֵׁת nowhere occurs in this sense, and derives no sup. port from Jeremiah 48:45. It is true that בְּנֵי שֵׁת is there replaced by בְּנֵי שָׁאון, "sons of tumult," but then this very verse affords the clearest evidence that the prophet felt no hesitation in altering the text of Scripture to suit his own inspired purpose. If it be true that קַרְקַר will not bear the meaning given to it in the Targums of "reign over," still there is no insuperable difficulty in the common rendering. Jewish prophecy, from beginning to end, contemplated the Messiah as the Conqueror, the Subduer, and even the Destroyer of all the heathen, i.e., of all who were not Jews. It is only in the New Testament that the iron scepter with which he was to dash in pieces the heathen (Psalm 2:9) becomes the pastoral staff wherewith he shepherds them (Revelation 2:27 - ποιμανεῖ after the Septuagint, which has here misread the text). The prophecy was that Messiah should destroy the heathen; the fulfillment that he destroyed not them, but their heathenism (cf. e.g., Psalm 149:6-9 with James 5:20).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

I shall see him, but not now,.... Meaning not Israel, for he now saw him encamped, and at no great distance; but one that should descend from him, a famous and excellent person, and who is no other than the Messiah, as appears by what follows; him he should see, not spiritually with an eye of faith, nor corporeally with his bodily eyes in his state of incarnation, but at the day of judgment; and now, indeed, he saw him by a spirit of prophecy:

I shall behold him, but not nigh; signifying, that the coming of this illustrious Person, who should smite the borders of Moab, was not near, and therefore Balak had no reason to indulge any present fears; and that when he was come either into the world to save men, or to judgment, Balaam would have no nearness to him, nor interest in him; he would see him at the last day, but not for himself, as Job says he should, Job 19:25.

there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel; which Aben Ezra interprets of David, though he says many interpret it of the Messiah; and there are some writers, both Jewish and Christian, that understand it partly of David, and partly of Christ, and chiefly of him, and of David as a type of him; the fulfilment of which was only in part in David, but principally and completely in Christ. Maimonides (c) parts the prophecy between them: the whole undoubtedly agrees with Christ, and belongs unto him: the "star" and "sceptre" may be considered as names and titles of the Messiah; he is called the "morning star", Revelation 22:16 for his glory, brightness, and splendour, and for the light that comes by him, and the influence of his grace, and the blessings of it on the sons of men; and hence a false Messiah took the name of Bar Cochab, the son of a star, to answer to this prophecy; and he may be called a "sceptre", that is, a sceptre bearer, because of his royalty; he not only has the name of a king, but has a kingdom, both of nature, providence, and grace, and rules with a sceptre of grace, mercy, and righteousness; and as he was to spring from Jacob or Israel, so he did, being a son of Abraham, a descendant of Jacob, of the tribe of Judah, and family of David, Matthew 1:1, but I rather think that the star is to be considered as a sign and circumstance of his coming, and that the words may be rendered, "when a star steers its course from Jacob", or "unto Jacob, then a sceptre", or "sceptre bearer":

shall rise out of Israel, or "rise up unto Israel"; for the particle sometimes signifies "unto" (d); and that the appearance of a star in Israel was a sign of the Messiah's coming is certain from Matthew 2:1 of which the Magi were informed by Zoroastres (e) their founder, who, being of Jewish extract, had got it from this prophecy of Balaam; and it is as evident that the Jews expected the appearance of an extraordinary star at the time of the Messiah's coming; for so they say more than once, in an ancient book of theirs (f), that when the"Messiah shall be revealed, a bright and shining star shall arise in the east;''which expectation must be founded on this prophecy:

and shall smite the corners of Moab; not only the corners of their houses and cities, but the extreme parts and borders of the land, even all the sides, and the whole of it; or the princes and great men of the land, sometimes called "corners", see Zechariah 10:4 and so the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan:

and shall kill the princes of Moab or the mighty ones of Moab, as the Jerusalem Targum; this was literally fulfilled in David, 2 Samuel 8:2 Psalm 60:1 and figuratively and mystically in Christ, by subduing his enemies, signified by Moabites, as being the enemies of Israel; either by reducing them through the power of his grace to obedience to him, or by smiting and breaking them in pieces with a rod of iron; and which will be more plainly and fully accomplished when he shall destroy those Moabites, the antichristian nations, Revelation 19:15.

and destroy all the children of Sheth; some take Sheth to be the name of some famous king among the Moabites, as Grotius; others, the name of some city of Moab, which David utterly destroyed, as R. Nathan (g); others suppose some particular nations are meant, as either the Edomites, so called because they put confidence in their foundations, and fortified places, so Vitringa (h); or the Egyptians, from Seth or Sethos, one of their kings, who was known by the name Egyptus, as a late learned writer (i) of ours conjectures; but rather by the children of Seth are meant all nations, as Jarchi observes, for all come from Seth, the son of the first man; and so the words may be rendered, as they are by Onkelos,"he shall rule over all the children of men;''which will be fulfilled in Christ, when he shall have put down all rule and authority, and all will be subject to him, and his kingdom be from sea to sea, and his dominion from the river to the ends of the earth; unless rather by the children of Seth are meant the special people of God, in distinction from others, and in allusion to the distinction between the Sethites and Cainites, the one being the people of God, the other not; and so it may be interpreted of Christ's gathering them to him, by clucking as it were for them, as a hen gathers her chickens; so the word is used in Jewish writings, and of God himself; for it is said (k) the holy blessed God clucks over them, as hens do, which is the simile our Lord himself uses, Matthew 23:37 the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan interpret this prophecy of the Messiah by name; and so do many other Jewish writers, both ancient (l) and modern (m).

(c) Hilchot Melachim, c. 11. sect. 1.((d) Vid. Nold. Concord. Ebr. part. p. 545. (e) Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 54. (f) Zohar in Exod. fol. 3. 3, 4. & in Numb fol. 85. 4. & 86. 1.((g) Apud Lyram in loc. (h) Comment. in Isaiah 22.5. (i) Clayton's Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, &c. p. 445. (k) T. Bab. Taanith, c. 4. in En Jacob, par. 1. fol. 143. 4. (l) Debarim Rabba, fol. 234. 4. Pesikta in Kettoreth Hassammim in Numb. fol. 27. 3. & 28. 1.((m) Abarbinel. Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 4. 2, 3. Abendana in loc. R. Isaac Chizzuk Emunah, p. 71, 72.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

17. I shall see him—rather, "I do see" or "I have seen him"—a prophetic sight, like that of Abraham (Joh 8:56).

him—that is, Israel.

there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel—This imagery, in the hieroglyphic language of the East, denotes some eminent ruler—primarily David; but secondarily and pre-eminently, the Messiah (see on [88]Ge 49:10).

corners—border, often used for a whole country (Ex 8:2; Ps 74:17).

children of Sheth—some prince of Moab; or, according to some, "the children of the East."

Numbers 24:17 Additional Commentaries
Context
Balaam's Fourth Oracle
16The oracle of him who hears the words of God, And knows the knowledge of the Most High, Who sees the vision of the Almighty, Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered. 17"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth. 18"Edom shall be a possession, Seir, its enemies, also will be a possession, While Israel performs valiantly.…
Cross References
Matthew 2:2
and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him."

Matthew 2:7
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.

Hebrews 7:14
For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests.

Genesis 49:10
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Numbers 21:29
Woe to you, Moab! You are destroyed, people of Chemosh! He has given up his sons as fugitives and his daughters as captives to Sihon king of the Amorites.

Numbers 24:16
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:

2 Samuel 8:2
David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.

2 Samuel 8:14
He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

Isaiah 15:1
A prophecy against Moab: Ar in Moab is ruined, destroyed in a night! Kir in Moab is ruined, destroyed in a night!

Jeremiah 48:45
"In the shadow of Heshbon the fugitives stand helpless, for a fire has gone out from Heshbon, a blaze from the midst of Sihon; it burns the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of the noisy boasters.
Treasury of Scripture

I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not near: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

Genesis 27:29,40 Let people serve you, and nations bow down to you: be lord over your …

2 Samuel 8:14 And he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, …

Psalm 60:1 O God, you have cast us off, you have scattered us, you have been …

Psalm 8:1 O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is your name in all the earth! who …

Psalm 9:1 I will praise you, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will show forth …

Psalm 10:1 Why stand you afar off, O LORD? why hide you yourself in times of trouble?

Psalm 11:1 In the LORD put I my trust: how say you to my soul, Flee as a bird …

Psalm 12:1 Help, LORD; for the godly man ceases; for the faithful fail from …

Isaiah 34:5 For my sword shall be bathed in heaven: behold, it shall come down …

Isaiah 63:1 Who is this that comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? …

Amos 9:12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, …

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