|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.
Verse 18. - Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies. Seir (Genesis 32:3), or Mount Seir (Genesis 36:8), was the old name, still retained as an alternative, of Edom. It is uncertain whether the rendering "for his (i.e., Edom's) enemies" is correct. The Hebrew is simply אֹיְבָיו, which may stand in apposition to Edom and Seir, "his enemies," i.e., the enemies of Israel. So the Septuagint, Ησαῦ ὁ ἐχθρὸς αὐτοῦ. Shall do valiantly, or, "shall be prosperous" (cf. Deuteronomy 8:17; Ruth 4:11).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Edom shall be a possession,.... Of the children of Israel, which was fulfilled in part when the Edomites became the servants of David, 2 Samuel 8:14 and when they were smitten and spoiled by Judas Maccabeus,them a great overthrow, and abated their courage, and took their spoils.'' (1 Maccabees 5:3)and still more so when all the Edomites or the Idumaeans were subdued by Hyrcanus, and they became one people with the Jews, and conformed to their religious rites; which is not only related by Josephus (n), but by Strabo (o), an Heathen historian, who says, that they joined themselves to the Jews, and embraced their laws: but in a spiritual sense this has had a greater accomplishment in the calling of the Gentiles, and introducing them into the church of God; see Amos 9:12 compared with Acts 15:14.
Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; which was a mount in the land of Edom where Esau formerly dwelt, and so signifies the same as before: and also that the most strong and fortified places of the land should fall into the hands of their enemies; See Gill on Obadiah 1:17, Obadiah 1:18, Obadiah 1:19.
Israel shall do valiantly; in fighting with and conquering the Edomites, or shall get much wealth and riches by the spoil of them, see Psalm 60:9. This, and the following verse, are in some ancient writings of the Jews (p) interpreted of the times of the Messiah.
(n) Antiqu. l. 13. c. 9. sect. 1.((o) Geograph. l. 16. p. 523. (p) Zohar in Numb. fol. 85. 4. & 86. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. Edom shall be a possession—This prophecy was accomplished by David (2Sa 8:14).
Seir—seen in the south, and poetically used for Edom. The double conquest of Moab and Edom is alluded to (Ps 60:8; 108:9).
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