|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.
Verse 6. - As the valleys, or, "as the torrents" (נְחָלִים), which pour down in parallel courses from the upper slopes. As gardens by the river's side. The river (נָהָר), as in Numbers 22:5) means the Euphrates. Balaam combines the pleasant imagery of his own cultivated land with that of the wilder scene amidst which he now stood. As the trees of lign aloes. אָהָלִים. Aloe trees, such as grew in the further east, where Balaam had perhaps seen them. Which the Lord hath planted, or, "the Lord's planting," a poetical way of describing their beauty and rarity (cf. Psalm 1:3; Psalm 104:16).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
As the valleys are they spread forth,.... Long and broad, lying between several mountains, and reaching from hill to hill; so the armies of Israel lay encamped in the plains and villages of Moab, making a very considerable length and breadth; the camp of Israel is said to be twelve miles long, and twelve miles broad; so the Targum on Numbers 2:3 and this may denote the lowness of the saints and people of God in their own eyes, and their largeness in themselves; and especially when the place of their tents shall be enlarged, and the curtains of their habitations be stretched forth in the latter day; and also their fruitfulness, meads, and valleys abounding with herbs and flowers, as the churches of God do with the fruits of the Spirit, grace, and righteousness, and with plants of the Lord's right hand planting. Some render it as brooks and torrents of water, so the Targum of Jonathan; which diffuse and spread themselves, and on the banks of which stand beautiful trees in goodly order:
as gardens by the river's side: laid out in a delightful manner, full of flowers, plants, and trees, and well watered; like to these, in several spots, were the people of Israel formed into several camps; and to these may the churches of God be compared, who are distinguished and enclosed by sovereign grace, full of trees of righteousness of the Lord's planting, watered by the river of divine love, and from Christ the fountain of gardens; see Sol 4:12,
as the trees of lign aloes, which the Lord hath planted: which are not planted and raised by the art and industry of man, but grow up without culture, as the mere produce of nature, under a divine providence; these are called lign wood or tree aloes, to distinguish them from another sort of aloes, which are no other than plants; but these are what the Indians call Calambra or Calembac, and, physicians Xyloaloes and Agallochium, and are of a very aromatic and fragrant scent. This tree is said to be about eight or ten feet high; at the head of it is a large bunch of leaves, which are thick and indented, broad at bottom, but growing narrower towards the point, and about four feet in length; the blossom of it is red, intermixed with yellow, and double like a pink; from this blossom comes fruit, round like a large pea, white and red; the juice of these leaves is drawn out by cutting them with a knife, and received into bottles; the smell of the wood is exquisite (w). P. Martyr (x) speaks of a trunk of lign aloes, which being cut, a sweet savour proceeds from it. It may be observed what Isidore (y) remarks, that it grows in Arabia, as well as in India, and so might be well known to Balaam. And to these the Israel of God may be compared for their fragrancy, being clothed with the righteousness of Christ, all whose garments smell of or like these aloes, Psalm 45:8 and having the graces of the Spirit of God in them, the smell of which is preferable to all spices, and they themselves are signified by the same, Sol 4:10,
and as cedar trees beside the waters; which are tall and high, large and spreading, durable lasting, to which the righteous are compared; see Gill on Psalm 92:12.
(w) See Calmet's Dictionary, and the Supplement to Chamber's Dictionary, in the word "Aloes". (x) Decad. 1. l. 2.((y) Origin. l. 17. c. 8.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6. As the valleys—Hebrew, "brooks," the watercourses of the mountains.
lign aloes—an aromatic shrub on the banks of his native Euphrates, the conical form of which suggested an apt resemblance to a tent. The redundant imagery of these verses depicts the humble origin, rapid progress, and prosperity of Israel.
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