Numbers 23
Contemporary English Version

Balaam's First Message

1Balaam said to Balak, “Build seven altars here, then bring seven bulls and seven rams.”

2After Balak had done this, they sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar. 3Then Balaam said, “Wait here beside your offerings, and I'll go somewhere to be alone. Maybe the Lord will appear to me. If he does, I will tell you everything he says.” And he left.

4When God appeared to him, Balaam said, “I have built seven altars and have sacrificed a bull and a ram on each one.”

5The Lord gave Balaam a message, then sent him back to tell Balak. 6When Balaam returned, he found Balak and his officials standing beside the offerings.

7Balaam said:

“King Balak of Moab brought me

from the hills of Syria

to curse Israel

and announce its doom.

8But I can't go against God!

He did not curse

or condemn Israel.

* 9“From the mountain peaks,

I look down and see Israel,

the obedient people of God.

10They are living alone in peace.

And though they are many,

they don't bother

the other nations.

“I hope to obey God

for as long as I live

and to die in such peace.”

11Balak said, “What are you doing? I asked you to come and place a curse on my enemies. But you have blessed them instead!”

12Balaam answered, “I can say only what the Lord tells me.”

Balaam's Second Message

13Balak said to Balaam, “Let's go somewhere else. Maybe if you see a smaller part of the Israelites, you will be able to curse them for me.” 14So he took Balaam to a field on top of Mount Pisgah where lookouts were stationed.+ Then he built seven altars there and sacrificed a bull and a ram on each one.

15“Wait here beside your offerings,” Balaam said. “The Lord will appear to me over there.”

16The Lord appeared to Balaam and gave him another message, then he told him to go and tell Balak. 17Balaam went back and saw him and his officials standing beside the offerings.

Balak asked, “What did the Lord say?”

18Balaam answered:

“Pay close attention

to my words—

19God is no mere human!

He doesn't tell lies

or change his mind.

God always keeps his promises.

20“My command from God

was to bless these people,

and there's nothing I can do

to change what he has done.

21Israel's king is the Lord God.

He lives there with them

and intends them no harm.

22With the strength of a wild ox,

God led Israel out of Egypt.

23No magic charms can work

against them—

just look what God has done

for his people.

24They are like angry lions

ready to attack;

and they won't rest

until their victim

is gobbled up.”

25Balak shouted, “If you're not going to curse Israel, then at least don't bless them.”

26“I've already told you,” Balaam answered. “I will say only what the Lord tells me.”

Balaam's Third Message

27Balak said to Balaam, “Come on, let's try another place. Maybe God will let you curse Israel from there.” 28So he took Balaam to Mount Peor overlooking the desert north of the Dead Sea.

29Balaam said, “Build seven altars here, then bring me seven bulls and seven rams.”

30After Balak had done what Balaam asked, he sacrificed a bull and a ram on each altar.


23.14 a field … where lookouts were stationed: Or “Zophim Field on the top of Mount Pisgah.”

Contemporary English Version, Second Edition (CEV®)

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