Numbers 22:17
For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.
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22:15-21 A second embassy was sent to Balaam. It were well for us, if we were as earnest and constant in prosecuting a good work, notwithstanding disappointments. Balak laid a bait, not only for Balaam's covetousness, but for his pride and ambition. How earnestly should we beg of God daily to mortify such desires in us! Thus sinners stick at no pains, spare no cost, and care not how low they stoop, to gratify their luxury, or their malice. Shall we then be unwilling to do what is right? God forbid! Balaam's convictions charged him to keep to the command of God; nor could any man have spoken better. But many call God theirs, who are not his, not truly because not only his. There is no judging men by their words; God knows the heart. Balaam's corruptions at the same time inclined him to go contrary to the command. He seemed to refuse the temptation; but he expressed no abhorrence of it. He had a strong desire to accept the offer, and hoped that God might give him leave to go. He had already been told what the will of God was. It is a certain evidence of the ruling of corruption in the heart, to beg leave to sin. God gave Balaam up to his own heart's lusts. As God sometimes denies the prayers of his people in love, so sometimes he grants the desires of the wicked in wrath.Balak, like the ancient pagan world generally, not only believed in the efficacy of the curses and incantations of the soothsayers, but regarded their services as strictly venal. Hence, when his first offer was declined, he infers at once that he had not bid high enough. 13-15. the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you—This answer has an appearance of being good, but it studiously concealed the reason of the divine prohibition [Nu 22:12], and it intimated his own willingness and desire to go—if permitted. Balak despatched a second mission, which held out flattering prospects, both to his avarice and his ambition (Ge 31:30). Before he wrought upon his covetousness, now upon his ambition.

For I will promote thee unto very great honour,.... In his court, by making him some great officer there, perhaps his prime minister; so that as before he laid a bait for his covetousness, sending him large presents, and rewards of divination; here, for his pride and ambition, promising him court preferment; though Aben Ezra interprets it of mammon or riches, of which he could give him an immense sum: "in honouring I will exceedingly honour thee" (f); or load thee with wealth and riches; and so Balaam seems to understand it, since in his answer he says, "if Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold"; both civil honour and worldly wealth may be taken into the account, since they are both heavy and weighty things, and very desirable and ensnaring:

and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me; give him what money he should ask of him, put him into whatsoever place and office he should desire; and though he was a sovereign prince, would be at his beck and command, and do whatever he should direct him to do in his kingdom, as well as in what concerned the affair of cursing Israel; as we find he afterwards did, with respect to sacrifices and rites relative thereunto:

come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; renewing the request made in the first embassy with great importunity, Numbers 22:6 but using here a different word for "cursing"; there, as Munster observes, the word signifies to curse lightly; here, to blaspheme and utterly devote to ruin; to which may be added, to curse expressly and by name, to pierce through and through, to deprive of all benefits, and to destroy utterly.

(f) "honorando honorabo te valde", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator.

For I will promote thee unto very great honor, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.
17. I will promote thee unto very great honour] I will surely honour thee exceedingly. The expression does not imply that Balaam would be appointed to a high office, but only that the king would shew him great respect and reward him liberally.

Numbers 22:17The answer with which Balaam had sent the Moabitish messengers away, encouraged Balak to cherish the hope of gaining over the celebrated soothsayer to his purpose notwithstanding, and to send an embassy "of princes more numerous and more honourable than those," and to make the attempt to overcome his former resistance by more splendid promises; whether he regarded it, as is very probable, "as the remains of a weakly fear of God, or simply as a ruse adopted for the purpose of obtaining better conditions" (Hengstenberg). As a genuine heathen, who saw nothing more in the God of Israel than a national god of that people, he thought that it would be possible to render not only men, but gods also, favourable to his purpose, by means of splendid honours and rich rewards.

(Note: Compare the following remarks of Pliny (h. n. xxviii. 4) concerning this belief among the Romans: "Verrius Flaccus auctores ponit, quibus credat, in oppugnationibus ante omnia solitum a Romanis sacerdotibus evocari Deum, cujus in tutela id oppidum esset, promittique illi eundem aut ampliorem apud Romanos cultum. Et durat in Pontificum disciplina id sacrum, constatque ideo occultatum, in cujus Dei tutela Roma esset, ne qui hostium simili modo agerent;" - and the further explanations of this heathen notion in Hengstenberg's Balaam and his Prophecies.)

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