Numbers 22:21
And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
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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.Ye also - i. e., as the other envoys before you. Had Balaam possessed a sincere spirit of obedience, he would have found in the first instructions Numbers 22:12 a final decision upon the matter. His hypocritical importunity with God when the fresh messengers came from Balak demonstrates his aversion to God's declared will. Nu 22:21-41. The Journey.

21. Balaam … saddled his ass—probably one of the white sprightly animals which persons of rank were accustomed to ride. The saddle, as usually in the East, would be nothing more than a pad or his outer cloak.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And Balaam rose up in the morning,.... Early, not waiting for the call of the princes, which showed how eager he was to be gone, and how intent upon the journey:

and saddled his ass; which, if he did himself, as Jarchi suggests, this is a further proof of the haste he was in; though, as he had two servants with him, it is more likely that they did it by his order: the same is said of Abraham, Genesis 22:3, it was usual for persons of note and figure, in those times and countries, to ride on asses, Judges 5:10 and went with the princes of Moab; in company with them, and with as good a will as they, his heart and theirs being alike, as Jarchi notes; though it seems by what follows that by some means or another they soon parted company; for when the affair of the ass happened, Balaam was alone, only attended by his two servants.

And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
Numbers 22:21But Balaam replied to the proposals of these ambassadors: "If Balak gave me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot transgress the mouth (command) of Jehovah, my God, to do little or great," i.e., to attempt anything in opposition to the will of the Lord (cf. 1 Samuel 20:2; 1 Samuel 22:15; 1 Samuel 25:36). The inability flowed from moral awe of God and dread of His punishment. "From beginning to end this fact was firmly established in Balaam's mind, viz., that in the work to which Balak summoned him he could do nothing at all except through Jehovah. This knowledge he had acquired by virtue of his natural gifts as seer, and his previous experience. But this clear knowledge of Jehovah was completely obscured again by the love for the wages which ruled in his heart. Because he loved Balak, the enemy of Israel, for the sake of the wages, whereas Jehovah loved Israel for His own name's sake; Balaam was opposed to Jehovah in his inmost nature and will, though he knew himself to be in unison with Him by virtue of his natural gift. Consequently he fell into the same blindness of contradiction to which Balak was in bondage" (Baumgarten). And in this blindness he hoped to be able to turn Jehovah round to oppose Israel, and favour the wishes of his own and Balak's heart. He therefore told the messengers to wait again, that he might ask Jehovah a second time (Numbers 22:19). And this time (Numbers 22:20) God allowed him to go with them, but only on the condition that he should do nothing but what He said to him. The apparent contradiction in His first of all prohibiting Balaam from going (Numbers 22:12), then permitting it (Numbers 22:20), and then again, when Balaam set out in consequence of this permission, burning with anger against him (Numbers 22:22), does not indicate any variableness in the counsels of God, but vanishes at once when we take into account the pedagogical purpose of the divine consent. When the first messengers came and Balaam asked God whether he might go with them and curse Israel, God forbade him to go and curse. But since Balaam obeyed this command with inward repugnance, when he asked a second time on the arrival of the second embassy, God permitted him to go, but on the condition already mentioned, namely, that he was forbidden to curse. God did this not merely because it was His own intention to put blessings instead of curses into the prophet's mouth, - and "the blessings of the celebrated prophet might serve as means of encouraging Israel and discouraging their foes, even though He did not actually stand in need of them" (Knobel), - but primarily and principally for the sake of Balaam himself, viz., to manifest to this soothsayer, who had so little susceptibility for higher influences, both His own omnipotence and true deity, and also the divine election of Israel, in a manner so powerful as to compel him to decide either for or against the God of Israel and his salvation. To this end God permitted him to go to Balak, though not without once more warning him most powerfully by the way of the danger to which his avarice and ambition would expose him. This immediate intention in the guidance of Balaam, by which God would have rescued him if possible from the way of destruction, into which he had been led by the sin which ruled in his heart, does not at all preclude the much further-reaching design of God, which was manifested in Balaam's blessings, namely, to glorify His own name among the heathen and in Israel, through the medium of this far-famed soothsayer.
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