And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Numbers 20:16 and references), and subsequently appeared as the Captain of the Lord's host to Joshua Jos 6:13. In desiring to curse Israel, Balaam was fighting against Israel's Leader. The presence of the Angel in his path was designed to open his eyes, blinded by sin, to the real character of his course of conduct. the angel because God withheld his eyes, as he did the eyes of Daniel’s companions, Daniel 10:7. It is a truth, which mere philosophers own, that when God withdraws his concourse or help from any of his creatures, they cannot perform their natural acts and offices; the eye cannot see, as Ge 19, nor the ear hear, nor the fire burn, as Da 3. Numbers 31:8.
and the ass turned aside out of the way; out of the common road, to save its master and itself, from a natural principle of self-preservation: and went into the field; adjoining to, and that lay along the road side:
and Balaam smote the ass to turn her into the way; with his staff, as in Numbers 22:27 to bring her into the common road again.And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)23. with his sword drawn in his hand] Numbers 22:31. Joshua 5:13.
and went into the field] The road would run through the open country (‘the field’), without walls or fences. These would only be employed between vineyards, to keep out animals.Verse 23. - And the ass saw the angel of the Lord. This was clearly part of the miracle, the σήμειον which was to exhibit in such a striking manner the stupidity and blindness of the most brilliant and gifted intellect when clouded by greed and selfishness. It is nothing to the point that the lower animals have a quicker perception of some natural phenomena than men, for this was not a natural phenomenon; it is nothing to the point that the lower animals are credited by some with possessing "the second sight," for all that belongs to the fantastic and legendary. If the ass saw the angel, it was because the Lord opened her eyes then, as he did her mouth afterwards.
(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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