Numbers 22:34
And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Numbers 22:34. I have sinned — He confesses his passion and thoughtlessness in his ill treatment of the ass, and excuses himself for so wilfully persisting in his journey, from his ignorance of the angel’s standing in the way to oppose him; but he makes no confession of his covetousness, which was the dishonest principle that influenced him in all his steps.

22:22-35 We must not think, that because God does not always by his providence restrain men from sin, therefore he approves of it, or that it is not hateful to him. The holy angels oppose sin, and perhaps are employed in preventing it more than we are aware. This angel was an adversary to Balaam, because Balaam counted him his adversary; those are really our best friends, and we ought so to reckon them, who stop our progress in sinful ways. Balaam has notice of God's displeasure by the ass. It is common for those whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil, to push on violently, through the difficulties Providence lays in their way. The Lord opened the mouth of the ass. This was a great miracle wrought by the power of God. He who made man speak, could, when he pleased, make the ass to speak with man's voice. The ass complained of Balaam's cruelty. The righteous God does not allow the meanest or weakest to be abused; but they shall be able to speak in their own defence, or he will some way or other speak for them. Balaam at length has his eyes opened. God has many ways to bring down the hard and unhumbled heart. When our eyes are opened, we shall see the danger of sinful ways, and how much it was for our advantage to be crossed. Balaam seemed to relent; I have sinned; but it does not appear that he was sensible of this wickedness of his heart, or willing to own it. If he finds he cannot go forward, he will be content, since there is no remedy, to go back. Thus many leave their sins, only because their sins have left them. The angel declared that he should not only be unable to curse Israel, but should be forced to bless them: this would be more for the glory of God, and to his own confusion, than if he had turned back.Is perverse - Rather, is headlong. Compare Peter's words 2 Peter 2:16, "the madness of the prophet." 34, 35. I have sinned … if it displease thee, I will get me back again—Notwithstanding this confession, he evinced no spirit of penitence, as he speaks of desisting only from the outward act. The words "go with the men" was a mere withdrawal of further restraint, but the terms in which leave was given are more absolute and peremptory than those in Nu 22:20. A frivolous supposition; for it was apparently displeasing to God, who had now said that his way was perverse, and had therefore opposed him and sought to slay him: but hereby he shows how loth he was to go back and lose the hopes he had conceived; and besides he speaks of desisting from the outward action, but shows no sense of the plague of his heart, his vile affections, which were the root of this ill-designed journey.

And Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, I have sinned,.... That is, in beating the ass; not that he was sensible of his sin of covetousness, and of the evil disposition of his mind, and of his wicked intention in going along with the princes to curse Israel, if possible, and get Balak's presents and preferments:

for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me; signifying, that if he had known it, he should not have smitten the ass, but submitted himself to the will of the angel:

now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again; which he spoke very coldly and faintly, not caring heartily to go back, unless forced to it; for seeing a drawn sword in his hand, he might be afraid of his life should he persist in his journey, and therefore feigns a readiness to go back, quitting it on condition that his going forwards was displeasing; whereas he knew it was, especially his going with an evil mind to hurt Israel if possible.

And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Numbers 22:34The angel of the Lord sought to preserve Balaam from the destruction which threatened him, by standing in his way; but he did not see him, though his ass did. וגו נטתה אוּלי, "perhaps it turned out before me; for otherwise I should surely have killed thee, and let her live." The first clause is to be regarded, as Hengstenberg supposes, as an aposiopesis. The angel does not state positively what was the reason why perhaps the ass had turned out of the way: he merely hints at it lightly, and leaves it to Balaam to gather from the hint, that the faithful animal had turned away from affection to its master, with a dim foreboding of the danger which threatened him, and yet for that very reason, as it were as a reward for its service of love, had been ill-treated by him. The traditional rendering, "if the ass had not turned aside, surely," etc., cannot be defended according to the rules of the language; and there is not sufficient ground for any such alteration of the text as Knobel suggests, viz., into לוּלי. These words made an impression, and Balaam made this acknowledgment (Numbers 22:34): "I have sinned, for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me; and now, if it displease thee, I will get me back again." The angel of the Lord replied, however (Numbers 22:35): "Go with the men; but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that shalt you speak." This was sufficient to show him, that it was not the journey in itself that was displeasing to God, but the feelings and intentions with which he had entered upon it. The whole procedure was intended to sharpen his conscience and sober his mind, that he might pay attention to the word which the Lord would speak to him. At the same time the impression which the appearance and words of the angel of the Lord made upon his heart, enveloped in mist as it was by the thirst for gold and honour, was not a deep one, nor one that led him to a thorough knowledge of his own heart; otherwise, after such a warning, he would never have continued his journey.
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