Numbers 22:40
And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.
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(40) And Balak offered . . . —Better, and Balak slew (or, slaughtered in sacrifice), &c. The word rendered offered does not necessarily denote anything more than to slay. It is very commonly used, however, to denote slaying in sacrifice; and it is most probable that Balak made a sacrificial feast, and sent portions of the flesh to Balaam and the princes who were with him. Kings not unfrequently acted as priests of old, as, e.g., Melchizedek. (Comp. Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phoebique sacerdos, Aen. 3:80.)

Numbers 22:40. Sent to Balaam, and to the princes, &c. — Either to invite them to partake of the feast upon the sacrifice, or, having sacrificed, he sent portions of the sacred banquet to him, and the princes whom he had left to attend him. Balaam, who professed to be a worshipper of the true God, was very blame-worthy in partaking of meat offered to idols.22:36-41 Balak has now nothing to complain of, but that Balaam did not come sooner. Balaam bids Balak not depend too much upon him. He seems to speak with vexation; but is really as desirous to please Balak, as ever he had pretended to be to please God. See what need we have to pray every day, Our Father which art in heaven, lead us not into temptation. Let us be jealous over our own hearts, seeing how far men may go in the knowledge of God, and yet come short of Divine grace.Kirjath-buzoth - i. e., "city of streets," within Balak's dominions, south of the Arnon, and identified either with the ruins of Shihan, 4 miles west by south of the site assigned to Ar or Ir, or with Kirjathaim (Kureivat). 40. Balak offered oxen and sheep—made preparations for a grand entertainment to Balaam and the princes of Midian. Or, killed, either for sacrifice, or rather for a feast; for the sacrifices were offered after this, Numbers 23:1,2.

Sent to Balaam, to invite him to the feast. The king had left the princes to accompany him and attend upon him. And Balak offered oxen and sheep,.... Or "slew" (w) them, either for sacrifice; and if so Balak was the sacrificer, as it was common for kings to be priests; and then Balaam, who was sent for, was the prophet, that was to observe and explain any omen at the time of sacrificing, as Calchas did, when the chiefs of Greece sacrificed (x): or rather for a feast, as the following words seem to show; though it might be for both, it being usual, when sacrifices were offered to idols, to eat part of them in a festival way, in imitation of the peace offerings of the Jews, see Numbers 25:2,

and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him; either part of it to them, or he sent for them to come, and partake of the feast, he and the princes of Moab and Midian, that had been to fetch him, and still attended him; and this the king did in a way of rejoicing, being glad that Balaam was come, and as expressing his well pleasedness with the conduct of the princes, and their success, as well as to keep Balaam in high spirits, hoping to have his end answered by him.

(w) "cuinque occidisset", V. L. (x) Homer. Iliad. 1.

And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.
40. and sent to Balaam &c.] When the animals had been slaughtered for sacrifice, Balak caused portions of the flesh to be brought to Balaam and the Moabite princes who had accompanied him. Cf. 1 Samuel 9:23 f.Verse 40. - Balak offered oxen and sheep. Probably these sacrifices were offered not to Chemosh, but to the Lord, in whose name Balaam always spoke. Indeed the known fact that Beldam was a prophet of the Lord was no doubt one of Balak's chief reasons for wishing to obtain his services. Balak shared the common opinion of antiquity, that the various national deities were enabled by circumstances past human understanding to do sometimes more, sometimes less, for their special votaries. He perceived that the God of Israel was likely, as things stood, to carry all before him; but he thought that he might by judicious management be won over, at least to some extent, to desert the cause of Israel and to favour that of Moab. To this end he "retained" at great cost the services of Balaam, the prophet of the Lord, and to this end he was willing to offer any number of sacrifices. Even the resolute and self-reliant Romans believed in the wisdom of such a policy. Thus Pliny quotes ancient authors as affirming "in oppugnationibus ante omnia solitum a Romanis sacrdotibus evocari Deum, cujus in tutela id oppidum esset, promittique illi eundem aut ampliorem apud Romanos cultum," and he adds, "durat in Pontificum disciplina id sacrum, constatque ideo occultatum, in cujus Dei tutela Roma esset, ne qui hostium simili modo agerent." And sent, i.e., portions of the sacrificial meats.

CHAPTER 22:41; 23, 24 The 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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