Numbers 22:41
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that there he might see the utmost part of the people.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(41) Into the high places of Baal.—Or, to Bamoth-Baal. Bamoth-Baal was probably the first height on the way to the steppes of Moab from which the Israelitish camp could be seen. Hengstenberg observes that “Balak started with the supposition that Balaam must necessarily have the Israelites in view if his curse was to take effect.”

That thence he might see the utmost part of the people.—Better, And he saw from thence, &c. If the Authorised Version of Numbers 23:13 is correct, it seems necessary to understand these words as denoting that Balaam had a view from Bamoth-Baal of the whole army of Israel, even to the very extremity. or utmost part of the camp. This verse, however, is more commonly interpreted as denoting that Balaam saw only the extremity of the camp. So the Targum of Palestine: “He saw from thence the camp of Dan, which went at the rear of the people.” (See Note on Numbers 23:13.)

Numbers 22:41. The high places of Baal — Consecrated to the worship of Baal, that is, of Baal-peor, who was their Baal, or lord, as the word signifies, a name given to several gods, both male and female. Their god, like those of other nations, it appears, was worshipped on high places, which were generally planted with groves, whose solemn gloom served to inspire the worshippers with serious thoughts. To several of these high places Balak brought Balaam, that he might see where he could take the fullest view of the Israelites; for in those solemn imprecations it was judged necessary to have the persons devoted present to the view of him who pronounced the malediction.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.That thence he might see - Rather, and thence he saw. 41. high places of Baal—eminences consecrated to the worship of Baal-peor (see on [87]Nu 25:3) or Chemosh. The high places of Baal, i.e. consecrated to the worship of Baal, i.e. of Baal-peor, who was their Baal or god, Numbers 25:2,3 or of Chemosh.

The utmost part of the people, i.e. all that people, even to the utmost and remotest of them, as appears by comparing this with Numbers 23:13. He hoped that the sight of such a numerous host ready to break in upon his country would stir up his passion and further his charms. And it came to pass on the morrow,.... The day after the arrival of Balaam at Balak's royal seat, and after the entertainment given him, and the princes, "on the morning" (y) of that day, as the word signifies; and perhaps early in the morning, the king eager to be about business, and get the people of Israel cursed if possible as soon as could be:

that Balak took Balaam and brought him up into the high places of Baal; where groves were planted, and altars erected to that "idol" and which the Targum of Jonathan calls the idol Peor, the same with Baalpeor, Numbers 25:3 which might be their god Chemosh, the same with Bacchus or Priapus:

that thence he might see the utmost part of the people; the whole host of Israel, even to the extreme part of it; the camp of Dan, as the Targum of Jonathan, which brought up the rear; he had him to those high places, both that he might have a better view of the whole body of the people, and know how they lay, and to direct his curses at them, and that success might attend the undertaking, these being places of religious worship. Josephus says (z) those high places were sixty furlongs or seven and one half miles from the camp of Israel.

(y) in matutino, Montanus; mane, V. L. Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (z) Antiqu. l. 4. c. 6. sect. 4.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of {t} Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people.

(t) Where the idol Baal was worshipped.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
41. and brought him up to Bamoth-Baal] See on Numbers 21:19. The name indicates that it was a sanctuary.

the end of the people] Not the whole body of Israelites to their furthest extremity but only the nearest end or fringe in the valley immediately below him, the bulk of them being hidden by the hills.

It seems clear that Bamoth-Baal was north and not south of the Arnon, otherwise the Israelites would be many miles away. But the country north of the Arnon was then in possession not of the Moabites but of the Amorites. If we knew more of the facts the difficulty might be explained; but it is not impossible that the narrative is to be considered in the light of a popular tradition which was poetical, and that the details must not be rigidly pressed.Chapter 22:41. - The high places of Baal, or "Bamoth-Baal." Perhaps the Bamoth mentioned in Numbers 21:19, 20. This is, however, by no means certain, because high places were no doubt numerous, and that Bamoth would seem to have been too far from the present camp of Israel. In any case they crossed the Arnon, and ran some risk by adventuring themselves on hostile territory. That thence he might see the utmost part of the people. According to the quasi-sacramental character attributed to the cursing of a seer, it was held necessary that the subject of the curse should be in view. Balak desired to attain this object with as little risk as possible, and therefore he took Balaam first of all to these heights, whence a distant and partial view of Israel might be had. 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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