Numbers 22:7
And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came to Balaam, and spoke to him the words of Balak.
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(7) And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian.—The close alliance which existed between the two nations appears throughout the whole of the narrative.

The rewards of divination.—Literally, the divinations. Some think the meaning to be instruments of divination; but as besorah means not only tidings, but also the reward for tidings (2Samuel 4:10), so kesamim may mean not only divinations, but also the rewards of divination.

Numbers 22:7. With the rewards of divination — It was customary for those who came to consult the prophets, to bring them gifts or gratuities to reward them for their trouble, 1 Samuel 9:7.22:1-14 The king of Moab formed a plan to get the people of Israel cursed; that is, to set God against them, who had hitherto fought for them. He had a false notion, that if he could get some prophet to pray for evil upon them, and to pronounce a blessing upon himself and his forces, that then he should be able to deal with them. None had so great a reputation as Balaam; and Balak will employ him, though he send a great way for him. It is not known whether the Lord had ever spoken to Balaam, or by him, before this; though it is probable he had, and it is certain he did afterwards. Yet we have abundant proof that he lived and died a wicked man, an enemy to God and his people. And the curse shall not come upon us if there is not a cause, even though men utter it. To prevail with Balaam, they took the wages of unrighteousness, but God laid restraint upon Balaam, forbidding him to curse Israel. Balaam was no stranger to Israel's cause; so that he ought to have answered the messengers at once, that he would never curse a people whom God had blessed; but he takes a night's time to consider what he should do. When we parley with temptations, we are in great danger of being overcome. Balaam was not faithful in returning God's answer to the messengers. Those are a fair mark for Satan's temptation, who lessen Divine restraints; as if to go against God's law were only to go without his leave. The messengers also are not faithful in returning Balaam's answer to Balak. Thus many are abused by the flatteries of those about them, and are prevented from seeing their own faults and follies.Rewards of divination - Rightly interpreted in 2 Peter 2:15 as "the wages of unrighteousness." 7. the elders of Moab and … of Midian departed with the rewards of divination—like the fee of a fortune teller, and being a royal present, it would be something handsome. With the rewards of divination, Heb. with divinations; by which he understands not the instruments of divination, which it was needless and absurd to bring to so eminent a diviner, who doubtless was thoroughly furnished for his own trade; but the rewards of it, as it is explained 2 Peter 2:15, and as in the Hebrew, 2 Samuel 4:10, good tidings is put for the reward of good tidings. Nor is it probable they would go to, or could expect to prevail with such a person, especially being noted for his covetousness, as appears from the story, without that powerful engine. And the elders of Moab, and the elders of Midian, departed,.... By which it appears that they were princes and nobles; for such the elders were, that were sent on this errand to Balaam; and that they were some of both people, Midian and Moab, that went upon it, see Numbers 22:14 which shows, that if they were not one people, under one king, which yet seems likely, nevertheless they made a common cause of it, and joined in this expedient to save their country:

with the rewards of divination in their hands; not that diviners were sent along with them to Balsam, as Aben Ezra interprets it, that he might not deceive them, and put them off, by saying it was not a fit and proper day or hour to go out and curse, which these men would be able to refute; but if they were skilled in the art of divination as well as he, what need was there to send to him, when they had such at hand? nor instruments of divination, as Jarchi, which so famous a soothsayer could not be thought to be without; but, as we rightly render it, the rewards of divination, which were either fixed or left to the generosity of those that had recourse to such persons, and were presents which they brought them, in order to engage them to use the utmost of their art for them; and this sense is confirmed by the Apostles Peter and Jude, see 2 Peter 2:15,

and they came unto Balaam; at Pethor:

and spake unto him the words of Balak: told him the errand they were sent on to him by the king of Moab.

And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with {d} the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.

(d) Thinking to bribe him with gifts to curse the Israelites.

Verse 7. - With the rewards of divination. קְסָמִים, "soothsayings." Septuagint, τὰ μαντεῖα. Here the soothsayer's wages, which St. Peter aptly calls the wages of unrighteousness. The ease with which, among ignorant and superstitious people, a prophet might become a hired soothsayer is apparent even from the case of Samuel (1 Samuel 9:6-8). That it should be thought proper to resort to the man of God for information about some lost property, and much more that it should be thought necessary to pay him a fee for the exercise of his supernatural powers, shows, not indeed that Samuel was a soothsayer, for he was a man of rare integrity and independence, but, that Samuel was but little distinguished from a soothsayer in the popular estimation. If Samuel had learnt to care more for money than for righteousness, he might very easily have become just what Balaam became. After the defeat of the two Amorite kings, Sihon and Og, and the conquest of their kingdoms in Gilead and Bashan, the Israelites removed from the height of Pisgah, on the mountains of Abarim before Nebo (see at Numbers 21:20), and encamped in the "Arboth Moab (the steppes of Moab), on the other side of the Jordan of Jericho," i.e., that part of the Jordan which skirted the province of Jericho. Arboth Moab was the name given to that portion of the Arabah, or large plain of the Jordan, the present Ghor (see at Deuteronomy 1:1), which belonged to the territory of the Moabites previous to the spread of the Amorites under Sihon in the land to the east of the Jordan, and which probably reached from the Dead Sea to the mouth of the Jabbok. The site of the Israelitish camp is therefore defined with greater minuteness by the clause "beyond the Jordan of Jericho." This place of encampment, which is frequently alluded to (Numbers 26:3, Numbers 26:63; Numbers 31:12; Numbers 33:48, Numbers 33:50; Numbers 35:1; Numbers 36:13; Joshua 13:32), extended, according to Numbers 33:49, from Beth-jeshimoth to Abel-shittim. Beth-jeshimoth (i.e., house of wastes), on the north-eastern desert border (Jeishimon, Numbers 21:20) of the Dead Sea, a town allotted to the tribe of Reuben (Joshua 12:3; Joshua 13:20), was situated, according to the Onom. (s. v.Beethasimou'th, Bethsimuth), ten Roman miles, or four hours, to the south (S.E.) of Jericho, on the Dead Sea; according to Josephus (bell. jud. iv. 7, 6), it was to the south of Julias (Livias), i.e., Beth-haram, or Rameh, on the northern edge of the Wady Hesban (see at Numbers 32:36), or in the Ghor el Seisabn, on the northern coast of the Dead Sea, and the southern end of the plain of the Jordan. Abel Shittim (השּׁטּים אבל), i.e., the acacia-meadow, or, in its briefer form, Shittim (Numbers 35:1), was situated, according to Josephus (Ant. iv. 8, 1), on the same spot as the later town of Abila, in a locality rich in date-palms, sixty stadia from the Jordan, probably by the Wady Eshtah to the north of the Wady Hesban; even if Knobel's supposition that the name is connected with אשׁטה equals שׁטּה with א prost. should not be a tenable one. From Shittim or Sittim the Israelites advanced, under Joshua, to the Jordan, to effect the conquest of Canaan (Joshua 3:1).

In the steppes of Moab the Israelites encamped upon the border of the promised land, from which they were only separated by the Jordan. But before this boundary line could be passed, there were many preparations that had to be made. In the first place, the whole congregation was to pass through a trial of great importance to all future generations, as bearing upon the relation in which it stood to the heathen world; and in the second place, it was here that Moses, who was not to enter Canaan because of his sin at the water of strife, was to bring the work of legislation to a close before his death, and not only to issue the requisite instructions concerning the conquest of the promised inheritance, and the division of it among the tribes of Israel, but to impress once more upon the hearts of the whole congregation the essential contents of the whole law, with all that the Lord had done for Israel, that they might be confirmed in their fidelity to the Lord, and preserved from the danger of apostasy. This last work of the faithful servant of God, with which he brought his mediatorial work to a close, is described in the book of Deuteronomy; whilst the laws relating to the conquest and partition of Canaan, with the experience of Israel in the steppes of Moab, fill up the latter portion of the present book.

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