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 unto Balaam, and spake unto 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. Numbers 22:7When the elders of Moab and Midian came to him with wages of divination in their hand, he did not send them away, but told them to spend the night at his house, that he might bring them word what Jehovah would say to him. קסמים, from קסם, soothsaying, signifies here that which has been wrought or won by soothsaying - the soothsayer's wages; just as בּשׂרה, which signifies literally glad tidings, is used in 2 Samuel 4:10 for the wages of glad tidings; and פּעל, פּעלּה, which signifies work, is frequently used for that which is wrought, the thing acquired, or the wages. If Balaam had been a true prophet and a faithful servant of Jehovah, he would at once have sent the messengers away and refused their request, as he must then have known that God would not curse His chosen people. But Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness. This corruptness of his heart obscured his mind, so that he turned to God not as a mere form, but with the intention and in the hope of obtaining the consent of God to his undertaking. And God came to him in the night, and made known His will. Whether it was through the medium of a dream or of a vision, is not recorded, as this was of no moment in relation to the subject in hand. The question of God in Numbers 22:9, "Who are these men with thee?" not only served to introduce the conversation (Knobel), but was intended to awaken "the slumbering conscience of Balaam, to lead him to reflect upon the proposal which the men had made, and to break the force of his sinful inclination"' (Hengstenberg).
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