Numbers 23:14
And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) The field of Zophim.—i.e., of watchers. Tne spot seems to be identified with that from which Moses afterwards surveyed the promised land (Deuteronomy 3:27), and which is described in Deuteronomy 34:1 as “the mountain of Nebo,” or Mount Nebo. It is possible, however, that Pisgah may have had more than one of such summits.

23:11-30 Balak was angry with Balaam. Thus a confession of God's overruling power is extorted from a wicked prophet, to the confusion of a wicked prince. A second time the curse is turned into a blessing; and this blessing is both larger and stronger than the former. Men change their minds, and break their words; but God never changes his mind, and therefore never recalls his promise. And when in Scripture he is said to repent, it does not mean any change of his mind; but only a change of his way. There was sin in Jacob, and God saw it; but there was not such as might provoke him to give them up to ruin. If the Lord sees that we trust in his mercy, and accept of his salvation; that we indulge no secret lust, and continue not in rebellion, but endeavour to serve and glorify him; we may be sure that he looks upon us as accepted in Christ, that our sins are all pardoned. Oh the wonders of providence and grace, the wonders of redeeming love, of pardoning mercy, of the new-creating Spirit! Balak had no hope of ruining Israel, and Balaam showed that he had more reason to fear being ruined by them. Since Balaam cannot say what he would have him, Balak wished him to say nothing. But though there are many devices in man's heart, God's counsels shall stand. Yet they resolve to make another attempt, though they had no promise on which to build their hopes. Let us, who have a promise that the vision at the end shall speak and not lie, continue earnest in prayer, Lu 18:1.The field of Zophim - Or, "of watchers." It lay upon the top of Pisgah, north of the former station, and nearer to the Israelite camp; the greater part of which was, however, probably concealed from it by an intervening spur of the hill. Beyond the camp Balaam's eye would pass on to the bed of the Jordan. It was perhaps a lion coming up in his strength from the swelling of that stream (compare Jeremiah 49:19) that furnished him with the augury he awaited, and so dictated the final similitude of his next parable. 14. he brought him into the field of Zophim … top of Pisgah—a flat surface on the summit of the mountain range, which was cultivated land. Others render it "the field of sentinels," an eminence where some of Balak's guards were posted to give signals [Calmet]. Zophim, a place so called from the spies and watches which were kept there. Pisgah, a high hill in the land of Moab, so called Deu 3:27 34:1. And he brought him into the field of Zophim,.... Or Sede Tzophim, as Hillerus (i) reads it, so called from the watch tower, and watchmen in it: Jarchi says, it was a high place, where a watchman stood to observe if an army came against a city, and so a very proper place to take a view of the armies of Israel from:

to the top of Pisgah; a high hill in this place, where perhaps the watch tower was, or, however, the watchman stood: this looked towards Jeshimon or Bethjesimoth, in the plain of Moab, where Israel lay encamped, see Numbers 21:20, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar: as he had done before, Numbers 23:2.

(i) Onomastic Sacr. p. 935.

And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
14. to the field of Zophim] The site is unknown. Ẓôphim means ‘watchers,’ and it was evidently high ground which afforded an extensive outlook.

the top of the Pisgah] See on Numbers 21:20. There were probably many places in the mountains of Moab which would be useful as posts for sentinels. This one is defined as lying somewhere among the western headlands.Verse 14. - The field of Zophim, i.e., of the watchers. Probably a well-known outlook. To the top of Pisgah. They followed apparently on the track of their enemies (see on Numbers 21:20). "How shall I curse whom God does not curse, and how threaten whom Jehovah does not threaten?" Balak imagined, like all the heathen, that Balaam, as a goetes and magician, could distribute blessings and curses according to his own will, and put such constraint upon his God as to make Him subservient to his own will (see at Numbers 22:6). The seer opposes this delusion: The God of Israel does not curse His people, and therefore His servant cannot curse them. The following verses (Numbers 23:9 and Numbers 23:10) give the reason why: "For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him. Lo, it is a people that dwelleth apart, and is not numbered among the heathen. Who determines the dust of Jacob, and in number the fourth part of Israel? Let my soul die the death of the righteous, and my end be like his?" There were two reasons which rendered it impossible for Balaam to curse Israel: (1) Because they were a people both outwardly and inwardly different from other nations, and (2) because they were a people richly blessed and highly favoured by God. From the top of the mountains Balaam looked down upon the people of Israel. The outward and earthly height upon which he stood was the substratum of the spiritual height upon which the Spirit of God had placed him, and had so enlightened his mental sight, that he was able to discern all the peculiarities and the true nature of Israel. In this respect the first thing that met his view was the fact that this people dwelt alone. Dwelling alone does not denote a quiet and safe retirement, as many commentators have inferred from Deuteronomy 33:28; Jeremiah 49:31, and Micah 7:14; but, according to the parallel clause, "it is not reckoned among the nations," it expresses the separation of Israel from the rest of the nations. This separation was manifested outwardly to the seer's eye in the fact that "the host of Israel dwelt by itself in a separate encampment upon the plain. In this his spirit discerned the inward and essential separation of Israel from all the heathen" (Baumgarten). This outward "dwelling alone" was a symbol of their inward separation from the heathen world, by virtue of which Israel was not only saved from the fate of the heathen world, but could not be overcome by the heathen; of course only so long as they themselves should inwardly maintain this separation from the heathen, and faithfully continue in covenant with the Lord their God, who had separated them from among the nations to be His own possession. As soon as Israel lost itself in heathen ways, it also lost its own external independence. This rule applies to the Israel of the New Testament as well as the Israel of the Old, to the congregation or Church of God of all ages. יתחשּׁב לע, "it does not reckon itself among the heathen nations," i.e., it does not share the lot of the other nations, because it has a different God and protector from the heathen (cf. Deuteronomy 4:8; Deuteronomy 33:29). The truth of this has been so marvellously realized in the history of the Israelites, notwithstanding their falling short of the idea of their divine calling, "that whereas all the mightier kingdoms of the ancient world, Egypt, Assyria, Babel, etc., have perished without a trace, Israel, after being rescued from so many dangers which threatened utter destruction under the Old Testament, still flourishes in the Church of the New Testament, and continues also to exist in that part which, though rejected now, is destined one day to be restored" (Hengstenberg).

In this state of separation from the other nations, Israel rejoiced in the blessing of its God, which was already visible in the innumerable multitude into which it had grown. "Who has ever determined the dust of Jacob?" As the dust cannot be numbered, so is the multitude of Israel innumerable. These words point back to the promise in Genesis 13:16, and applied quite as much to the existing state as to the future of Israel. The beginning of the miraculous fulfilment of the promise given to the patriarchs of an innumerable posterity, was already before their eyes (cf. Deuteronomy 10:22). Even now the fourth part of Israel is not to be reckoned. Balaam speaks of the fourth part with reference to the division of the nation into four camps (ch. 2), of which he could see only one from his point of view (Numbers 22:41), and therefore only the fourth part of the nation. מספּר is an accusative of definition, and the subject and verb are to be repeated from the first clause; so that there is no necessity to alter מספּר into ספר מי. - But Israel was not only visibly blessed by God with an innumerable increase; it was also inwardly exalted into a people of ישׁרים, righteous or honourable men. The predicate ישׁרים is applied to Israel on account of its divine calling, because it had a God who was just and right, a God of truth and without iniquity (Deuteronomy 32:4), or because the God of Israel was holy, and sanctified His people (Leviticus 20:7-8; Exodus 31:13) and made them into a Jeshurun (Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 33:5, Deuteronomy 33:26). Righteousness, probity, is the idea and destination of this people, which has never entirely lost it, though it has never fully realized it. Even in times of general apostasy from the Lord, there was always an ἐκλογή in the nation, of which probity and righteousness could truly be predicated (cf. 1 Kings 19:18). The righteousness of the Israelites was "a product of the institutions which God had established among them, of the revelation of His holy will which He had given them in His law, of the forgiveness of sins which He had linked on to the offering of sacrifices, and of the communication of His Spirit, which was ever living and at work in His Church, and in it alone" (Hengstenberg). Such a people Balaam could not curse; he could only wish that the end of his own life might resemble the end of these righteous men. Death is introduced here as the end and completion of life. "Balaam desires for himself the entire, full, indestructible, and inalienable blessedness of the Israelite, of which death is both the close and completion, and also the seal and attestation" (Kurtz). This desire did not involve the certain hope of a blessed life beyond the grave, which the Israelites themselves did not then possess; it simply expressed the thought that the death of a pious Israelite was a desirable good. And this it was, whether viewed in the light of the past, the present, or the future. In the hour of death the pious Israelite could look back with blessed satisfaction to a long life, rich "in traces of the beneficent, forgiving, delivering, and saving grace of God;" he could comfort himself with the delightful hope of living on in his children and his children's children, and in them of participating in the future fulfilment of the divine promises of grace; and lastly, when dying in possession of the love and grace of God, he could depart hence with the joyful confidence of being gathered to his fathers in Sheol (Genesis 25:8).

Links
Numbers 23:14 Interlinear
Numbers 23:14 Parallel Texts


Numbers 23:14 NIV
Numbers 23:14 NLT
Numbers 23:14 ESV
Numbers 23:14 NASB
Numbers 23:14 KJV

Numbers 23:14 Bible Apps
Numbers 23:14 Parallel
Numbers 23:14 Biblia Paralela
Numbers 23:14 Chinese Bible
Numbers 23:14 French Bible
Numbers 23:14 German Bible

Bible Hub






Numbers 23:13
Top of Page
Top of Page