Numbers 23:24
Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
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(24) As a great lion.—Better, as a lioness. (Comp. Genesis 49:9.) Balaam transfers to the whole nation that which Jacob had prophesied of Judah.

Numbers 23:24. As a great lion — As a lion rouseth up himself to fight, or to go out to the prey, so shall Israel stir up themselves to warlike attempts against their enemies. He shall not lie down until he eat of the prey — They shall not lay down their arms until they have made an entire conquest of their enemies; just as the lion, risen up to pursue his prey, doth not usually lie down till he hath taken that prey, and drunk the blood of the beasts he has slain. The prophecy seems to have a peculiar respect to the conquest of the Canaanites. This was the condition of Israel at present, and during the days of Joshua and David. But alas! their sins and follies often so enfeebled them that they themselves became an easy prey to their enemies! And there is no truth more plain or more incontestable than this, that piety and virtue are at once the strength and glory of a nation, and that ungodliness and vice are the surest and saddest presages of the ruin of any people.

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.Enchantment ... divination - More strictly "augury" and "soothsayer's token," or the omen that was superstitiously observed. "Soothsayer" is the term applied to Balaam in Joshua 13:22.

The verse intimates that the seer was at last, through the overruling of his own auguries, compelled to own what, had he not been blinded by avarice and ambition, he would have discerned before - that there Was an indisputable interference of God on Israel's behalf, against which all arts and efforts of man must prove vain. The sense suggested by margin (i. e., that the soothsayer's art was not practiced in Israel) would be strictly true (compare the Numbers 23:4 note).

According ... - Rather, in due time it shall be told to Jacob, etc. God will, through His own divinely appointed means (e. g. the Urim and Thummim), reveal to Israel, as occasion may require, His will and purposes.

23. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob—No art can ever prevail against a people who are under the shield of Omnipotence, and for whom miracles have been and yet shall be performed, which will be a theme of admiration in succeeding ages. As a lion rouseth up himself to fight, or to go out to the prey; so shall Israel stir up themselves to warlike attempts against all their enemies, as occasion shall offer itself.

He shall not lie down, i.e. not rest or cease from fighting and pursuing.

Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion,.... Or rather, "as the lioness" (n), which, as Aelianus says (o), is the strongest and most warlike beast, the most fierce and furious, as is believed both by Greeks and Barbarians; and he mentions the heroism of Perdiccas the Macedonian, and Semiramis the Assyrian, in engaging with and killing, not the lion or leopard, but lioness:

and shall lift up himself as a young lion; both phrases denoting the courage and strength of the people of Israel, in attacking their enemies and engaging them:

he shall not lie down; being once roused up and engaged in war:

until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain; as the lion does when it has seized on a creature, tears it to pieces, eats its flesh and drinks its blood: this may refer to the slaughter of the Midianites that would be quickly made, and among the slain of whom Balaam himself was, Numbers 31:7, and to the slaughter and conquest of the Canaanites under Joshua, and taking their spoils.

(n) "ut leaena", V. L. Tigurine version. (o) Var. Hist. l. 12. c. 39. Vid. Herodot. Thalia, sive, l. 3. c. 108.

Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
24. Cf. Micah 5:8.

Verse 24. - As a great lion. לָבִיא, generally translated "old lion," as in Genesis 49:9. By some it is rendered lioness (cf. Job 4:11; Nahum 2:12). As a young lion. אַרִי, the ordinary term for a lion without further distinction. It is altogether fantastic to suppose that Balaam had just seen a lieu coming up from the ghor of Jordan, and that this "omen" inspired his "mashal." The rising of a lion from its covert was one of the most common of the more striking phenomena of nature in those regions, and the imagery it afforded was in constant use; but in truth it is evident that these similes are borrowed from Jacob's dying prophecy concerning Judah (Genesis 49:9), in which the word "prey" (Hebrew, טֶרֶפ, a torn thing) is also found. Balaam was acquainted with that prophecy, as he was with the promises made to Abraham (cf. verse 10 with Genesis 13:16; Genesis 28:14). Numbers 23:24Through the power of its God, Israel was invincible, and would crush all its foes. "Behold, it rises up, a people like the lioness, and lifts itself up like the lion. It lies not down till it eats dust, and drinks the blood of the slain." What the patriarch Jacob prophesied of Judah, the ruler among his brethren, in Genesis 49:9, Balaam here transfers to the whole nation, to put to shame all the hopes indulged by the Moabitish king of the conquest and destruction of Israel.
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