Numbers 24:10
And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said to Balaam, I called you to curse my enemies, and, behold, you have altogether blessed them these three times.
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(10) And he smote his hands together.—The smiting the hands was a token of strong feeling, whether of scorn, of indignation, or of despair. (Comp. Job 27:23; Lamentations 2:15.)

24:10-14 This vain attempt to curse Israel is ended. Balak broke out into a rage against Balaam, and expressed great vexation. Balaam has a very full excuse; God restrained him from saying what he would have said, and constrained him to say what he would not have uttered.Balaam's native soil was ordinarily irrigated by water fetched from the neighboring Euphrates, and carried in buckets suspended from the two ends of a pole. Thus the metaphor would import that Israel should have his own exuberant and unfailing channels of blessing and plenty. Some take the word to be predictive of the future benefits which, through the means of Israel, were to accrue to the rest of the world.

Agag - The name, apparently hereditary (compare 1 Samuel 15) to the chieftains of Amalek, means "high." The words point to the Amalekite kingdom as highly prosperous and powerful at the time (compare Numbers 24:20); but also to be far excelled by the future glories of Israel. The Amalekites never in fact recovered their crushing defeat by Saul (1 Samuel 15:2 ff), though they appear again as foes to Israel in the reign of David (1 Samuel 27:1-12 and 30). The remnant of them was destroyed in the reign of Hezekiah 1 Chronicles 4:43.

10-14. Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together—The "smiting of the hands together" is, among Oriental people, an indication of the most violent rage (see Eze 21:17; 22:13) and ignominious dismissal. He smote his hands together; a sign of great anger, Ezekiel 21:17 22:13. And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam,.... He had bore much and long, but he could bear no longer, he was quite impatient, his last words more especially must exceedingly nettle him:

and he smote his hands together; as expressive of his indignation, vexation, and disappointment:

and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse my enemies; he had sent princes to him, one set of them after another, to invite him into his country, and to his court, with great promises of reward to curse Israel, whom he reckoned his enemies, and not to bless them:

and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times; done nothing else but bless them with blessing upon blessing, time after time; even everyone of the three times he opened his mouth, as Balak expected, to have cursed them.

And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he {f} smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.

(f) In token of anger.

10. these three times] If the utterances in chs. 23 and 24 have been rightly assigned to E and J respectively, these words must have been added by the editor who combined the two accounts.

10–14. Balak, in anger, bade Balaam flee back to his land. Balaam replied, as before, that he was bound to utter the message which Jehovah gave him, and, instead of departing at once, uttered four further declarations.Numbers 24:3 and Numbers 24:4 contain the preface to the prophecy: "The divine saying of Balaam the son of Beor, the divine saying of the man with closed eye, the divine saying of the hearer of divine words, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down and with opened eyes." For the participial noun נאם the meaning divine saying (effatum, not inspiratum, Domini) is undoubtedly established by the expression יהוה נאם, which recurs in Numbers 14:28 and Genesis 22:16, and is of constant use in the predictions of the prophets; and this applies even to the few passages where a human author is mentioned instead of Jehovah, such as Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:4, and Numbers 24:15, Numbers 24:16; also 2 Samuel 23:1; Proverbs 30:1; and Psalm 36:2, where a נאם is ascribed to the personified wickedness. Hence, when Balaam calls the following prophecy a נאם, this is done for the purpose of designating it as a divine revelation received from the Spirit of God. He had received it, and now proclaimed it as a man העין שׁתם, with closed eye. שׁתם does not mean to open, a meaning in support of which only one passage of the Mishnah can be adduced, but to close, like סתם in Daniel 8:26, and שׁתם in Lamentations 3:8, with the שׁ softened into ס or שׂ (see Roediger in Ges. thes., and Dietrich's Hebrew Lexicon). "Balaam describes himself as the man with closed eye with reference to his state of ecstasy, in which the closing of the outer senses went hand in hand with the opening of the inner" (Hengstenberg). The cessation of all perception by means of the outer senses, so far as self-conscious reflection is concerned, was a feature that was common to both the vision and the dream, the two forms in which the prophetic gift manifested itself (Numbers 12:6), and followed from the very nature of the inward intuition. In the case of prophets whose spiritual life was far advanced, inspiration might take place without any closing of the outward senses. But upon men like Balaam, whose inner religious life was still very impure and undeveloped, the Spirit of God could only operate by closing their outward senses to impressions from the lower earthly world, and raising them up to visions of the higher and spiritual world.

(Note: Hence, as Hengstenberg observes (Balaam, p. 449), we have to picture Balaam as giving utterance to his prophecies with the eyes of his body closed; though we cannot argue from the fact of his being in this condition, that an Isaiah would be in precisely the same. Compare the instructive information concerning analogous phenomena in the sphere of natural mantik and ecstasy in Hengstenberg (pp. 449ff.), and Tholuck's Propheten, pp. 49ff.)

What Balaam heard in this ecstatic condition was אל אמרי, the sayings of God, and what he saw שׁדּי מחזה, the vision of the Almighty. The Spirit of God came upon him with such power that he fell down (נפל), like Saul in 1 Samuel 19:24; not merely "prostrating himself with reverential awe at seeing and hearing the things of God" (Knobel), but thrown to the ground by the Spirit of God, who "came like an armed man upon the seer," and that in such a way that as he fell his (spirit's) eyes were opened. This introduction to his prophecy is not an utterance of boasting vanity; but, as Calvin correctly observes, "the whole preface has no other tendency than to prove that he was a true prophet of God, and had received the blessing which he uttered from a celestial oracle."

The blessing itself in Numbers 24:5. contains two thoughts: (1) the glorious prosperity of Israel, and the exaltation of its kingdom (Numbers 24:5-7); (2) the terrible power, so fatal to all its foes, of the people which was set to be a curse or a blessing to all the nations (Numbers 24:8, Numbers 24:9).

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