And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor has said, and the man whose eyes are open has said:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Numbers 24:15. He took up his parable — A weighty and solemn speech, delivered in figurative and majestic language, is often termed a parable in Scripture. Such are these prophecies of Balaam; we cannot peruse them without being struck, not only with their beauty, but with their uncommon force and energy.Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:4; only one clause is added, "and knew the knowledge of the Most High"; that Balaam had some knowledge of God is certain from the names by which he calls him, being such that he made himself known by to the patriarchs, and by which he is frequently called in the sacred writings; but then this knowledge of his was merely notional and speculative, and not spiritual and supernatural, and was such as men may have who are destitute of the grace of God: he was one that professed to know him in words, but in works denied him, see 1 Corinthians 13:2 and he also was admitted to much nearness to God, and converse with him, of which he boasted; but then this was not for his own sake, or as a mark of friendship to him, but for the sake of the people of Israel, and to prevent his doing them mischief. His prophecy follows. And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15, 16. See Numbers 24:3-4.
15–19. Balaam’s second prophetic message. This consists of seven couplets and a triplet.Numbers 24:8 and Numbers 24:9, Balaam proclaims still further: "God leads him out of Egypt; his strength is as that of a buffalo: he will devour nations his enemies, and crush their bones, and dash them in pieces with his arrows. He has encamped, he lies down like a lion, and like a lioness: who can drive him up? Blessed be they who bless thee, and cursed they who curse thee!" The fulness of power that dwelt in the people of Israel was apparent in the force and prowess with which their God brought them out of Egypt. This fact Balaam repeats from the previous saying (Numbers 23:22), for the purpose of linking on to it the still further announcement of the manner in which the power of the nation would show itself upon its foes in time to come. The words, "he will devour nations," call up the image of a lion, which is employed in Numbers 24:9 to depict the indomitable heroic power of Israel, in words taken from Jacob's blessing in Genesis 49:9. The Piel גּרם is a denom. verb from גּרם, with the meaning to destroy, crush the bones, like שׁרשׁ, to root out (cf. Ges. 52, 2; Ewald, 120, e.). הצּיו is not the object to ימחץ; for מחץ, to dash to pieces, does not apply to arrows, which may be broken in pieces, but not dashed to pieces; and the singular suffix in חצּיו can only apply to the singular idea in the verse, i.e., to Israel, and not to its enemies, who are spoken of in the plural. Arrows are singled out as representing weapons in general.
(Note: The difficulty which many feel in connection with the word חצּיו cannot be removed by alterations of the text. The only possible conjecture חלציו (his loins) is wrecked upon the singular suffix, for the dashing to pieces of the loins of Israel is not for a moment to be thought of. Knobel's proposal, viz., to read קמיו, has no support in Deuteronomy 33:11, and is much too violent to reckon upon any approval.)
Balaam closes this utterance, as he had done the previous one, with a quotation from Jacob's blessing, which he introduces to show to Balak, that, according to words addressed by Jehovah to the Israelites through their own tribe-father, they were to overcome their foes so thoroughly, that none of them should venture to rise up against them again. To this he also links on the words with which Isaac had transferred to Jacob in Genesis 27:29 the blessing of Abraham in Genesis 12:3, for the purpose of warning Balak to desist from his enmity against the chosen people of God.
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