Numbers 24:19
Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remains of the city.
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(19) He that shall have dominion.—The reference is explained in Psalm 72:8, “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth,” where the same verb occurs which is in both places rendered in the Authorised Version “shall have dominion.”

And shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.—Or, and He shall destroy the remnant from the cities. The city, which is in the singular number here as in Psalm 72:16, may be used collectively to denote cities generally, though some have understood the reference to be to the city of Jerusalem. But the reference seems to be rather to the chief city, or the cities generally, of Edom. (Comp. Obad., Numbers 24:18, where the same word occurs which is here rendered “him that remaineth,” and which is there rendered “any remaining.”)

Numbers 24:19. Out of Jacob — Out of his loins. He that shall have dominion — David, and especially Christ. Shall destroy him that remaineth of the city — Not only defeat them in the field, but destroy them even in their strongest cities. “We see,” Bishop Newton further observes, “how exactly this prophecy hath been fulfilled in the person and actions of David; but most Jewish as well as Christian writers apply it, primarily, perhaps, to David, but ultimately to the Messiah, as the person chiefly intended, in whom it was to receive its full and entire completion. Onkelos interprets it of the Messiah. Maimonides understands it partly of David, and partly of the Messiah, and with him agree other rabbis. It appears to have been generally understood by the Jews as a prophecy of the Messiah, because the false Christ, who appeared in the reign of the Roman emperor Adrian, assumed the title of Barchochebas, or Song of Solomon of the Star, in allusion to this prophecy, and in order to have it believed that he was the star that Balaam had seen afar off. The Christian fathers, I think, are unanimous in applying this prophecy to our Saviour, and to the star which appeared at his nativity. Origen, in particular, produces it as one of the plainest and clearest prophecies of the Messiah; and both he and Eusebius affirm, that it was in consequence of Balaam’s prophecies, which were known and believed in the East, that the magi, upon the appearance of a new star, came to Jerusalem to worship him who was born king of the Jews. The stream of modern divines and commentators apply the prophecy principally to our Saviour; and by Moab and Edom they understand the enemies and persecutors of the church.”24:15-25 Under the powerful influence of the Spirit of prophecy, Balaam foretold the future prosperity and extensive dominion of Israel. Balaam boasts that his eyes are open. The prophets were in old times called seers. He had heard the words of God, which many do who neither heed them, nor hear God in them. He knew the knowledge of the Most High. A man may be full of the knowledge of God, yet utterly destitute of the grace of God. He calls God the Most High and the Almighty. No man could seem to express a greater respect to God; yet he had no true fear of him, love to him, nor faith in him; so far a man may go toward heaven, and yet come short of it at last. Here is Balaam's prophecy concerning Him who should be the crown and glory of his people Israel; who is David in the type; but our Lord Jesus, the promised Messiah, is chiefly pointed at, and of him it is an illustrious prophecy. Balaam, a wicked man, shall see Christ, but shall not see him nigh; not see him as Job, who saw him as his Redeemer, and saw him for himself. When he comes in the clouds, every eye shall see him; but many will see him, as the rich man in hell saw Abraham, afar off. He shall come out of Jacob, and Israel, as a Star and a Sceptre; the former denoting his glory and lustre; the latter his power and authority. Christ shall be King, not only of Jacob and Israel, but of all the world; so that all shall be either governed by his golden sceptre, or dashed in pieces by his iron rod. Balaam prophesied concerning the Amalekites and Kenites, part of whose country he had now in view. Even a nest in a rock will not be a lasting security. Here is a prophecy that looks as far forward as to the Greeks and Romans. He acknowledges all the revolutions of states and kingdoms to be the Lord's doing. These events will make such desolations, that scarcely any will escape. They that live then, will be as brands plucked out of the fire. May God fit us for the worst of times! Thus Balaam, instead of cursing the church, curses Amalek the first, and Rome the last enemy of the church. Not Rome pagan only, but Rome papal also; antichrist and all the antichristian powers. Let us ask ourselves, Do we in knowledge, experience, or profession, excel Balaam? No readiness of speech, even in preaching or prayer, no gifts of knowledge or prophecy, are in themselves different from, or superior to the boasted gifts of him who loved the wages of unrighteousness, and died the enemy of God. Simple dependence on the Redeemer's atoning blood and sanctifying grace, cheerful submission to the Divine will, constant endeavours to glorify God and benefit his people, these are less splendid, but far more excellent gifts, and always accompany salvation. No boasting hypocrite ever possessed these; yet the feeblest believer has something of them, and is daily praying for more of them.Destroy him that remaineth of the city - i. e., shall destroy those of every city that had previously escaped. The phrase tersely describes a conqueror who first defeats his enemies in battle, and then hunts out the fugitives until he has cut off all of every place (compare 1 Kings 11:16).

The victories of David were a partial accomplishment of the predictions Numbers 24:14, Numbers 24:18, but did not exhaust them.

It is apparent that Edom and Moab are named by Balaam, as they are also by the prophets (compare e. g., Isaiah 11:14), as representatives of the pagan nations Numbers 24:8 who were hostile to the theocracy. As Jacob therefore figures as a constant type of the kingdom of Messiah in the prophets, so do Edom and Joab of the enemies of that kingdom; and in the threatened ruin of Edom and Moab is indicated the eventual destruction of all that resist the kingdom of God in its power.

The "Star" and "Sceptre" of the prophecy, like the "Sceptre" and "Lawgiver" of Genesis 49:10, point also naturally to a line of princes rather than to an individual; or rather are emblems of the kingdom of Israel generally. Thus, the victories of David and his successors, generation after generation, over Edom and Moab, are unquestionably recurring and progressive accomplishments of what Balaam foretold; but in addition the prophecy reaches forward to some further and culminating accomplishment; and that too in "the latter days" Numbers 24:14, the ordinary prophetic designation for the time of the Messiah (compare the marginal references).

To a Christian the connection between the Star and Seeptre of Balaam and the Star of the king of the Jews, which the wise men saw Matthew 2:2, is self-evident.

19. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion—David, and particularly Christ.

that remaineth of the city—those who flee from the field to fortified places (Ps 60:9).

Out of Jacob; out of Jacob’s loins.

He that shall have dominion; David, and especially Christ.

Of the city, or, from or out of this city, i.e. the cities, the singular number for the plural, which hath been oft noted before. The sense is, He shall not only subdue those Moabites and Edomites which meet him in the field, but he shall pursue them even to their strongest holds and cities, and shall pull them out thence. Possibly he may note some eminent city in which they confided most, their metropolis or royal city, as may be guessed from Psalm 60:9. Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion,.... Meaning either David, or rather the Messiah; and so Jarchi interprets this of another ruler out of Jacob, even of the Messiah, of whom it is said, he shall have dominion from sea to sea; Psalm 72:8,

and shall destroy him, that remaineth of the city; chief city of Edom, or of any of the cities of it, signifying that there should be none left, see Obadiah 1:18, this is also applied to the days of the Messiah, in the ancient writings of the Jews (q).

(q) Bemidbar Rabba, fol. 179. 3.

Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the {m} city.

(m) Of the Edomites.

19. An obscure verse, which is perhaps a later addition to the song. It appears to look forward to a Messianic prospect of universal dominion. Some think that Numbers 24:18-19 are both entirely corrupt beyond restoration.

shall one have dominion] This and the following verb are impersonal. ‘And dominion will be exercised out of Jacob, and the remnant (of Israel’s enemies) will be destroyed out of the city.’ If the text is right, ‘out of the city’ is parallel with ‘out of Jacob.’ It is therefore the city of the conquerors, i.e. Zion.Verse 19. - Shall come he that shall have dominion. ךויִרְדְּ Literally, "one shall rule," the subject being indefinite. Of the city. מֵעִיר; not apparently out of any city in particular, but "out of any hostile city." The expression implies not only conquest, but total destruction of the foe. But Balaam reminds him, on the other hand, of the declaration which he made to the messengers at the very outset (Numbers 22:18), that he could not on any account speak in opposition to the command of Jehovah, and then adds, "And now, behold, I go to my people. Come, I will tell thee advisedly what this people will do to thy people at the end of the days." יעץ, to advise; here it denotes an announcement, which includes advice. The announcement of what Israel would do to the Moabites in the future, contains the advice to Balak, what attitude he should assume towards Israel, if this people was to bring a blessing upon his own people and not a curse. On "the end of the days," see at Genesis 49:1.
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