Numbers 24:24
And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.
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(24) And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim.—The Chittim (or, Kittim) are said to have migrated from Phœnicia to Cyprus, and there founded the city of Citium, the modern Chitti. (See Josephus, “Antiq.” i.6, 1.) The name probably applies to the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean generally. The rendering of the Vulgate is Venient in trieribus de Italiâ; and in Daniel 11:30, which is obviously founded upon this verse, the Vulgate identifies the Kittim with the Romans.

And shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber.—Some understand by Eber the Hebrews only. The word, however, appears to be used in a wider signification, as comprising “all the children of Eber” (Genesis 10:21). Perhaps the word Asshur may here be used to denote the Eastern Shemites, and Eber the Western Shemites.

And he also shall perish for ever—i.e., the victorious power which was to afflict Asshur and Eber. “The overthrow of this last power of the world,” says Keil, in loc., “concerning which the prophet Daniel was the first to receive and proclaim new revelations, belongs ‘to the end of the days,’ in which the star out of Jacob is to rise upon Israel as ‘a bright morning-star’” (Revelation 22:16). There is no evidence as to the manner in which Balaam’s prophecies came into the hands of the Israelites. It is possible that he may have communicated them to Moses, in the expectation of receiving from him the reward which he had failed to obtain from Balak, or, if captured, in the hope of thereby saving his life.

Numbers 24:24. From the coast of Chittim — A place or people, so called from Chittim, the son of Javan, (Genesis 10:4,) whose posterity were very numerous, and were first seated in the lesser Asia, and from thence sent forth colonies into the islands of the Ægean sea, and into Cyprus; afterward into Macedonia and other parts of Greece, and then into Italy. Whence it comes to pass that by this name is understood sometimes Macedonia, as 1Ma 1:1, and 1Ma 8:5; sometimes Italy, as Daniel 11:29-30; and sometimes both, as in this place: for he speaks here of the scourge that God had appointed for the Assyrian after he had done God’s work in punishing of his people and the bordering nations. Shall afflict Asshur — “Asshur signifies the descendants of Asshur, the Assyrians; but their name was of as large extent as their empire, and the Syrians and Assyrians are often confounded together, and mentioned as one people.” Now although the Assyrian and Chaldean empire was subdued by the Medes and Persians, yet the chief afflictions of that people came from two hands, both beyond the sea, and brought to them by ships; first from the Greeks, and then from the Romans. “It is so well known as to require no particular proof that the Grecians, under Alexander, subdued all these countries. The Romans afterward” (who subdued the whole Grecian empire) “extended their conquests into the same regions; and, as Dion informs us, Assyria, properly so called, was conquered by Trajan.” And shall afflict Eber — That is, the posterity of Eber, the Hebrews, who were the flower and chief of Eber’s children. “The Hebrews were afflicted, though not much, by Alexander himself, yet by his successors the Seleucidæ, and particularly by Antiochus Epiphanes, 1 Maccabees 1. They were worse afflicted by the Romans, who not only subdued and oppressed them, but at last took away their place and nation, and sold and dispersed them over the face of the earth.” So that, although Balaam was commissioned chiefly to bless and prophesy good concerning Israel, yet he here at last foretels that they should be scourged for their sins. He also shall perish for ever — Not the Hebrews; they shall have a better end: all Israel shall be saved; but the afflicter or scourge of Asshur and Eber; namely, the Grecian and Roman empire. Thus Balaam, instead of cursing the church, curses Amalek, the first, and Rome, the last enemy of it. “It appears, then,” adds the bishop, “that Balaam was a prophet divinely inspired, or he could never have foretold so many distant events, some of which are fulfilling in the world at this time. And what a singular honour was it to the people of Israel, that a prophet, called from another country, and at the same time a wicked man, should bear testimony to their righteousness and holiness! The commendations of an enemy, among enemies, are commendations indeed. And Moses did justice to himself as well as to his nation in recording these transactions. They are not only a material part of his history, but likewise a strong confirmation of the truth of his religion. Balaam’s bearing witness to Moses, is somewhat like Judas’s attesting the innocence of Christ.” See Dissert. on Prophecies, vol.1. p. 130, and seq.

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.Chittim - i. e., Cyprus, the nearest of the western islands, the only one visible from Palestine, and so the representative to Balsam and to Israel of all those unknown western regions across the Mediterranean Sea, from which were at length to come the conquerors of the mighty empires of the East. Compare Isaiah 23:1, Isaiah 23:12; Jeremiah 2:10.

Eber - i. e., the descendants of Shem. Of these Asshur was one (compare marginal references), and is here specified by name, since the Assyrians attained, in the empires of Babylon and Nineveh, to an extraordinary grandeur, and were destined to a most signal and irretrievable fall.

He also - i. e., the conqueror of Asshur and Eber who should come across the sea. It is not revealed from where the blow should come that should overthrow in its turn the power that prevailed over the great monarchies of the East.

24. Chittim—the countries lying on the Mediterranean, particularly Greece and Italy (Da 11:29, 30). The Assyrians were themselves to be overthrown—first, by the Greeks under Alexander the Great and his successors; secondly, by the Romans.

Eber—the posterity of the Hebrews (Ge 10:24).

he also shall perish—that is, the conqueror of Asher and Eber, namely, the Greek and Roman empires.

Chittim; a place or people so called from Chittim the son of Javan, Genesis 10:4, whose posterity were very numerous, and were first seated in the Lesser Asia, and from thence sent forth colonies into the islands of the Ægean Sea, and into Cyprus, and afterwards into Macedonia, and other parts of Greece, and then into Italy. Whence it comes to pass that by this name is understood sometimes Macedonia, as appears from /APC 1Ma 1:1 8:5; and sometimes Italy, as is manifest from Daniel 11:29,30; and sometimes both, as in this place; for he speaks here of the scourge that God hath appointed for the Assyrian after he had done God’s work in punishing of his people and the bordering nations. Now although the Assyrian and Chaldean empire was subdued by the Medes and Persians, yet the chief afflictions and calamities of that people came from two hands, both beyond the sea, and brought to them by ships, as is here expressed; first from the Grecians under Alexander and his successors, by whom that people were grievously oppressed and wasted; then from the Romans, who subdued all the Grecian empire, one great part whereof were the Assyrians largely so called, and after many bloody wars made them a colony. Eber, i.e. the posterity of Eber, Genesis 10:24, the Hebrews, who were the chief and flower of Eber’s children, and therefore are here designed by that general name, such general expressions being oft used concerning one particular and the most eminent of its kind. And it pleased God to express it thus darkly here, because though he would foretell this for the comfort and instruction of his people in after-ages, yet he would not have Balak, nor Balaam neither, understand or utter any thing which might seem to thwart that happy estate of Israel, which Balaam clearly saw and openly applauded. He also; not the Hebrews, as some understand, for his affliction was now mentioned before, and other scriptures tell us they shall have a better end, and that all Israel shall be saved, and therefore not perish for ever; but the afflicter or scourge of Asshur and Eber, to wit, the Grecian and Roman empire.

And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim,.... Kittim was the son of Javan, Genesis 10:4 and so designs some part of Greece: Josephus (r) says that Kittim possessed the island now called Cyprus, in which was a city now called Citium, after his name; Macedonia, a considerable part of Greece, is called the land of Cittim,"And it happened, after that Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came out of the land of Chettiim, had smitten Darius king of the Persians and Medes, that he reigned in his stead, the first over Greece,'' (1 Maccabees 1:1)"Beside this, how they had discomfited in battle Philip, and Perseus, king of the Citims, with others that lifted up themselves against them, and had overcome them:'' (1 Maccabees 8:5)but the Targum of Jonathan interprets it, of the country of Italy; the Jerusalem Targum, of the Roman legions; and perhaps both Greeks and Romans are intended, and so ships from Cittim, in Daniel 11:30, design Romans in Grecian ships; for in such were the Roman ambassadors carried, who distressed Antiochus, king of Syria; see Gill on Daniel 11:30; and both may be intended here: it is affirmed (s) that Noah with his son Japheth, came into the country now called Italy, and built a city, and gave it the name of Cethim, since called Volterra, and was the metropolis of Etruria, and gave name to all Italy; and that in the year two hundred and twenty from the building of that city, Cethim the son of Javan, and grandson of Noah, took two colonies with him, and sailed to an island which he called after his own name Cethim, now Cyprus:

and shall afflict Ashur; which being a part of the Persian empire, was afflicted, conquered, and subdued by Alexander the Macedonian, who is said to come out of the land of Cittim,"And it happened, after that Alexander son of Philip, the Macedonian, who came out of the land of Chettiim, had smitten Darius king of the Persians and Medes, that he reigned in his stead, the first over Greece,'' (1 Maccabees 1:1)

and shall afflict Eber; or the Hebrews, as the Septuagint version; not that the Grecians or Macedonians should do this, for they under Alexander did not afflict the Jews; unless this is to be understood of the Seleucidae, the kings of Syria, the successors of Alexander, who did distress the Jews; but rather this respects the Romans under Pompey, and especially under Titus Vespasian, who destroyed their city, and carried them captive, and who ever since have been dispersed among the nations:

and he also shall perish for ever: not Eber, but those that afflicted him, even the Romans; and indeed both monarchies, Grecian and Roman, are prophesied of as what should be destroyed, and that by a son of Eber, the Messiah; the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, said to break in pieces all these kingdoms, Daniel 2:44 and not Rome Pagan only, but Rome Papal also, antichrist and all the antichristian powers, 2 Thessalonians 2:8. and so the Targum of Jonathan says, that the end both of the one and the other, that is, that shall afflict Eber, shall be, to fall by the hand of the King Messiah, and they shall perish for ever.

(r) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 1.((s) Inghiram. Etrusc. Antiqu. apud Dickinson. Delph. Phaenic. Append. p. 153. Vid. p. 77.

And ships shall come from the coast of {q} Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and {r} he also shall perish for ever.

(q) The Grecians and Romans.

(r) Meaning, Eber, or the Jews for rebelling against God.

24. ships shall come … Kittim] ships from the side of Kittim. The clause has no verb, and, if the text is right, it must form the subject of the following verb ‘shall afflict,’ the intervening ‘and’ being disregarded.

Asshur and Eber. The two names appear to denote the world powers of the east; but the exact meaning of the name Eber is quite unknown.

And he also shall come to destruction] ‘he’ apparently refers to Asshur and Eber considered as one nation. After carrying the Kenites captive, Asshur will itself be destroyed by invaders from the west. There is, however, no support for this in history, unless Asshur be given the unusual meaning (which it bears in Ezra 6:22) of the Persian empire, which was overthrown by Alexander.

Various emendations throughout the two verses have been proposed (see Gray, Numb. pp. 377–9), but none of them has materially lightened the difficulties.

Verse 24. - Chittim. Cyprus (see on Genesis 10:4). The "isles of Chittim are mentioned by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:10) and by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:6) in the sense apparently of the western islands generally while in Daniel 11:30 "the ships of Chittim, may have an even wider reference. Indeed the Targum of Palestine makes mention of Italy here, and the Vulgate actually translates "venient in trieribus de Italia." There is, however, no reason to suppose that Balaam knew or spoke of anything further than Cyprus. It was "from the side of" (מִיַּד) Cyprus that the ships of his vision came down upon the Phoenician coasts, wherever their original starting-point may have been. Shall afflict, or, "shall bring low." The same word is used of the oppression of Israel in Egypt (Genesis 15:13). Eber. The Septuagint has here 'Αβραίους, and is followed by the Peschito and the Vulgate. It is not likely, however, that Balaam would have substituted "Eber" for the "Jacob" and "Israel" which he had previously used. The Targum of Onkelos paraphrases "Eber" by "beyond the Euphrates," and that of Palestine has "all the sons of Eber." From Gem 10:21 it would appear that "the children of Eber" were the same as the Shemites; Asshur, therefore, was himself included in Eber, but is separately mentioned on account of his fame and power. And he also shall perish forever. The subject of this prophecy is left in obscurity. It is difficult on grammatical grounds to refer it to Asshur, and it does not seem appropriate to "Eber." It may mean that the unnamed conquering race which should overthrow the Asian monarchies should itself come to an end for evermore; or it may be that Balaam added these words while he beheld with dismay the coming destruction of his own Shemitic race, and their final subjugation by more warlike powers. It must be remembered that the Greek empire, although overthrown, did not by any means "perish for ever" in the same sense as the previous empires of the East. Numbers 24:24The fourth saying applies to Asshur, and is introduced by an exclamation of woe: "Woe! who will live, when God sets this! and ships (come) from the side of Chittim, and press Asshur, and press Eber, and he also perishes." The words "Woe, who will live," point to the fearfulness of the following judgment, which went deep to the heart of the seer, because it would fall upon the sons of his own people (see at Numbers 22:5). The meaning is, "Who will preserve his life in the universal catastrophe that is coming?" (Hengstenberg). משּׂמו, either "since the setting of it," equivalent to "from the time when God sets (determines) this" (ὅταν θῇ ταῦτα ὁ Θεός, quando faciet ista Deus; lxx, Vulg.), or "on account of the setting of it," i.e., because God determines this. שׂוּם, to set, applied to that which God establishes, ordains, or brings to pass, as in Isaiah 44:7; Habakkuk 1:12. The suffix in שׂוּמו is not to be referred to Asshur, as Knobel supposes, because the prophecy relates not to Asshur "as the mighty power by which everything was crushed and overthrown," but to a power that would come from the far west and crush Asshur itself. The suffix refers rather to the substance of the prophecy that follows, and is to be understood in a neuter sense. אל is "God," and not an abbreviation of אלּה, which is always written with the article in the Pentateuch (האל, Genesis 19:8, Genesis 19:25; Genesis 26:3-4; Leviticus 18:27; Deuteronomy 4:42; Deuteronomy 7:22; Deuteronomy 19:11), and only occurs once without the article, viz., in 1 Chronicles 20:8. צים, from צי (Isaiah 33:21), signifies ships, like ציּים in the passage in Daniel 11:30, which is founded upon the prophecy before us. מיּד, from the side, as in Exodus 2:5; Deuteronomy 2:37, etc. כּתּים is Cyprus with the capital Citium (see at Genesis 10:4), which is mentioned as intervening between Greece and Phoenicia, and the principal station for the maritime commerce of Phoenicia, so that all the fleets passing from the west to the east necessarily took Cyprus in their way (Isaiah 23:1). The nations that would come across the sea from the side of Cyprus to humble Asshur, are not mentioned by name, because this lay beyond the range of Balaam's vision. He simply gives utterance to the thought, "A power comes from Chittim over the sea, to which Asshur and Eber, the eastern and the western Shem, will both succumb" (v. Hoffmann). Eber neither refers to the Israelites merely as Hebrews (lxx, Vulg.), nor to the races beyond the Euphrates, as Onkelos and others suppose, but, like "all the sons of Eber" in Genesis 10:21, to the posterity of Abraham who descended from Eber through Peleg, and also to the descendants of Eber through Joktan: so that Asshur, as the representative of the Shemites who dwelt in the far east, included Elam within itself; whilst Eber, on the other hand, represented the western Shemites, the peoples that sprang from Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram (Genesis 10:21). "And he also shall perish for ever:" these words cannot relate to Asshur and Eber, for their fate is already announced in the word ענּוּ (afflict, press), but only to the new western power that was to come over the sea, and to which the others were to succumb. "Whatever powers might rise up in the world of peoples, the heathen prophet of Jehovah sees them all fall, one through another, and one after another; for at last he loses in the distance the power to discern whence it is that the last which he sees rise up is to receive its fatal blow" (v. Hoffmann, p. 520). The overthrow of this last power of the world, concerning which the prophet Daniel was the fist to receive and proclaim new revelations, belongs to "the end of the days," in which the star out of Jacob is to rise upon Israel as a "bright morning star" (Revelation 22:16).

Now if according to this the fact is firmly established, that in this last prophecy of Balaam, "the judgment of history even upon the imperial powers of the West, and the final victory of the King of the kingdom of God were proclaimed, though in fading outlines, more than a thousand years before the events themselves," as Tholuck has expressed it in his Propheten und ihre Weissagung; the announcement of the star out of Jacob, and the sceptre out of Israel, i.e., of the King and Ruler of the kingdom of God, who was to dash Moab to pieces and take possession of Edom, cannot have received its complete fulfilment in the victories of David over these enemies of Israel; but will only be fully accomplished in the future overthrow of all the enemies of the kingdom of God. By the "end of days," both here and everywhere else, we are to understand the Messianic era, and that not merely at its commencement, but in its entire development, until the final completion of the kingdom of God at the return of our Lord to judgment. In the "star out of Jacob," Balaam beholds not David as the one king of Israel, but the Messiah, in whom the royalty of Israel promised to the patriarchs (Genesis 17:6, Genesis 17:16; Genesis 35:11) attains its fullest realization. The star and sceptre are symbols not of "Israel's royalty personified" (Hengstenberg), but of the real King in a concrete form, as He was to arise out of Israel at a future day. It is true that Israel received the promised King in David, who conquered and subjugated the Moabites, Edomites, and other neighbouring nations that were hostile to Israel. But in the person of David and his rule the kingly government of Israel was only realized in its first and imperfect beginnings. Its completion was not attained till the coming of the second David (Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:24-25), the Messiah Himself, who breaks in pieces all the enemies of Israel, and founds an everlasting kingdom, to which all the kingdoms and powers of this world are to be brought into subjection (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Psalm 2:1; 72, and Psalm 110:1-7).

(Note: The application of the star out of Jacob to the Messiah is to be found even in Onkelos; and this interpretation was so widely spread among the Jews, that the pseudo-Messiah who arose under Hadrian, and whom even R. Akiba acknowledged, took the name of Bar Cochba (son of a star), on consequence of this prophecy, from which the nickname of Bar Coziba (son of a lie) was afterward formed, when he had submitted to the Romans, with all his followers. In the Christian Church also the Messianic explanation was the prevalent one, from the time of Justin and Irenaeus onwards (see the proofs in Calovii Bibl. ad h. l.), although, according to a remark of Theodoret (qu. 44 ad Num.), there were some who did not adopt it. The exclusive application of the passage to David was so warmly defended, first of all by Grotius, and still more by Verschuir, that even Hengstenberg and Tholuck gave up the Messianic interpretation. But they both of them came back to it afterwards, the former in his "Balaam" and the second edition of his Christology, and the latter in his treatise on "the Prophets." At the present time the Messianic character of the prophecy is denied by none but the supporters of the more vulgar rationalism, such as Knobel and others; whereas G. Baur (in his History of Old Testament Prophecy) has no doubt that the prediction of the star out of Jacob points to the exalted and glorious King, filled with the Holy Spirit, whom Isaiah (Isaiah 9:5; Isaiah 11:1.) and Micah (Micah 5:2) expected as the royal founder of the theocracy. Reinke gives a complete history of the interpretation of this passage in his Beitrge, iv. 186ff.)

If, however, the star out of Jacob first rose upon the world in Christ, the star which showed the wise men from the east the way to the new-born "King of the Jews," and went before them, till it stood above the manger at Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-11), is intimately related to our prophecy. Only we must not understand the allusion as being so direct, that Balaam beheld the very star which appeared to the wise men, and made known to them the birth of the Saviour of the world. The star of the wise men was rather an embodiment of the star seen by Balaam, which announced to them the fulfilment of Balaam's prophecy, - a visible sign by which God revealed to them the fact, that the appearance of the star which Balaam beheld in the far distant future had been realized at Bethlehem in the birth of Christ, the King of the Jews. - The "wise men from the east," who had been made acquainted with the revelations of God to Israel by the Jews of the diaspora, might feel themselves specially attracted in their search for the salvation of the world by the predictions of Balaam, from the fact that this seer belonged to their own country, and came "out of the mountains of the east" (Numbers 23:7); so that they made his sayings the centre of their expectations of salvation, and were also conducted through them to the Saviour of all nations by means of supernatural illumination. "God unfolded to their minds, which were already filled with a longing for the 'star out of Jacob' foretold by Balaam, the meaning of the star which proclaimed the fulfilment of Balaam's prophecy; He revealed to them, that is to say, the fact that it announced the birth of the 'King of the Jews.' And just as Balaam had joyously exclaimed, 'I see Him,' and 'I behold Him,' they also could say, 'We have seen His star' " (Hengstenberg).

If, in conclusion, we compare Balaam's prophecy of the star that would come out of Jacob, and the sceptre that would rise out of Israel, with the prediction of the patriarch Jacob, of the sceptre that should not depart from Judah, till the Shiloh came whom the nations would obey (Genesis 49:10), it is easy to observe that Balaam not only foretold more clearly the attitude of Israel to the nations of the world, and the victory of the kingdom of God over every hostile kingdom of the world; but that he also proclaimed the Bringer of Peace expected by Jacob at the end of the days to be a mighty ruler, whose sceptre would break in pieces and destroy all the enemies of the nation of God. The tribes of Israel stood before the mental eye of the patriarch in their full development into the nation in which all the families of the earth were to be blessed. From this point of view, the salvation that was to blossom in the future for the children of Israel culminated in the peaceful kingdom of the Shiloh, in whom the dominion of the victorious lion out of Judah was to attain its fullest perfection. But the eye of Balaam, the seer, which had been opened by the Spirit of God, beheld the nation of Israel encamped, according to its tribes, in the face of its foes, the nations of this world. They were endeavouring to destroy Israel; but according to the counsel of the Almighty God and Lord of the whole world, in their warfare against the nation that was blessed of Jehovah, they were to succumb one after the other, and be destroyed by the king that was to arise out of Israel. This determinate counsel of the living God was to be proclaimed by Balaam, the heathen seer out of Mesopotamia the centre of the national development of the ancient world: and, first of all, to the existing representatives of the nations of the world that were hostile to Israel, that they might see what would at all times tend to their peace - might see, that is to say, that in their hostility to Israel they were rebelling against the Almighty God of heaven and earth, and that they would assuredly perish in the conflict, since life and salvation were only to be found with the people of Israel, whom God had blessed. And even though Balaam had to make known the purpose of the Lord concerning His people primarily, and in fact solely, to the Moabites and their neighbours, who were like-minded with them, his announcement was also intended for Israel itself, and was to be a pledge to the congregation of Israel for all time of the certain fulfilment of the promises of God; and so to fill them with strength and courage, that in all their conflicts with the powers of this world, they should rely upon the Lord their God with the firmest confidence of faith, should strive with unswerving fidelity after the end of their divine calling, and should build up the kingdom of God on earth, which is to outlast all the kingdoms of the world. - In what manner the Israelites became acquainted with the prophecies of Balaam, so that Moses could incorporate them into the Thorah, we are nowhere told, but we can infer it with tolerable certainty from the subsequent fate of Balaam himself.

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