Numbers 24:4
He has said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:
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(4) Falling into a trance, but having his eyes open.—Better, falling (upon his face), and having his eyes opened. The physical effect produced upon Balaam appears to have been the same as that which was produced upon Saul (1Samuel 19:24), upon Ezekiel (Num. i 28), upon Daniel (Num. viii, 17. 18). and upon St. John (Revelation 1:17). The word which is here rendered “open” (gelui) is a different word from that which is so rendered in Numbers 24:2, and is frequently used in reference to Divine communications and spiritual intuition. There may be a reference to the events which befel Balaam on his journey (Numbers 22:31).

Numbers 24:4. The vision of the Almighty — So called properly, because he was awake when the following things were revealed to him. Falling into a trance — In the Hebrew it is only falling, namely, fainting and falling to the ground, as the prophets sometimes used to do. Our translators supply the words, into a trance, supposing him to have been in an ecstasy or rapture when he had the vision, as it is probable he was; because it follows, having his eyes open — Which implies, that when all his outward senses were locked up, his mind had a clear apprehension of the things which God revealed to him.24:1-9 Now Balaam spake not his own sense, but the language of the Spirit that came upon him. Many have their eyes open who have not their hearts open; are enlightened, but not sanctified. That knowledge which puffs men up with pride, will but serve to light them to hell, whither many go with their eyes open. The blessing is nearly the same as those given before. He admires in Israel, their beauty. The righteous, doubtless, is more excellent than his neighbour. Their fruitfulness and increase. Their honour and advancement. Their power and victory. He looks back upon what had been done for them. Their power and victory. He looks back upon what had been done for them. Their courage and security. The righteous are bold as a lion, not when assaulting others, but when at rest, because God maketh them to dwell in safety. Their influence upon their neighbours. God takes what is done to them, whether good or evil, as done to himself.The "falling" of which Balaam speaks was the condition under which the inward opening of his eyes took place. It indicates the force of the divine inspiration overpowering the seer. The faithful prophets of the Lord do not appear to have been subject to these violent illapses Daniel 8:17; Revelation 1:17.

In Balaam and in Saul 1 Samuel 19:24 the word of God could only prevail by first subduing the alien will, and overpowering the bodily energies which the will ordinarily directs.

3. the man whose eyes are open—that is, a seer (1Sa 9:9), a prophet, to whom the visioned future was disclosed—sometimes when falling into a sleep (Ge 15:12-15), frequently into "a trance." The vision; so called either strictly and properly, because he was awake when this was revealed to him; or largely and improperly, for any extraordinary discovery of God’s mind to him, whether sleeping or waking. A trance, or ecstasy, fainting and falling upon the ground, as the prophets used to do. See 1 Samuel 19:24 Ezekiel 1:28 3:23 43:3 Daniel 8:17,18 10:15 Revelation 1:17. Others, falling suddenly into a sleep, as the prophets sometimes did, as Genesis 15:12 Daniel 8:18. He hath said, which heard the words of God,.... God speaking to him, which he did several times, and with which he was greatly elated, see Numbers 22:9,

which saw the vision of the Almighty; not that he had a sight of any similitude of God, though the angel that appeared to him, which was Christ the uncreated angel, might appear in an human form, for some visible form was seen both by the ass and him; but rather this respects the visions of God to him in the night; it may be in a dream, as has been already observed, and which the following words seem to confirm:

falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: or falling into a deep sleep, and yet the eyes of his body open, which sometimes is the case with persons asleep; or the eyes of his mind open, to receive the instructions given him in a dream or vision of the night; unless this is to be understood of his falling on his face, when he had his vision, as sometimes the prophets did, see Ezekiel 1:28, so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase it; and the latter says, he prophesied of himself, that he should fall by the sword; which is better than to interpret it of his falling when his ass lay down with him, as some do: so men may have a great deal of light and knowledge in their heads, and yet not have true grace in their hearts; great gifts, which puff up with pride and vanity, but not sanctifying grace, which is of an humbling nature, 1 Corinthians 8:1, what he said under a spirit of prophecy follows.

He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, {c} falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:

(c) Though he lay as in a sleep, yet the eyes of his mind were open.

4. The parallelism of these opening words with those in Numbers 24:15-16 suggests that the line ‘And knoweth the knowledge of the Most High’ has fallen out of the present passage.

the Almighty] Heb. Shaddai. Numbers 24:16 and Genesis 49:25 are probably the only pre-exilic occurrences of the word. In the latter passage the divine title should probably be read ’El Shaddai, which occurs in Exodus 6:3, Ezekiel 10:5 and five times in Genesis. Shaddai alone occurs, besides here and Numbers 24:16, thirty-eight times, of which thirty-one are in Job, and it also forms a part of two or three proper names.

Its original meaning is much disputed; ‘the Almighty’ has become a conventional equivalent, but is in no sense a rendering of the word. It is possible that its true spelling is Shadai. See the writer’s note in Exodus, pp. 40 f.

Falling down, and having his eyes uncovered] This is generally understood to mean ‘falling asleep, or into a prophetic trance (A.V. [Note: .V. The Authorised Version.] ), but having the eyes of the mind open to receive God’s revelation.’ Balaam, however, is not represented as receiving his messages in a state of unconsciousness. But there is nothing in the narrative which actually forbids this explanation.Verse 4. - Falling into a trance. Rather, "falling down." Qui cadit, Vulgate. The case of Saul, who "fell down naked all that day" (1 Samuel 19:24), overcome by the illapse of the Spirit, affords the best comparison. Physically, it would seem to have been a kind of catalepsy, in which the senses were closed to outward things, and the eyes open but unseeing. The word for "open" in this verse is the ordinary one, not that used in verse 3. Balaam's Last Words. - Numbers 23:25-30. Balak was not deterred, however, from making another attempt. At first, indeed, he exclaimed in indignation at these second sayings of Balaam: "Thou shalt neither curse it, nor even bless." The double גּם with לא signifies "neither - nor;" and the rendering, "if thou do not curse it, thou shalt not bless it," must be rejected as untenable. In his vexation at the second failure, he did not want to hear anything more from Balaam. But when he replied again, that he had told him at the very outset that he could do nothing but what God should say to him (cf. Numbers 22:38), he altered his mind, and resolved to conduct Balaam to another place with this hope: "peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence." Clericus observes upon this passage, "It was the opinion of the heathen, that what was not obtained through the first, second, or third victim, might nevertheless be secured through a fourth;" and he adduces proofs from Suetonius, Curtius, Gellius, and others.
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