Numbers 24:7
He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.
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(7) He shall pour the water out of his buckets.—Better, Water shall flow from his buckets; or, he shall flow with water from his buckets. The nation is personified as a man carrying two buckets full of water, which was the type and leading source of blessing and prosperity in the East. This is a beautiful image, as Bishop Wordsworth has observed, of the true Israel “pouring out the living waters of salvation, the pure streams of the Spirit, and making the wilderness of the world to rejoice and be glad.”

His seed shall be in many waters.—This may mean that Israel should inhabit Canaan—“a land of brooks of water” (Deuteronomy 8:7; Deuteronomy 11:11); or it may mean that, like seed sown and trees planted by the waters (Isaiah 32:20; Isaiah 44:4, Isa_65:22-23), they should inherit the richest blessings.

His king shall be higher than Agag . . .-Agag appears to have been the title (nomen dignitatis) of the Amalekite kings, as Pharaoh of the Egyptian and Abimelech of the Philistine kings. The reference does not seem to be to any particular king, but to the kingdom which should hereafter be established in Israel—to the kings, generally, which should come out of the loins of Abraham (Genesis 17:6; Genesis 35:11).

Numbers 24:7. He shall pour the water — That is, God will abundantly water the valleys, gardens, and tress, which represent the Israelites; he will wonderfully bless his people, not only with outward blessings, of which a chief one in those parts was plenty of water, but also with higher gifts and graces, with his word and Spirit, which are often signified by water, and at last with eternal life, the contemplation whereof made Balaam desire to die the death of the righteous. His seed shall be in — Rather, by; many waters — This may mean, His seed shall be sown in a ground well watered, and consequently shall bring forth a plentiful crop. Or, as many waters are frequently put figuratively for many people, (see Jeremiah 47:2;

Revelation 17:15; Isaiah 32:20,) and the flowing out of waters signifies an increase of posterity, the words may here be intended to express, by a metaphor, the great increase of Israel. His king shall be higher than Agag — It has been supposed, with great probability, by most commentators, that Agag was the common name of the kings of Amalek, as Pharaoh was of the Egyptian kings, and Abimelech of those of the Philistines. “Amalek was a neighbouring country, and therefore is fitly introduced upon the present occasion, and it was likewise at that time a great and flourishing kingdom, being styled (Numbers 24:20) the first of the nations; and therefore for the king of Israel to be exalted above the king of Amalek was really a wonderful exaltation. But, wonderful as it was, it was accomplished by Saul, who smote the Amalekites from Havilah, &c., and took Agag, the king of the Amalekites, alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword, 1 Samuel 15:7-8. The first king of Israel subdued Agag, the king of the Amalekites. So that it might truly and properly be said, His king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted, as it was afterward greatly by David and Solomon.” — Newton.

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.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.

7. his king shall be higher than Agag—The Amalekites were then the most powerful of all the desert tribes, and "Agag" a title common to their kings. He, i.e. God, will abundantly water the valleys, gardens, and trees, is which represent the Israelites, Numbers 24:6, i.e. he will wonderfully bless his people, not only with outward blessings, of which a chief one in those parts was plenty of water, but also with higher gifts and graces, with his word and Spirit, which are often signified by waters, John 3:5 John 4:10 7:38,39, and at last with eternal life, the contemplation whereof made Balaam desire to die the death of the righteous. Others thus, God shall make his posterity numerous; for the procreation of children is oft signified by waters, fountains, cisterns, &c., as Psalm 68:26 Proverbs 5:15,18 9:17 Isaiah 48:1. But there is no necessity of flying to metaphors here, and therefore the other being the literal and proper sense, is by the laws of good interpretation to be preferred before it.

In many waters: this also may be literally understood of their seed, which shall be sown in waterish ground, and therefore bring forth a better increase, Isaiah 32:20. Others thus, His seed shall be so numerous, that it shall branch forth into many people, the several tribes being reckoned and sometimes called several people. Or, his seed shall rule over many people or nations, which are sometimes signified by many waters, as Psalm 144:7 Isaiah 57:20 Jeremiah 47:2 Revelation 17:15. But here also the literal sense seems best. His king, i.e. the king of Israel; either God, who was in a peculiar manner their King or Ruler, Numbers 23:21 Judges 6:13 1 Samuel 8:7 Isaiah 33:22; or their chief governor or governors, whether king or others; for Moses called their king, Deu 33:5, and the judges were in a manner kings.

Than Agag, i.e. than the king of the Amalekites, which king and people were famous and potent in that age, Numbers 24:20, as may be guessed by their bold attempt upon so numerous a people as Israel was. And it is probably thought by the Jewish and other interpreters, that the Amalekitish kings, as Abimelech was of the Philistines, and Pharaoh of the Egyptians, and Caesar of the Romans. But though this king only be instanced in, yet other kings, to wit, such as did or should border upon the Israelites, are doubtless to be understood, above whom the kings and people of Israel sometimes were advanced, and oftener should have been, if they had not been their own hinderance by their sins. Some make this a prophecy of Saul’s conquering Agag and his people, 1 Samuel 15:7,8. But the words seem to be more general, and to signify a greater honour and advantage to Israel than that was.

He shall pour the water out of his buckets,.... That is, God shall plentifully send down rain out of the clouds upon these valleys, gardens, and trees, and make them fruitful; and this may be a figure of the grace of God, with which his churches are watered, and become fruitful by means of the word and ordinances, which is conveyed through them out of the fulness which is in Christ:

and his seed shall be in many waters; the seed and offspring of Israel shall be in a place of many waters, in a land of brooks and waters, shall dwell in a well watered land, the land of Canaan, Deuteronomy 8:7 or shall be like seed sown near water, or in well watered places, which springs up and brings forth much fruit, see Isaiah 32:20 or shall become, or be over many waters, to which people, kingdoms, and nations, are sometimes compared; and so may denote the multitude of Israel, and the large extent of their dominions, see Revelation 17:1,

and his king shall be higher than Agag; who might be the then present king of Amalek, reckoned one of the greatest kings on earth; and this name, some think, was common to all the kings of Amalek, as Pharaoh to the kings of Egypt; and according to Jarchi and Aben Ezra, this is a prophecy of the first king of Israel, Saul, and of his conquering Agag king of Amalek, for there was one of this name in his time, 1 Samuel 15:7,

and his kingdom shall be exalted; that is, the kingdom of the people of Israel, as it was more especially in the days of David and Solomon; and will be abundantly more in the days of the Messiah, when his kingdom shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth, and the kingdoms of this world shall become his, and he shall reign over all the earth; and so the Jerusalem Targum,"and the kingdom of the King Messiah shall become very great;''and so other Jewish writers (z) refer this prophecy to the days of the Messiah.

(z) Pesikta in Ketoreth Hassamim, fol. 27. 2. Vid. Philo. de Praemiis, p. 925. Sept. vers. & Targum Jon. in loc.

He shall pour the {d} water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than {e} Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.

(d) His prosperity and posterity will be very great.

(e) Which name was common to the kings of Amalek.

7. The first two lines are difficult and perhaps corrupt. Some explain them as a description of the luxuriance of Israel’s future home. Israel is pictured as a man carrying buckets to water his crop; and his seed, i.e. his corn, will be grown in well-watered ground. Cf. Psalm 65:9 f.

And may his king be higher than Agag] Numbers 24:20 seems to shew that in Heb. tradition the Amalekites were once a mighty nation of the first rank, though there is no historical evidence that they ever were so. Agag their king would thus be a symbol of might. If Agag is the man who was captured by Saul, the present poem must be at least as late as the monarchy. Some indeed have supposed, from the present passage, that Agag was a title applied to all Amalekite kings, like the title Pharaoh in Egypt. But the text may be corrupt. LXX. and Samar. read ‘Gog,’ which is found only in Ezekiel 38 f., as a name belonging to the region north of Assyria. Cheyne suggests Og. The passage is at present an unsolved problem.

Verse 7. - He shall pour the water, or, "the water shall overflow." Out of his buckets. דָּלְיָו is the dual, "his two buckets." The image, familiar enough to one who lived in an irrigated land, is of one carrying two buckets on the ends of a pole which are so full as to run over as he goes. And his seed... in many waters. It is uncertain in what sense the word "seed" issued. It may be an image as simple as the last, of seed sown either by or actually upon many waters (cf. Ecclesiastes 11:1), and so securing a plentiful and safe return; or it may stand for the seed, i.e., the posterity, of Israel, which should grow up amidst many blessings (Isaiah 44:4). The former seems most in keeping here. His king shall be higher than Agag. Rather, "let his king be higher than Agag." The name Agag (אַגַג, the fiery one) does not occur again except as the name of the king of Amalek whom Saul conquered and Samuel slew (1 Samuel 15.); yet it may safely be assumed that it was the official title of all the kings of Amalek, resembling in this "Abimelech" and "Pharaoh." Here it seems to stand for the dynasty and the nation of the Amalekites, and there is no reason to suppose that any reference was intended to any particular individual or event in the distant future. The "king" of Israel here spoken of is certainly not Saul or any other of the kings, but God himself in his character as temporal Ruler of Israel; and the "kingdom" is the kingdom of heaven as set forth by way of anticipation in the polity and order of the chosen race. As a fact, Israel had afterwards a visible king who overthrew Agag, but their having such a king was alien to the mind of God, and due to a distinct falling away from national faith, and therefore could find no place in this prophecy. Numbers 24:7And not only its dwellings, but Israel itself would also prosper abundantly. It would have an abundance of water, that leading source of all blessing and prosperity in the burning East. The nation is personified as a man carrying two pails overflowing with water. דּליו is the dual דּליים. The dual is generally used in connection with objects which are arranged in pairs, either naturally or artificially (Ges. 88, 2). "His seed" (i.e., his posterity, not his sowing corn, the introduction of which, in this connection, would, to say the least, be very feeble here) "is," i.e., grows up, "by many waters," that is to say, enjoys the richest blessings (comp. Deuteronomy 8:7 and Deuteronomy 11:10 with Isaiah 44:4; Isaiah 65:23). ירם (optative), "his king be high before (higher than) Agag." Agag (עגג, the fiery) is not the proper name of the Amalekite king defeated by Saul (1 Samuel 15:8), but the title (nomen dignitatis) of the Amalekite kings in general, just as all the Egyptian kings had the common name of Pharaoh, and the Philistine kings the name of Abimelech.

(Note: See Hengstenberg (Dissertations, ii. 250; and Balaam, p. 458). Even Gesenius could not help expressing some doubt about there being any reference in this prophecy to the event described in 1 Samuel 15:8., "unless," he says, "you suppose the name Agag to have been a name that was common to the kings of the Amalekites" (thes. p. 19). He also points to the name Abimelech, of which he says (p. 9): "It was the name of several kings in the land of the Philistines, as of the king of Gerar in the times of Abraham (Genesis 20:2-3; Genesis 21:22-23), and of Isaac (Genesis 26:1-2), and also of the king of Gath in the time of David (Psalm 34:1; coll. 1 Samuel 21:10, where the same king of called Achish). It seems to have been the common name and title of those kings, as Pharaoh was of the early kings of Egypt, and Caesar and Augustus of the emperors of Rome.")

The reason for mentioning the king of the Amalekites was, that he was selected as the impersonation of the enmity of the world against the kingdom of God, which culminated in the kings of the heathen; the Amalekites having been the first heathen tribe that attacked the Israelites on their journey to Canaan (Exodus 17:8). The introduction of one particular king would have been neither in keeping with the context, nor reconcilable with the general character of Balaam's utterances. Both before and afterward, Balaam predicts in great general outlines the good that would come to Israel; and how is it likely that he would suddenly break off in the midst to compare the kingdom of Israel with the greatness of one particular king of the Amalekites? Even his fourth and last prophecy merely announces in great general terms the destruction of the different nations that rose up in hostility against Israel, without entering into special details, which, like the conquest of the Amalekites by Saul, had no material or permanent influence upon the attitude of the heathen towards the people of God; for after the defeat inflicted upon this tribe by Saul, they very speedily invaded the Israelitish territory again, and proceeded to plunder and lay it waste in just the same manner as before (cf. 1 Samuel 27:8; 1 Samuel 30:1.; 2 Samuel 8:12).

(Note: Even on the supposition (which is quite at variance with the character of all the prophecies of Balaam) that in the name of Agag, the contemporary of Saul, we have a vaticinium ex eventu, the allusion to this particular king would be exceedingly strange, as the Amalekites did not perform any prominent part among the enemies of Israel in the time of Saul; and the command to exterminate them was given to Saul, not because of any special harm that they had done to Israel at that time, but on account of what they had done to Israel on their way out of Egypt (comp. 1 Samuel 15:2 with Exodus 17:8).)

מלכּו, his king, is not any one particular king of Israel, but quite generally the king whom the Israelites would afterwards receive. For מלכּו is substantially the same as the parallel מלכתו, the kingdom of Israel, which had already been promised to the patriarchs (Genesis 17:6; Genesis 35:11), and in which the Israelites were first of all to obtain that full development of power which corresponded to its divine appointment; just as, in fact, the development of any people generally culminates in an organized kingdom. - The king of Israel, whose greatness was celebrated by Balaam, was therefore neither the Messiah exclusively, nor the earthly kingdom without the Messiah, but the kingdom of Israel that was established by David, and was exalted in the Messiah into an everlasting kingdom, the enemies of which would all be made its footstool (Psalm 2:1-12 and Psalm 110:1-7).

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