God brought him forth out of Egypt; he has as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)God brought him forth out of Egypt.—(Comp. Numbers 23:22, and Note.)Numbers 24:8-9. He shall eat up the nations, &c. — The expressions in these verses are intended to signify the victories which the Israelites should gain over their enemies, and particularly the Canaanites, and the secure and quiet possession they should have of the land afterward, all which was fulfilled especially in the days of David and Solomon. He couched, he lay down as a lion — It is remarkable that God here put into the mouth of Balaam nearly the same expressions which Jacob had used concerning Judah, (Genesis 49:9,) and Isaac concerning Jacob, Genesis 27:29. And what wonder, considering that all these prophecies proceeded from one and the same spirit?
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.Shall break their bones, or, unbone, or, take out, i.e. shall eat the flesh to the very bones, and then break them also. Numbers 23:22, he shall eat up the nations his enemies: the seven nations of Canaan, which should be subdued by Israel, and that with as much ease as a lion devours its prey; nor would the Canaanites be able to make any more resistance to them than a creature in the paws of a lion; and the phrase denotes the utter destruction of them:
and shall break their bones; as the lion breaks the bones of such creatures that fall a prey to him; signifying that all their strength should be taken from them, their mighty men slain, and their fortified cities taken:God brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. The first two lines are identical (with the exception of ‘him’ for ‘them’) with Numbers 23:22 (E ); and in both traditions the words follow a reference to Israel’s king, and precede the metaphor of the lion and lioness.
And smite them through with his arrows] lit. ‘and (as for) his arrows he shall smite.’ ‘His arrows’ (חִצָּיו) should perhaps be either ‘his oppressors’ (להֲצָיו) or ‘his loins’ (חֲלָצָיו). For the latter cf. Deuteronomy 33:11.Verse 8. - And shall break their bones. יְגָרֵם (cf. Ezekiel 23:34) seems to mean "crush" or "smash." The Septuagint has ἐκμυελιε1FC0;ι, "shall suck out," i.e., the marrow, but the word does not seem to bear this meaning. Pierce them through with his arrows, or, "dash in pieces his arrows," i.e., the arrows shot at him. חִצָּיו יְמִחָצ. The difficulty is the possessive suffix to "arrows," which is in the singular; otherwise this rendering gives a much better sense, and more in keeping with the rest of the passage The image in Balaam's mind is evidently that of a terrible wild beast devouring his enemies, stamping them underfoot, and dashing to pieces in his fury the arrows or darts which they vainly launch against him (compare the imagery in Daniel 7:7). Numbers 24:1 and Numbers 24:2. From the two revelations which he had received before, Balaam, saw, i.e., perceived, that it pleased Jehovah to bless Israel. This induced him not to go out for auguries, as on the previous occasions. כּפעם־בּפעם, "as time after time," i.e., as at former times (Numbers 23:3 and Numbers 23:15). He therefore turned his face to the desert, i.e., to the steppes of Moab, where Israel was encamped (Numbers 22:1). And when he lifted up his eyes, "he saw Israel encamping according to its tribes; and the Spirit of God came over him." The impression made upon him by the sight of the tribes of Israel, served as the subjective preparation for the reception of the Spirit of God to inspire him. Of both the earlier utterances it is stated that "Jehovah put a word into his mouth" (Numbers 23:5 and Numbers 23:16); but of this third it is affirmed that "the Spirit of God came over him." The former were communicated to him, when he went out for a divine revelation, without his being thrown into an ecstatic state; he heard the voice of God within him telling him what he was to say. But this time, like the prophets in their prophesyings, he was placed by the Spirit of God in a state of ecstatic sight; so that, with his eyes closed as in clairvoyance, he saw the substance of the revelation from God with his inward mental eye, which had been opened by the Spirit of God. Thus not only does he himself describe his own condition in Numbers 24:3 and Numbers 24:4, but his description is in harmony with the announcement itself, which is manifestly the result both in form and substance of the intuition effected within him by the Spirit of God.
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