The story of Balaam – Part 1
“And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fee for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and spoke to him the words of Balak. And he said to them, “Stay here tonight, and I will bring back to you whatever word the LORD may speak to me.” So the princes of Moab abode with Balaam. And God came to Balaam, and said, “Who are these men with you?” And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me saying, “Look, a nation has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth.
Come now and put a curse on them for me; perhaps I will be able to defeat them and drive them out.” But God said to Balaam, “You must not go with them; you must not curse the people, for they are blessed.” So Balaam got up in the morning, and said to the princes of Balak, “Go to your land, for the LORD has refused to permit me to go with you.” And the princes of Moab rose up and they went to Balak, and said, “Balaam refused to come with us”-
The elders of Moab and Midian set out on their long journey to Pethor, where Balaam lived. In their hands was the “divination fee,” which they were willing to pay Balaam for his services (verse 8). You will notice that Balaam made no immediate commitment one way or the other. He asked the delegation to spend the night there with him, thus giving him the opportunity to inquire of the LORD (“Yahweh,” the God of Israel) concerning their offer.
This is incredible, when you stop to think about it. Balaam uses the particular name for the God of Israel (“Yahweh”), rather than employing one of the more generic names available (e.g., “Elohim”). Stripped to its essentials, Balaam’s request must, therefore, have been something like this: “Yahweh, there is this group of men here, who have asked me to go with them, so that I can curse Your people. Would that be all right with You?”
In the first place, Balaam must have known more than he let on. If not, more information was given him than what we are told. In our text, Balaam is informed by his esteemed visitors, “Look, a nation has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are settling next to me. So now, please come and curse this nation for me, for they are too powerful for me.
Perhaps I will prevail so that we may conquer them, and drive them out of the land. For I know that whomever you bless is blessed, and whomever you curse is cursed” (Numbers 22:5b-6). The name of that nation and the name of their God are not to be found in these words. Balaam’s words to his visitors betray the fact that he knew who this people were, because he knew the name of their God was “Yahweh.” If Balaam knew this much, then surely he knew about Israel’s exodus from Egypt, and he probably knew something of the covenant God had made with this nation (e.g., Genesis 12:1-3). How could Balaam dare to ask Yahweh, if it would be all right for him to accompany these men to meet Balak, so that he could curse Israel? This is absolutely incredible!
In fact, God forbade Balaam to go with these dignitaries and to meet with Balak. Also, God forbade Balaam to curse the Israelites, informing him (if he did not already know this) that this was a people whom He had blessed (verse 12). Balaam does not tell his guests the whole story.
• Prophet (Dr.) Abiara is General Evangelist, CAC Worldwideskabiaraofciem@yahoo.co.uk
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