Numbers Twenty Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Numbers 24:1 And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.

Numbers 24:2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him.

Numbers 24:3 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:

Numbers 24:4 He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:

Numbers 24:5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel!

Numbers 24:6 As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the LORD hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.

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.

Agag. This particular king Agag is apparently a different king than the one slain many years later by Samuel (1 Samuel 15:2-8). Possibly Agag was a kingly title in Amalek like that of Pharaoh in Egypt.

Numbers 24:8 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.

an unicorn. The unicorn was a real animal. See note for Job 39:9 and note for Psalm 92:10.

Numbers 24:9 He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.

couched. That is, “crouched.”

Numbers 24:10 And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together: and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.

Numbers 24:11 Therefore now flee thou to thy place: I thought to promote thee unto great honour; but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from honour.

Numbers 24:12 And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I not also to thy messengers which thou sentest unto me, saying,

Numbers 24:13 If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the commandment of the LORD, to do either good or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD saith, that will I speak?

silver and gold. Balak thought that spiritual benefits could be purchased by money. Perhaps he even believed that Balaam was simply holding out for a higher fee. No doubt monetary gain is part of the motive of many modern occult practitioners, and even of some evangelical counselors and other religionists, but that should not enter into the motivations and advice of the true Christian.

Numbers 24:14 And now, behold, I go unto my people: come therefore, and I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days.

Numbers 24:15 And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:

Numbers 24:16 He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open:

eyes open. See also Numbers 24:4. Balaam was not dreaming, as some have thought. These were true visions given by God.

Numbers 24:17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.

A Star out of Jacob. This remarkable prophecy of Balaam anticipates by over 1400 years the fact that the One who would one day hold the sceptre (symbolic of kingly rule) over all men (the children of Seth, the faithful son of Adam) would arise out of Israel, and be announced to the world by a new Star displayed in the heavens for those who had eyes to see.

Numbers 24:18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly.

Numbers 24:19 Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city.

have dominion. The reference to the “sceptre” (Numbers 24:17) and “dominion” also remind us of Jacob's Messianic prophecy regarding the coming Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9, 10; Revelation 5:5).

Numbers 24:20 And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.

first of the nations. These Amalekites, with their Agags (Numbers 24:7) may well have descended from an earlier Amalek than Esau's grandson (Genesis 14:7; 36:10, 12). They probably were a Canaanite nation; two of Esau's wives were Hittites (Genesis 26:34), and it seems possible that Esau's grandson may have been named after their ancient and very prominent ancestor. In any case, the Amalekites of Scripture, were inveterate enemies of God's people Israel. A number of modern scholars have even argued that the Amalekites were the cruel Hyksos “shepherd-kings” of Egypt. See notes on Exodus 17:8-13.

Numbers 24:21 And he looked on the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellingplace, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock.

Numbers 24:22 Nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive.

Numbers 24:23 And he took up his parable, and said, Alas, who shall live when God doeth this!

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.

perish for ever. In Numbers 24:21 and 24 Balaam prophesies the eventual disappearance of the nations of Assyria, the descendants of the Kenites and the descendants of Eber. The Kenites are long forgotten, of course, and the mighty Assyrian Empire eventually died, even though remnants may exist in modern Iraq. Eber was an ancestor of Israel, (Genesis 11:16-26), but since Balaam was not directing his prophecy against Israel, it may have been against the descendants of Eber's other son, Joktan (Genesis 10:25-30). These have all vanished or been assimilated by other nations long ago. The same apparently applies to other descendants of Eber, at least down to the time of Terah.

Numbers 24:25 And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.