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Numbers 23 and 24 - The oracles of Bil'am

 Translation
23:1

Numbers 23 and 24 - The oracles of Bil'am

Then Bil‘am said to Balaq, “Build for me in this place seven altars, and prepare for me seven bullocks and seven rams.
So Balaq did what Bil‘am ordered, and Balaq and Bil‘am offered up a bullock and a ram on each altar. Then Bil‘am said to Balaq, “Take your stand by your burnt offering, and I will go over there. Perhaps I will encounter Yahweh coming to meet me. The word that he shows me, I will explain to you.
So he went to an exposed height. God met with Bil‘am, and he said to him, “Seven altars I have arranged for you, and offered up a bullock and ram on each altar,
and Yahweh set a word in the mouth of Bil‘am, saying “Return to Balaq and speak thus.”
So he returned to him, and see - there he was standing by the burnt offering, and all the chiefs of Mo‘ab. He presented his oracle, saying,

“From Aram I was summoned by Balaq,
the king of Moab from the mountains in the east:
‘Come bind for me Ya‘aqob, and come damn Yisra‘el’.
What can I curse that was never cursed by El?
What can I damn that was never damned by Yahweh?
From the head of the Rocks I have seen them,
and from the hills I have watched them -
look, a people who dwell apart
and among the nations do not count themselves.
Who can number the dust-grains of Ya‘aqob
or reckon the dust-cloud of Yisra‘el?
Let my soul die the death of the upright
and may my ending be like theirs.”

Then Balaq said to Bil‘am, “What have you done to me? To curse my enemies I brought you - and see, you have surely blessed!
He replied, saying “Did not I say, what Yahweh puts in my mouth, that is what I will take care to speak?
Then Balaq said to him, “If it please you to come to another place, where you see only a part, you will not see all of them, then curse him for me from there.
So he took him to the field of Tsophim, to the head of Piçgah, and he built seven altars and offered up a bullock and a ram on each altar. And he said to Balaq, “You take your stand by your burnt offering, and as for me, I will encounter him here.
Then Yahweh met Bil‘am and set a word in his mouth, saying “Return to Balaq and speak thus,”
and he went to him, and see him - standing by his burnt offering, and the chiefs of Mo‘ab with him. Balaq said to him, “What has Yahweh spoken?
He presented his oracle, saying,

“Arise Balaq and listen,
Give ear to me, son of Tsippor.
No man is El that he spreads falsehood,
nor a son of man that he has to reassure himself.
Does he speak and not do?
Or promise and not arise?
Take note! To bless he picked me,
and his blessing I cannot undo.
He regards no wickedness in Ya‘aqob,
no mischief perceives in Yisra‘el.
Yahweh his God is with him
and the shout of the king is in him.
El brought him out from Egypt:
the eminence of a wild ox is his.
For there is no augury with Ya‘aqob
and no divination with Yisra‘el -
it is now being said of Ya‘aqob and of Yisra‘el,
‘What has El done?’
See a people who like a lioness arise
and lion-like lift themselves up:
he will not lie down until he consumes his prey
and has the blood of the pierced to drink.”

Then Balaq said to Bil‘am, “Neither curse them with cursing nor bless them with blessing!
Bil‘am replied, saying to Balaq, “Did not I tell you, saying, ‘All that Yahweh speaks, that I will present.’?
So Balaq said to Bil‘am, “If it please you to come, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will be agreeable in the eyes of the gods, that you can curse them for me from there.
Balaq took Bil‘am to the head of the Pe‘or, the vantage point overlooking the wasteland. Then Bil‘am said to Balaq, “Build for me in this place seven altars, and prepare for me seven bullocks and seven rams.
So Balaq did what Bil‘am said, and he offered up a bullock and a ram on each altar. But Bil‘am saw that it was good in the eyes of Yahweh to bless Yisra‘el, and he did not proceed like other times to seek after divination, but he set his face towards the wilderness. Bil‘am lifted up his eyes and saw Yisra‘el settling in his tribes, and alive upon them was the breath of God. He presented his oracle, saying

“A revelation of Bil‘am son of B‘or,
a revelation of the strong one of opened eyes
A revelation of he who hears the words of El,
who has the vision of Shadday,
one who falls and sees, uncovered of eyes.
How pleasing are your tents, Ya‘aqob!
Your settlements, Yisra‘el!
Like rushing torrents they are spread out,
like orchards beside a stream,
like cardamoms planted by Yahweh,
like cedars beside the waters.
Flowing water from his branches
and sowing seed in great waters.
Elevated above Agag may his king be
and exalted be his kingdom.
El brought them out from Egypt:
the eminence of a wild ox is his.
He consumes nations that are his adversaries,
casts aside their bones,
shatters their arrows.
He bows and settles lion-like,
and like a lioness, who can stir him to stand?
Those who bless you are blessed,
and those who curse you are cursed.”

Then Balaq burned with anger towards Bil‘am and slapped his hands. Balaq said to Bil‘am “To curse my enemies I met with you, and see! you have abundantly blessed these three times. As for you, you run away to your home. I said I would greatly honour you, and see! Yahweh has held you back you from honour.
Then Bil‘am said to Balaq, “Even to your messengers who you sent to me, did I not explain, saying ‘Even if Balaq gives me silver and gold filling his palace, I am not able to go beyond the mouth of Yahweh, to do either good or evil from my own heart.’ That which Yahweh speaks, that is what I will speak. And now see, I am going to my people. As for you, let me inform you what this people will do to your people in the days that follow.
He presented his oracle, saying

“A revelation of Bil‘am son of B‘or,
a revelation of the strong one of opened eyes
A revelation of he who hears the words of El,
he who knows the knowledge of Elyon,
the vision of Shadday,
one who falls and sees, uncovered of eyes.
I have seen them - but not at present,
I have watched them - but not close.
Comes a star out from Ya‘aqob,
arises a ruler‘s staff from Yisra‘el.
He breaks the temples of Moab,
the crowns of all the children of Sheth.
And then Edom shall be a possession,
and then a possession Se‘ir his enemy.
Yisra‘el shall work valour.
May a man have dominion from Ya‘aqob
and put to death survivors from the city.”

He saw Amaleq and presented his oracle, saying,

“Head of the nations was Amaleq,
but his destiny is to disappear.”

He saw the Qenites and presented his oracle, saying

“Enduring your dwelling place,
and found in the crag are your nests:
yet there is destruction for Qayin
when Ashur takes you captive.”

He presented his oracle, saying

“Ah, who can live when this is ordained by El?
Ships from the hand of Kittiym -
they will humble Ashur, and they will humble ‘Eber,
yet they will be destroyed.”

Then Bil‘am stood, departed, and returned to his own place, and Balaq also went his own way.

 

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