The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Numbers 24

Num 24:2

The Spirit of God: in Daniel (Dan 5:11); in Joseph (Gen 41:38); clothed Gideon (Jdg 6:34); clothed Amasai (1Ch 12:18); clothed Zechariah (2Ch 24:20); came upon Balaam (Num 24:2); came upon Saul (1Sa 10:10).

Num 24:7

GREATER THAN AGAG: Or "Gog" (LXX),"king of Amalek" (1Sa 15:8). Amalek, a constant enemy of Israel (cp Exo 17:8-16), a descendant of Esau (Gen 36:1,16; cp Isa 63n). Haman was from Agag (Est 3:1,10), and a political enemy of Israel.

Num 24:11

NOW LEAVE AT ONCE AND GO HOME! I SAID I WOULD REWARD YOU HANDSOMELY, BUT THE LORD HAS KEPT YOU FROM BEING REWARDED: Balak's arrogance is typical of 'important' men in the world. As if it would be possible for him to promote Balaam above what God could do for him! A lesson that we need to learn. Whatever we think about status in this world, it is as nothing in comparison to what God will give to the faithful.

Num 24:17

A STAR: Balaam's prediction concerns the rise of David and the Davidic kingdom. The "star" refers to David -- who struck down the Moabites (Num 24:17; 2Sa 8:2) and the Edomites (Num 24:18; 2Sa 8:13,14; 1Ki 11:15,16; 1Ch 18:12,13). Thus, under David, Israel prospered and the nations round about were subjugated and often had to bring tribute (eg, 2Sa 8:2,6).

But, the prophecy cannot be exhausted at this point, for David did not completely destroy Moab and Edom, with the result that later writers would be free to use this imagery to speak of the one who would come and deal ultimately with the enemies of God.

The use of the term "star" does more than point to a ruler; it also connects that ruler with heaven. The birth of Jesus was connected with heavenly signs (Mat 2:2), and one of his titles is "the bright Morning Star" (Luk 1:78-79; Rev 22:16) -- used in connection with his descent from the line of David. When he returns from heaven to conquer the enemies of God, and to set up God's kingdom, his advent will be accompanied by other signs in the heavens (Mat 24:29,30; Mark 13:24,25).

COME: Heb "darak", poss in the sense of "marching" (sw Deu 33:29; Isa 63:3).

CRUSH THE FOREHEADS: The second part of Gen 3:15 (cp Num 22:25).

SONS OF SHETH: "Noisy boasters" (NIV mg). Cp Jer 48:45; Psa 83:2. The ones who resisted Israel's passage through land, and who seduced Israel to idolatry.

Num 24:20

FIRST AMONG THE NATIONS: "First of the nations that warred against Israel" (AV mg). But not first in sense of being most ancient (cp Gen 36:12,16; Jdg 6:3).

Num 24:25

THEN BALAAM GOT UP AND RETURNED HOME: It should not be assumed that he left Balak, since Balaam is slain along with the kings of Midian (Num 31:8).

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