21 When he got up in the morning, Balaam saddled his donkey and went with the officials of Moab.
Balaam’s Donkey and the Angel
22 But God was incensed that Balaam was going, and the angel of the Lord(A) took his stand on the path to oppose him. Balaam was riding his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing on the path with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the path and went into the field. So Balaam hit her to return her to the path. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow passage between the vineyards, with a stone wall on either side. 25 The donkey saw the angel of the Lord and pressed herself against the wall, squeezing Balaam’s foot against it. So he hit her once again. 26 The angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn to the right or the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she crouched down under Balaam. So he became furious and beat the donkey with his stick.
28 Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?”(B)
29 Balaam answered the donkey, “You made me look like a fool. If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now!”
30 But the donkey said, “Am I not the donkey you’ve ridden all your life until today? Have I ever treated you this way before?”
“No,” he replied.
31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the path with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam knelt low and bowed in worship on his face. 32 The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? Look, I came out to oppose you, because I consider what you are doing to be evil.[a] 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away from me, I would have killed you by now and let her live.”
34 Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the path to confront me. And now, if it is evil in your sight, I will go back.”
35 Then the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but you are to say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.
36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the Moabite city[b] on the Arnon border at the edge of his territory. 37 Balak asked Balaam, “Did I not send you an urgent summons? Why didn’t you come to me? Am I really not able to reward you?”
38 Balaam said to him, “Look, I have come to you, but can I say anything I want? I must speak only the message God puts in my mouth.” 39 So Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth.[c] 40 Balak sacrificed cattle, sheep, and goats and sent for Balaam and the officials who were with him.
41 In the morning, Balak took Balaam and brought him to Bamoth-baal.[d] From there he saw the outskirts of the people’s camp.
23 Then Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.”(C) 2 So Balak did as Balaam directed, and they offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 3 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offering while I am gone. Maybe the Lord will meet with me. I will tell you whatever he reveals to me.” So he went to a barren hill.
4 God met with him and Balaam said to him, “I have arranged seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.” 5 Then the Lord put a message in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak and say what I tell you.”
6 So he returned to Balak, who was standing there by his burnt offering with all the officials of Moab.
Balaam’s First Oracle
7 Balaam proclaimed his poem:
Balak brought me from Aram;(D)
the king of Moab, from the eastern mountains:
“Come, put a curse on Jacob for me;
come, denounce Israel!”(E)
8 How can I curse someone God has not cursed?
How can I denounce someone the Lord has not denounced?
9 I see them from the top of rocky cliffs,
and I watch them from the hills.
There is a people living alone;(F)
it does not consider itself among the nations.
10 Who has counted the dust of Jacob(G)
or numbered even one-fourth of Israel?
Let me die the death of the upright;
let the end of my life be like theirs.
11 “What have you done to me?” Balak asked Balaam. “I brought you to curse my enemies, but look, you have only blessed them!”
12 He answered, “Shouldn’t I say exactly what the Lord puts in my mouth?”(H)
Balaam’s Second Oracle
13 Then Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place(I) where you can see them. You will only see the outskirts of their camp; you won’t see all of them. From there, put a curse on them for me.” 14 So Balak took him to Lookout Field[e] on top of Pisgah,(J) built seven altars, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here by your burnt offering while I seek the Lord over there.”
16 The Lord met with Balaam and put a message in his mouth. Then he said, “Return to Balak and say what I tell you.”
17 So he returned to Balak, who was standing there by his burnt offering with the officials of Moab. Balak asked him, “What did the Lord say?”
18 Balaam proclaimed his poem:
Balak, get up and listen;
son of Zippor, pay attention to what I say!
19 God is not a man, that he might lie,
or a son of man, that he might change his mind.(K)
Does he speak and not act,
or promise and not fulfill?(L)
20 I have indeed received a command to bless;
since he has blessed,[f] I cannot change it.
21 He considers no disaster for Jacob;
he sees no trouble for Israel.[g]
The Lord their God is with them,(M)
and there is rejoicing over the King among them.
22 God brought them out of Egypt;
he is like the horns of a wild ox for them.[h](N)
23 There is no magic curse against Jacob
and no divination against Israel.
It will now be said about Jacob and Israel,
“What great things God has done!”
24 A people rise up like a lioness;
they rouse themselves like a lion.(O)
They will not lie down until they devour the prey
and drink the blood of the slain.
25 Then Balak told Balaam, “Don’t curse them and don’t bless them!”
26 But Balaam answered him, “Didn’t I tell you: Whatever the Lord says, I must do?”(P)
Balaam’s Third Oracle
27 Again Balak said to Balaam, “Please come. I will take you to another place. Maybe it will be agreeable to God that you can put a curse on them for me there.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the wasteland.[i](Q)
29 Balaam told Balak, “Build me seven altars here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me.”(R) 30 So Balak did as Balaam said and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
- 22:32 Lit because your way is perverse before me
- 22:36 Or at Ir-moab, or at Ar of Moab
- 22:39 = The City of Streets
- 22:41 = The High Places of Baal
- 23:14 Or to the field of Zophim
- 23:20 Sam, LXX read since I will bless
- 23:21 Or He does not observe sin in Jacob; he does not see wrongdoing in Israel
- 23:22 Or Egypt; they have the horns of a wild ox
- 23:28 Or overlooks Jeshimon
- 22:22 : Gn 16:7; 22:11; Ex 3:2; Jdg 2:1; 5:23; 6:1; 13:3; 2Sm 24:16; 1Kg 19:7; 2Kg 1:3; 19:35; Zch 1:11; 3:1; 12:8
- 22:28 : 2Pt 2:15-16
- 23:1 : 1Ch 15:26; 2Ch 29:21; Jb 42:8; Ezk 45:23
- 23:7 : Dt 23:4
- 23:7 : Nm 22:6,17
- 23:9 : Dt 33:28
- 23:10 : Gn 13:16
- 23:12 : Nm 22:38
- 23:13 : Nm 23:27
- 23:14 : Nm 21:20; Dt 3:17,27; 4:49; 34:1; Jos 12:3; 13:20
- 23:19 : 1Sm 15:29; Mal 3:6; Ti 1:2; Heb 6:17-18
- 23:19 : Ps 33:10-11; Pr 19:21; Is 14:24; 31:2; 45:23; 46:9-11; 48:3; 55:11; Rm 11:29; Eph 1:11; 2Tm 2:13
- 23:21 : Gn 28:15; Nm 14:9; Dt 2:7; 20:1; Jos 1:17; Jdg 6:13; 2Ch 20:17; Ps 46:11; Is 8:10; 41:10; Jr 1:19; 15:20; Zph 3:17; Hg 2:4; Rv 21:3
- 23:22 : Nm 24:8
- 23:24 : Nm 24:9
- 23:26 : Nm 22:38
- 23:28 : Nm 21:20
- 23:29 : Nm 23:1-2
The Birth and Naming of John
57 Now the time had come for Elizabeth to give birth, and she had a son. 58 Then her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her his great mercy,(A) and they rejoiced with her.
61 Then they said to her, “None of your relatives has that name.” 62 So they motioned to his father(D) to find out what he wanted him to be called. 63 He asked for a writing tablet and wrote: “His name is John.” And they were all amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened(E) and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 Fear came on all those who lived around them, and all these things were being talked about throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard about him(F) took it to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him.
68 Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel,(I)
because he has visited
and provided redemption for his people.(J)
69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us(K)
in the house of his servant David,(L)
70 just as he spoke by the mouth
of his holy prophets in ancient times;(M)
71 salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of those who hate us.
72 He has dealt mercifully with our fathers(N)
and remembered his holy covenant(O)—
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham.(P)
He has given us the privilege,
74 since we have been rescued
from the hand of our enemies,
to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness
in his presence all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called
a prophet of the Most High,(Q)
for you will go before the Lord
to prepare his ways,(R)
77 to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.(S)
78 Because of our God’s merciful compassion,
the dawn from on high(T) will visit us
79 to shine on those who live in darkness
and the shadow of death,(U)
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
80 The child grew up and became spiritually strong,(V) and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.
- 1:58 : Gn 19:19
- 1:59 : Gn 17:12; Lv 12:3; Lk 2:21; Php 3:5
- 1:60 : Lk 1:13,63
- 1:62 : Lk 1:22
- 1:64 : Lk 1:20
- 1:66 : Ac 11:21
- 1:67 : Lk 1:41
- 1:67 : Jl 2:28
- 1:68 : Ps 41:13
- 1:68 : Lk 1:71; 2:38; Heb 9:12
- 1:69 : 1Sm 2:1,10; Ps 18:2; 89:17; 132:17; Ezk 29:21
- 1:69 : 2Sm 7:26; Ps 89:3,20; Ezk 34:23-24; 37:24-25
- 1:70 : 2Kg 21:10; Hs 12:10; Ac 3:21; Rm 1:2; Heb 1:1
- 1:72 : Mc 7:20
- 1:72 : Ps 105:8-9,42; 106:45
- 1:73 : Gn 22:16-17; Heb 6:13
- 1:76 : Mt 11:9
- 1:76 : Lk 1:17; Is 40:3; Mal 3:1
- 1:77 : Jr 31:34; Mk 1:4
- 1:78 : Is 58:8; Jr 23:5; Zch 3:8; 6:12 LXX; Mal 4:2; Lk 24:49; Eph 4:8; 2Pt 1:19
- 1:79 : Is 9:2; 60:2-3
- 1:80 : Lk 2:40
A Cry against Injustice
For the choir director: “Do Not Destroy.” A Miktam of David.
3 The wicked go astray from the womb;
liars wander about from birth.(C)
4 They have venom like the venom of a snake,
like the deaf cobra that stops up its ears,(D)
5 that does not listen to the sound of the charmers
who skillfully weave spells.(E)
6 God, knock the teeth out of their mouths;
Lord, tear out the young lions’ fangs.(F)
7 May they vanish like water that flows by;
may they aim their blunted arrows.[b](G)
8 Like a slug that moves along in slime,
like a woman’s miscarried child,
may they not see the sun.(H)
9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether green or burning—
he will sweep them away.[c](I)
10 The righteous one will rejoice
when he sees the retribution;(J)
he will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.(K)
11 Then people will say,
“Yes, there is a reward for the righteous!
There is a God who judges on earth!”(L)
- 58:1 : Ps 82:2
- 58:2 : Ps 94:20; Is 10:1; Mal 3:15
- 58:3 : Ps 51:5; Is 48:8
- 58:4 : Dt 32:33; Ps 140:3
- 58:5 : Ec 10:11; Jr 8:17
- 58:6 : Jb 4:10; 29:17; Ps 3:7
- 58:7 : Jos 7:5; Ps 112:10; Ezk 21:7
- 58:8 : Jb 3:16; Ec 6:3
- 58:9 : Jb 27:21; Pr 10:25; Ec 7:6
- 58:10 : Jb 22:19
- 58:10 : Ps 68:23; Jr 11:20; 20:12
- 58:11 : Ps 9:8; 67:4; 75:7