King Balak asks Balaam to help him
1 The Israelites travelled to Moab. They lived in tents at the side of the Jordan river. Jericho city was on the other side of the river.
2 The king of Moab at that time was Balak, the son of Zippor. He had seen what the Israelites did to the Amorites. 3 The people in Moab were afraid because there were so many Israelites. All the people in Moab became very afraid of the Israelites.
4 So the Moabites said to the leaders of the Midianites, ‘This large group of people will destroy everything round us. They will be like a bull that eats all the grass in a field!’
So Balak, the king of Moab, 5 sent men to get Balaam, the son of Beor. Balaam was living near the Euphrates river at Pethor. Balak told the men to say to Balaam, ‘A large group of people has come here from Egypt. They cover all the ground, everywhere. They have put up their tents near our land. 6 They are more powerful than I am. Come here and put a curse on them. If you do that, maybe I will win against them. Then I can chase them away from our land. I know that you have the authority to bless people or to curse them.’
7 The leaders of Moab and Midian went to find Balaam. They took the money to pay for Balaam's work. When they found him, they told him what Balak had said. 8 Balaam said to them, ‘Stay here tonight. I will talk to the Lord. Tomorrow, I will tell you his answer.’ So the Moabite officers stayed with Balaam.
9 Then God came to Balaam and he asked, ‘Who are these men who are staying with you?’
10 Balaam said to God, ‘Zippor's son Balak, the king of Moab, has sent a message to me. 11 He said, “A big group of people has come from Egypt and they cover all the ground. So please come and curse them for me. Then perhaps I will be able to fight them and send them away.” ’
12 God said to Balaam, ‘Do not agree to go with them. You must not curse those people. They are special people. I have blessed them.’
13 The next day, Balaam said to the officers from Moab, ‘Go back to Moab. The Lord told me that I should not go with you.’ 14 So the officers went back to Moab. They told King Balak that Balaam would not come with them.
15 Then Balak sent other officers to speak to Balaam. These officers were even more important than the first group, and there were more of them. 16 They said to Balaam, ‘King Balak says, “Do not let anything stop you from coming to me. 17 I will certainly make you rich and famous. I will do for you anything that you want. So please come and curse these people for me.” ’
18 Balaam said to them, ‘No, I will only do what the Lord tells me. I can do no more than that, and no less. Even if Balak gives me his house, all his gold and all his silver, I will only do what the Lord says. 19 Stay here tonight, as the other men did. I will talk to the Lord and see if he has anything more to tell me.’
20 That night, God said to Balaam, ‘These men have asked you to go with them, so go with them. But only do what I tell you.’