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Numbers 23

23:0Verses 1-12 are about Balaam's first prophecy.

1 Balaam said, ‘Build 7 altars here. Kill 7 bulls and 7 male sheep.’ 2 Balak did this. Balaam and Balak gave a gift of a bull and a male sheep on each altar.

3 Then Balaam said to Balak, ‘Stand next to your burnt-offering, and I will go. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me. And whatever he shows to me I will tell to you.’ So Balaam went to the top of a hill where there were no trees.

4 Balaam said to the LORD, ‘I made 7 altars. I killed 7 bulls and 7 male sheep. I offered a bull and a male sheep on each altar.’

5 God told Balaam what he should say to Balak.

6 So Balaam returned to Balak, and Balak was still standing by his burnt-offering. And all the leaders of Moab's people were with him.

7 So Balaam started to speak a prophecy. And he said, ‘Balak, the king of Moab has brought me from Aram. He brought me from the mountains in the East. He said “Come and curse Jacob's descendants for me. And say bad things about the Israelites!”

8 But I cannot curse these people because the LORD does not curse them. I cannot speak bad words to these people because the LORD does not speak bad words to them.

9 I look at them when I am on the hills. I see people. They are separate from us. They know that God blesses them.

10 Nobody can count Jacob's descendants. They are like the bits of dust on the ground! It would be too difficult to count even a quarter of the Israelites! I would like to die like those good people. And I want the end of my life to be like the end of theirs!’

11 Balak said to Balaam, ‘You have not done what I wanted you to do! I brought you to curse these people and you have blessed them.’

12 But Balaam answered, ‘I have to be careful. I have to speak only the words that the LORD puts into my mouth!’

Balaam speaks again

23:12Verses 13-24 are about Balaam's second prophecy.

13 Then Balak said to him, ‘Please come with me to another place where you can see only a small part of the Israelites. You will not be able to see all the Israelites from there. Then curse them for me from there.’

14 They went to the field of Zophim on the top of the mountain called Pisgah. He built 7 altars. He killed 7 bulls and 7 male sheep. And he offered a bull and a male sheep on each altar.

15 Balaam said to Balak, ‘Stay here with your gift while I talk with the LORD.’

16 The LORD told Balaam what he should say to Balak.

17 So Balaam went back to Balak. Balak and the men were standing by his gift. Balak said, ‘What did the LORD say?’

18 Balaam spoke his message, ‘Balak, son of Zippor listen to me.

19 God is not a man. He does not speak words that are not true. If he promises something, it happens.

20 He told me that I must bless the Israelites. He has blessed them, so I must do it too.

21 The LORD is with the Israelites. He blesses them. Bad things will not happen to them in the future. 22 God brought them out of Egypt. He fights for them. 23 Nobody can curse the Israelites. Other people will say about them, “See what God has done.” 24 The Israelites are like a lion. It eats the animals that it has killed. It does not rest until it can eat them. It also drinks their blood.’

25 Balak said to Balaam, ‘Do not curse the Israelites and do not bless them.’ 26 Balaam said, ‘I told you, “I must do what the LORD says.” ’

Balaam speaks again

27 Balak said to Balaam, ‘Let me take you to a different place. Perhaps God will let you curse the Israelites from this place.’ 28 Balak took Balaam to the top of the mountain called Peor. From there they could look over the desert. 29 Balaam said, ‘Build 7 altars here. Kill 7 bulls and 7 male sheep.’ 30 Balak did as Balaam asked him to. He offered a bull and a male sheep on each altar.