Numbers 23:1-12

Balaam's first message from God

1 Balaam said to King Balak, ‘Build seven altars here for me. Prepare seven bulls and seven male sheep.’ 2 Balak did this. Balaam and Balak then offered a bull and a male sheep on each altar as a sacrifice.

3 Then Balaam said to Balak, ‘Stand next to your burnt offering. I will go to see if the Lord will come to meet me. If he shows something to me, I will tell you about it.’ Then Balaam went to the top of a hill where there were no trees.

4 Balaam said to the Lord, ‘I made seven altars. On each altar, I have offered a bull and a male sheep.’

5 God told Balaam the message that he should speak to Balak.

6 So Balaam returned to Balak. Balak was still standing by his burnt offering with all the Moabite officers.

7 Then Balaam started to speak his message from God. He said, ‘Balak, the king of Moab, has brought me from Syria. He brought me from the mountains in the east. He said “Come and curse Jacob's descendants for me. Say bad things against the Israelites!”

8 But I cannot curse these people, because God has not cursed them. I cannot speak against people that the Lord does not speak against.

9 When I stand on the rocks, I can see the Israelites. I can watch them from the hills. They are people who are separate from other nations.

10 Nobody can count Jacob's descendants. They are as many as the dust on the ground! It would be too difficult to count even a quarter of the Israelites. I would like to die in peace like those righteous people!’

11 Balak said to Balaam, ‘You have not done what I wanted you to do! I brought you here to curse my enemies. But you have blessed them!’

12 Balaam answered, ‘I can only speak the message that the Lord has told me.’