« PreviousContinue »
a creature, hitherto dumb, have mocked him? How barbarous was
his-wish, that he had a sword in his hand to kill her! There was something extremely pathetic in her subsequent expostulation; and the LORD di. rected it to his heart, and his awakened conscience acknowledged the justice of the remonstrance which the ass had uttered. It was now Balaam's turn to feel the terror he would not pity. What must have been his remorse, when he found, that, by turning out of the road, the ass had saved his life? He now perceived, that not only his covelousness, but his cruelty, was displeasing to the LORD; he therefore offered to forego his wicked purpose of gaining the proffered rewards from the King of Moab, but the LORD commanded him to pursue his journey, and again repeated his injunction, to speak the words of Divine inspiration only.
It seems that when Balaam arrived in Moab, his mind retained those impressions which the Divine vision was calculated to make upon it. He feared to offend the LORD; and he candidly declared to Balak, that he had no power of himself to do any thing in the affair, which that nionarch had so greatly at heart ; but he was still loth entirely to relinquish the promised recompense ; he therefore went with Balak, and, it is supposed, instructed him in the mode of sacrificing to the God of Israel, in hopes that the Lord might become propitious to Moab, and comply with the king's desire.
It is needless to say, 'that, as a prophet of the true God, Balaam acted a very wicked part ; but as many people in the world suppose the animal creation to be abandoned entirely to their will, it may be proper to remark, that his behaviour to his ass was deemed sinful, Surely the reflection that God observes our treatment
of brutes, and that he once publicly espoused the cause of a creature, which is regarded as one of the most des. picable in the creation, should restrain us from riding or driving any beyond their natural strength ; should induce us to consider the great utility of beasts, and incline us to exercise patience towards them, and make allowances for their want of speech and reason.
What Balaam's ass said to him, might with strict propriety be addressed to many an inhuman rider and driver, by their injured animals; but, alas, beasts are dumb, and their owners void of humanity! May it then be the endeavour of all those, who are entrusted with the education of children, to impress their infant minds with ideas of the usefulness of brutes, and with a sense of the duty of mercy towards them!
BALAAM 'AND BALAKOFFER SACRIFICES.-BALAAM
BY GOD'S COMMAND BLESSETH ISRAEL.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence' he might see the utmost part of the people.
And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen, and seven rams.
And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a .ram.
Ardi Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by.thy burnt-offering, and I will go ; peradventure the LORD will cowe to meet me, and whatsoever he sheweth me, I will tell thee. And he went to an high place. . And God met Balaam ; and he said unto him, I have
prepared seven altars, and I have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram.
And the Lord put a word in Balaam's mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thụs thou shalt speak.
And he returned unto him, and lo, he stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the princes of Moab.
And he took up his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, defy Israel.
How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed ? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied ?
For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him : ló, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned ainong the nations.
Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth
of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his !
And Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and be. hold, thou hast blessed them altogether.
And Balaam answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put
my mouth? And Balak said unto him, Come, I pray
thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see them; thou shalt see but the utmost part of them, and thou shalt not see them all : and curse me them from thence.
And he brought him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.
And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt-offering, while I meet the LORD yonder.
And the Lord met Balaam, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus.
And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt-offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, What hath the Lord spoken ?
And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear ; hearken unto nie, thou son of Zippor :
God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and · shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?
Behold, I have received commandment to bless ; and he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it.
He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel, the LORD his God with him, and the shout of a king is
them. God brought them out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
Surely there is no inchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel ; according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought?
Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lign; he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.
But Balaam answered and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the LORD speaketh, that I must do ?
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS,
It may reasonably te inferred, from the pumerous sacrifices which Balaam directed Balak to offer, that he
entertained hopes of drawing the favour of the LORD
from the Israelites to the Moabites ; but it pleased God to disappoint the unjust designs of the king and the mercenary views of the prophet.
The expression, Balaam took up his parable, signifies, that he spake whit the Lord inspired him to utter. Balaam certainly had, at this time, a strong Divine impulse on him ; the power of the LORD, which had lately been displayed in enabling an animal, naturally, dumb, to speak distinct words, and hold rațional converse, was now exhibited in obliging him to speak against his inclination, in favour of Israel ; which, if properly considered, was as great a miracle as the former, and such as none but the great Being, who created the organs
of speech, could have effected.
The unfaithful prophet, was now sensible, and compelled to confess, that it was in vain to oppose the Divine will ; and it was made known through him, that under the guidance and protection of the Lord, the nation which (for the sake of a paltry reward) he had wished to curse, should be separated from all other nations, and that it should multiply and prosper upon earth, to an astonishing degree ; and not only so, but that the righteous Israelites should be encouraged to hoje for a felicity beyond the grave, which would disarm death
of its terrors.
It is evident, that Balaam had a desire to curse Israel ; and that he thought it possible to conciliate the favour of the Lord towards the Moabites, by repeated sacrifices; for when he returned to Balak the second time, he was inspired to inform him, that God was changeable 'in his Divine counsels, and not to be diverted from his purposes, like
variable man; which im. plies
, that they had both entertained a different idea of
seems strange, that Balaam should say by Divine