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struck with the beauty of them. You will perceive uncommon force and energy, if you read them only in our English translation We shall unly select such parts as are more immediately relative to the design of these discourses.
After he had offered his first sacrifice, Numb. xxiii, he went to seek the Lord, and at his return he declared among other things, • Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations,'--ver. 9. And how could Balaam by a distant view only of a people, whom he had never seen or known before , have discovered the genius and manners not only of the people then living, but of their posterity to the latest generations ? What renders it more extraordinary is the singularity of the character, that they should differ from all the people in the world, and should dwell by themselves among the nations, without mixing and incorporating with any. The time too when this was affirmed increases the wonder, it being before the people were well known in the world, before their religion and government were established, and even before they had obtained a settlement any where. But yet that the character was fully verified in the event, not only all history testifies, but we have even ocular demonstration at this day. The Jews, in their religion and laws, their rites and ceremonies, their manners and customs, were so totally different from all other nations, that they had little intercourse or communion with them. An eminent author has shown,* that there was a general intercommunity amongst the gods of Paganism; but no such thing was allowed between the God of Israel and the gods of the nations.
There was to be no fellowship between God and Belial, though there might be between Belial anıl Dagon. And hence the Jews were branded for their inhumanity and unsociableness; and they as generally hated, as they were hated by the rest of mankind. Other nations, the conquerors and the conquered, have often associated and united as one body under the same laws; but the Jews in their captivities have commonly been more bigotted to their own religion, and more tenacious of their own rites and customs, than at other times. And even now, while they are dispersed arnong all nations, they yet live distinct and separate from all, trading only with others, but eating, marrying, and conversing chiefly among themselves. therefore how exactly and wonderfully Balaam characterized the whole race from the first to the last, when he said, “ Lo, the people
* See the Divine Legation of Moses, Book 2. Sect. 6, and Book 5. Soct. 2
shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.' In the conclusion too, when he poured forth that passionate wish, • Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his,'—ver. 10, he had in all probability some forebodings of his own coming to an untimely end, as he really did afterwards, being slain with the five kings of Midian by the sword of Israel.--Numb. xxxi. 8.
After the second sacrifice he said among other thir ys, Numb. xxii. 24,— Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift
up himself as a young lion : he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink of the blood of the slain :' and again, to the same purpose, after the third sacrifice, xxiv. 8, 9,— He shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows: He couched, he lay down as a lion and as a great lion; who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee. Which passages are a manifest prophecy of the victories which the Israelites should gain over their enemies, and particularly the Canaanites, and of their secure possession and quiet enjoyment of the land afterwards, and particularly in the reigns of David and Solomon. markable too, that God hath here put into the mouth of Balaam much the same things which Jacob had before predicted of Judah, Gen. xlix. 9,– Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion ; who shall rouse him up?' and Isaac had predicted of Jacob, Gen. xxvii. 29,– Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee:' there is such analogy and harmony between the prophecies of scripture.
At the same time Balaam declared, ver. 7,- His king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.' Some copies have Gog instead of Agag, which reading is embraced by the authors of the Universal History,* who say that was the Samaritan, Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic read Gog instead of Agag, and Gog doth generally signify the Scythians and northern nations, several interpreters have preferred this latter reading to the first, and not without good grounds.” But it is a mistake to say, that the Syriac and Arabic read Gog: it is found only in the Samari
It is re
See Universal History, book 1, chap. 7, sect. 2, vol. 1, p. 534. Fol. Edit.
tan and the Septuagint, and in Symmachus* according to Grotius : the Syriac and Arabict have Agag, as well as the Targum of Onkelos and the Vulgate, though this latter with a different sense and construction of the words. Neither have we any account that Gog was a famous king at that time, and much less that the king of Israel was ever exalted above him; and indeed the Scy: thians and northern nations lay too remote to be the proper subject of a comparison. The reading of the Hebrew copies, ' his king shall be higher than Agag,' is without doubt the true reading; and we must either suppose that Agag was prophesied of by name par. ticularly, as Cyrus and Josiah were several years before they were born: or we must say with Moses Gerundensis, I a learned rabbi quoted by Munster, that Agag was the general name of the kings of Amalek, which appears very probable, it being the custom of those times and of those countries to give one certain name to all their kings, as Pharaoh was the general name for the kings of Egypt, and Abimelech for the kings of the Philistines. Amalek too was a neighbouring country, and therefore is fitly introduced apon the present occasion: and it was likewise at that time a great and flourishing kingdom, for (in ver. 20) it is styled the first of the nations ;' therefore for the king of Israel to be exalted above the king of Amalek was really a wonderful exaltation. But wonderful as it was, it was accomplished by Saul, who'smote the Amalekites from Havilah, until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt: and he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword,'— 1 Sam. xv. 7, 8. The first king of Israel subdued Agag the king of the Amalekites, so that it might truly and properly he said, ' his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted,' as it was afterwards greatly by David and Solomon.
* Extolleturque præ Gog rex ejus. Samar. (And nis king shall be raised above Gog]
Karefwb notras ń roy Baginula.— Sept. (And the kingdom of Gog shall be exalted.]
“Υψα θησεται υπερ Γωγ βασιλευς αυτε.-Symm. apud Grot. [And his king shall be exalted above Gog.]
+ Extolletur præ Agag rege, et exaltabitur regnum.-Syr. (He shall be raised above king Agag, and the kingdom shall be exalted.]
Exaltabitur plusquam Agag rex ejus, et extolletur regnum ejus.-Arab. (His king shall be exalted more than Agag, and his kingdom shall be raised.]
Roborabitur magis quam Agag rex ejus, et elevabitur regnum illius. - Onk. (His king shall be strengthened more than Agag, and his kingdom shall be elevated.]
Tolletur propter Agag rex ejus, et auferetur regnum illius.-Vulg. (His king shall be taken away for the sake of Agag, and his kingdom shall be seized.]
* Et secandum Mosen Gerundensem, quilibet rex Amalekitarum fuit vocatus Agag, transitque primi regis nomen in omnes posteros solium regni occupantes ; sicut a Cæsare primo omnes Romanorum reges Cæsares appellantur.-Munsterus. [And according to Moses Gerundensis, every king of the Amalekites was called Agag, the name of the first king being transmitted to all his successors on tho throne; as from the first Cæsar all the Roman emperors were called Cæsars.]
His latter prophecies Balaam ushers in with a remarkable preface: · Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open, hath said ; He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty falling into a trance, but having his eyes open,'--ver. 3, 4, and 15, 16. Which hath occasioned much perplexity and confusion, but the words rightly rendered will admit of an easy interpretation. • Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open, hath said:' it should be the man whose eye was shut :' for the word Dog shatam is used only here and in Lamentations iii. 8, and there it signifies to shut; and the word mnd satam, which is very near of kin to it, I think, hath always that signification. St Jerome translates it, cujus obturatus est oculus ; and in the margin of our bibles it is rendered, who had his eyes shut,' but with this addition, but now open. It plainly alludes to Balaam's not seeing the angel of the Lord, at the same time that the ass saw him. He hath said which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty;' for in this story we read several times, that God came unto Balaam and said unto him ;' and possibly he might allude to former revelations. Falling into a trance, but having his eyes open :' in the original there is no mention of a trance; the passage should be rendered, ' falling, and his eyes were opened,' alluding to what happened in the way-to Balaam's falling with his falling ass, and then having his eyes opened : “And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she fell down under Balaam-Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand : and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face,'—xxii. 27, &c. A contrast is intended between having his eyes shut, and having his eyes opened ; the one answers to the other. The design of this preface was to excite attention: and so Balaam proceeds to advertise Balak what his people should do to his people in the latter days,' by which phrase is meant the time to come, be it inore or less remote.
He begins with what more immediately concerns the Moabites, the people to whom he is speaking, ver. 17, 18, 19,-. I shall see him, but not now; I shall behold him, but not nigh;' or rather• I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh;' the future tense in Hebrew being often used for the present. He saw with the eyes of prophecy, and prophets are emphatically styled Seers. • There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel.' The star and the sceptre are probably metaphors borrowed from the ancient hieroglyphics, which much influenced the language of the East; and they evidently denote some eminent and illustrious king or ruler, whom he particularizes in the following words : “And shall smite the corners of Moab,' or ' the princes of Moab,' according to other versions. This was executed by David; for ' he smote Moab, and measured them with a line casting them down to the ground : even with two lines measured he, to put to death ; and with one full line, to keep alive :' that is, he destroyed two thirds, and saved one third alive : and so the Moabites became David's servants, and brought gifts.'—2 Sam. viii. 2.
* And destroy all the children of Sheth.' If by Sheth was meant the son of Adam, then all the children of Sheth' are all mankind, the posterity of Cain and Adam's other sons having all perished in the deluge, and the line only of Sheth having been preserved in Noah and his family: but it is very harsh to say that any king of Israel would destroy all mankind, and therefore the Syriac and Chaldee soften it, " that he shall subdue all the sons of Sheth,” “ and rule over all the sons of men. The word occurs only in this place, and in Isaiah xxii. 5, where it is used in the sense of breaking down or destroying: and as particular places, Moab and Edom, are mentioned both before and after; so it is reasonable to conclude that not all mankind in general, but some particular persons were intended by the expression of the sons of Sheth.' “The Jerusalem Targum translates it'the sons of the east,' the Moabites lying east of Judea.”+ Rabbi Nathan says that Sheth is the name of a city in the border of Moab.”+ Grotius imagines “Sheth to be
Et subjugabit omnes filios Seth. Syr. Et dominabitur omnium filiorum hominum. -Chald. [Translated in the text.]
+ Hinc Jerosolim. Paraphrastes 'filios orientis' vertit. Moabitæ enim erant ad ortum Judeæ.-Le Clerc. [Translated in the text.]
* R. Nathan dicit Seth nomen urbis esse in termino Moab. Vide Liram - Drusios [Translated in the text.)