“Balak Offers Money, Cattle, and Great Honors to Balaam to Curse Israel—the Lord Forbids Balaam to Do So”

Numbers 22:1–18

1 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho.
2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
3 And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.
4 And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time.
5 He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:
6 Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot [know] that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.
7 And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.
8 And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the Lord shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.
9 And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee?
10 And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying,
11 Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out.
12 And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.
13 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you.
14 And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us.
15 And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.
16 And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:
17 For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.
18 And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said:

“Let me tell you the story of a prophet, in some respects a very great prophet, but one ‘who loved the wages of unrighteousness . . .’ . . .

“Our story took place on the plains of Moab near Jericho; . . . the chief participants were Balak, king of the Moabites, and Balaam, a prophet from the land of Midian. Israel’s hosts, numbering in the millions, had just devastated the land of the Amorites and were camped on the borders of Moab. Fear and anxiety filled the hearts of the people of Moab and Balak their king. Would they also be overrun and slaughtered by these warriors of Jehovah?

“So Balak sent the elders and princes of his nation to Balaam, ‘with the rewards of divination in their hand,’ to hire him to come and curse Israel. In Balak’s name they said: ‘Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me:

“‘Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot [know] that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.’

“Anxious to gain the riches they offered him, Balaam invited them to lodge with him that night while he inquired of the Lord and sought permission to curse Israel. That night ‘God came unto Balaam’ and said: ‘Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.’

“Next morning Balaam said to the princes of Balak: ‘Get you into your land: for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you.’

“Thereupon Balak sent more honorable and noble princes than the first and they said to Balaam: ‘Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:

“‘For I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.

“‘And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.’”

(“The Story of a Prophet’s Madness,” New Era, Apr. 1972, 4–5.)

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