Hello, faithful readers!
Congratulations for making it this far! You are tackling some of the most difficult books of the Bible! As we dive into the regulations in the Book of Numbers, we see how easy it was for the Israelites to be seduced by other gods with sacrifices and altars. Read the commentary below and then scroll to the quiz and see how much you remember about Pharoah!
Matthew Henry’s Commentary: Numbers 23:1-12
Here is, I. Great preparation made for the cursing of Israel. That which was aimed at was to engage the God of Israel to forsake them, and either to be on Moab’s side or to stand neuter. O the sottishness of superstition, to imagine that God will be at men’s beck! Balaam and Balak think to bribe him with altars and sacrifices, offered without any warrant or institution of his: as if he would eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats. Ridiculous nonsense, to think that these would please God, and gain his favour, when there could be in them no exercise either of faith or obedience! Yet, it should seem, they offered these sacrifices to the God of heaven the supremeNumen—Divinity, and not to any of their local deities. But the multiplying of altars was an instance of their degeneracy from the religion of their ancestors, and their apostasy to idolatry; for those that multiplied altars multiplied gods. Ephraim made many altars to sin, Hos. 8:11. Thus they liked not to retain God in their knowledge, but became vain in their imaginations; and yet presumptuously expected hereby to gain God over to them from Israel, who had his sanctuary among them, and his anointed altar. Observe here, 1. How very imperious Balaam was, proud to have the command of a king and to give law to princes. Such is the spirit of that wicked one who exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped. With what authority does Balaam give orders! Build me here (in the place I have pitched upon) seven altars, of stone or turf. Thus he covers his malice against Israel with a show of devotion, but his sacrifice was an abomination, being brought with such a wicked mind, Prov. 21:27. That which he aimed at was not to honour God with the sacrifices of righteousness, but to enrich himself with the wages of unrighteousness. 2. How very obsequious Balak was. The altars were presently built, and the sacrifices prepared, the best of the sort, seven bullocks and seven rams. Balak makes no objection to the charge, nor does he snuff at it, or think it either a weariness or a disparagement to stand by his burnt-offering as Balaam ordered him.
Source: Biblegateway: MATTHEW HENRY’S CONCISE COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE