Book of Numbers - 2
Chris Knepp


Text of Numbers 2

The Book of Numbers

Numbers Chs. 11-25

Overview of Second Section of Numbers:

Sharp contrast with positive outlook of opening section

Variety of stories illustrate ungrateful and rebellious nature of people –and not just ancient Israelites!

“The account of the wilderness experience of the Israelites provides a solemn reminder of how prone the human heart is to rebel against God…. Numbers contains serious warnings about the need to trust God completely and avoid the temptation to grumble against his provision or distrust his ability to keep us secure…. The repetitive description of the Israelites’ behaviour creates a narrative that is designed to encourage the reader to trust God in the face of major obstacles. By reflecting on the experiences and responses of the Israelites, Christians may be helped to avoid failure in their own journey with God.” Desmond Alexander, “Pentateuch,” IVP Introduction to the Bible

Numbers Chs. 11-25: Can you say “fickle”?

Last Words of Section I of Numbers (Ch. 10):

33 So they set out from the mount of the Lord three days’ journey with the ark of the covenant of the Lord going before them three days’ journey, to seek out a resting place for them, 34 the cloud of the Lord being over them by day when they set out from the camp.

35 Whenever the ark set out, Moses would say,

“Arise, O Lord, let your enemies be scattered
    and your foes flee before you.”

36 And whenever it came to rest, he would say,

“Return, O Lord, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel.”

First Words of Section II of Numbers (Ch. 11):

11 Now when the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, the Lord heard it, and his anger was kindled. Then the fire of the Lord burned against them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. 2 But the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire abated. 3 So that place was called Taberah [“burning”] because the fire of the Lord burned against them.

The Book of Numbers

Ch. 11, A More Specific Complaint: The Lord’s “Cafeteria Menu”

4 The camp followers with them had a strong craving, and the Israelites also wept again and said, “If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, 6 but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”

Ch. 11, People Sick and Tired of Manna; Moses Sick and Tired of Them!

11 So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me? 12 Did I conceive all this people? Did I give birth to them, that you should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a wet nurse carries a nursing child, to the land that you promised on oath to their ancestors’? 13 Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they come weeping to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I am not able to carry all this people alone, for they are too heavy for me. 15 If this is the way you are going to treat me, put me to death at once—if I have found favor in your sight—and do not let me see my misery.”

Ch. 11, God’s Response: Elders for Moses; Quail and Plague for Israel

16 So the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tent of meeting and have them take their place there with you. 17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people along with you so that you will not bear it all by yourself….

31 Then a wind went out from the Lord, and it brought quails from the sea and let them fall beside the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, all around the camp, about two cubits deep on the ground. 32 So the people worked all that day and night and all the next day gathering the quails; the least anyone gathered was ten homers, and they spread them out for themselves all around the camp. 33 But while the meat was still between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the Lord was kindled against the people, and the Lord struck the people with a very great plague. 34 So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah [“graves of craving”], because there they buried the people who had the craving. 35 From Kibroth-hattaavah the people journeyed to Hazeroth.

Ch. 12, Sibling Rivalry

12 While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman), 2 and they said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. 3 Now the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth. 4 Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them came out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward….

Ch. 12, Sibling Rivalry

10 When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam’s skin had become diseased, as white as snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam and saw that she was diseased. 11 Then Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like one stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother’s womb.” 13 And Moses cried to the Lord, saying, “O God, please heal her.” 14 But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp for seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” 15 So Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days, and the people did not set out on the march until Miriam had been brought in again. 16 After that the people set out from Hazeroth and camped in the wilderness of Paran.

The Book of Numbers

Ch. 13, Mission of the Spies

3 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites; from each of their ancestral tribes you shall send a man, every one a leader among them.” 3 So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran, according to the command of the Lord, all of them leading men among the Israelites….

21 So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. [about 220 miles]

Ch. 13, Report of the Spies – “You should see the size of those guys!”

30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. 33 There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim), and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”

Ch. 14, The People Rebel

14 Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us choose a captain and go back to Egypt.”

Ch. 14, The People Rebel

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the Israelites. 6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to all the congregation of the Israelites, “The land that we went through as spies is an exceedingly good land. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9 Only, do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they are no more than bread for us; their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” 10 But the whole congregation threatened to stone them.

Ch. 14, The People Rebel – and God Is Not Happy!

Then the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the Israelites. 11 And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs that I have done among them? 12 I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.”

Ch. 14, Moses Intercedes for the People

13 But Moses said to the Lord, “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for in your might you brought up this people from among them, 14 and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, O Lord, are in the midst of this people, for you, O Lord, are seen face to face, and your cloud stands over them and you go in front of them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 Now if you kill this people as one, then the nations who have heard about you will say, 16 ‘It is because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land he swore to give them that he has slaughtered them in the wilderness.’ 17 And now, therefore, let the power of the Lord be great in the way that you promised when you spoke, saying,

18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger
and abounding in steadfast love,
forgiving iniquity and transgression,
but by no means clearing the guilty,
visiting the iniquity of the parents
upon the children
to the third and the fourth generation.’

19 “Forgive the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your steadfast love, just as you have pardoned this people, from Egypt even until now.”

The Book of Numbers

Ch. 14, The Lord Forgives – but Promises Judgment

20 Then the Lord said, “I do forgive, just as you have asked; 21 nevertheless, as I live and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord, 22 none of the people who have seen my glory and the signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness and yet have tested me these ten times and have not obeyed my voice 23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their ancestors; none of those who despised me shall see it….

 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘I will do to you the very things I heard you say: 29 your dead bodies shall fall in this very wilderness, and of all your number included in the census from twenty years old and up who have complained against me, 30 not one of you shall come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 31 But your little ones, who you said would become plunder, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have despised. 32 But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. 33 And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ 35 I the Lord have spoken; surely I will do thus to all this wicked congregation gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

Ch. 14, Joshua and Caleb Spared

36 And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report about the land, 37 the men who brought an unfavorable report about the land died by a plague before the Lord. 38 But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh alone remained alive, of those men who went to spy out the land.

The Book of Numbers

Ch. 15, Laws About Sacrifices – The Eye of the Hurricane!

15 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When you come into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving you, ….

“After the breathtaking narrative of the previous chapter, the ritual legislation of Numbers 15 provides an eerie calm. We are really in the tranquil ‘eye’ of a narrative ‘hurricane’ that will strike again in full fury in chapter 16. Temporary suspension of the story points beyond the present crisis. The very fact that the Lord is willing to continue as Israel’s Lawgiver and accept sacrificial gifts from the people is a good sign. So is explicit application of these laws to future life in the Promised Land….” Roy Gane, NIV Application Commentary: Leviticus, Numbers

Ch. 15, Laws About Sacrifices

•       Laws given at Kadesh mainly clarifications of laws given at Sinai – e.g., 10 Commandments do not specify punishments

•       Distinction made between inadvertent sins (forgivable; may be atoned for by sacrificial offering) and defiant (“high-handed”) sins (unforgivable; no sacrificial remedy). Yikes!

32 When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 Those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses, Aaron, and the whole congregation. 34 They put him in custody because it was not clear what should be done to him. 35 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him outside the camp.” 36 The whole congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.

The Book of Numbers

Ch. 16, Korah’s Rebellion

16 Now Korah ... took 2 two hundred fifty Israelite men, leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men, and they confronted Moses. 3 They assembled against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. So why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” 4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face. 5 Then he spoke to Korah and all his congregation, saying, “In the morning the Lord will make known who is his and who is holy and who will be allowed to approach him; the one whom he will choose he will allow to approach him. 

Ch. 16, Korah’s Rebellion

16 Now Korah ... took 2 two hundred fifty Israelite men, leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men, and they confronted Moses. 3 They assembled against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. So why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” 4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face. 5 Then he spoke to Korah and all his congregation, saying, “In the morning the Lord will make known who is his and who is holy and who will be allowed to approach him; the one whom he will choose he will allow to approach him. 

Ch. 16, Korah’s Rebellion – Separate the Ringleaders and Their Families

23 And the Lord spoke to Moses: 24 “Speak to the congregation, saying: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.” 25 So Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram; the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He spoke to the congregation, saying, “Turn away from the tents of these wicked men and touch nothing of theirs, or you will be swept away for all their sins.” 27 So they got away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrances of their tents, together with their wives, their children, and their little ones. 28 And Moses said, “This is how you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works; it has not been of my own accord: 29 If these people die a natural death or if a natural fate comes on them, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord creates something new and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord.”

Ch. 16, Korah’s Rebellion – Death of the Ringleaders and Their Families

31 As soon as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them was split apart. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, along with their households—everyone who belonged to Korah and all their goods. 33 So they with all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly…. 35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred fifty men….

•       Woodcut from Cologne Bible, 1478-80

Ch. 16, Korah’s “Legacy”

“Few Jews realize that one of the greatest of all Jewish prophets and leaders, Samuel, was a direct descendant of Korakh…. This is quite remarkable; it is as if Americans were one day to elect a direct descendant of Benedict Arnold or John Wilkes Booth as president.” Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, “Korakh’s Rebellion,” Jewish Literacy

The Book of Numbers

Ch. 17, Aaron’s Staff

17 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the Israelites, and get twelve staffs from them, one for each ancestral house, from all the leaders of their ancestral houses. Write each man’s name on his staff, 3 and write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff for the head of each ancestral house. 4 Place them in the tent of meeting before the covenant, where I meet with you. 5 And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout; thus I will put a stop to the complaints of the Israelites that they continually make against you.”

8 When Moses went into the tent of the covenant on the next day, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted. It put forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the Lord to all the Israelites, and they looked, and each man took his staff. 10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Put back the staff of Aaron before the covenant, to be kept as a warning to rebels, so that you may make an end of their complaints against me, or else they will die.” 11 Moses did so; just as the Lord commanded him, so he did.

The Book of Numbers

Ch. 20 – A Sad Chapter

Begins with death of Miriam:

20 The Israelites, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there.

Ends with death of Aaron:

22 They set out from Kadesh, and the Israelites, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor. 23 Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor, on the border of the land of Edom, 24 “Let Aaron be gathered to his people. For he shall not enter the land that I have given to the Israelites, because you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. 

Ch. 20 – Waters of Meribah

2 Now there was no water for the congregation, so they gathered together against Moses and against Aaron. 3 The people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had died when our kindred died before the Lord! 4 Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness for us and our livestock to die here? 5 Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to bring us to this wretched place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” 6 Then Moses and Aaron went away from the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting; they fell on their faces, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. 7 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 8 “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and your brother Aaron, and command the rock before their eyes to yield its water. Thus you shall bring water out of the rock for them; thus you shall provide drink for the congregation and their livestock.”

Ch. 20 – Moses Strikes the Rock (from National Gallery of Scotland)

9 So Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he had commanded him. 10 Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels; shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff; water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their livestock drank. 12 But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” 13 These are the waters of Meribah [“quarrel”] where the Israelites quarreled with the Lord and through which he showed himself to be holy.

Ch. 20 – Edom Refuses Passage

14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, “Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the adversity that has befallen us, 15 how our ancestors went down to Egypt, and we lived in Egypt a long time, and the Egyptians oppressed us and our ancestors, 16 and when we cried to the Lord, he heard our voice and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt, and here we are in Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. 17 Now let us pass through your land. We will not pass through field or vineyard or drink water from any well; we will go along the King’s Highway, not turning aside to the right hand or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”

18 But Edom said to him, “You shall not pass through, or we will come out with the sword against you.” 19 The Israelites said to him, “We will stay on the highway, and if we drink of your water, we and our livestock, then we will pay for it. It is only a small matter; just let us pass through on foot.” 20 But he said, “You shall not pass through.” And Edom came out against them with a large force, heavily armed. 21 Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through their territory, so Israel turned away from them.

The Book of Numbers

From Deuteronomy 2:

“When we had headed out along the route of the wilderness of Moab, 9 the Lord said to me, ‘Do not harass Moab or engage them in battle, for I will not give you any of its land as a possession,…. 13 ‘Now then, proceed to cross over the Wadi Zered [the border between Edom and Moab].’

“So we crossed over the Wadi Zered . 14 And the length of time we had traveled from Kadesh-barnea until we crossed the Wadi Zered was thirty-eight years, until the entire generation of warriors had perished from the camp, as the Lord had sworn concerning them. 15 Indeed, the Lord’s own hand was against them, to root them out from the camp, until all had perished.”

“Numbers 20 skips almost everything that happens during the thirty-eight years as unworthy of mention. These are just dull decades of death in the desert.” Roy Gane, NIV Application Commentary: Leviticus, Numbers

Ch. 21 – The Bronze Serpent

4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom, but the people became discouraged on the way. 5 The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” 6 Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.”

Ch. 21 – The Bronze Serpent

So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a serpent of bronze and put it upon a pole, and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

•       Moses and the Brazen Serpent, Peter Paul Reubens

From 2 Kings 18: The Bronze Serpent Has Become an Object of Worship!

18 In the third year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, Hezekiah son of King Ahaz of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem [721-691 BC]. His mother’s name was Abi daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done. 4 He removed the high places, broke down the pillars, and cut down the sacred pole. He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it; it was called Nehushtan [“a thing of brass”].

From John 3, Jesus to Nicodemus:

11 “Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen, yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

Three-fold meaning of “lifted up”: Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension

The Book of Numbers

Ch. 21 – Israel Defeats Og and Sihon

“As with Edom and Moab, the Israelites asked permission to pass through the territory of King Sihon, but he refused. When Sihon attacked the Israelites at Jahaz, the Israelites defeated him and captured his land. Later, Moses dispatched troops to capture Jazed, and they turned north and were met by King Og’s forces. They defeated Og’s forces and took control of his land as well.” ESV Study Bible

Ch. 22-24, The Talking Donkey and Balaam’s Oracles

“Alongside the serpent that tempts Eve, the most famous animal in the Bible is the prophet Balaam’s talking donkey, which can see an angel of God clearer than the prophet himself can.”

“Jewish tradition teaches that the non-Hebrew Balaam had the potential to be one of God’s greatest prophets. But rather than utilize this gift, Balaam sells his talents to the highest bidder.” 

“… Jewish tradition teaches that the animal died right after the incident, so that people would not say ‘This is the animal that spoke’ and make it an object of worship.”

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, “Balaam’s Talking Donkey,” Jewish Literacy

Ch. 22, The Talking Donkey

•       Israel now in plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho

•       Moabite King Balak scared by defeat of Sihon and Og; summons Balaam, a man with international reputation for blessing and cursing, to defeat Israel by cursing them

•       Balaam turns down first invitation because God refused him permission to go

•       Balak ups his offer; Balaam accepts after God says “Go, but only do what I tell you.”

•       But God knows Balaam is in it for the money ….

Ch. 22, The Talking Donkey

22 God’s anger was kindled because he was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the road as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 The donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand, so the donkey turned off the road and went into the field, and Balaam struck the donkey, to turn it back onto the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it scraped against the wall and scraped Balaam’s foot against the wall, so he struck it again. 26 Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” 29 Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a fool of me! I wish I had a sword in my hand! I would kill you right now!” 30 But the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I been in the habit of treating you this way?” And he said, “No.”

 The Book of Numbers

Ch. 22, The Talking Donkey

31 Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with his drawn sword in his hand, and he bowed down, falling on his face. 32 The angel of the Lord said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? I have come out as an adversary because your way is perverse before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let it live.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now therefore, if it is displeasing to you, I will return home.” 35 The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you to speak.” So Balaam went on with the officials of Balak.

Ch. 23-24, Balaam’s Oracles

•       Balaam blesses Israel three times

10 Then Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. Balak said to Balaam, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but instead you have blessed them these three times. 11 Now be off with you! Go home! I said, ‘I will reward you richly,’ but the Lord has denied you any reward.” 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not speak to your messengers whom you sent to me, saying, 13 ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will; what the Lord says, that is what I will say’? 14 So now, I am going to my people; let me advise you what this people will do to your people in days to come.”

Ch. 23-24, Balaam’s Oracles

•       Balaam’s fourth and final oracle – an oracle against the nations and a messianic prophecy

•       King David and Davidic conquers Moab and Edom

•       King Jesus conquers sin and evil; all nations shall bow to him

17 … a star shall come out of Jacob,
    and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the foreheads of Moab
    and the heads of all the Shethites.
18 Edom will become a possession,
    Seir a possession of its enemies,
    while Israel does valiantly.
19 One out of Jacob shall rule
    and destroy the survivors of Ir.”

“a star shall come out of Jacob”

•       In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, magi from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star in the east and have come to pay him homage.” Matthew 2:1-3

•       “It is I, Jesus, who sent my angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

Ch. 25, Baal Worship at Peor and the Zeal of Phinehas

25 While Israel was staying at Shittim, the people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 Thus Israel yoked itself to the Baal of Peor, and the Lord’s anger was kindled against Israel. 4 The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the chiefs of the people and impale them in the sun before the Lord, in order that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” 5 And Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you shall kill any of your people who have yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor.”

Ch. 25, Baal Worship at Peor and the Zeal of Phinehas

6 Just then one of the Israelites came and brought a Midianite woman into his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the Israelites, while they were weeping at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he got up and left the congregation. Taking a spear in his hand, 8 he went after the Israelite man into the tent and pierced the two of them, the Israelite and the woman, through the belly. So the plague was stopped among the Israelites. 9 Nevertheless those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.

Warnings from Israel’s History (1 Corinthians 10:1-11)

10 I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not become idolaters as some of them did, as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8 We must not engage in sexual immorality, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10 And do not complain, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come.

Book of Numbers - 2

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