Balaam went with Balak and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and had them served to Balaam and the dignitaries with him. In the morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth-baal. From there he could see a portion of the people.
Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and have seven bulls and seven rams ready here for me.” Balak did as Balaam directed; and Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on each altar. Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offerings while I am gone. Perhaps the Lord will grant me a manifestation, and whatever He reveals to me I will tell you.” And he went off alone.
God manifested Himself to Balaam, who said to Him, “I have set up the seven altars and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.” And the Lord put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak and speak thus.”
So he returned to him and found him standing beside his offerings, and all the Moabite dignitaries with him. He took up his theme, and said:
From Aram has Balak brought me,
king from the hills of the East:
Come, curse me Jacob,
Come, tell Israel’s doom!
How can I damn whom God has not damned,
How doom when the Lord has not doomed?
As I see them from the mountain tops,
Gaze on them from the heights,
There is a people that dwells apart,
Not reckoned among the nations,
Who can count the dust of Jacob,
Number the dust-cloud of Israel?
May I die the death of the upright,
May my fate be like theirs!
Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? Here I brought you to damn my enemies, and instead you have blessed them!” He replied, “I can only repeat faithfully what the Lord puts in my mouth.”
From Parshat Balak. From THE TANAKH: The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional Hebrew Text. Copyright 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society. Used by permission.
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