And now, as I go back to my people, let me inform you of what this people will do to your people in days to come.” He took up his theme, and said:
Word of Balaam son of Beor,
Word of the man whose eye is true,
Word of him who hears God’s speech,
Who obtains knowledge from the Most High,
And beholds visions from the Almighty,
Prostrate, but with eyes unveiled:
What I see for them is not yet,
What I behold will not be soon:
A star rises from Jacob,
A scepter comes forth from Israel;
It smashes the brow of Moab,
The foundation of all children of Seth.
Edom becomes a possession,
Yea, Seir a possession of its enemies;
But Israel is triumphant.
A victor issues from Jacob
To wipe out what is left of Ir.
He saw Amalek and, taking up his theme, he said:
A leading nation is Amalek;
But its fate is to perish forever.
He saw the Kenites and, taking up his theme, he said:
Though your abode be secure,
And your nest be set among cliffs,
Yet shall Kain be consumed,
When Asshur takes you captive.
He took up his theme and said:
Alas, who can survive except God has willed it!
Ships come from the quarter of Kittim;
They subject Asshur, subject Eber.
They, too, shall perish forever.
Then Balaam set out on his journey back home; and Balak also went his way.
While Israel was staying at Shittim, the people profaned themselves by whoring with the Moabite women, who invited the people to the sacrifices for their god. The people partook of them and worshiped that god. Thus Israel attached itself to Baal-peor, and the Lord was incensed with Israel. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the ringleaders and have them publicly impaled before the Lord, so that the Lord’s wrath may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to Israel’s officials, “Each of you slay those of his men who attached themselves to Baal-peor.”
Just then one of the Israelites came and brought a Midianite woman over to his companions, in the sight of Moses and of the whole Israelite community who were weeping at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas, son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest, saw this, he left the assembly and, taking a spear in his hand, he followed the Israelite into the chamber and stabbed both of them, the Israelite and the woman, through the belly. Then the plague against the Israelites was checked. Those who died of the plague numbered twenty-four thousand.
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.