07 Numbers 21-25 – To the Plains of MoabLeviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy - Life in the Desert
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Highlights from this part of Numbers include the bronze serpent, the defeat of enemy kings Sihon and Og, and Balaam’s frustrated efforts to curse Israel for Balak, Moab’s king. Here, as Peter would later write, “but [Balaam] received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet” (2 Pe 2:16).
21:1-3 First Canaanite Victory – Over Arad
Irony: after failure re: spies, continual victories.
21:4-9 The Bronze Serpent (medical symbol?)
2 Kg 18:4 (Hezekiah, c. 715 BC); Jn 3:14-15
21:10-20 Through Transjordan; Song of the Well
21:21-30 Defeat of King Sihon (Amorites)
21:31-35 Defeat of King Og (Bashan)
Both attacked Israel and so lost their lands.
See Moses’ review in Deut 1-3. Note Deut 3:11.
22:1–24:25 Balak, Balaam, and Israel
None can curse whom God has blessed.
Balak – King of Moab, fearful of Israel. He hires:
Balaam – Pagan seer, hired to curse Israel.
Devout and pious? 22:18, 38; 23:5, 12; 24:2.
”I can only speak what the LORD says.”
Greedy? 22:7, 18f; 31:16; Dt 23:4-5; 2 Pet 2:15.
”More money, eh? Let me check and try again!”
Cf also Num 31:8; Josh 13:21-22; Jude 11.
Balaam Inscription – ca. 800 BC
Discovered at Deir ‘Alla, often identified as the biblical city of Succoth.
The ink on the plaster inscription details “the sayings of Balaam, son of Beor, the man who was a seer of the gods.” It describes the destruction the gods have planned for the city.
22:1-6 Balak Summons Balaam. (Bless, curse)
22:7-14 Balaam Rejects Balak’s 1st Invitation.
“You shall not curse them. They are blessed.”
22:15-21 Balaam Accepts Balak’s 2nd Invitation.
”No matter how much $$$ … Wait! I’ll go!”
22:22-35 Balaam & His Donkey Meet the Angel.
Donkey sees, knows, acts, speaks better than he!
2 Pet 2:15-16 Dumb donkey restrained madness.
22:36-41 Balak Greets Balaam.
23:1–24:14 Balaam Blesses Israel Three Times.
23:1-12 Balaam Speaks the 1st Blessing.
Words assumed to have power to be fulfilled.
Bribe God with 7 altars, bulls, and rams.
Tries to curse, but blesses instead. “I told you!”
23:19 Unlike man, God does not lie.
23:13-30 Balaam Speaks the 2nd Blessing.
New place, same song, same verse, same result.
Balak: ”Just be quiet! Let’s try another place!”
24:1-14 Balaam Speaks the 3rd Blessing.
No more omens. The Spirit of God upon him.
Eden images. Future king. Lion. Blessing / curse.
24:15-25 Balaam Speaks His Final Oracle.
Again, future king. Star, scepter, to crush Moab.
Defeat of Amalekites, Kenites (Midianites), Asshur (Assyria) and Eber (Israel’s ancestor).
25:1-5 Israel’s Idolatry & Immorality: Baal-Peor
At Balaam’s instigation. Num 31:16; Rev 2:14
Goal: to curse Israel by leading her into sin.
25:6-9 Defiant Sin; Decisive Intervention
A chief’s son (Zimri) brazenly takes a Midianite princess (Cozbi) into a tent to have relations.
Phinehas, high priest’s son, spears both of them.
25:10-13 Phinehas’ Reward: Priestly Dynasty
25:14-18 Moabites’ Penalty: Defeat (Num 31)
Broad Outline of Numbers: Three Stages
Sinai: Preparation to Enter Land
Time: 20 days (Cf. 1:1; 10:11)
From Sinai to Moab: Failure to Enter Land
Time: 38 years, 3 months, 10 days
Plains of Moab: Preparation #2 to Enter Land
Time: c. 5 months