Numbers 23–24

Balaam’s First Oracle

23 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram. And Balaam said to Balak, “Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height, and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, “I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.” And the LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.” And he returned to him, and behold, he and all the princes of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering. And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

  “From Aram Balak has brought me,
    the king of Moab from the eastern mountains:
  ‘Come, curse Jacob for me,
    and come, denounce Israel!’
  How can I curse whom God has not cursed?
    How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
  For from the top of the crags I see him,
    from the hills I behold him;
  behold, a people dwelling alone,
    and not counting itself among the nations!
  Who can count the dust of Jacob
    or number the fourth partOr dust clouds‘>1 of Israel?
  Let me die the death of the upright,
    and let my end be like his!”

And Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.” And he answered and said, “Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”

Balaam’s Second Oracle

And Balak said to him, “Please come with me to another place, from which you may see them. You shall see only a fraction of them and shall not see them all. Then curse them for me from there.” And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the LORD over there.” And the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.” And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, “What has the LORD spoken?” And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

  “Rise, Balak, and hear;
    give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
  God is not man, that he should lie,
    or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
  Has he said, and will he not do it?
    Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
  Behold, I received a command to bless:
    he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
  He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob,
    nor has he seen trouble in Israel.
  The LORD their God is with them,
    and the shout of a king is among them.
  God brings them out of Egypt
    and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
  For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
    no divination against Israel;
  now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
    ‘What has God wrought!’
  Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up
    and as a lion it lifts itself;
  it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey
    and drunk the blood of the slain.”

And Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all.” But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘All that the LORD says, that I must do’?” And Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.” So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the desert.Or Jeshimon‘>2And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

Balaam’s Third Oracle

24 When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his discourse and said,

  “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,Or closed, or perfect; also verse 15′>3
  the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
    who sees the vision of the Almighty,
    falling down with his eyes uncovered:
  How lovely are your tents, O Jacob,
    your encampments, O Israel!
  Like palm grovesOr valleys‘>4 that stretch afar,
    like gardens beside a river,
  like aloes that the LORD has planted,
    like cedar trees beside the waters.
  Water shall flow from his buckets,
    and his seed shall be in many waters;
  his king shall be higher than Agag,
    and his kingdom shall be exalted.
  God brings him out of Egypt
    and is for him like the horns of the wild ox;
  he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries,
    and shall break their bones in pieces
    and pierce them through with his arrows.
  He crouched, he lay down like a lion
    and like a lioness; who will rouse him up?
  Blessed are those who bless you,
    and cursed are those who curse you.”

And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times. Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, ‘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 speaks, that will I speak’? And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”

Balaam’s Final Oracle

And he took up his discourse and said,

  “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
    the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
  the oracle of him who hears the words of God,
    and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
  who sees the vision of the Almighty,
    falling down with his eyes uncovered:
  I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near:
  a star shall come out of Jacob,
    and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
  it shall crush the foreheadHebrew corners [of the head]’>5 of Moab
    and break down all the sons of Sheth.
  Edom shall be dispossessed;
    Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
    Israel is doing valiantly.
  And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
    and destroy the survivors of cities!”

Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said,

  “Amalek was the first among the nations,
    but its end is utter destruction.”

And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said,

  “Enduring is your dwelling place,
    and your nest is set in the rock.
  Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned
    when Asshur takes you away captive.”

And he took up his discourse and said,

  “Alas, who shall live when God does this?
    But ships shall come from Kittim
  and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;
    and he too shall come to utter destruction.”

Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way.

Luke 12:13–48

The Parable of the Rich Fool

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”

Do Not Be Anxious

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?Or a single cubit to his stature; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 centimeters’>1 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,Some manuscripts Consider the lilies; they neither spin nor weave‘>2 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek hisSome manuscripts God’s“>3 kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

You Must Be Ready

“Stay dressed for actionGreek Let your loins stay girded; compare Exodus 12:11′>4 and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servantsOr bondservants‘>5 whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, heSome manuscripts add would have stayed awake and‘>6 would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servantOr bondservant; also verses 45, 46, 47′>7 whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Psalm 74

Arise, O God, Defend Your Cause

A MaskilProbably a musical or liturgical term’>1 of Asaph.

74   O God, why do you cast us off forever?
    Why does your anger smoke against the sheep of your pasture?
  Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
    which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
    Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt.
  Direct your steps to the perpetual ruins;
    the enemy has destroyed everything in the sanctuary!

  Your foes have roared in the midst of your meeting place;
    they set up their own signs for signs.
  They were like those who swing axes
    in a forest of trees.The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain’>2
  And all its carved wood
    they broke down with hatchets and hammers.
  They set your sanctuary on fire;
    they profaned the dwelling place of your name,
    bringing it down to the ground.
  They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”;
    they burned all the meeting places of God in the land.

  We do not see our signs;
    there is no longer any prophet,
    and there is none among us who knows how long.
  How long, O God, is the foe to scoff?
    Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
  Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?
    Take it from the fold of your garmentHebrew from your bosom‘>3 and destroy them!

  Yet God my King is from of old,
    working salvation in the midst of the earth.
  You divided the sea by your might;
    you broke the heads of the sea monstersOr the great sea creatures‘>4 on the waters.
  You crushed the heads of Leviathan;
    you gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
  You split open springs and brooks;
    you dried up ever-flowing streams.
  Yours is the day, yours also the night;
    you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.
  You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth;
    you have made summer and winter.

  Remember this, O LORD, how the enemy scoffs,
    and a foolish people reviles your name.
  Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts;
    do not forget the life of your poor forever.

  Have regard for the covenant,
    for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence.
  Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame;
    let the poor and needy praise your name.

  Arise, O God, defend your cause;
    remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day!
  Do not forget the clamor of your foes,
    the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

Proverbs 12:15–17

  The way of a fool is right in his own eyes,
    but a wise man listens to advice.
  The vexation of a fool is known at once,
    but the prudent ignores an insult.
  Whoever speaksHebrew breathes out‘>1 the truth gives honest evidence,
    but a false witness utters deceit.

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