Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Warred against Israel.—The sending for Balaam was a distinct act of hostility. Whether Balak himself ever led an army against Israel we are not informed. In the war with the Midianites, Balaam was slain; and there may have been Moabites allied and acting with the Midianites in the war in Numbers 31.Joshua 24:9-10. Balak warred against Israel — Not indeed by open force, but by crafty counsels, warlike stratagems, and wicked devices. I would not hearken unto Balaam — It appears by this that Balaam had a great inclination to do what Balak desired, and that he asked leave of God to curse Israel; and therefore it is not strange that God, who permitted him simply to go, was highly angry with him for going with so wicked an intent, Numbers 22:22; Numbers 22:32. So I delivered you — From Balak’s malicious designs against you.
They served other gods - Possibly the "images," or teraphim, which we find their ancestor Laban calling "his gods" (see the marginal reference); and of which it would seem that there were, as Joshua spoke, some secret devotees among the people Joshua 24:14, Joshua 24:25. It is not stated that Abraham himself was an idolater, though his fathers were. Jewish tradition asserts that Abraham while in Ur of the Chaldees was persecuted for his abhorrence of idolatry, and hence, was called away by God from his native land. The reference in the text to the original state of those who were the forefathers of the nation, is made to show that they were no better than others: God chose them not for their excellences but of His own mere motion.
Quest. How is this true, when
Balak did never fight against Israel, Judges 11:25?
Answ. One prince may commence a war against another, though he never come to a battle, nor strike one stroke; so Balak warred, though not by open force, yet by crafty counsel and warlike stratagems, by magical arts, by wicked devices, by making bate betwixt them and God their confederate; or by warlike preparations, in case Balaam’s charms had succeeded, as may be gathered from Numbers 22:11; or at least by design or intention; things being oft said to be done both in Scripture and other authors which were only designed or intended, as here. Joshua 24:11 Genesis 37:21 Ezekiel 24:13 Matthew 5:28 John 10:32,33. And the old lawyers note,
That he is rightly called a thief or an adulterer, & c., who wanted nothing but occasion to be so.
and warred against Israel; he fully designed it, and purpose is put for action, as Kimchi observes; he prepared for it, proclaimed war, and commenced it, though he did not come to a battle, he made use of stratagems and wiles, and magical arts, to hurt them, and sent for Balaam to curse them, that they both together might smite the Israelites, and drive them out of the land, Numbers 22:6; so his fighting is interpreted by the next clause:
and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you; by which means he hoped to prevail in battle, and get the victory over them; but not being able to bring this about, durst not engage in battle with them.Then Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, arose and warred against Israel, and sent and called Balaam the son of Beor to curse you:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)9. Then Balak the son of Zippor] He is also mentioned in Jdg 11:25; Micah 6:5; Revelation 2:14. The Israelites were at this time encamped in the plains of Shittim, “the meadow of the Acacias.”
and warred against Israel] In conjunction with the Midianites (Numbers 22:1 ss).
sent and called Balaam] (Numbers 22:5) from Pethor, far away from the encampment of the Israelites, beyond the Euphrates, among the mountains of the east, whence his fame had spread, across the Assyrian desert, to the shores of the Dead Sea. “As warrior chief (by that combination of soldier and prophet already seen in Moses himself) he ranked with the five kings of Midian” (Numbers 31:8).
to curse you] For he was regarded throughout the whole East as a Prophet, whose blessing or whose curse was irresistible. Balak, who lacked the courage to meet the Israelites in arms, thought to lay upon them the powerful ban of the mighty seer. “Even at the present day the pagan Orientals, in their wars, have always their magicians with them to curse their enemies, and to mutter incantations for their ruin. In our own war with the Burmese, the generals of the natives had several magicians with them, who were much engaged in cursing our troops.” Kitto’s Bible Illustr. ii. 214.Verse 9. - Then Balak, son of Zippor. We have here the chronological order, as well as the exact historical detail, of the events carefully preserved. Warred against Israel. The nature of the war is indicated by the rest of the narrative, and this tallies completely with that given in the Book of Numbers. Balak would have fought if he dared, but as he feared to employ temporal weapons he essayed to try spiritual ones in their stead. But even these were turned against him. The curse of God's prophet was miraculously turned into a blessing. Genesis 12), protecting and shielding him, and multiplied his seed, giving him Isaac, and giving to Isaac Jacob and Esau, the ancestors of two nations. To the latter He gave the mountains of Seir for a possession (Genesis 36:6.), that Jacob might receive Canaan for his descendants as a sole possession. But instead of mentioning this, Joshua took for granted that his hearers were well acquainted with the history of the patriarchs, and satisfied himself with mentioning the migration of Jacob and his sons to Egypt, that he might pass at once to the second great practical proof of the mercy of God in the guidance of Israel, the miraculous deliverance of Israel out of the bondage and oppression of Egypt.
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