Balak and Balaam

Tuesday, Apr. 18                               

That Morse code message “What hath God wrought” probably comes from Num. 23:23 (KJV).  It comes amidst a remarkable story.  As the Israelites were en route to the promised land after leaving Egypt, they had to pass by Moab.  They had already defeated several kings, but had no intention of conquering Moab since the Moabites were related to them through Lot.  They just wanted to keep on moving north, on the east side of the Jordan River, and would then enter the promised land to conquer Jericho.  But Barak, the king of Moab, was suspicious and this horde of millions of Israelites could easily overwhelm Moab.  So he enlisted Balaam, a prophet of Israel to put a curse on Israel.  Balaam was quite willing to do that—for a price—but God would not allow him do so.  He told Barak only what God told him to tell him.  His first response was an oracle in which he said that God had raised up Israel and nothing could be done to thwart God’s plans.  When Barak persisted, Balaam responded with a second oracle—that God is not one to change his mind and that Balaam was prohibited from cursing Israel and was compelled to bless Israel instead.  This second oracle ends with verse 23.  “Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel:  according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!”

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