Amalek was the first of the nations - The most ancient and most powerful of all the nations or states then within the view of Balaam; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever, or his posterity אחריתו acharitho, shall be destroyed, or shall utterly fail. This oracle began to be fulfilled by Saul, 1 Samuel 15:7, 1 Samuel 15:8, who overthrew the Amalekites, and took their king, Agag, prisoner. Afterwards they were nearly destroyed by David, 1 Samuel 27:8, and they were finally exterminated by the sons of Simeon in the days of Hezekiah, 1 Chronicles 4:41-43; since that time they have ceased to exist as a people, and now no vestige of them remains on the face of the earth; so completely is their posterity cut off, according to this prophecy. The marginal reading does not appear to give the proper sense.
When he looked - i. e., in spirit, as he saw the Star Numbers 24:17.
Amalek was the first of the nations - Rather, is pre-eminent among the neighboring nations: compare the same expression in Amos 6:1. Hence, the force of the words Numbers 24:7 “higher than Agag,” i. e., than the king of this powerful nation (compare Numbers 14:45; Exodus 17:8). This rank, due to the warlike prowess of the tribe, Balaam contrasts with its approaching downfall and extinction.
Awed by these revelations, Balaam exclaimed, “Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel.” The great magician had tried his power of enchantment, in accordance with the desire of the Moabites; but concerning this very occasion it should be said of Israel, “What hath God wrought!” While they were under the divine protection, no people or nation, though aided by all the power of Satan, should be able to prevail against them. All the world should wonder at the marvelous work of God in behalf of His people—that a man determined to pursue a sinful course should be so controlled by divine power as to utter, instead of imprecations, the richest and most precious promises, in the language of sublime and impassioned poetry. And the favor of God at this time manifested toward Israel was to be an assurance of His protecting care for His obedient, faithful children in all ages. When Satan should inspire evil men to misrepresent, harass, and destroy God's people, this very occurrence would be brought to their remembrance, and would strengthen their courage and their faith in God. PP 449.1
The king of Moab, disheartened and distressed, exclaimed, “Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all.” Yet a faint hope still lingered in his heart, and he determined to make another trial. He now conducted Balaam to Mount Peor, where was a temple devoted to the licentious worship of Baal, their god. Here the same number of altars were erected as before, and the same number of sacrifices were offered; but Balaam went not alone, as at other times, to learn God's will. He made no pretense of sorcery, but standing beside the altars, he looked abroad upon the tents of Israel. Again the Spirit of God rested upon him, and the divine message came from his lips: PP 449.2Read in context »
Balak still flattered himself with the vain hope that God was subject to variation, like man. Balaam informs him that God will never be induced to break his word, or alter his purpose concerning Israel, and that it is in vain for him to hope to obtain a curse for his people, or to expect him to reverse the blessing he has promised to them. And no enchantment or curse uttered by a diviner could have the least influence upon that nation that has the protection of Omnipotence. 4aSG 47.1
Balaam had wished to appear to be favorable to Balak, and had permitted him to be deceived, and think that he used superstitious ceremonies and enchantments when he besought the Lord. But as he followed out the command given him of God, he grew bolder in proportion as he obeyed the divine impulse, and he laid aside his pretended conjuration, and, looking toward the encampment of the Israelites, he beholds them all encamped in perfect order, under their respective standards, at a distance from the tabernacle. Balaam was permitted to behold the glorious manifestation of God's presence, overshadowing, protecting and guiding the tabernacle. He was filled with admiration at the sublime scene. He opened his parable with all the dignity of a true prophet of God. His prophetic words are these: “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters. He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. God brought him forth out of Egypt. He hath as it were the strength of a unicorn. He shall eat up the nations, his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. He couched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion Who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee. And Balak's anger was kindled against Balaam, and he smote his hands together. And Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast altogether blessed them these three times.” 4aSG 47.2Read in context »