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Numbers 23:22

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The strength of a unicorn - ראם reem and ראים reim . It is generally allowed that there is no such beast in nature as the unicorn; i. e., a creature of the horse kind, with one long rich curled horn in the forehead. The creature painted from fancy is represented as one of the supporters of the royal arms of Great Britain. It is difficult to say what kind of beast is intended by the original word. The Septuagint translate the word μονοκερως, the unicorn, or one-horned animal; the Vulgate, sometimes, unicornus; and in the text rhinocerotis, by which the rhinoceros, a creature which has its name from the horn on its nose, is supposed to be meant. That no single-horned animal can be intended by the reem of Moses, is sufficiently evident from this, that Moses, speaking of Joseph, says, "he has the Horns of A unicorn," or reem, where the horns are spoken of in the plural, the animal in the singular. The creature referred to is either the rhinoceros, some varieties of which have two horns on the nose, or the wild bull, urus, or buffalo; though some think the beast intended is a species of goat; but the rhinoceros seems the most likely. There is literally a monoceros, or unicorn, with one large curled ivory horn growing horizontally out of his snout; but this is not a land animal, it is the modiodan or nurwal, a marine animal of the whale kind, a horn of which is now before me, measuring seven feet four inches; but I believe the rhinoceros is that intended by the sacred writers.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

An unicorn - A wild bull, the now extinct Aurochs, formidable for its size, strength, speed, and ferocity.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Balak was angry with Balaam. Thus a confession of God's overruling power is extorted from a wicked prophet, to the confusion of a wicked prince. A second time the curse is turned into a blessing; and this blessing is both larger and stronger than the former. Men change their minds, and break their words; but God never changes his mind, and therefore never recalls his promise. And when in Scripture he is said to repent, it does not mean any change of his mind; but only a change of his way. There was sin in Jacob, and God saw it; but there was not such as might provoke him to give them up to ruin. If the Lord sees that we trust in his mercy, and accept of his salvation; that we indulge no secret lust, and continue not in rebellion, but endeavour to serve and glorify him; we may be sure that he looks upon us as accepted in Christ, that our sins are all pardoned. Oh the wonders of providence and grace, the wonders of redeeming love, of pardoning mercy, of the new-creating Spirit! Balak had no hope of ruining Israel, and Balaam showed that he had more reason to fear being ruined by them. Since Balaam cannot say what he would have him, Balak wished him to say nothing. But though there are many devices in man's heart, God's counsels shall stand. Yet they resolve to make another attempt, though they had no promise on which to build their hopes. Let us, who have a promise that the vision at the end shall speak and not lie, continue earnest in prayer, Lu 18:1.
Ellen G. White
Education, 160-1

For beauty of expression read also the description of springtime, from the Song of Songs: Ed 160.3

And not inferior in beauty is Balaam's unwilling prophecy of blessing to Israel: Ed 160.5

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 529

Neither wicked men nor devils can hinder the work of God, or shut out His presence from His people, if they will, with subdued, contrite hearts, confess and put away their sins, and in faith claim His promises. Every temptation, every opposing influence, whether open or secret, may be successfully resisted, “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” Zechariah 4:6. GC 529.1

“The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers.... And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” 1 Peter 3:12, 13. When Balaam, allured by the promise of rich rewards, practiced enchantments against Israel, and by sacrifices to the Lord sought to invoke a curse upon His people, the Spirit of God forbade the evil which he longed to pronounce, and Balaam was forced to exclaim: “How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied?” “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” When sacrifice had again been offered, the ungodly prophet declared: “Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and He hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath He seen perverseness in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.” “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!” Yet a third time altars were erected, and again Balaam essayed to secure a curse. But from the unwilling lips of the prophet, the Spirit of God declared the prosperity of His chosen, and rebuked the folly and malice of their foes: “Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee.” Numbers 23:8, 10, 20, 21, 23; 24:9. GC 529.2

The people of Israel were at this time loyal to God; and so long as they continued in obedience to His law, no power in earth or hell could prevail against them. But the curse which Balaam had not been permitted to pronounce against God's people, he finally succeeded in bringing upon them by seducing them into sin. When they transgressed God's commandments, then they separated themselves from Him, and they were left to feel the power of the destroyer. GC 529.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 444-9

Balaam had some knowledge of the sacrificial offerings of the Hebrews, and he hoped that by surpassing them in costly gifts he might secure the blessing of God and ensure the accomplishment of his sinful projects. Thus the sentiments of the idolatrous Moabites were gaining control of his mind. His wisdom had become foolishness; his spiritual vision was beclouded; he had brought blindness upon himself by yielding to the power of Satan. PP 444.1

By Balaam's direction seven altars were erected, and he offered a sacrifice upon each. He then withdrew to a “high place,” to meet with God, promising to make known to Balak whatever the Lord should reveal. PP 444.2

With the nobles and princes of Moab the king stood beside the sacrifice, while around them gathered the eager multitude, watching for the return of the prophet. He came at last, and the people waited for the words that should paralyze forever that strange power exerted in behalf of the hated Israelites. Balaam said: PP 444.3

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Ellen G. White
Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 46-7

Balaam spoke in a solemn, prophetic style. How shall I defy, or devote to destruction, those whom God hath promised to prosper? He declared in prophetic words that Israel should remain a distinct people; that they should not be united with, swallowed up by, or lost in, any other nation; that they would become far more numerous than they then were; and he related their prosperity and strength. He saw that the end of the righteous was truly desirable, and prophetically expressed his desire that his life might end like theirs. 4aSG 46.1

Balak was disappointed and angry. He exclaims, “What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast blessed them altogether.” Balak thinks it is the grand appearance of the Israelites in their tents, which Balaam views from a high mount, that keeps him from cursing them. He thinks if he takes him to another place, where Israel will not appear to such advantage, he can obtain a curse from Balaam. Again, at Zophim, at the top of Pisgah, Balaam offered burnt-offerings, and then went by himself to commune with the angel of God. And the angel told Balaam what to say. When he returned, Balak inquired anxiously, “What hath the Lord spoken?” “And he took up his parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear. Hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor. God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent. Hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless, and he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it. He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel. The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. God brought them out of Egypt. He hath as it were the strength of a unicorn. 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! Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion. He shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.” 4aSG 46.2

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