1 The Israelites moved and set up camp across from Jericho. They were on the plains of Moab east of the Jordan River.
2 Balak, son of Zippor, saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
3 The Moabites were very afraid because there were so many Israelites. Also, the Moabites did not like these people.
4 So the Moabites said to the leaders of Midian: »All those people will eventually eat up everything around us the same way cattle eat up the grass in a field. At that time Balak, son of Zippor, was king of Moab.«
5 He sent messengers to summon Balaam, son of Beor, who was at Pethor, on the Euphrates River, in the land where his people lived. Balaks message was: »A nation has just come here from Egypt. They have spread out all over the countryside and are setting up their camp here in front of me.
6 »They outnumber us, so please come and put a curse on them for me. Then maybe we will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. I know that when you pronounce a blessing, people are blessed, and when you pronounce a curse, they are placed under a curse.«
7 The elders of Moab and Midian left. They took money with them to pay for Balaams services. They came to Balaam and told him what Balak had said.
8 »Spend the night here,« Balaam said to them, »and I will report to you what Jehovah tells me.« So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam.
9 God came to Balaam and asked: »Who are these men with you?«
10 Balaam answered: »Balak, son of King Zippor of Moab, sent them with this message:
11 »Some people came from Egypt and are spreading out all over the countryside. Now come and curse them for me. Maybe I will be able to fight them and force them out.«
12 God said to Balaam: »Do not go with them! Do not curse these people. They are blessed!«
13 When Balaam got up in the morning, he said to Balaks princes: »Go back to your own country. Jehovah has refused to let me go with you.«
14 The Moabite princes went back to Balak and said: »Balaam refused to come with us.«
15 Balak sent a larger group of more highly respected princes.
16 When they came to Balaam they said to him: »This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me.
17 »I will make sure you are richly rewarded. I will do whatever you ask. Please, come and curse execrate these people for me.«
18 Balaam answered Balaks servants: »Even if Balak gave me his palace filled with silver and gold, I could not disobey the command of Jehovah my God no matter whether the request was important or not.
19 »Now, please stay here tonight, as the others did, and I will find out what else Jehovah may have to tell me.«
20 That night God came to Balaam and said: »If these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.«
21 Balaam got up in the morning and saddled his donkey and left with the Moabite princes.
22 God became angry that he was going. So the angel of Jehovah stood in the road to stop him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, accompanied by his two servants.
23 The donkey saw the angel of Jehovah standing in the road with his sword drawn. The donkey turned off the road into a field. Balaam hit the donkey to get it back on the road.
24 Where the road went through the vineyards, it was narrow, with stonewalls on both sides. Now the angel of Jehovah stood there.
25 The donkey saw the angel and it moved over against the wall and crushed Balaams foot against it. Again Balaam beat the donkey.
26 Once more the angel moved ahead. He stood in a narrow place where there was no room at all to pass on either side.
27 This time, when the donkey saw the angel, it lay down. Balaam lost his temper and began to beat the donkey with his stick.
28 Jehovah gave the donkey the power of speech. The donkey said to Balaam: »What have I done to you? Why have you beaten me these three times?«
29 Balaam answered: »It is because you have made a fool of me! If I had a sword, I would kill you.«
30 The donkey replied: »Am I not the same donkey on which you have ridden all your life? Have I ever treated you like this before?« »No,« he answered.
31 Then Jehovah let Balaam see the angel standing there with his sword. Balaam threw himself face down on the ground.
32 The angel demanded: »Why have you beaten your donkey three times like this? I have come to bar your way, because you should not be making this journey.
33 »But your donkey saw me and turned aside three times. If it had not, I would have killed you and spared the donkey.«
34 Balaam replied: »I have sinned. I did not know that you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you think it is wrong for me to go on I will return home.«
35 But the angel said: »Go on with these men, but say only what I tell you to say.« Thus Balaam went on with them.
36 Balak heard that Balaam was coming. He went to meet him at Ar, a city on the Arnon River at the border of Moab.
37 Balak said to him: »Why did you not come when I sent for you the first time? Did you think I was not able to reward you enough?«
38 Balaam answered: »I am here now. But now, what power do I have? I can say only what God tells me to say.«
39 Balaam went with Balak to the town of Huzoth.
40 Balak slaughtered cattle and sheep and gave some of the meat to Balaam and the leaders who were with him.
41 The next morning Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth Baal, from where Balaam could see a part of the people of Israel.