The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Numbers
And first, Balaam would have Balac raise seven altars there, and provide him with as many bullocks and as many rams.
When his bidding was done, they offered a bullock and a ram on each altar.
Wait here by the sacrifice, he told Balac; I will go and meet the Lord, if he will, and tell thee what message he has charged me with.✻
No sooner had he withdrawn than the Lord came to meet him, and Balaam told him how he had raised seven altars, offering a bullock and a ram on each.
With that, the Lord put a message on his lips, bidding him return to Balac and deliver it;
so he returned, to find Balac standing beside the burnt-sacrifice he had made, with the Moabite chiefs about him.
Then Balaam prophesied: I have come from Aram, from the hills out in the east; it was Balac summoned me, the king of the Moabites. He bade me come and curse Jacob, come with all speed, and lay my ban on Israel.
Curse them, I, when God’s curse does not light on them? I lay a ban, where ban from the Lord is none?
I will climb the high rocks to see them, the hills shall enlarge my view; here is a people destined to dwell apart, not counted among the muster-roll of the nations.
Sons of Israel, countless as the dust, line of Jacob, past all numbering, may death find me faithful as these, be my end like theirs!
And Balac asked Balaam, What trick is this thou hast played on me? I sent for thee to curse my enemies; wilt thou bless them instead?
But he answered, What words should I use, save what the Lord bids me utter?
Nay, said Balac, come with me to another spot, from which thou wilt only be able to see a part of Israel, not the whole people; from this thou shalt lay a curse on them.
So he took him to the high ground at the top of mount Phasga; and there, when Balaam had raised seven altars with an offering of bullocks and rams,
he would have Balac wait by the burnt-sacrifice, while he kept his tryst.
The Lord met him and put a message on his lips to give Balac.
And Balac, waiting there with the chiefs of Moab by the burnt-sacrifice, asked him what the Lord’s word was.
And again he prophesied: Stand there, Balac, and listen; a message for thee, son of Sephor!
It is not for God to gainsay himself, as men do, to alter, like the things of earth; must he not make good his word, fulfil his promise?
My errand is to bless, and I cannot retract the blessing.
It is no false God that Jacob worships, no senseless image that has its shrine in Israel; the Lord dwells with them as their God; his royal trumpets sound for victory.
This is the God that brought them out of Egypt, and made them like a wild ox for strength.
Jacob needs no soothsayer, Israel no divination; time will reveal the marvellous things God does for them;
a people that is like a lioness roused, a lion ready to spring, never resting till it has devoured its prey, drunk the blood of slaughtered men.
And now Balac would have no more, either of curse or of blessing;
but Balaam said, Did I not warn thee that I must needs carry out God’s bidding?
Come, said Balac, let me find thee another vantage-point; from this perhaps, God will allow thee to curse them.
And he took him up to the top of mount Phogor, looking out towards the desert.
Here too Balaam must have seven altars, seven bullocks, and seven rams;
and Balac did as he was bidden, offering a bullock and a ram on every altar.
The Holy Bible