Num 22-25; Luke 1
Discuss in the comments section.
The following text is from the English Standard Version.
Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho.
And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel.
And Moab said to the elders of Midian, ”This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field.” So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time,
sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, ”Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me.
Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”
So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak’s message.
And he said to them, ”Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the LORD speaks to me.” So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam.
And God came to Balaam and said, ”Who are these men with you?”
And Balaam said to God, ”Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying,
Behold, a people has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Now come, curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to fight against them and drive them out.”’
God said to Balaam, ”You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.”
So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, ”Go to your own land, for the LORD has refused to let me go with you.”
So the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, ”Balaam refuses to come with us.”
Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these.
And they came to Balaam and said to him, ”Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me,
for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.”’
But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, ”Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the LORD my God to do less or more.
So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me.”
And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, ”If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.”
So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.
But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him.
And the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road.
Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side.
And when the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he struck her again.
Then the angel of the LORD went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left.
When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam’s anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff.
Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, ”What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
And Balaam said to the donkey, ”Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”
And the donkey said to Balaam, ”Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” And he said, ”No.”
Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face.
And the angel of the LORD said to him, ”Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me.
The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live.”
Then Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, ”I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back.”
And the angel of the LORD said to Balaam, ”Go with the men, but speak only the word that I tell you.” So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.
When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, on the border formed by the Arnon, at the extremity of the border.
And Balak said to Balaam, ”Did I not send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you?”
Balaam said to Balak, ”Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak.”
Then Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth.
And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent for Balaam and for the princes who were with him.
And in the morning Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal, and from there he saw a fraction of the people.
And Balaam said to Balak, ”Build for me here seven altars, and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.”
Balak did as Balaam had said. And Balak and Balaam offered on each altar a bull and a ram.
And Balaam said to Balak, ”Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go. Perhaps the LORD will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell you.” And he went to a bare height,
and God met Balaam. And Balaam said to him, ”I have arranged the seven altars and I have offered on each altar a bull and a ram.”
And the LORD put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, ”Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak.”
And he returned to him, and behold, he and all the princes of Moab were standing beside his burnt offering.
And Balaam took up his discourse and said, ”From Aram Balak has brought me, the king of Moab from the eastern mountains: ‘Come, curse Jacob for me, and come, denounce Israel!’
How can I curse whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce whom the LORD has not denounced?
For from the top of the crags I see him, from the hills I behold him; behold, a people dwelling alone, and not counting itself among the nations!
Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!”
And Balak said to Balaam, ”What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have done nothing but bless them.”
And he answered and said, ”Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”
And Balak said to him, ”Please come with me to another place, from which you may see them. You shall see only a fraction of them and shall not see them all. Then curse them for me from there.”
And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
Balaam said to Balak, ”Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the LORD over there.”
And the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, ”Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.”
And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, ”What has the LORD spoken?”
And Balaam took up his discourse and said, ”Rise, Balak, and hear; give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Behold, I received a command to bless: he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
He has not beheld misfortune in Jacob, nor has he seen trouble in Israel. The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them.
God brings them out of Egypt and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
For there is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel; now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, ‘What has God wrought!’
Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up and as a lion it lifts itself; it does not lie down until it has devoured the prey and drunk the blood of the slain.”
And Balak said to Balaam, ”Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all.”
But Balaam answered Balak, ”Did I not tell you, ‘All that the LORD says, that I must do’?”
And Balak said to Balaam, ”Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there.”
So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the desert.
And Balaam said to Balak, ”Build for me here seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.”
And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness.
And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him,
and he took up his discourse and said, ”The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
the oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered:
How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your encampments, O Israel!
Like palm groves that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the LORD has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters.
Water shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters; his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.
God brings him out of Egypt and is for him like the horns of the wild ox; he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries, and shall break their bones in pieces and pierce them through with his arrows.
He crouched, he lay down like a lion and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.”
And Balak’s anger was kindled against Balaam, and he struck his hands together. And Balak said to Balaam, ”I called you to curse my enemies, and behold, you have blessed them these three times.
Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.”
And Balaam said to Balak, ”Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me,
If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the LORD, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the LORD speaks, that will I speak’?
And now, behold, I am going to my people. Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”
And he took up his discourse and said, ”The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
the oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered:
I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.
Edom shall be dispossessed; Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed. Israel is doing valiantly.
And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion and destroy the survivors of cities!”
Then he looked on Amalek and took up his discourse and said, ”Amalek was the first among the nations, but its end is utter destruction.”
And he looked on the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said, ”Enduring is your dwelling place, and your nest is set in the rock.
Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned when Asshur takes you away captive.”
And he took up his discourse and said, ”Alas, who shall live when God does this?
But ships shall come from Kittim and shall afflict Asshur and Eber; and he too shall come to utter destruction.”
Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way.
While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab.
These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.
So Israel yoked himself to Baal of Peor. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
And the LORD said to Moses, ”Take all the chiefs of the people and hang them in the sun before the LORD, that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.”
And Moses said to the judges of Israel, ”Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.”
And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting.
When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand
and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped.
Nevertheless, those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.
And the LORD said to Moses,
‘Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy.
Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace,
and it shall be to him and to his descendants after him the covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the people of Israel.”’
The name of the slain man of Israel, who was killed with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, chief of a father’s house belonging to the Simeonites.
And the name of the Midianite woman who was killed was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was the tribal head of a father’s house in Midian.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
‘Harass the Midianites and strike them down,
for they have harassed you with their wiles, with which they beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the chief of Midian, their sister, who was killed on the day of the plague on account of Peor.”
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us,
just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us,
it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus,
that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.
And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.
Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty,
according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense.
And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
But the angel said to him, ”Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John.
And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.
And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God,
and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
And Zechariah said to the angel, ”How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel answered him, ”I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.
And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”
And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple.
And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute.
And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.
After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying,
‘Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, ”Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
And the angel said to her, ”Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, ”How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, ”The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God.
And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
For nothing will be impossible with God.”
And Mary said, ”Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah,
and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit,
and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ”Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
And Mary said, ”My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.
And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.
And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother answered, ”No; he shall be called John.”
And they said to her, ”None of your relatives is called by this name.”
And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called.
And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, ”His name is John.” And they all wondered.
And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.
And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea,
and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, ”What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
‘Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.