At the end of chapter 21, there is discussion about some of the first kings who are defeated… the Amorites are one of them. Earlier, Edom refused safe passage of the nation of Israel through their country. Even though they were defeated, the nation had gone to war against the Canaanites (God was not with them at this point, because they initially refused and he passed judgement on them.)
All of the sudden the surrounding nations are taking notice of of this huge group of people. In fact, the animals are taking notice too. Let’s see what happens.
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Balak is scared. “This horde will lick up all that is around us” He sends for Balaam who, he believes, can bless his people and curse Israel. Balaam asks God what he should do. God’s answer: Do not Go. Do not curse them. They are blessed.
Balaam is summoned a 2nd time from Balak. This time God says: Go, but do what I tell you to do.
On the way to Balak, Balaam’s donkey sees an angel of God and avoids him 3 times. Balaam get’s angry and strikes the donkey. The donkey SPEAKS to Balaam: What have I done to you? Balaam doesn’t seem to be phased and replies… Eventually Balaam sees the angel with the sword that was about to strike him down. The angel tells him to go on, but “only speak the word that I tell you.” I think Balaam has a new clarity on how to proceed.
Balaam tells Balak: The word that God puts in my mouth… that must I speak.
Chapter 23 – 24
Balaam starts to speak about what God has told him. These Oracles are:
- I can’t curse whom God has not cursed.
- God is with Israel
- God brings israel up out of Egypt
- Israel shall eat up the nations, his adversaries, and break their bones to pieces.
Balak gets angry with Balaam. Balaam has one last nugget to tell:
A star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.
The people begin to whore with the daughters of Moab. Whoa. That ain’t vbs lesson material. What happens? God tells Moses and the judges to kill those of the men who have “yoked” themselves to Baal of Peor. God is angry.
Phinehas takes a spear and kills one of the men of israel and a woman. The plague ends here.
New census time! (remember the book is called the book of numbers) Many have died. Where are we now.
- Reuben – 46500 (at first census) Now 43730
- Simeon – 59300 (at first census) Now 22200
- Gad – 45650 (at first census) Now 40500
- Judah – 74600 (at first census) Now 76500
- Issachar – 54400 (at first census) Now 64300
- Zebulun – 57400 (at first census) Now 60500
- Ephraim – 40500 (at first census) Now 32500
- Manasseh – 32200 (at first census) Now 52700
- Benjamin- 35400 (at first census) Now 45600
- Dan – 62700 (at first census) Now 64400
- Asher – 41500 (at first census) Now 53400
- Naphtali – 53400 (at first census) Now 45400
This totals, 601,730. At the first census there were 603,500 men. But at the time of this second count, there was not one who were listed at Sinai… except for Caleb and Joshua. Wow. I knew this, but the numbers are impressive if you think about it from that standpoint.
The daughters of Zelophehad are given a possession of inheritance. Moses is told that he is gonna die, and Joshua is commissioned as the next leader. Moses invests some of his authority into Joshua.
Chapter 28 – 29
God, through Moses, reminds the people to continue giving offerings and celebrate/observe passover, feast of weeks, feast of trumpets, feast of booths. Sounds like we’re on an exit speech from Moses, right?
Moses tells the people that vows made are important. Don’t go back on a vow. It is as important today as it was then. Vows, pledges, oaths… we should not break our word. Alas, we do.
God tells Moses that the time has come to avenge Israel on the Midianites. The men gather. War happens. Israel fully conquers the midianites. They take plunder and divide it amongst the tribes.
Reuben and Gad ask Moses if they can settle in Gilead. Moses grants this request with a stipulation: Help us conquer the land first.