3.46 Numbers -- the Second Oracle

 Balaam's second oracle includes the following:
       
          "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.  Does he speak and then not act?  Does he promise and not fulfill?  I have received a command to bless; he has blessed, and I cannot change it.  No misfortune is seen in Jacob, no misery observed in Israel. The Lord their God is with them; the shout of the King is among them.  There is no sorcery against Jacob, no divination against Israel. It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, 'See what God has done!'" (Num 23:19-23)

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Verse 19 looks away from Israel to give us a description of the attributes of God Himself.  "These sublime words describe the immutability of the Lord and the integrity of His Word" (NIV Study Bible, p. 225).  This underscores the seriousness of the oracle -- it is not coming from the mouth of man, nor will it be performed by the will of man.  God Himself is the author and the guarantor of the promise and blessing over Israel, and no one can change it -- no, not even the combined Canaanites in Israel's day or the United Nations in our own.  

         

"No misery observed in Israel" -- except by the Israelites, who experienced nothing but misery while wandering through the wilderness!  They were downcast by the burden of the Lord's Presence, and unresponsive to the glory resting on the tabernacle. 

          

"The shout of the King is among them"  -- this is the first use of this title in reference to God.  And He comes with a shout -- aggressive, victorious.

          

None of these words was pleasing to Balak.  He hoped that a change of location would cause Balaam to start cursing Israel.   Or maybe more offerings would help: another seven bulls and rams were offered (Num 23:27-30).