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Numbers 22–24

22:1 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?” 10 And Balaam said to God, “Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, 11 ‘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.’” 12 God said to Balaam, “You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed.” 13 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.” 14 So the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, “Balaam refuses to come with us.”

15 Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, 17 for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me.’” 18 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. 19 So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the LORD will say to me.” 20 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.” 21 So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.

22 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. 23 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. 24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. 25 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. 26 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. 27 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. 28 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?” 29 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.” 30 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.”

31 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. 32 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. 33 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.” 34 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.” 35 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.

36 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. 37 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?” 38 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.” 39 Then Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40 And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent for Balaam and for the princes who were with him.

41 And in the morning Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal, and from there he saw a fraction of the people.

23:1 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!
10   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!”

11 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.” 12 And he answered and said, “Must I not take care to speak what the LORD puts in my mouth?”

13 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.” 14 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. 15 Balaam said to Balak, “Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I meet the LORD over there.” 16 And the LORD met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, “Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak.” 17 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?” 18 And Balaam took up his discourse and said,

  “Rise, Balak, and hear;
    give ear to me, O son of Zippor:
19   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?
20   Behold, I received a command to bless:
    he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.
21   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.
22   God brings them out of Egypt
    and is for them like the horns of the wild ox.
23   For there is no enchantment against Jacob,
    no divination against Israel;
  now it shall be said of Jacob and Israel,
    ‘What has God wrought!’
24   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.”

25 And Balak said to Balaam, “Do not curse them at all, and do not bless them at all.” 26 But Balaam answered Balak, “Did I not tell you, ‘All that the LORD says, that I must do’?” 27 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.” 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which overlooks the desert. 29 And Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.” 30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

24:1 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.”

10 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. 11 Therefore now flee to your own place. I said, ‘I will certainly honor you,’ but the LORD has held you back from honor.” 12 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, 13 ‘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’? 14 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.”

15 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,
16   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:
17   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.
18   Edom shall be dispossessed;
    Seir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed.
    Israel is doing valiantly.
19   And one from Jacob shall exercise dominion
    and destroy the survivors of cities!”

20 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.”

21 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.
22   Nevertheless, Kain shall be burned
    when Asshur takes you away captive.”

23 And he took up his discourse and said,

  “Alas, who shall live when God does this?
24     But ships shall come from Kittim
  and shall afflict Asshur and Eber;
    and he too shall come to utter destruction.”

25 Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way.

Matthew 9:1–13

9:1 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.

10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Psalm 44:17–26

17   All this has come upon us,
    though we have not forgotten you,
    and we have not been false to your covenant.
18   Our heart has not turned back,
    nor have our steps departed from your way;
19   yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
    and covered us with the shadow of death.
20   If we had forgotten the name of our God
    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21   would not God discover this?
    For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22   Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
23   Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
    Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24   Why do you hide your face?
    Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25   For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
    our belly clings to the ground.
26   Rise up; come to our help!
    Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

Proverbs 11:12–13

12   Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense,
    but a man of understanding remains silent.
13   Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets,
    but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.


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