"Here there is a people who have come out of Egypt…Behold! it has covered the eye [surface] of the land." (Num. 22:5)

WHY did Balak say hinei, "Behold!"?

WHY did he say that the people "left" Egypt? The whole world knew that the only people who had ever left Egypt were the Israelites. Balaam would certainly have been aware of this.

WHY did Balak use the verb form "kissa" for "covered" instead of the customary "vayichas"?

Pharaoh...had three advisors, one of whom was Balaam.

We may understand this is the light of the Midrash (Shemot Rabbah 1:9) that when the Pharaoh who enslaved the Israelites and who wanted to "outsmart" the Israelites was on the throne he had three advisors, one of whom was Balaam. At that time Balaam had invoked a magic formula which was designed to permanently prevent slaves from escaping from Egypt. Balak now informed Balaam that his magic had been invalidated, that a whole nation of slaves had fled from Egypt. [This was forty years earlier and at least 126 years after Balaam had invoked this magic. Ed.]

By saying "hinei", Balak suggested that Balaam owed him something seeing it was Balaam’s magic the Israelites had managed to invalidate. Perhaps Balaam had previously assured Balak that the Israelites would never leave Egypt.

Balak continued with: "hineh kissa et ayin ha’aretz" to challenge Balaam whose advice had been based on reducing the numbers of the Israelites. By contrast, Balak pointed out, "Look at them now!" They cover as much land as the eye can see. Instead of their males having been killed, their fighting men now number so many one cannot even see all of them.

[Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of "Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar", Vol. IV, by Eliyahu Munk.]