Chapter 22

1The children of Israel journeyed and encamped in the plains of Moab, across the Jordan from Jericho.   אוַיִּסְע֖וּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיַּֽחֲנוּ֙ בְּעַרְב֣וֹת מוֹאָ֔ב מֵעֵ֖בֶר לְיַרְדֵּ֥ן יְרֵחֽוֹ:
2Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.   בוַיַּ֥רְא בָּלָ֖ק בֶּן־צִפּ֑וֹר אֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂ֥ה יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל לָֽאֱמֹרִֽי:
Balak… saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites: He said, “These two kings whom we relied on could not resist them; we certainly cannot.” Consequently, “Moab became terrified.” - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 2, Num. Rabbah 20:2]   וַיַּרְא בָּלָק בֶּן־צִפּוֹר אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־עָשָׂה יִשְׂרָאֵל לָֽאֱמֹרִֽי: אָמַר, אֵלּוּ שְׁנֵי מְלָכִים שֶׁהָיִינוּ בְטוּחִים עֲלֵיהֶם לֹא עָמְדוּ בִּפְנֵיהֶם, אָנוּ עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה, לְפִיכָךְ "וַיָּגָר מוֹאָב" (תנחומא):
3Moab became terrified of the people, for they were numerous, and Moab became disgusted because of the children of Israel.   גוַיָּ֨גָר מוֹאָ֜ב מִפְּנֵ֥י הָעָ֛ם מְאֹ֖ד כִּ֣י רַב־ה֑וּא וַיָּ֣קָץ מוֹאָ֔ב מִפְּנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל:
[Moab] became terrified: [Heb. וַיָּגָר is] a term denoting dread, as in, “Fear (גּוּרוּ) for yourselves” (Job 19:29). - [Machbereth Menachem p. 59, third def.]   וַיָּגָר: לְשׁוֹן מוֹרָא, כְּמוֹ "גּוּרוּ לָכֶם" (איוב י"ט):
Moab became disgusted: They became disgusted with their own lives, as in “I am disgusted (קַצְתִּי) with my life” (Gen. 27:46). This is an abbreviated verse.   וַיָּקָץ מוֹאָב: קָצוּ בְחַיֵּיהֶם:
4Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now this assembly will eat up everything around us, as the ox eats up the greens of the field. Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.   דוַיֹּ֨אמֶר מוֹאָ֜ב אֶל־זִקְנֵ֣י מִדְיָ֗ן עַתָּ֞ה יְלַֽחֲכ֤וּ הַקָּהָל֙ אֶת־כָּל־סְבִ֣יבֹתֵ֔ינוּ כִּלְחֹ֣ךְ הַשּׁ֔וֹר אֵ֖ת יֶ֣רֶק הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה וּבָלָ֧ק בֶּן־צִפּ֛וֹר מֶ֥לֶךְ לְמוֹאָ֖ב בָּעֵ֥ת הַהִֽוא:
to the elders of Midian: But did they not always hate each other, as it says, “who defeated Midian in the field of Moab” (Gen. 36:35), when Midian came against Moab in battle? However, because of their mutual fear of Israel they made peace with each other. And what did Moab see to take counsel with Midian? Since they saw that Israel was supernaturally victorious [in their battles], they said, “The leader of these [people] was raised in Midian. Let us ask them what his character is.” They told them, “His strength is solely in his mouth.” They said, “We too will come against them with a man whose strength is in his mouth.” - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 3, Num. Rabbah 20:4]   אֶל־זִקְנֵי מִדְיָן: וַהֲלֹא מֵעוֹלָם הָיוּ שׂוֹנְאִים זֶה אֶת זֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "הַמַּכֶּה אֶת מִדְיָן בִּשְׂדֵה מוֹאָב" (בראשית ל"ו), שֶׁבָּאוּ מִדְיָן עַל מוֹאָב לַמִּלְחָמָה? אֶלָּא מִיִּרְאָתָן שֶׁל יִשְׂרָאֵל עָשׂוּ שָׁלוֹם בֵּינֵיהֶם; וּמָה רָאָה מוֹאָב לִטֹּל עֵצָה מִמִּדְיָן? כֵּיוָן שֶׁרָאוּ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל נוֹצְחִים שֶׁלֹּא כְמִנְהַג הָעוֹלָם, אָמְרוּ מַנְהִיגָם שֶׁל אֵלּוּ בְּמִדְיָן נִתְגַּדֵּל, נִשְׁאַל מֵהֶם מַה מִּדָּתוֹ, אָמְרוּ לָהֶם אֵין כֹּחוֹ אֶלָּא בְּפִיו, אָמְרוּ, אַף אָנוּ נָבֹא עֲלֵיהֶם בְּאָדָם שֶׁכֹּחוֹ בְּפִיו (תנחומא):
as the ox eats up: Whatever the ox has eaten up no longer contains blessing [because the ox uproots the plants it eats (Da’ath Zekenim)]. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 3, Num. Rabbah 20:4]   כִּלְחֹךְ הַשּׁוֹר: כָּל מַה שֶּׁהַשּׁוֹר מְלַחֵךְ אֵין בּוֹ בְרָכָה (שם):
at that time: He was not entitled to the monarchy. He was one of the Midianite nobles [according to some: of the nobles of Sihon (Josh. 13:21)], and when Sihon died, they appointed him over them on a temporary basis. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 4, Num. Rabbah 20:4]   בָּעֵת הַהִֽוא: לֹא הָיָה רָאוּי לְמַלְכוּת, מִנְּסִיכֵי מִדְיָן הָיָה, וְכֵיוָן שֶׁמֵּת סִיחוֹן מִנּוּהוּ עֲלֵיהֶם לְצֹרֶךְ שָׁעָה (שם):
5He sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of his people, to call for him, saying, "A people has come out of Egypt, and behold, they have covered the "eye" of the land, and they are stationed opposite me.   הוַיִּשְׁלַ֨ח מַלְאָכִ֜ים אֶל־בִּלְעָ֣ם בֶּן־בְּע֗וֹר פְּת֠וֹרָה אֲשֶׁ֧ר עַל־הַנָּהָ֛ר אֶ֥רֶץ בְּנֵֽי־עַמּ֖וֹ לִקְרֹא־ל֑וֹ לֵאמֹ֗ר הִ֠נֵּ֠ה עַ֣ם יָצָ֤א מִמִּצְרַ֨יִם֙ הִנֵּ֤ה כִסָּה֙ אֶת־עֵ֣ין הָאָ֔רֶץ וְה֥וּא ישֵׁ֖ב מִמֻּלִֽי:
to Pethor: Heb. פְּתוֹרָה, like this money changer, to whom everyone rushes coins, so did all the kings rush their letters to him [asking him for advice]. [In Aramaic, פְּתוֹרָא means table, denoting the counter over which currency transactions take place. This is synonymous with the Hebrew שֻׁלְחָן, table.Thus, a money changer is שֻלְחָנִי]. According to the simple meaning of the verse, it [Pethor] is a place-name. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 4, Num. Rabbah 20:7]   פְּתוֹרָה: כְּשֻׁלְחָנִי זֶה שֶׁהַכֹּל מְרִיצִין לוֹ מָעוֹת, כָּךְ כָּל הַמְּלָכִים מְרִיצִין לוֹ אִגְּרוֹתֵיהֶם, וּלְפִי פְשׁוּטוֹ שֶׁל מִקְרָא כָּךְ שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם (שם):
the land of his people: [I.e.,] Balak’s [people]. He came from there. This one [Balaam] prophesied, telling him, “You are destined to rule.” If you ask, “Why did God bestow His Shechinah on a wicked gentile?” [The answer is] so the nations should not have an excuse to say, “Had we had prophets we would have repented.” So He assigned them prophets, but they breached the [morally] accepted barrier, for at first they had refrained from immorality, but he [Balaam] advised them to offer themselves freely for prostitution. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 1, Num. Rabbah 20:1]   אֶרֶץ בְּנֵֽי־עַמּוֹ: שֶׁל בָּלָק, מִשָּׁם הָיָה, וְזֶה הָיָה מִתְנַבֵּא וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ, עָתִיד אַתָּה לִמְלֹךְ; וְאִם תֹּאמַר מִפְּנֵי מָה הִשְׁרָה הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שְׁכִינָתוֹ עַל גּוֹי רָשָׁע? כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה פִתְחוֹן פֶּה לָאֻמּוֹת לוֹמַר, אִלּו הָיוּ לָנוּ נְבִיאִים, חָזַרְנוּ לְמוּטָב, הֶעֱמִיד לָהֶם נְבִיאִים וְהֵם פָּרְצוּ גֶדֶר הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁבַּתְּחִלָּה הָיוּ גְדוּרִים בַּעֲרָיוֹת, וְזֶה נָתַן לָהֶם עֵצָה לְהַפְקִיר עַצְמָן לִזְנוּת:
to call for him: This invitation was for him, [i.e.,] for his benefit, for he promised him a large sum of money. - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 4, Num. Rabbah 20:7]   לִקְרֹא־לוֹ: הַקְּרִיאָה הָיְתָה שֶׁלּוֹ וְלַהֲנָאָתוֹ, שֶׁהָיָה פוֹסֵק לוֹ מָמוֹן הַרְבֵּה:
A people has come out of Egypt: And should you ask,“How does it harm you?”   עַם יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם: וְאִם תֹּאמַר מַה מַּזִּיקְךָ?
“behold, they have covered the ‘eye’ of the land”: Sihon and Og, who were our guardians-they attacked them and killed them. - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 4, Num. Rabbah 20:7]   הִנֵּה כִסָּה אֶת־עֵין הָאָרֶץ: סִיחוֹן וְעוֹג שֶׁהָיוּ שׁוֹמְרִים אוֹתָנוּ עָמְדוּ עֲלֵיהֶם וַהֲרָגוּם:
and they are stationed opposite me: Heb. מִמֻּלִי. It [the word מִמֻּלִי] is spelled defectively [lacking a 'vav’]; they are close by, ready to cut me down, as in “for I will cut them down (אֲמִילֵם)” (Ps. 118:10). - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 4, Num. Rabbah 20:7]   וְהוּא ישֵׁב מִמֻּלִֽי: חָסֵר כְּתִיב, קְרוֹבִים הֵם לְהַכְרִיתֵנִי כְּמוֹ (תהילים קי"ח) כִּי אֲמִילַם (תנחומא):
6So now, please come and curse this people for me, for they are too powerful for me. Perhaps I will be able to wage war against them and drive them out of the land, for I know that whomever you bless is blessed and whomever you curse is cursed."   ווְעַתָּה֩ לְכָה־נָּ֨א אָֽרָה־לִּ֜י אֶת־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֗ה כִּֽי־עָצ֥וּם הוּא֙ מִמֶּ֔נִּי אוּלַ֤י אוּכַל֙ נַכֶּה־בּ֔וֹ וַֽאֲגָֽרְשֶׁ֖נּוּ מִן־הָאָ֑רֶץ כִּ֣י יָדַ֗עְתִּי אֵ֤ת אֲשֶׁר־תְּבָרֵךְ֙ מְבֹרָ֔ךְ וַֽאֲשֶׁ֥ר תָּאֹ֖ר יוּאָֽר:
Perhaps I will be able to wage war against them: Heb. נַכֶּה. I with my nation will wage war against them [hence the first person plural form of נַכֶּה]. Another interpretation: It נַכֶּה is a mishnaic term, as in, “he deducts (מְנַכֶּה) from the price for him” (B.M. 105b) [so the meaning here is,] to diminish them somewhat. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 4, Num. Rabbah 20:7]   נַכֶּה־בּוֹ: אֲנִי וְעַמִּי נַכֶּה בָהֶם. דָּבָר אַחֵר — לְשׁוֹן מִשְׁנָה הוּא (ב"מ ק"ה), מְנַכֶּה לוֹ מִן הַדָּמִים — לְחַסֵּר מֵהֶם מְעַט (תנחומא):
for I know: through the war of Sihon [against Moab] you helped him defeat Moab. - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 4, Num. Rabbah 20:7]   כִּֽי־יָדַעְתִּי וגו': עַל יְדֵי מִלְחֶמֶת סִיחוֹן שֶׁעֲזַרְתּוֹ לְהַכּוֹת אֶת מוֹאָב:
7So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian went, with magic charms in their hands, and they came to Balaam and conveyed Balak's message to him.   זוַיֵּ֨לְכ֜וּ זִקְנֵ֤י מוֹאָב֙ וְזִקְנֵ֣י מִדְיָ֔ן וּקְסָמִ֖ים בְּיָדָ֑ם וַיָּבֹ֨אוּ֙ אֶל־בִּלְעָ֔ם וַיְדַבְּר֥וּ אֵלָ֖יו דִּבְרֵ֥י בָלָֽק:
with magic charms in their hands: All types of charms, so he could not say, “I don’t have my tools with me.” Another interpretation: The elders of Midian took this omen (קֶסֶם) with them, saying, “If he comes with us this time, there is something to him, but if he pushes us off, he is useless.” Thus, when he said to them, “Lodge here for the night” (verse 8), they said, “He is hopeless” ; so they left him and went away, as it says, “The Moabite nobles stayed with Balaam” (ibid.), but the Midianite elders left. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 5, Num. Rabbah 20:8]   וּקְסָמִים בְּיָדָם: כָּל מִינֵי קְסָמִים, שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר אֵין כְּלֵי תַשְׁמִישִׁי עִמִּי; דָּבָר אַחֵר — קֶסֶם זֶה נָטְלוּ בְיָדָם זִקְנֵי מִדְיָן, אָמְרוּ אִם יָבֹא עִמָּנוּ בַּפַּעַם הַזֹּאת יֵשׁ בּוֹ מַמָּשׁ, וְאִם יִדְחֵנוּ אֵין בּוֹ תוֹעֶלֶת, לְפִיכָךְ כְּשֶׁאָמַר לָהֶם "לִינוּ פֹה הַלַּיְלָה" אָמְרוּ אֵין בּוֹ תִקְוָה, הִנִּיחוּהוּ וְהָלְכוּ לָהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "וַיֵּשְׁבוּ שָׂרֵי מוֹאָב עִם בִּלְעָם", אֲבָל זִקְנֵי מִדְיָן הָלְכוּ לָהֶם (שם):
8He said to them, "Lodge here for the night, and I will give you an answer when the Lord speaks to me." So the Moabite nobles stayed with Balaam.   חוַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵיהֶ֗ם לִ֤ינוּ פֹה֙ הַלַּ֔יְלָה וַֽהֲשִֽׁבֹתִ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ דָּבָ֔ר כַּֽאֲשֶׁ֛ר יְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֵלָ֑י וַיֵּֽשְׁב֥וּ שָׂרֵֽי־מוֹאָ֖ב עִם־בִּלְעָֽם:
Lodge here for the night: The Divine Spirit rested on him only at night, and the same applied to all gentile prophets. So it was with Laban, [God came to him] in a dream at night, as it says, “God came to Laban the Aramite in a dream at night” (Gen. 31:24), like a man going to his concubine in secret. — [Mid. Lev. Rabbah 1:13]   לִינוּ פֹה הַלַּיְלָה: אֵין רוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ שׁוֹרָה עָלָיו אֶלָּא בַּלַּיְלָה, וְכֵן לְכָל נְבִיאֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם, וְכֵן לָבָן בַּחֲלוֹם הַלַּיְלָה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית ל"א) "וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים אֶל לָבָן הָאֲרַמִּי בַּחֲלוֹם הַלַּיְלָה" כְּאָדָם הַהוֹלֵךְ אֵצֶל פִּילַגְשׁוֹ בְּהֵחָבֵא (תנחומא; ויקרא רבה א'):
when the Lord speaks to me: If He advises me to go with people like you, I will go with you. But perhaps it is beneath His dignity to allow me to go with anyone but higher ranking nobles than you.   כַּֽאֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר ה' אֵלָי: אִם יַמְלִיכֵנִי לָלֶכֶת עִם בְּנֵי אָדָם כְּמוֹתְכֶם, אֵלֵךְ עִמָּכֶם, שֶׁמָּא אֵין כְּבוֹדוֹ לְתִתִּי לַהֲלֹךְ אֶלָּא עִם שָׂרִים גְּדוֹלִים מִכֶּם:
stayed: Heb. וַיֵּשְׁבוּ, a term denoting remaining. - [Onkelos]   וַיֵּֽשְׁבוּ: לְשׁוֹן עַכָּבָה:
9God came to Balaam and said, "Who are these men with you?"   טוַיָּבֹ֥א אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶל־בִּלְעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֕אמֶר מִ֛י הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה עִמָּֽךְ:
Who are these men with you: It came to delude him. [Rashi means: “the ways of the Lord are straight, and the righteous shall walk in them, and the rebellious shall stumble on them” (Hosea 14:10). By asking, “Who are these men with you,” God meant to enter into a conversation with him, as Rashi states in the section Bereishith (3:9) on the word, “Where are you?” But it came to Balaam to delude him, for he erred.] He [Balaam] said, “Sometimes, not everything is revealed before Him, for He is not always omniscient. I will find a time when I am able to curse, and He will not realize it.”- [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 5, Num. Rabbah 20:9]   מִי הָֽאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה עִמָּֽךְ: לְהַטְעוֹתוֹ בָא, אָמַר פְּעָמִים שֶׁאֵין הַכֹּל גָּלוּי לְפָנָיו, אֵין דַּעְתּוֹ שָׁוָה עָלָיו, אַף אֲנִי אֶרְאֶה עֵת שֶׁאוּכַל לְקַלֵּל וְלֹא יָבִין (תנחומא):
10Balaam said to God, "Balak the son of Zippor the king of Moab has sent [them] to me, [saying]:   יוַיֹּ֥אמֶר בִּלְעָ֖ם אֶל־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֑ים בָּלָ֧ק בֶּן־צִפֹּ֛ר מֶ֥לֶךְ מוֹאָ֖ב שָׁלַ֥ח אֵלָֽי:
Balak the son of Zippor: Although I am not important in Your eyes, I am considered important in the eyes of the kings. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 5, Num. Rabbah 20:9]   בָּלָק בֶּן־צפור וגו': אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינִי חָשׁוּב בְּעֵינֶיךָ, חָשׁוּב אֲנִי בְּעֵינֵי הַמְּלָכִים (שם):
11"Behold the people coming out of Egypt, a nation, has covered the 'eye' of the earth. Come and curse them for me, perhaps I will be able to fight against them and drive them out."   יאהִנֵּ֤ה הָעָם֙ הַיֹּצֵ֣א מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם וַיְכַ֖ס אֶת־עֵ֣ין הָאָ֑רֶץ עַתָּ֗ה לְכָ֤ה קָֽבָה־לִּי֙ אֹת֔וֹ אוּלַ֥י אוּכַ֛ל לְהִלָּ֥חֶם בּ֖וֹ וְגֵֽרַשְׁתִּֽיו:
curse it: Heb. קָבָה לּי. [This expression used by Balaam] is stronger than אָרָה לּי [used by Balak in verse 6], for it specifies and details [the curse]- [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 5, Num. Rabbah 20:9]   קָֽבָה־לִּי: זוֹ קָשָׁה מֵאָרָה לִּי, שֶׁהוּא נוֹקֵב וּמְפָרֵשׁ (שם):
and drive it out: of the world. Balak said only, “and I will drive him out of the land” (verse 6). [His intention was:] I want only to get them away from me, but Balaam hated them more than did Balak. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 5, Num. Rabbah 20:9]   וְגֵֽרַשְׁתִּֽיו: מִן הָעוֹלָם, וּבָלָק לֹא אָמַר אֶלָּא וַאֲגָרְשֶׁנּוּ מִן הָאָרֶץ — אֵינִי מְבַקֵּשׁ אֶלָּא לְהַסִּיעָם מֵעָלַי, וּבִלְעָם הָיָה שׂוֹנְאָם יוֹתֵר מִבָּלָק (שם):
12God said to Balaam, "You shall not go with them! You shall not curse the people because they are blessed."   יבוַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֱלֹהִים֙ אֶל־בִּלְעָ֔ם לֹ֥א תֵלֵ֖ךְ עִמָּהֶ֑ם לֹ֤א תָאֹר֙ אֶת־הָעָ֔ם כִּ֥י בָר֖וּךְ הֽוּא:
You shall not go with them: He said to Him, “If so, I will curse them in my place.” He replied to him, “You shall not curse the people.” He said, “If so, I will bless them.” He replied, “They do not need your blessing, ‘for they are blessed.’ ” As the saying goes, “We say to the wasp (Other editions: the bee), ‘Neither your honey, nor your sting.’ ” - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 6, Num. Rabbah 20:10]   לֹא תֵלֵךְ עִמָּהֶם: אָמַר לוֹ אִם כֵּן אֲקַלְּלֵם בִּמְקוֹמִי, אָמַר לוֹ לא תאר את העם, אָמַר לוֹ אִם כֵּן אֲבָרְכֵם, אָמַר לוֹ אֵינָם צְרִיכִים לְבִרְכָתְךָ, כי ברוך הוא, מָשָׁל, אוֹמְרִים לְצִרְעָה לֹא מִדֻּבְשֵׁךְ וְלֹא מֵעֻקְצֵךְ (שם):
13When Balaam arose in the morning, he said to Balak's nobles, "Return to your country, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you."   יג וַיָּ֤קָם בִּלְעָם֙ בַּבֹּ֔קֶר וַיֹּ֨אמֶר֙ אֶל־שָׂרֵ֣י בָלָ֔ק לְכ֖וּ אֶל־אַרְצְכֶ֑ם כִּ֚י מֵאֵ֣ן יְהֹוָ֔ה לְתִתִּ֖י לַֽהֲלֹ֥ךְ עִמָּכֶֽם:
to go with you: Only with greater nobles than you. This shows us that he was conceited and unwilling to reveal that he was under the control of the Omnipresent except in an arrogant manner. Therefore, “But Balak sent… again…” (verse 15) - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 6, Balak Num. Rabbah 20:10]   לַֽהֲלֹךְ עִמָּכֶֽם: אֶלָּא עִם שָׂרִים גְּדוֹלִים מִכֶּם, לָמַדְנוּ שֶׁרוּחוֹ גְבוֹהָה, וְלֹא רָצָה לְגַלּוֹת שֶׁהוּא בִרְשׁוּתוֹ שֶׁל מָקוֹם, אֶלָּא בִלְשׁוֹן גַּסּוּת, לְפִיכָךְ ויסף עוד בלק:
14Moab's nobles arose and came to Balak and said, "Balaam refuses to come with us."   ידוַיָּק֨וּמוּ֙ שָׂרֵ֣י מוֹאָ֔ב וַיָּבֹ֖אוּ אֶל־בָּלָ֑ק וַיֹּ֣אמְר֔וּ מֵאֵ֥ן בִּלְעָ֖ם הֲלֹ֥ךְ עִמָּֽנוּ:
15So Balak continued to send dignitaries, more and higher in rank than these.   טווַיֹּ֥סֶף ע֖וֹד בָּלָ֑ק שְׁלֹ֣חַ שָׂרִ֔ים רַבִּ֥ים וְנִכְבָּדִ֖ים מֵאֵֽלֶּה:
16They came to Balaam and said to him, "So said Balak the son of Zippor, 'Please do not hesitate to come to me.   טזוַיָּבֹ֖אוּ אֶל־בִּלְעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֣אמְרוּ ל֗וֹ כֹּ֤ה אָמַר֙ בָּלָ֣ק בֶּן־צִפּ֔וֹר אַל־נָ֥א תִמָּנַ֖ע מֵֽהֲלֹ֥ךְ אֵלָֽי:
17For I will honor you greatly and do whatever you tell me to do. So please come and curse this people for me.'"   יזכִּֽי־כַבֵּ֤ד אֲכַבֶּדְךָ֙ מְאֹ֔ד וְכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־תֹּאמַ֥ר אֵלַ֖י אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֑ה וּלְכָה־נָּא֙ קָֽבָה־לִּ֔י אֵ֖ת הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּֽה:
For I will honor you greatly: I will give you more than you have ever received in the past. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 6, Num. Rabbah 20:10]   כִּֽי־כַבֵּד אֲכַבֶּדְךָ מְאֹד: יוֹתֵר מִמַּה שֶּׁהָיִיתָ נוֹטֵל לְשֶׁעָבַר אֲנִי נוֹתֵן לְךָ (שם):
18Balaam answered and said to Balak's servants, "Even if Balak gives me a house full of silver and gold, I cannot do anything small or great that would transgress the word of the Lord, my God.   יחוַיַּ֣עַן בִּלְעָ֗ם וַיֹּ֨אמֶר֙ אֶל־עַבְדֵ֣י בָלָ֔ק אִם־יִתֶּן־לִ֥י בָלָ֛ק מְלֹ֥א בֵית֖וֹ כֶּ֣סֶף וְזָהָ֑ב לֹ֣א אוּכַ֗ל לַֽעֲבֹר֙ אֶת־פִּ֨י יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֔י לַֽעֲשׂ֥וֹת קְטַנָּ֖ה א֥וֹ גְדוֹלָֽה:
a house full of silver and gold: This shows us that he was greedy and coveted other people’s money. He said, “He ought to give me all his silver and gold, since he has to hire many armies, and even then, it is questionable whether he will be victorious or not, whereas I will certainly succeed.”- [Mid. Tanchuma Balak; Num. Rabbah 20:10]   מְלֹא בֵיתוֹ כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב: לָמַדְנוּ שֶׁנַּפְשׁוֹ רְחָבָה וּמְחַמֵּד מָמוֹן אֲחֵרִים, אָמַר רָאוּי לוֹ לִתֵּן לִי כָּל כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב שֶׁלּוֹ, שֶׁהֲרֵי צָרִיךְ לִשְׂכֹּר חַיָּלוֹת רַבּוֹת, סָפֵק נוֹצֵחַ סָפֵק אֵינוֹ נוֹצֵחַ, וַאֲנִי וַדַּאי נוֹצֵחַ (שם):
I cannot… transgress: He unwillingly admitted that he was under the control of others. Here he prophesied that he could not annul the blessings with which the patriarchs had been blessed by the mouth of the Divine Presence. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 6, Num. Rabbah 20:10]   לֹא אוּכַל לַֽעֲבֹר: עַל כָּרְחוֹ גִלָּה שֶׁהוּא בִרְשׁוּת אַחֵרִים, וְנִתְנַבֵּא כָאן שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְבַטֵּל הַבְּרָכוֹת שֶׁנִּתְבָּרְכוּ הָאָבוֹת מִפִּי הַשְּׁכִינָה (שם):
19Now, you too, please remain here overnight, and I will know what the Lord will continue to speak with me."   יטוְעַתָּ֗ה שְׁב֨וּ נָ֥א בָזֶ֛ה גַּם־אַתֶּ֖ם הַלָּ֑יְלָה וְאֵ֣דְעָ֔ה מַה־יֹּסֵ֥ף יְהֹוָ֖ה דַּבֵּ֥ר עִמִּֽי:
you too: His mouth tripped him up [into telling them the truth]: You too, will end up leaving disappointed like the first group. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 6, Num. Rabbah 20:10]   גַּם־אַתֶּם: פִּיו הִכְשִׁילוֹ — גַּם אַתֶּם סוֹפְכֶם לֵילֵךְ בְּפַחֵי נֶפֶשׁ כָּרִאשׁוֹנִים:
what [the Lord] will continue: He will not change His mind from a blessing to a curse, but if only He does not continue to bless [them]! Here he prophesied that He [God] would add to their blessings through him. — [See Mid. Tanchuma Balak 6, Num. Rabbah 20:10]   מַה־יֹּסֵף: לֹא יְשַׁנֶּה דְבָרָיו מִבְּרָכָה לִקְלָלָה, הַלְוַאי שֶׁלֹּא יוֹסִיף לְבָרֵךְ; כָּאן נִתְנַבֵּא שֶׁעָתִיד לְהוֹסִיף לָהֶם בְּרָכוֹת עַל יָדוֹ (שם):
20God came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If these men have come to call for you, arise and go with them, but the word I speak to you-that you shall do."   כוַיָּבֹ֨א אֱלֹהִ֥ים | אֶל־בִּלְעָם֘ לַ֒יְלָה֒ וַיֹּ֣אמֶר ל֗וֹ אִם־לִקְרֹ֤א לְךָ֙ בָּ֣אוּ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים ק֖וּם לֵ֣ךְ אִתָּ֑ם וְאַ֗ךְ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֛ר אֲשֶׁר־אֲדַבֵּ֥ר אֵלֶ֖יךָ אֹת֥וֹ תַֽעֲשֶֽׂה:
If these men have come to call for you: If the calling is for you, and you expect payment for it, arise and go with them.   אִם־לִקְרֹא לְךָ: אִם הַקְּרִיאָה שֶׁלְּךָ וְסָבוּר אַתָּה לִטֹּל עָלֶיהָ שָׂכָר, קום לך אתם:
but: In spite of yourself, “the word I speak to you-that you shall do.” Nevertheless, “Balaam went.” He said, "Perhaps I can persuade Him and He will consent [to my cursing them]."   וְאַךְ: עַל כָּרְחֲךָ את הדבר אשר אדבר אליך אתו תעשה; וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן וַיֵּלֶךְ בִּלְעָם, אָמַר שֶׁמָּא אֲפַתֶּנּוּ וְיִתְרַצֶּה:
21In the morning Balaam arose, saddled his she-donkey and went with the Moabite dignitaries.   כאוַיָּ֤קָם בִּלְעָם֙ בַּבֹּ֔קֶר וַיַּֽחֲב֖שׁ אֶת־אֲתֹנ֑וֹ וַיֵּ֖לֶךְ עִם־שָׂרֵ֥י מוֹאָֽב:
saddled his she-donkey: From here [we learn] that hate causes a disregard for the standard [of dignified conduct], for he saddled it himself. The Holy One, blessed is He, said, “Wicked one, their father Abraham has already preceded you, as it says, 'Abraham arose in the morning and saddled his donkey’” (Gen. 22:3). - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 8, Num. Rabbah 20:12]   וַיַּֽחֲבשׁ אֶת־אֲתֹנוֹ: מִכָּאן שֶׁהַשִּׂנְאָה מְקַלְקֶלֶת אֶת הַשּׁוּרָה, שֶׁחָבַשׁ הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ; אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רָשָׁע כְּבָר קְדָמְךָ אַבְרָהָם אֲבִיהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית כ"ב) "וַיַּשְׁכֵּם אַבְרָהָם בַּבֹּקֶר וַיַּחֲבֹשׁ אֶת חֲמֹרוֹ" (תנחומא):
with the Moabite dignitaries: His intent was the same as theirs. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 8, Num. Rabbah 20:12]   עִם־שָׂרֵי מוֹאָֽב: לִבּוֹ כְּלִבָּם שָׁוֶה:
22God's wrath flared because he was going, and an angel of the Lord stationed himself on the road to thwart him, and he was riding on his she-donkey, and his two servants were with him.   כבוַיִּֽחַר־אַ֣ף אֱלֹהִים֘ כִּֽי־הוֹלֵ֣ךְ הוּא֒ וַיִּתְיַצֵּ֞ב מַלְאַ֧ךְ יְהֹוָ֛ה בַּדֶּ֖רֶךְ לְשָׂטָ֣ן ל֑וֹ וְהוּא֙ רֹכֵ֣ב עַל־אֲתֹנ֔וֹ וּשְׁנֵ֥י נְעָרָ֖יו עִמּֽוֹ:
because he was going: He saw that this was considered evil by the Omnipresent, yet he longed to go.   כִּֽי־הוֹלֵךְ הוּא: רָאָה שֶׁהַדָּבָר רַע בְּעֵינֵי הַמָּקוֹם וְנִתְאַוָּה לֵילֵךְ:
to thwart him: It was an angel of mercy [as the Name vuvh denotes the attribute of mercy], and he wanted to prevent him from sinning, for should he sin, he would perish. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 8, Num. Rabbah 20:13]   לְשָׂטָן לוֹ: מַלְאָךְ שֶׁל רַחֲמִים הָיָה, וְהָיָה רוֹצֶה לְמָנְעוֹ מִלַּחֲטֹא, שֶׁלֹּא יֶחֱטָא וְיֹאבַד (שם):
and his two servants were with him: From here we learn that a distinguished person who embarks on a journey should take two people with him to attend him, and then they can attend each other [so that when one is occupied, the other takes his place]. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 8, Num. Rabbah 20:13]   וּשְׁנֵי נְעָרָיו עִמּֽוֹ: מִכָּאן לְאָדָם חָשׁוּב הַיּוֹצֵא לַדֶּרֶךְ יוֹלִיךְ עִמּוֹ שְׁנֵי אֲנָשִׁים לְשַׁמְּשׁוֹ, וְחוֹזְרִים וּמְשַׁמְּשִׁים זֶה אֶת זֶה (שם):
23The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord stationed on the road with his sword drawn in his hand; so the she-donkey turned aside from the road and went into a field. Balaam beat the she-donkey to get it back onto the road.   כגוַתֵּ֣רֶא הָֽאָתוֹן֩ אֶת־מַלְאַ֨ךְ יְהֹוָ֜ה נִצָּ֣ב בַּדֶּ֗רֶךְ וְחַרְבּ֤וֹ שְׁלוּפָה֙ בְּיָד֔וֹ וַתֵּ֤ט הָֽאָתוֹן֙ מִן־הַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וַתֵּ֖לֶךְ בַּשָּׂדֶ֑ה וַיַּ֤ךְ בִּלְעָם֙ אֶת־הָ֣אָת֔וֹן לְהַטֹּתָ֖הּ הַדָּֽרֶךְ:
The she-donkey saw: But he [Balaam] did not see, for God permitted a beast to perceive more than a man. Since he [man] possesses intelligence, he would become insane if he saw demons.   וַתֵּרֶא הָֽאָתוֹן: וְהוּא לֹא רָאָה שֶׁנָּתַן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רְשׁוּת לַבְּהֵמָה לִרְאוֹת יוֹתֵר מִן הָאָדָם, שֶׁמִּתוֹךְ שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ דַּעַת, תִּטָּרֵף דַּעְתּוֹ כְּשֶׁיִּרְאֶה מַזִּיקִין:
with his sword drawn in his hand: He said, “This wicked man has forsaken the tools of his own art, for the weapon of the heathen nations is the sword, and he is coming against them with [the power of] his mouth, which is their specialty. I too, will take hold of his (art) and accost him with his own art.” This indeed was his fate [as it says], “and Balaam the son of Beor they slew with the sword” (31:8). - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 8, Num. Rabbah 20:13]   וְחַרְבּוֹ שְׁלוּפָה בְּיָדוֹ: אָמַר, רָשָׁע זֶה הִנִּיחַ כְּלִי אֻמָּנוּתוֹ, שֶׁכְּלִי זֵינָן שֶׁל אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם בַּחֶרֶב, וְהוּא בָא עֲלֵיהֶם בְּפִיו שֶׁהוּא אֻמָּנוּת שֶׁלָּהֶם, אַף אֲנִי אֶתְפֹּשׂ אֶת שֶׁלּוֹ וְאָבֹא עָלָיו בְּאֻמָּנוּתוֹ, וְכֵן סוֹפוֹ — "וְאֵת בִּלְעָם בֶּן בְּעוֹר הָרְגוּ בֶחָרֶב" (במדבר ל"א):
24The angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, with a fence on this side and a fence on that side.   כדוַיַּֽעֲמֹד֙ מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֔ה בְּמִשְׁע֖וֹל הַכְּרָמִ֑ים גָּדֵ֥ר מִזֶּ֖ה וְגָדֵ֥ר מִזֶּֽה:
in a path: Heb. בְּמִשְׁעוֹל, as the Targum [Onkelos] renders, בִּשְׁבִיל, in a path. Similarly, “if the dust of Samaria will suffice for the soles (לִשְׁעָלִים)” (I Kings 20:10) -the dust that sticks to the soles of the feet while walking. Similarly, “Who measured the waters with his step (בְּשָׁעֳלוֹ)?” (Isa. 40:12) -with his feet and with his step [as one measures by pacing].   בְּמִשְׁעוֹל: כְּתַרְגּוּמוֹ "בִּשְׁבִיל", וְכֵן "אִם יִשְׂפֹּק עֲפַר שֹׁמְרוֹן לִשְׁעָלִים" (מלכים א כ') — עָפָר הַנִּדְבָּק בְּכַפּוֹת הָרַגְלַיִם בְּהִלּוּכָן, וְכֵן "מִי מָדַד בְּשָׁעֳלוֹ מַיִם" (ישעיהו מ') — בְּרַגְלָיו וּבְהִלּוּכוֹ:
with a fence on either side: Heb. גָּדֵר. Unless specified otherwise, גָּדֵר refers to one made of stone.   גָּדֵר מִזֶּה וְגָדֵר מִזֶּה: סְתָם גָּדֵר שֶׁל אֲבָנִים הוּא:
25The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord, and she was pressed against the wall. She pressed Balaam's leg against the wall, and he beat her again.   כהוַתֵּ֨רֶא הָֽאָת֜וֹן אֶת־מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֗ה וַתִּלָּחֵץ֙ אֶל־הַקִּ֔יר וַתִּלְחַ֛ץ אֶת־רֶ֥גֶל בִּלְעָ֖ם אֶל־הַקִּ֑יר וַיֹּ֖סֶף לְהַכֹּתָֽהּ:
She was pressed: וַתִּלָּחֵץ. [The ‘ niphal’ form denotes] she herself.   וַתִּלָּחֵץ: הִיא עַצְמָהּ:
She pressed: וַתִּלְחַץ. [The ‘kal’ form denotes that she pressed] something else, namely, Balaam’s leg.   וַתִּלְחַץ: אֶת אֲחֵרִים, אֶת רֶגֶל בִּלְעָם:
26The angel of the Lord continued going ahead, and he stood in a narrow place, where there was no room to turn right or left.   כווַיּ֥וֹסֶף מַלְאַךְ־יְהֹוָ֖ה עֲב֑וֹר וַיַּֽעֲמֹד֙ בְּמָק֣וֹם צָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֛ר אֵֽין־דֶּ֥רֶךְ לִנְט֖וֹת יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאול:
The angel of the Lord continued going ahead: He continued further ahead of him, [that is,] to be before him in another spot, as in, “he [Jacob] went ahead (עָבַר) of them” (Gen. 33:3). The Midrash Aggadah in Tanchuma (8) [asks]: What made him stop in three places? For he [the angel] showed him [Balaam] symbols alluding to the patriarchs.   וַיּוֹסֶף מַלְאַךְ־ה' עֲבוֹר: לַעֲבֹר עוֹד לְפָנָיו — לַהֲלֹךְ לִהְיוֹת לְפָנָיו בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר, כְּמוֹ "וְהוּא עָבַר לִפְנֵיהֶם" (בראשית ל"ג); וּמִדְרַשׁ אַגָּדָה יֵשׁ בְּתַנְחוּמָא: מָה רָאָה לַעֲמֹד בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה מְקוֹמוֹת? סִימָנֵי אָבוֹת הֶרְאָהוּ:
27The she-donkey saw the angel of the Lord, and it crouched down under Balaam. Balaam's anger flared, and he beat the she-donkey with a stick.   כזוַתֵּ֤רֶא הָֽאָתוֹן֙ אֶת־מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֔ה וַתִּרְבַּ֖ץ תַּ֣חַת בִּלְעָ֑ם וַיִּֽחַר־אַ֣ף בִּלְעָ֔ם וַיַּ֥ךְ אֶת־הָֽאָת֖וֹן בַּמַּקֵּֽל:
28The Lord opened the mouth of the she-donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?"   כחוַיִּפְתַּ֥ח יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶת־פִּ֣י הָֽאָת֑וֹן וַתֹּ֤אמֶר לְבִלְעָם֙ מֶה־עָשִׂ֣יתִי לְךָ֔ כִּ֣י הִכִּיתָ֔נִי זֶ֖ה שָׁל֥שׁ רְגָלִֽים:
these three times: He hinted to him, You seek to uproot a nation which celebrates three festivals (שָׁלשׁ רְגָלִים) in a year?- [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 9, Num. Rabbah 20:14]   זֶה שָׁלשׁ רְגָלִֽים: רָמַז לוֹ: אַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ לַעֲקֹר אֻמָּה הַחוֹגֶגֶת שָׁלֹשׁ רְגָלִים בַּשָּׁנָה? (תנחומא):
29Balaam said to the she-donkey, "For you have humiliated me; if I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now."   כטוַיֹּ֤אמֶר בִּלְעָם֙ לָֽאָת֔וֹן כִּ֥י הִתְעַלַּ֖לְתְּ בִּ֑י ל֤וּ יֶשׁ־חֶ֨רֶב֙ בְּיָדִ֔י כִּ֥י עַתָּ֖ה הֲרַגְתִּֽיךְ:
you have humiliated: Heb. הִתְעַלַּלְתָּ. As the Targum [Onkelos] renders it, a term denoting shame and disgrace.   הִתְעַלַּלְתְּ: כְּתַרְגּוּמוֹ, לְשׁוֹן גְּנַאי וּבִזָּיוֹן:
If I had a sword in my hand: This matter made him greatly contemptible in the eyes of the dignitaries. This man was going to kill an entire nation with his mouth, yet for this she-donkey he needed weapons!- [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 9, Num. Rabbah 20:14]   לוּ יֶשׁ־חֶרֶב בְּיָדִי: גְּנוּת גְּדוֹלָה הָיָה לוֹ דָבָר זֶה בְּעֵינֵי הַשָּׂרִים — זֶה הוֹלֵךְ לַהֲרֹג אֻמָּה שְׁלֵמָה בְּפִיו וּלְאָתוֹן זוֹ צָרִיךְ כְּלֵי זַיִן:
30The she-donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your she-donkey on which you have ridden since you first started until now? Have I been accustomed to do this to you?" He said, "No."   לוַתֹּ֨אמֶר הָֽאָת֜וֹן אֶל־בִּלְעָ֗ם הֲלוֹא֩ אָֽנֹכִ֨י אֲתֹֽנְךָ֜ אֲשֶׁר־רָכַ֣בְתָּ עָלַ֗י מֵעֽוֹדְךָ֙ עַד־הַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה הַֽהַסְכֵּ֣ן הִסְכַּ֔נְתִּי לַֽעֲשׂ֥וֹת לְךָ֖ כֹּ֑ה וַיֹּ֖אמֶר לֹֽא:
Have I become accustomed: Heb. הַהַסְכֵּן הִסְכַּנְתִּי. As the Targum [Onkelos] renders [lit., have I learned to do this?]. Similarly, “Does man learn (יִסְכָּן) for God?” (Job 22:2). Our Rabbis, however, expounded this verse in the Talmud: They [the Moabite dignitaries] said to him, “Why aren’t you riding on a horse?” He [Balaam] said to them, “I sent it out to pasture.” [Immediately, the she-donkey retorted, “Am I not your she-donkey?” He said to her, “Just for bearing burdens.” She retorted, “on which you have ridden.” He said to her, “Only on occasion.” She retorted, “since you first started until now, and not only that but I provide you with riding by day, and with intimacy at night, (interpreting Heb. הַהַסְכֵּן הִסְכַּנְתִּי as ”I heated you up,") as is stated in Tractate Avodah Zarah [4b].   הַֽהַסְכֵּן הִסְכַּנְתִּי: כְּתַרְגּוּמוֹ, וְכֵן "הַלְאֵל יִסְכָּן גָּבֶר" (איוב כ"ב); וְרַבּוֹתֵינוּ דָרְשׁוּ מִקְרָא זֶה בַּתַּלְמוּד, אָמְרוּ לֵיהּ מַאי טַעְמָא לָא רְכַבְתְּ אַסּוּסְיָא? אֲמַר לְהוּ בִּרְטִיבָא שְׁדַאי לֵיהּ כו', כִּדְאִיתָא בְמַסֶּכֶת עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה (דף ד'):
31The Lord opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a sword drawn in his hand. He bowed and prostrated himself on his face.   לאוַיְגַ֣ל יְהֹוָה֘ אֶת־עֵינֵ֣י בִלְעָם֒ וַיַּ֞רְא אֶת־מַלְאַ֤ךְ יְהֹוָה֙ נִצָּ֣ב בַּדֶּ֔רֶךְ וְחַרְבּ֥וֹ שְׁלֻפָ֖ה בְּיָד֑וֹ וַיִּקֹּ֥ד וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ לְאַפָּֽיו:
32The angel of the Lord said to him, "Why have you beaten your she-donkey these three times? Behold, I have came out to thwart you, for the one embarking on the journey has hastened against me.   לבוַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ מַלְאַ֣ךְ יְהֹוָ֔ה עַל־מָ֗ה הִכִּ֨יתָ֙ אֶת־אֲתֹ֣נְךָ֔ זֶ֖ה שָׁל֣וֹשׁ רְגָלִ֑ים הִנֵּ֤ה אָֽנֹכִי֙ יָצָ֣אתִי לְשָׂטָ֔ן כִּֽי־יָרַ֥ט הַדֶּ֖רֶךְ לְנֶגְדִּֽי:
for the one embarking on the journey has hastened against me: Heb. יָרַט. Our Rabbis, the Sages of the Mishnah, expounded this word (יָרַט) as an acronym [of the words] יָרְאָה רָאֲתָה נָטְתָה, “She feared, she saw, she turned aside” (Shab. 105a), because the course you took is contrary to me, that is to say, you [made this journey] to make me vengeful and provoke me. According to the literal meaning [it means חָרֵד], “because the journey was hurried against me.” The term יָרַט is cognate with רָטַט, rapid movement, [meaning,] for I saw that the one embarking on the journey [Balaam] has hastened and hurried on his way, in order to anger me and provoke me. The verse is elliptical [as it should read בַּעַל הַדֶּרֶך‏ֶ, the one embarking on the journey]. Similar is וַתְּכַל דָּוִד “David longed” (II Sam. 13:39), which means וַתְּכַל נֶפֶשׁ דָּוִד, “David’s soul longed,” [as is apparent from the feminine prefix of the verb וַתְּכַל. Another interpretation: [The term] יָרַט denotes desire. Similar is, “through the wicked He placates me (יִרְטֵנִי)” (Job 16:11); He appeases me and comforts me through the wicked, who do nothing but provoke me. [Hence, the verse is rendered: the one who embarked on the journey desired to provoke me.] - [Machbereth Menachem p. 163]   כִּֽי־יָרַט הַדֶּרֶךְ לְנֶגְדִּֽי: רַבּוֹתֵינוּ חַכְמֵי הַמִּשְׁנָה דְּרָשׁוּהוּ נוֹטָרִיקוֹן — יָרְאָה, רָאֲתָה, נָטְתָה בִּשְׁבִיל שֶׁהַדֶּרֶךְ לְנֶגְדִּי (שבת ק"ה), כְּלוֹמַר לְקִנְאָתִי וּלְהַקְנִיטֵנִי; וּלְפִי מַשְׁמָעוֹ כִּי חָרַד הַדֶּרֶךְ לְנֶגְדִּי, לְשׁוֹן רֶטֶט — כִּי רָאִיתִי בַעַל הַדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁחָרַד וּמִהֵר הַדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁהוּא לְכַעְסִי וּלְהַמְרוֹתִי, וּמִקְרָא קָצָר הוּא, כְּמוֹ "וַתְּכַל דָּוִד" (שמואל ב י"ג); לִישָׁנָא אַחֲרִינָא יָרַט לְשׁוֹן רָצוֹן, וְכֵן "עַל יְדֵי רְשָׁעִים יִרְטֵנִי" (איוב ט"ז) — מְפַיֵּס וּמְנַחֵם אוֹתִי עַל יְדֵי רְשָׁעִים שֶׁאֵינָן אֶלָּא מַקְנִיטִים:
33When the she-donkey saw me, it turned aside these three times. Had she not turned aside before me, now also I would also have killed you and spared her [the she-donkey]."   לגוַתִּרְאַ֨נִי֙ הָֽאָת֔וֹן וַתֵּ֣ט לְפָנַ֔י זֶ֖ה שָׁל֣שׁ רְגָלִ֑ים אוּלַי֙ נָֽטְתָ֣ה מִפָּנַ֔י כִּ֥י עַתָּ֛ה גַּם־אֹֽתְכָ֥ה הָרַ֖גְתִּי וְאוֹתָ֥הּ הֶֽחֱיֵֽיתִי:
Had she not turned: Heb. אוּלַי, like לוּלֵא ‘if not.’ Sometimes אוּלַי is used in the sense of לוּלֵא.   אוּלַי נָֽטְתָה: כְּמוֹ לוּלֵי, פְּעָמִים שֶׁאוּלַי מְשַׁמֵּשׁ בִּלְשׁוֹן לוּלֵי:
I would also have killed you: Heb. גַּם אֹתְכָה הָרַגְתִּי, I would have killed you also. This is a transposed verse, like הָרַגְתִּי אֹת‏ ְגַּם, I would also have killed you, meaning to say: Not only would the delay have befallen you through me but even [your] death.   גַּם־אֹֽתְכָה הָרַגְתִּי: הֲרֵי זֶה מִקְרָא מְסֹרָס וְהוּא כְמוֹ גַּם הָרַגְתִּי אוֹתְךָ, כְּלוֹמַר, לֹא הָעַכָּבָה בִּלְבַד קְרָאַתְךָ עַל יָדִי, כִּי גַם הַהֲרִיגָה:
and spared her: But now, since she spoke and rebuked you, and you could not withstand her rebuke, as it is written, “He said, No,” therefore, I have killed her, so that [people] should not say, “This is the one that silenced Balaam with her rebuke, and he could not respond,” for the Omnipresent shows regard for human dignity. Similarly, “you shall kill the woman and the animal [through which the sin was committed]” (Lev. 20:16), and, “you shall kill the animal” (ibid. 20:15) - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 9, Num. Rabbah 20:14]   וְאוֹתָהּ הֶֽחֱיֵֽיתִי: וְעַתָּה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁדִּבְּרָה וְהוֹכִיחַתְךָ, וְלֹא יָכֹלְתָּ לַעֲמֹד בְּתוֹכַחְתָּהּ — כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב ויאמר לא — הֲרַגְתִּיהָ, שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ, זוֹ הִיא שֶׁסִּלְּקָה בִלְעָם בְּתוֹכַחְתָּהּ וְלֹא יָכוֹל לְהָשִׁיב, שֶׁחָס הַמָּקוֹם עַל כְּבוֹד הַבְּרִיּוֹת, וְכֵן (ויקרא כ') "וְהָרַגְתָּ אֶת הָאִשָּׁה וְאֶת הַבְּהֵמָה", וְכֵן (שם) "אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה תַּהֲרֹגוּ" (תנחומא):
34Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, "I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing on the road before me. Now, if it displeases you, I will return."   לדוַיֹּ֨אמֶר בִּלְעָ֜ם אֶל־מַלְאַ֤ךְ יְהֹוָה֙ חָטָ֔אתִי כִּ֚י לֹ֣א יָדַ֔עְתִּי כִּ֥י אַתָּ֛ה נִצָּ֥ב לִקְרָאתִ֖י בַּדָּ֑רֶךְ וְעַתָּ֛ה אִם־רַ֥ע בְּעֵינֶ֖יךָ אָשׁ֥וּבָה לִּֽי:
for I did not know: This too is a [mark of] disgrace for him, but he was forced to concede, for [earlier] he had boasted that he was aware of the thoughts of the Most High, but now his mouth professed, “I did not know.” - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 9]   כִּי לֹא יָדַעְתִּי: גַּם זֶה גְנוּתוֹ, וְעַל כָּרְחוֹ הוֹדָה, שֶׁהוּא הָיָה מִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן, וּפִיו הֵעִיד לֹא יָדַעְתִּי (שם):
if it displeases you, I will return: This reply was a challenge against the Omnipresent. He [Balaam] said to him, “He [God] Himself commanded me to go, yet you, an angel, annul His words. This is His custom: He says one thing and an angel retracts it. He said to Abraham, ”Take now your son“ (Gen. 22:2), and through an angel He annulled His words. I, too; if it displeases you, I will have to return.”- [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 10, Num. Rabbah 20:15]   אִם־רַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ אָשׁוּבָה לִּֽי: לְהַתְרִיס נֶגֶד הַמָּקוֹם הִיא תְשׁוּבָה זוֹ, אָמַר לוֹ הוּא בְעַצְמוֹ צִוַּנִי לָלֶכֶת וְאַתָּה מַלְאָךְ מְבַטֵּל אֶת דְּבָרָיו, לָמוּד הוּא בְּכָךְ שֶׁאוֹמֵר דָּבָר וּמַלְאָךְ מַחֲזִירוֹ, אָמַר לְאַבְרָהָם "קַח נָא אֶת בִּנְךָ" וְגוֹ' (בראשית כ"ב), וְעַל יְדֵי מַלְאָךְ בִּטֵּל אֶת דְּבָרוֹ, אַף אֲנִי אִם רַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ צָרִיךְ אֲנִי לָשׁוּב:
35The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, "Go with these men, but the word I will speak to you-that you shall speak." So Balaam went with Balak's dignitaries.   להוַיֹּ֩אמֶר֩ מַלְאַ֨ךְ יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־בִּלְעָ֗ם לֵ֚ךְ עִם־הָ֣אֲנָשִׁ֔ים וְאֶ֗פֶס אֶת־הַדָּבָ֛ר אֲשֶׁר־אֲדַבֵּ֥ר אֵלֶ֖יךָ אֹת֣וֹ תְדַבֵּ֑ר וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ בִּלְעָ֖ם עִם־שָׂרֵ֥י בָלָֽק:
Go with these men: A man is led along the path he wishes to follow. — [Mak. 10b]   לֵךְ עִם־הָאֲנָשִׁים: בַּדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁאָדָם רוֹצֶה לֵילֵךְ בָּהּ, מוֹלִיכִין אוֹתוֹ:
(Go with the men: For your portion is with them, and you are destined to perish from the world. — [Mak. 10b])   לֵךְ עִם־הָאֲנָשִׁים: כִּי חֶלְקְךָ עִמָּהֶם וְסוֹפְךָ לֹאבַד מִן הָעוֹלָם (מכות י'):
but: Against your will, “the word I will speak [to you-that you shall speak.”   וְאֶפֶס: עַל כָּרְחֲךָ את הדבר אשר אדבר וגו':
with Balak’s dignitaries: He was glad to curse them as much as they were. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 10, Num. Rabbah 20:15]   עִם־שָׂרֵי בָלָֽק: שָֹמַח לְקַלְּלֵם כְּמוֹתָם:
36Balak heard that Balaam was coming; so he went out toward him to the city of Moab which is on the border of Arnon-at the extreme edge of the border.   לווַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע בָּלָ֖ק כִּ֣י בָ֣א בִלְעָ֑ם וַיֵּצֵ֨א לִקְרָאת֜וֹ אֶל־עִ֣יר מוֹאָ֗ב אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־גְּב֣וּל אַרְנֹ֔ן אֲשֶׁ֖ר בִּקְצֵ֥ה הַגְּבֽוּל:
Balak heard: He sent messengers ahead to inform him. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 10, Num. Rabbah 20:16]   וַיִּשְׁמַע בָּלָק: שָׁלַח שְׁלוּחִים לְבַשְּׂרוֹ:
to the city of Moab: Its capital, its most important city, as if to say, “Look what these [people] are trying to uproot!” - [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 10, Num. Rabbah 15]   אֶל־עִיר מוֹאָב: אֶל מֶטְרוֹפּוֹלִין שֶׁלּוֹ — עִיר הַחֲשׁוּבָה שֶׁלּוֹ, לוֹמַר רְאֵה מָה אֵלּוּ מְבַקְשִׁים לַעֲקֹר (תנחומא):
37Balak said to Balaam, "Did I not send to you to call for you? Why did you not come to me? Am I indeed incapable of honoring you?"   לזוַיֹּ֨אמֶר בָּלָ֜ק אֶל־בִּלְעָ֗ם הֲלֹא֩ שָׁלֹ֨חַ שָׁלַ֤חְתִּי אֵלֶ֨יךָ֙ לִקְרֹא־לָ֔ךְ לָ֥מָּה לֹֽא־הָלַ֖כְתָּ אֵלָ֑י הַֽאֻמְנָ֔ם לֹ֥א אוּכַ֖ל כַּבְּדֶֽךָ:
Am I indeed incapable of honoring you?: He prophesied that in the end he would leave him in disgrace. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 10, Num. Rabbah 20:16]   הַֽאֻמְנָם לֹֽא־אוּכַל כַּבְּדֶֽךָ: נִתְנַבֵּא שֶׁסּוֹפוֹ לָצֵאת מֵעִמּוֹ בְקָלוֹן (שם):
38Balaam said to Balak, "Behold I have come to you, do I have any power to say anything? The word God puts into my mouth-that I will speak."   לחוַיֹּ֨אמֶר בִּלְעָ֜ם אֶל־בָּלָ֗ק הִֽנֵּה־בָ֨אתִי֙ אֵלֶ֔יךָ עַתָּ֕ה הֲיָכֹ֥ל אוּכַ֖ל דַּבֵּ֣ר מְא֑וּמָה הַדָּבָ֗ר אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָשִׂ֧ים אֱלֹהִ֛ים בְּפִ֖י אֹת֥וֹ אֲדַבֵּֽר:
39Balaam went with Balak, and they arrived at Kiryath Huzoth [a city of streets].   לט וַיֵּ֥לֶךְ בִּלְעָ֖ם עִם־בָּלָ֑ק וַיָּבֹ֖אוּ קִרְיַ֥ת חֻצֽוֹת:
Kiryath Huzoth: A city full of markets, with men, women and children in its streets, as if to say, see, and have pity, so that all these people are not annihilated. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 11, Num. Rabbah 20:17]   קִרְיַת חֻצֽוֹת: עִיר מְלֵאָה שְׁוָקִים, אֲנָשִׁים וָטַף בְּחוּצוֹתֶיהָ, לוֹמַר רְאֵה וְרַחֵם שֶׁלֹּא יֵעָקְרוּ אֵלּוּ:
40Balak slaughtered cattle and sheep and sent [some] to Balaam and to the dignitaries with him.   מוַיִּזְבַּ֥ח בָּלָ֖ק בָּקָ֣ר וָצֹ֑אן וַיְשַׁלַּ֣ח לְבִלְעָ֔ם וְלַשָּׂרִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר אִתּֽוֹ:
cattle and sheep: A small number, only one bull and one sheep. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 11, Num. Rabbah 20:17]   בָּקָר וָצֹאן: דָּבָר מוּעָט:
41And in the morning Balak took Balaam and led him up to Bamoth Baal, and from there he saw part of the people.   מאוַיְהִ֣י בַבֹּ֔קֶר וַיִּקַּ֤ח בָּלָק֙ אֶת־בִּלְעָ֔ם וַיַּֽעֲלֵ֖הוּ בָּמ֣וֹת בָּ֑עַל וַיַּ֥רְא מִשָּׁ֖ם קְצֵ֥ה הָעָֽם:
Bamoth Baal: As the Targum [Onkelos] understands it: “to the heights of his deity,” [Baal being] the name of a deity.   בָּמוֹת בָּעַל: כְּתַרְגּוּמוֹ, "לְרָמַת דַּחַלְתֵּהּ", שֵׁם עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה: