Numbers Chapter 22

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]   ויחבש את אתנו: מכאן שהשנאה מקלקלת את השורה, שחבש הוא בעצמו. אמר הקב"ה רשע כבר קדמך אברהם אביהם, שנאמר (בראשית כב, ג) וישכם אברהם בבקר ויחבוש את חמורו:
with the Moabite dignitaries: His intent was the same as theirs. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 8, Num. Rabbah 20:12]   עם שרי מואב: לבו כלבם שוה:
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.   כי הולך הוא: ראה שהדבר רע בעיני המקום ונתאוה לילך:
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]   לשטן לו: מלאך של רחמים היה והיה רוצה למנעו מלחטוא, שלא יחטא ויאבד:
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]   ושני נעריו עמו: מכאן לאדם חשוב היוצא לדרך יוליך עמו שני אנשים לשמשו וחוזרים ומשמשים זה את זה:
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.   ותרא האתון: והוא לא ראה, שנתן הקב"ה רשות לבהמה לראות יותר מן האדם, שמתוך שיש בו דעת תטרף דעתו כשיראה מזיקין:
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]   וחרבו שלופה בידו: אמר רשע זה הניח כלי אומנותו, שכלי זיינן של אומות העולם בחרב, והוא בא עליהם בפיו, שהוא אומנות שלהם, אף אני אתפוש את שלו ואבוא עליו באומנותו. וכן היה סופו (במדבר לא, ח) ואת בלעם בן בעור הרגו בחרב:
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].   במשעול: כתרגומו בשביל. וכן (מ"א כ, י) אם ישפוק עפר שומרון לשעלים. עפר הנדבק בכפות הרגלים בהלוכן, וכן (ישעיה מ, יב) מי מדד בשעלו מים, ברגליו ובהלוכו:
with a fence on either side: Heb. גָּדֵר. Unless specified otherwise, גָּדֵר refers to one made of stone.   גדר מזה וגדר מזה: סתם גדר של אבנים הוא:
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.   ותלחץ: היא עצמה:
She pressed: וַתִּלְחַץ. [The ‘kal’ form denotes that she pressed] something else, namely, Balaam’s leg.   ותלחץ: את אחרים את רגל בלעם:
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.   ויוסף מלאך ה' עבור: לעבור עוד לפניו להלוך להיות לפניו במקום אחר, כמו (בראשית לג, ג) והוא עבר לפניהם. ומדרש אגדה יש בתנחומא מה ראה לעמוד בשלשה מקומות, סימני אבות הראהו:
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]   זה שלש רגלים: רמז לו אתה מבקש לעקור אומה החוגגת שלש רגלים בשנה:
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.   התעללת: כתרגומו לשון גנאי ובזיון:
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]   לו יש חרב בידי: גנות גדולה היה לו דבר זה בעיני השרים, זה הולך להרוג אומה שלמה בפיו, ולאתון זו צריך לכלי זיין:
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].   ההסכן הסכנתי: כתרגומו, וכן (איוב כב, ב) הלאל יסכן גבר. ורבותינו דרשו מקרא זה בגמרא אמרו ליה, מאי טעמא לא רכבת אסוסיא. אמר להון ברטיבא שדאי ליה וכו', כדאיתא במסכת עבודה זרה (ד ב):
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 traveler 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. 125a), 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 הַדֶּר‏ֶ, 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]   כי ירט הדרך לנגדי: רבותינו חכמי המשנה דרשוהו (שבת קה א) נוטריקון יראה ראתה, נטתה, בשביל שהדרך לנגדי, כלומר לקנאתי ולהקניטני. ולפי משמעו כי חרד הדרך לנגדי לשון רטט, כי ראיתי בעל הדרך שחרד ומיהר הדרך שהוא לכעסי ולהמראתי. ומקרא קצר הוא, כמו (ש"ב יג, לט) ותכל דוד. לישנא אחרינא ירט לשון רצון, וכן (איוב טז, יא) ועל ידי רשעים ירטני, מפייס ומנחם אותי על ידי רשעים, שאינן אלא מקניטים:
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.   אולי נטתה: כמו לולא, פעמים שאולי משמש בלשון לולא:
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.   גם אתכה הרגתי: הרי זה מקרא מסורס, והוא כמו גם הרגתי אותך, כלומר לא העכבה בלבד קראתך על ידי, כי גם ההריגה:
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]   ואותה החייתי: ועתה מפני שדברה והוכיחתך ולא יכולת לעמוד בתוכחתה, כמו שכתוב (פסוק ל) ויאמר לא. על כן הרגתיה, שלא יאמרו זו היא שסלקה את בלעם בתוכחתה ולא יכול להשיב, שחס המקום על כבוד הבריות, וכן (ויקרא כ, טו - טז) ואת הבהמה תהרוגו, וכן (שם) והרגת את האשה ואת הבהמה:
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]   כי לא ידעתי: גם זה גנותו, ועל כרחו הודה, שהוא היה משתבח שיודע דעת עליון, ופיו העיד לא ידעתי:
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 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]   אם רע בעיניך אשובה לי: להתריס נגד המקום היא תשובה זו. אמר לו הוא בעצמו צוני ללכת, ואתה מלאך מבטל את דבריו, למוד הוא בכך, שאומר דבר ומלאך מחזירו, אמר לאברהם (בראשית כב, ב) קח נא את בנך וגו', וע"י מלאך בטל את דברו, אף אני אם רע בעיניך צריך אני לשוב:
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] (   לך עם האנשים: בדרך שאדם רוצה לילך בה, מוליכין אותו. לך עם האנשים, כי חלקך עמהם וסופך להאבד מן העולם:
Go with the men: For your portion is with them, and you are destined to perish from the world. — [Mak. 10b])   ואפס: על כרחך את הדבר אשר אדבר וגו':
but: Against your will, “the word I will speak [to you-that you shall speak.”   עם שרי בלק: שמח לקללם כמותם:
with Balak’s dignitaries: He was glad to curse them as much as they were. — [Mid. Tanchuma Balak 10, Num. Rabbah 20:15]  
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]   וישמע בלק: שלח שלוחים לבשרו:
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]   אל עיר מואב: אל מטרפולין שלו, עיר החשובה שלו, לומר ראה מה אלו מבקשים לעקור:
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]   האמנם לא אוכל כבדך: נתנבא שסופו לצאת מעמו בקלון:
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: