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Numbers 22:22 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— And God's anger was kindled because he went; and the angel of Jehovah placed himself in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants [were] with him.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of the LORD took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants [were] with him.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— And God's anger was kindled because he went; and the Angel of Jehovah set himself in the way to withstand him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two young men were with him.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Then kindled the anger of God, because he, was going, and the messenger of Yahweh stationed, himself in the way, to withstand him,—as he was riding upon his ass, his two young men being with him.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— and the anger of God burneth because he is going, and a messenger of Jehovah stationeth himself in the way for an adversary to him, and he is riding on his ass, and two of his servants [are] with him,
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— And God was angry. And an angel of the Lord stood in the way against Balaam, who sat on the ass, and had two servants with him.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— And Gods anger was kindled, because he went: and the Angel of the LORD stood in the way for an aduersarie against him: Now he was riding vpon his asse, and his two seruants [were] with him.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— And God was very angry because he went; and the angel of the Lord rose up to withstand him. Now he had mounted his ass, and his two servants were with him.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— And Elohim's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of Yahweh stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants [were] with him.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
And lhm's אֱלֹהִים 430
{0430} Prime
Plural of H0433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative.
anger 639
{0639} Prime
From H0599; properly the nose or nostril; hence the face, and occasionally a person; also (from the rapid breathing in passion) ire.
was kindled 2734
{2734} Prime
A primitive root (compare H2787); to glow or grow warm; figuratively (usually) to blaze up, of anger, zeal, jealousy.
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
because x3588
(3588) Complement
A primitive particle (the full form of the prepositional prefix) indicating causal relations of all kinds, antecedent or consequent; (by implication) very widely used as a relative conjugation or adverb; often largely modified by other particles annexed.
he x1931
(1931) Complement
The second form is the feminine beyond the Pentateuch; a primitive word, the third person pronoun singular, he (she or it); only expressed when emphatic or without a verb; also (intensively) self, or (especially with the article) the same; sometimes (as demonstrative) this or that; occasionally (instead of copula) as or are.
went: 1980
{1980} Prime
Akin to H3212; a primitive root; to walk (in a great variety of applications, literally and figuratively).
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
and the angel 4397
{4397} Prime
From an unused root meaning to despatch as a deputy; a messenger; specifically of God, that is, an angel (also a prophet, priest or teacher).
of Yhw יָהוֶה 3068
{3068} Prime
From H1961; (the) self Existent or eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God.
stood 3320
{3320} Prime
A primitive root; to place (any thing so as to stay); reflexively to station, offer, continue.
<8691> Grammar
Stem - Hithpael (See H8819)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 533
in the way 1870
{1870} Prime
From H1869; a road (as trodden); figuratively a course of life or mode of action, often adverbially.
for an adversary 7854
{7854} Prime
From H7853; an opponent; especially (with the article prefixed) Satan, the arch enemy of good.
against him. Now he x1931
(1931) Complement
The second form is the feminine beyond the Pentateuch; a primitive word, the third person pronoun singular, he (she or it); only expressed when emphatic or without a verb; also (intensively) self, or (especially with the article) the same; sometimes (as demonstrative) this or that; occasionally (instead of copula) as or are.
was riding 7392
{7392} Prime
A primitive root; to ride (on an animal or in a vehicle); causatively to place upon (for riding or generally), to despatch.
<8802> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Participle Active (See H8814)
Count - 5386
upon x5921
(5921) Complement
Properly the same as H5920 used as a preposition (in the singular or plural, often with prefix, or as conjugation with a particle following); above, over, upon, or against (yet always in this last relation with a downward aspect) in a great variety of applications.
his ass, 860
{0860} Prime
Probably from the same as H0386 (in the sense of patience); a female ass (from its docility).
and his two 8147
{8147} Prime
(The first form being dual of H8145; the second form being feminine); two; also (as ordinal) twofold.
servants 5288
{5288} Prime
From H5287; (concretely) a boy (as active), from the age of infancy to adolescence; by implication a servant; also (by interchange of sex), a girl (of similar latitude in age).
[were] with x5973
(5973) Complement
From H6004; adverb or preposition, with (that is, in conjunction with), in varied applications; specifically equally with; often with prepositional prefix (and then usually unrepresented in English).
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Numbers 22:22

_ _ God’s anger was kindled because he went — The displeasure arose partly from his neglecting the condition on which leave was granted him — namely, to wait till the princes of Moab “came to call him” [Numbers 22:20], and because, through desire for “the wages of unrighteousness” [2 Peter 2:15], he entertained the secret purpose of acting in opposition to the solemn charge of God.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Numbers 22:22-35

_ _ We have here an account of the opposition God gave to Balaam in his journey towards Moab; probably the princes had gone before, or gone some other way, and Balaam had pointed out where he would meet them, or where they should stay for him, for we read nothing of them in this part of our narrative, only that Balaam, like a person of some quality, was attended with his two men-honour enough, one would think, for such a man, he needed not be beholden to Balak for promotion.

_ _ I. Here is God's displeasure against Balaam for undertaking this journey: God's anger was kindled because he went, Numbers 22:22. Note, 1. The sin of sinners is not to be thought the less provoking to God because he permits it. We must not think that, because God does not by his providence restrain men from sin, therefore he approves of it, or that it is therefore not hateful to him; he suffers sin, and yet is angry at it. 2. Nothing is more displeasing to God than malicious designs against his people; he that touches them touches the apple of his eye.

_ _ II. The way God took to let Balaam know his displeasure against him: An angel stood in the way for an adversary. Now God fulfilled his promise to Israel (Exodus 23:22), I will be an enemy to thy enemies. The holy angels are adversaries to sin, and perhaps are employed more than we are aware of in preventing it, particularly in opposing those that have any ill designs against God's church and people, for whom Michael our prince stands up, Daniel 12:1; Daniel 10:21. What a comfort is this to all that wish well to the Israel of God, that he never suffers wicked men to form an attempt against them, without sending his holy angels forth to break the attempt and secure his little ones! When the prophet saw the four horns that scattered Judah, at the same time he saw four carpenters that were to fray those horns, Zechariah 1:18, etc. When the enemy comes in like a flood the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him. This angel was an adversary to Balaam, because Balaam counted him his adversary; otherwise those are really our best friends, and we are so to reckon them, that stop our progress in a sinful way. The angel stood with his sword drawn (Numbers 22:23), a flaming sword, like that in the hands of the cherubim (Genesis 3:24), turning every way. Note, The holy angels are at war with those with whom God is angry, for they are the ministers of his justice. Observe,

_ _ 1. Balaam had notice given him of God's displeasure, by the ass, and this did not startle him. The ass saw the angel, Numbers 22:23. How vainly did Balaam boast that he was a man whose eyes were open, and that he saw the visions of the Almighty (Numbers 24:3, Numbers 24:4), when the ass he rode on saw more than he did, his eyes being blinded with covetousness and ambition and dazzled with the rewards of divination! Note, Many have God against them, and his holy angels, but are not aware of it. The ass knows his owner, sees his danger, but Balaam does not know, does not consider, Isaiah 1:3. Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see, Isaiah 26:11. Let none be puffed up with a conceit of visions and revelations, when even an ass saw an angel; yet let those be ashamed of their own sottishness, worse than that of the beasts that perish, who, when they are told of the sword of God's wrath drawn against them, while they persist in wicked ways, yet will go on: the ass understood the law of self-preservation better than so; for, to save both herself and her senseless rider, (1.) She turned aside out of the way, Numbers 22:23. Balaam should have taken the hint of this, and considered whether he was not out of the way of his duty; but, instead of this, he beat her into the way again. Thus those who by wilful sin are running headlong into perdition are angry at those that would prevent their ruin. (2.) She had not gone much further before she saw the angel again, and the, to avoid him, ran up to a wall, and crushed her rider's foot, Numbers 22:24, Numbers 22:25. How many ill accidents are we liable to in travelling upon the road, from which if we are preserved we must own our obligations to the divine Providence, which by the ministry of angels keeps us in all our ways, lest we dash our foot against a stone; but, if we at any time meet with a disaster, it should put us upon enquiring whether our way be right in the sight of God or no. The crushing of Balaam's foot, though it was the saving of his life, provoked him so much that he smote his ass the second time, so angry are we apt to be at that which, though a present uneasiness, yet is a real kindness. (3.) Upon the next encounter with the angel, the ass fell down under Balaam, Numbers 22:26, Numbers 22:27. He ought to have considered that there was certainly something extraordinary in this; for his ass was not restive, nor did she use to serve him thus: but it is common for those whose hearts are fully set in them to do evil to push on violently, and break through all the difficulties which Providence lays in their way to give check to them and to stop them in their career. Balaam the third time smote his ass, though she had now done him the best piece of service that ever she did him, saving him from the sword of the angel, and by her falling down teaching him to do likewise. (4.) When all this would not work upon him, God opened the mouth of the ass, and she spoke to him once and again; and yet neither did this move him: The Lord opened the mouth of the ass, Numbers 22:28. This was a great miracle, quite above the power of nature, and wrought by the power of the God of nature, who made man's mouth, and taught him to speak, for otherwise (since we learn to speak purely by imitation, and therefore those that are born deaf are consequently dumb) the first man would never have spoken, nor any of his seed. He that made man speak could, when he pleased, make the ass to speak with man's voice, 2 Peter 2:16. Here Mr. Ainsworth observes that the devil, when he tempted our first parents to sin, employed a subtle serpent, but that God, when he would convince Balaam, employed a silly ass, a creature dull and sottish to a proverb; for Satan corrupts men's minds by the craftiness of those that lie in wait to deceive, but Christ has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. By a dumb ass God rebukes the madness of the prophet, for he will never want reprovers, but when he pleases can make the stones cry out as witnesses to him, Luke 19:40; Habakkuk 2:11. [1.] The ass complained of Balaam's cruelty (Numbers 22:28): What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me? Note, The righteous God will not see the meanest and weakest abused; but either they shall be enabled to speak in their own defence or he will some way or other speak for them. If God would not suffer a beast to be wronged, much less a man, a Christian, a child of his own. We cannot open the mouth of the dumb, as God did here, but we may and must open our mouth for the dumb, Proverbs 31:8; Job 31:13. The ass's complaint was just: What have I done? Note, When we are prompted to smite any with hand or tongue, we should consider what they have done unto us, and what provocation they have given us. We hear it not, but thus the whole creation groans, being burdened, Romans 8:22. It was much that Balaam was not astonished to hear his ass speak, and put to confusion: but some think that it was no new thing to him (being a conjurer) to be thus spoken to by his familiars; others rather think that his brutish head-strong passion so blinded him that he could not observe or consider the strangeness of the thing. Nothing besots men worse than unbridled anger. Balaam in his fury wished he had a sword to kill his ass with, Numbers 22:29. See his impotency; can he think by his curses to do mischief to Israel that has it not in his power to kill his own ass? This he cannot do, yet he fain would; and what would he get by that, but make himself so much the poorer (as many do), to gratify his passion and revenge? Such was the madness of this false prophet. Here bishop Hall observes, It is ill falling into the hands of those whom the brute-creatures find unmerciful; for a good man regardeth the life of his beast. [2.] The ass reasoned with him, Numbers 22:30. God enabled not only a dumb creature to speak, but a dull creature to speak to the purpose. Three things she argues with him from: — First, His propriety in her: Am not I thy ass? Note, 1. God has given to man a dominion over the creatures: they are delivered into his hand to be used, and put under his feet to be ruled. 2. Even wicked people have a title to the possessions God gives to them, which they are not to be wronged of. 3. The dominion God has given us over the creatures is a good reason why we should not abuse them. We are their lords, and therefore must not be tyrants. Secondly, Her serviceableness to him: On which thou hast ridden. Note, It is good for us often to consider how useful the inferior creatures are, and have been, to us, that we may be thankful to God, and tender of them. Thirdly, That she was not wont to do so by him, and had never before crushed his foot, nor fallen down under him; he might therefore conclude there was something more than ordinary that made her do so now. Note, 1. The rare occurrence of an offence should moderate our displeasure against an offender. 2. When the creatures depart from their wonted obedience to us, we should enquire the cause within ourselves, and be humbled for our sin.

_ _ 2. Balaam at length had notice of God's displeasure by the angel, and this did startle him. When God opened his eyes he saw the angel (Numbers 22:31), and then he himself fell flat upon his face, in reverence of that glorious messenger, and in fear of the sword he saw in his hand. God has many ways of breading and bringing down the hard and unhumbled heart. (1.) The angel reproved him for his outrageousness (Numbers 22:32, Numbers 22:33): Wherefore hast thou smitten thy ass? Whether we consider it or no, it is certain that God will call us to account for the abuses done to his creatures. Nay, he shows him how much more reason he had to smite upon his breast, and to condemn himself, than to fly out thus against his ass (“Thy way is perverse before me, and then how canst thou expect to prosper?”), and how much wiser his ass was than himself, and how much beholden he was to her that she turned aside; it was for his safety, and not for her own, for had she gone on he had been slain, and she had been saved alive. Note, When our eyes are opened we shall see what danger we are in in a sinful way, and how much it was for our advantage to be crossed in it, and what fools we were to quarrel with our crosses which helped to save our lives. (2.) Balaam then seemed to relent (Numbers 22:34): “I have sinned, sinned in undertaking this journey, sinned in pushing on so violently;” but he excused it with this, that he saw not the angel; yet, now that he did see him, he was willing to go back again. That which was displeasing to God was not so much his going as his going with a malicious design against Israel, and a secret hope that notwithstanding the proviso with which his permission was clogged he might prevail to curse them, and so gratify Balak, and get preferment under him. It does not appear that he was sensible of this wickedness of his heart, or willing to own it, but, when he finds he cannot go forward, he will be content (since there is no remedy) to go back. Here is no sign that his heart is turned, but, if his hands are tied, he cannot help it. Thus many leave their sins only because their sins have left them. There seems to be a reformation of the life, but what will this avail if there be no renovation of the heart? (3.) The angel however continued his permission: “Go with the men, Numbers 22:35. Go, if thou hast a mind to be made a fool of, and to be shamed before Balak, and all the princes of Moab. Go, only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak, whether thou wilt or no,” for this seems not to be a precept, but a prediction of the event, that he should not only not be able to curse Israel, but should be forced to bless them, which would be more for the glory of God and his own confusion than if he had turned back. Thus God gave him fair warning, but he would not take it; he went with the princes of Balak. For the iniquity of Balaam's covetousness God was wroth, and smote him, but he went on frowardly, Isaiah 57:17.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Numbers 22:22

Because he went — Because he went of his own accord, with the princes of Moab, and did not wait till they came to call him, which was the sign and condition of God's permission, but rather himself rose and called them. The apostle describes Balaam's sin here to be, that he ran greedily into an error for reward, Jude 1:11. For an adversary — To oppose, if not to kill him. His servants with him — The rest of the company being probably gone before them. For in those ancient times there was more of simplicity, and less of ceremony, and therefore it is not strange that Balaam came at some distance, after the rest, and attended only by his own servants.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Numbers 22:22

And God's anger was kindled because he (k) went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants [were] with him.

(k) Moved rather with covetousness than to obey God.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

2 Kings 10:20 And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed [it].
Hosea 1:4 And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little [while], and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.

and the angel:

Numbers 22:35 And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
Genesis 48:15-16 And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, ... The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
Exodus 3:2-6 And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush [was] not consumed. ... Moreover he said, I [am] the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Hosea 12:4-5 Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him [in] Bethel, and there he spake with us; ... Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD [is] his memorial.


Numbers 22:32 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because [thy] way is perverse before me:
Exodus 4:24 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him.
Lamentations 2:4 He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all [that were] pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire.
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Gn 48:15. Ex 3:2; 4:24. Nu 22:32, 35. 2K 10:20. Lm 2:4. Ho 1:4; 12:4.

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