Numbers 23
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1  Balaam said to Balak, “Build me seven altars here and have seven bulls and seven rams ready here for me.”

א  וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם אֶל־בָּלָק בְּנֵה־לִי בָזֶה שִׁבְעָה מִזְבְּחֹת וְהָכֵן לִי בָּזֶה שִׁבְעָה פָרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֵילִים׃

2  Balak did as Balaam directed; and Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

ב  וַיַּעַשׂ בָּלָק כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר בִּלְעָם וַיַּעַל בָּלָק וּבִלְעָם פָּר וָאַיִל בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ׃

3  Then Balaam said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offerings while I am gone. Perhaps Hashem will grant me a manifestation, and whatever He reveals to me I will tell you.” And he went off alone.

ג  וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם לְבָלָק הִתְיַצֵּב עַל־עֹלָתֶךָ וְאֵלְכָה אוּלַי יִקָּרֵה יְהֹוָה לִקְרָאתִי וּדְבַר מַה־יַּרְאֵנִי וְהִגַּדְתִּי לָךְ וַיֵּלֶךְ שֶׁפִי׃

4  Hashem manifested Himself to Balaam, who said to Him, “I have set up the seven altars and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.”

ד  וַיִּקָּר אֱלֹהִים אֶל־בִּלְעָם וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֶת־שִׁבְעַת הַמִּזְבְּחֹת עָרַכְתִּי וָאַעַל פָּר וָאַיִל בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ׃

5  And Hashem put a word in Balaam’s mouth and said, “Return to Balak and speak thus.”

ה  וַיָּשֶׂם יְהֹוָה דָּבָר בְּפִי בִלְעָם וַיֹּאמֶר שׁוּב אֶל־בָּלָק וְכֹה תְדַבֵּר׃

6  So he returned to him and found him standing beside his offerings, and all the Moabite dignitaries with him.

ו  וַיָּשָׁב אֵלָיו וְהִנֵּה נִצָּב עַל־עֹלָתוֹ הוּא וְכָל־שָׂרֵי מוֹאָב׃

7  He took up his theme, and said: From Aram has Balak brought me, Moab’s king from the hills of the East: Come, curse me Yaakov, Come, tell Yisrael‘s doom!

ז  וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר מִן־אֲרָם יַנְחֵנִי בָלָק מֶלֶךְ־מוֹאָב מֵהַרְרֵי־קֶדֶם לְכָה אָרָה־לִּי יַעֲקֹב וּלְכָה זֹעֲמָה יִשְׂרָאֵל׃

8  How can I damn whom Hashem has not damned, How doom when Hashem has not doomed?

ח  מָה אֶקֹּב לֹא קַבֹּה אֵל וּמָה אֶזְעֹם לֹא זָעַם יְהֹוָה׃

9  As I see them from the mountain tops, Gaze on them from the heights, There is a people that dwells apart, Not reckoned among the nations,

kee may-ROSH tzu-REEM er-E-nu u-mig-va-OT a-shu-RE-nu hen AM l’-va-DAD yish-KON u-va-go-YEEM LO yit-kha-SHAV

ט  כִּי־מֵרֹאשׁ צֻרִים אֶרְאֶנּוּ וּמִגְּבָעוֹת אֲשׁוּרֶנּוּ הֶן־עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן וּבַגּוֹיִם לֹא יִתְחַשָּׁב׃

 23:9 There is a people that dwells apart, not reckoned among the nations

This chapter is one of three that describe the failed attempt by Balaam to curse the People of Israel. His plan is foiled by Hashem, and instead of a curse, Balaam utters a reluctant compliment, “There is a people that dwells apart, not reckoned among the nations.” For better or for worse, the Jews have always been set aside from among the nations and singled out for special treatment. Today, Israel receives a disproportionate amount of coverage by the media, most of it negative. However, we must recognize the inherent lesson of this solitude: the People of Israel have been singled out for a holy purpose. They were chosen by Hashem to remain faithful to Him and to fulfill the biblical mandate of teaching His truths to the world. While for most of history, the Jewish Nation has indeed been an isolated “people that dwells apart,” that reality began to change with the establishment of the State of Israel. For the first time, millions of non-Jews have started to stand together with the People of Israel, rejecting the curse of Balaam.2 comments

10  Who can count the dust of Yaakov, Number the dust-cloud of Yisrael? May I die the death of the upright, May my fate be like theirs!

י  מִי מָנָה עֲפַר יַעֲקֹב וּמִסְפָּר אֶת־רֹבַע יִשְׂרָאֵל תָּמֹת נַפְשִׁי מוֹת יְשָׁרִים וּתְהִי אַחֲרִיתִי כָּמֹהוּ׃

11  Then Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? Here I brought you to damn my enemies, and instead you have blessed them!”

יא  וַיֹּאמֶר בָּלָק אֶל־בִּלְעָם מֶה עָשִׂיתָ לִי לָקֹב אֹיְבַי לְקַחְתִּיךָ וְהִנֵּה בֵּרַכְתָּ בָרֵךְ׃

12  He replied, “I can only repeat faithfully what Hashem puts in my mouth.”

יב  וַיַּעַן וַיֹּאמַר הֲלֹא אֵת אֲשֶׁר יָשִׂים יְהֹוָה בְּפִי אֹתוֹ אֶשְׁמֹר לְדַבֵּר׃

13  Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place from which you can see them—you will see only a portion of them; you will not see all of them—and damn them for me from there.”

יג  וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו בָּלָק לך־[לְכָה־] נָּא אִתִּי אֶל־מָקוֹם אַחֵר אֲשֶׁר תִּרְאֶנּוּ מִשָּׁם אֶפֶס קָצֵהוּ תִרְאֶה וְכֻלּוֹ לֹא תִרְאֶה וְקָבְנוֹ־לִי מִשָּׁם׃

14  With that, he took him to Sedehzophim, on the summit of Pisgah. He built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar.

יד  וַיִּקָּחֵהוּ שְׂדֵה צֹפִים אֶל־רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה וַיִּבֶן שִׁבְעָה מִזְבְּחֹת וַיַּעַל פָּר וָאַיִל בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ׃

15  And [Balaam] said to Balak, “Stay here beside your offerings, while I seek a manifestation yonder.”

טו  וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־בָּלָק הִתְיַצֵּב כֹּה עַל־עֹלָתֶךָ וְאָנֹכִי אִקָּרֶה כֹּה׃

16  Hashem manifested Himself to Balaam and put a word in his mouth, saying, “Return to Balak and speak thus.”

טז  וַיִּקָּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־בִּלְעָם וַיָּשֶׂם דָּבָר בְּפִיו וַיֹּאמֶר שׁוּב אֶל־בָּלָק וְכֹה תְדַבֵּר׃

17  He went to him and found him standing beside his offerings, and the Moabite dignitaries with him. Balak asked him, “What did Hashem say?”

יז  וַיָּבֹא אֵלָיו וְהִנּוֹ נִצָּב עַל־עֹלָתוֹ וְשָׂרֵי מוֹאָב אִתּוֹ וַיֹּאמֶר לוֹ בָּלָק מַה־דִּבֶּר יְהֹוָה׃

18  And he took up his theme, and said: Up, Balak, attend, Give ear unto me, son of Zippor!

יח  וַיִּשָּׂא מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר קוּם בָּלָק וּשֲׁמָע הַאֲזִינָה עָדַי בְּנוֹ צִפֹּר׃

19  Hashem is not man to be capricious, Or mortal to change His mind. Would He speak and not act, Promise and not fulfill?

יט  לֹא אִישׁ אֵל וִיכַזֵּב וּבֶן־אָדָם וְיִתְנֶחָם הַהוּא אָמַר וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה וְדִבֶּר וְלֹא יְקִימֶנָּה׃

20  My message was to bless: When He blesses, I cannot reverse it.

כ  הִנֵּה בָרֵךְ לָקָחְתִּי וּבֵרֵךְ וְלֹא אֲשִׁיבֶנָּה׃

21  No harm is in sight for Yaakov, No woe in view for Yisrael. Hashem their God is with them, And their King’s acclaim in their midst.

כא  לֹא־הִבִּיט אָוֶן בְּיַעֲקֹב וְלֹא־רָאָה עָמָל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהָיו עִמּוֹ וּתְרוּעַת מֶלֶךְ בּוֹ׃

22  Hashem who freed them from Egypt Is for them like the horns of the wild ox.

כב  אֵל מוֹצִיאָם מִמִּצְרָיִם כְּתוֹעֲפֹת רְאֵם לוֹ׃

23  Lo, there is no augury in Yaakov, No divining in Yisrael: Yaakov is told at once, Yea Yisrael, what Hashem has planned.

כג  כִּי לֹא־נַחַשׁ בְּיַעֲקֹב וְלֹא־קֶסֶם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל כָּעֵת יֵאָמֵר לְיַעֲקֹב וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל מַה־פָּעַל אֵל׃

24  Lo, a people that rises like a lion, Leaps up like the king of beasts, Rests not till it has feasted on prey And drunk the blood of the slain.

כד  הֶן־עָם כְּלָבִיא יָקוּם וְכַאֲרִי יִתְנַשָּׂא לֹא יִשְׁכַּב עַד־יֹאכַל טֶרֶף וְדַם־חֲלָלִים יִשְׁתֶּה׃

25  Thereupon Balak said to Balaam, “Don’t curse them and don’t bless them!”

כה  וַיֹּאמֶר בָּלָק אֶל־בִּלְעָם גַּם־קֹב לֹא תִקֳּבֶנּוּ גַּם־בָּרֵךְ לֹא תְבָרֲכֶנּוּ׃

26  In reply, Balaam said to Balak, “But I told you: Whatever Hashem says, that I must do.”

כו  וַיַּעַן בִּלְעָם וַיֹּאמֶר אֶל־בָּלָק הֲלֹא דִּבַּרְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ לֵאמֹר כֹּל אֲשֶׁר־יְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֹתוֹ אֶעֱשֶׂה׃

27  Then Balak said to Balaam, “Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps Hashem will deem it right that you damn them for me there.”

כז  וַיֹּאמֶר בָּלָק אֶל־בִּלְעָם לְכָה־נָּא אֶקָּחֲךָ אֶל־מָקוֹם אַחֵר אוּלַי יִישַׁר בְּעֵינֵי הָאֱלֹהִים וְקַבֹּתוֹ לִי מִשָּׁם׃

28  Balak took Balaam to the peak of Peor, which overlooks the wasteland.

כח  וַיִּקַּח בָּלָק אֶת־בִּלְעָם רֹאשׁ הַפְּעוֹר הַנִּשְׁקָף עַל־פְּנֵי הַיְשִׁימֹן׃

29  Balaam said to Balak, “Build me here seven altars, and have seven bulls and seven rams ready for me here.”

כט  וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם אֶל־בָּלָק בְּנֵה־לִי בָזֶה שִׁבְעָה מִזְבְּחֹת וְהָכֵן לִי בָּזֶה שִׁבְעָה פָרִים וְשִׁבְעָה אֵילִים׃

30  Balak did as Balaam said: he offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

ל  וַיַּעַשׂ בָּלָק כַּאֲשֶׁר אָמַר בִּלְעָם וַיַּעַל פָּר וָאַיִל בַּמִּזְבֵּחַ׃

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