1 And the children of Israel journeyed, and pitched in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho.
2 And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites.
3 And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many; and Moab was overcome with dread because of the children of Israel.
4 And Moab said unto the elders of Midian: 'Now will this multitude lick up all that is round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field.' --And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.--
5 And he sent messengers unto Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor, which is by the River, to the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying: 'Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt; behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me.
6 Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me; peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land; for I know that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.'
7 And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spoke unto him the words of Balak.
8 And he said unto them: 'Lodge here this night, and I will bring you back word, as HaShem may speak unto me'; and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam.
9 And G-d came unto Balaam, and said: 'What men are these with thee?'
10 And Balaam said unto G-d: 'Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me saying:
11 Behold the people that is come out of Egypt, it covereth the face of the earth; now, come curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to fight against them, and shall drive them out.'
12 And G-d said unto Balaam: 'Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people; for they are blessed.'
13 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak: 'Get you into your land; for HaShem refuseth to give me leave to go with you.'
14 And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said: 'Balaam refuseth to come with us.'
15 And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honourable than they.
16 And they came to Balaam, and said to him: 'Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor: Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me;
17 for I will promote thee unto very great honour, and whatsoever thou sayest unto me I will do; come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people.'
18 And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak: 'If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of HaShem my G-d, to do any thing, small or great.
19 Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what HaShem will speak unto me more.'
20 And G-d came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him: 'If the men are come to call thee, rise up, go with them; but only the word which I speak unto thee, that shalt thou do.'
21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
22 And G-d's anger was kindled because he went; and the angel of HaShem placed himself in the way for an adversary against him. --Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.--
23 And the ass saw the angel of HaShem standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field; and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
24 Then the angel of HaShem stood in a hollow way between the vineyards, a fence being on this side, and a fence on that side.
25 And the ass saw the angel of HaShem, and she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall; and he smote her again.
26 And the angel of HaShem went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
27 And the ass saw the angel of HaShem, and she lay down under Balaam; and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with his staff.
28 And HaShem opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam: 'What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?'
29 And Balaam said unto the ass: 'Because thou hast mocked me; I would there were a sword in my hand, for now I had killed thee.'
30 And the ass said unto Balaam: 'Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden all thy life long unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee?' And he said: 'Nay.'
31 Then HaShem opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of HaShem standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and he bowed his head, and fell on his face.
32 And the angel of HaShem said unto him: 'Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I am come forth for an adversary, because thy way is contrary unto me;
33 and the ass saw me, and turned aside before me these three times; unless she had turned aside from me, surely now I had even slain thee, and saved her alive.'
34 And Balaam said unto the angel of HaShem: 'I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me; now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back.'
35 And the angel of HaShem 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.
36 And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto Ir-moab, which is on the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost part of the border.
37 And Balak said unto Balaam: 'Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honour?'
38 And Balaam said unto Balak: 'Lo, I am come unto thee; have I now any power at all to speak any thing? the word that G-d putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak.'
39 And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kiriath-huzoth.
40 And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him.
41 And it came to pass in the morning that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into Bamoth-baal, and he saw from thence the utmost part of the people.
Sources: Portions copyright © 1997 by Benyamin Pilant, All Rights Reserved
JPS Electronic Edition, based on the 1917 JPS translation, Copyright © 1998 by Larry Nelson, All Rights Reserved