Scripture quotations are from the Lexham English Bible. Copyright 2012 Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software.
The Israelites set out, and they encamped on the desert-plateau of Moab, across from Jericho beyond the Jordan. Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel did to the Amorites, and Moab was very terrified in the presence of the people because they were numerous; and Moab dreaded the presence of the Israelites. And Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now the crowd will lick up all around us, like a bull devours the grass of the field." And Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor at Pethor, which is by the river, in the land of the children of his people, to summon him, saying, "Look! A people went out from Egypt. Look! They cover the surface of the land; they are about to dwell opposite me. Now, please go, curse this people for me because they are stronger than me; perhaps I will be able to strike them and drive them out from the land because I know whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you cursed is cursed."
So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian went with a fee for divination in their hand; they came to Balaam and spoke the words of Balak to him. He said to them, "Spend the night here, and I will return, and I will return word to you, just as Yahweh speaks to me." So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. And God came to Balaam and said, "Who are these men with you?" And Balaam said to God, "Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, sent word to me, ‘Look! A people went out from Egypt. Look! They cover the surface of the land. Now, go, curse them for me. Perhaps I will be able to attack them and drive them out." God said to Balaam, "You will not go with them; you will not curse the people, because they are blessed." Balaam got up in the morning, and he said to the princes of Balak, "Go to your land, because Yahweh refused to allow me to go with you." The princes of Moab got up and went to Balak, and they said, "Balaam refused to come with us."
Balak again sent many princes, who were more honored than the former. They came to Balaam and said to him, "Thus says Balak son of Zippor, ‘Please, let nothing keep you from coming to me because I will surely honor you greatly, and all that you say to me I will do. Please, come; curse this people for me.’" Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, "Even though Balak gives to me his house full of silver and gold, I am not able to go beyond the command of Yahweh my God to do a little or a lot. And now please, you also stay here the night, and let me find out again what Yahweh will say with me." And God came to Balaam at night, and he said to him, "If the men have come to call you, get up and go with them; but only the word that I will speak to you, you will do." So Balaam got up in the morning and saddled his donkey, and he went with the princes of Moab.
But God became angry because he was going, and the angel of Yahweh stood in the road as an adversary to him; he was riding on his donkey, and two servants were with him. The donkey saw the angel of Yahweh standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand, and the donkey turned aside from the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back to the road. The angel of Yahweh stood in the narrow path of the vineyards, with a wall on either side. When the donkey saw the angel of Yahweh, she pressed herself into the wall, and she pressed the foot of Balaam into the wall, so he struck her again. Then the angel of Yahweh went further ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was not a way to turn aside to the right or left. When the donkey saw the angel of Yahweh, she lay down under Balaam, so Balaam became angry, and he struck the donkey with his staff. Yahweh opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What did I do to you that you struck me these three times?" Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you made a mockery of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now!" The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life until this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" He said, "No."
Then Yahweh exposed the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of Yahweh standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand, and he bowed down and worshiped to his face. The angel of Yahweh said to him, "Why have you struck this donkey three times? Look, I have come out as an adversary because your conduct is perverse before me. The donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from my face, then I would have killed you and kept her alive." Balaam said to the angel of Yahweh, "I have sinned because I did not know that you were standing to meet me in the road. Now, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back." The angel of Yahweh said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but speak only the word that I will speak to you." So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him by the city of Moab, which was on the boundary of Aaron at the end of the territory. And Balak said to Balaam, "Did I not urgently send to meet with you? Why did you not come to me? Am I really not able to honor you?" Balaam said to Balak, "Look, I came to you now. Am I really able to speak anything at all? I speak the word that God puts in my mouth." Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-Huzoth. And Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, and he sent them to Balaam and to the princes who were with him. And it happened, in the morning Balak took Balaam and took him up to Bamoth-Baal, and he saw from there the end of the nation.
Balaam said to Balak, "Build for me this: seven altars. And prepare for me this: seven bulls and seven rams." And Balak did just as Balaam spoke, and Balak offered Balaam a bull and a ram on the altar. And Balaam said to Balak, "Station yourself at your burnt offering, and I will go; perhaps Yahweh will come to meet me, and whatever he shows me I will tell to you." So he went to a barren height.
And God met with Balaam, and he said to him, "I have arranged seven altars, and I have offered a bull and a ram on the altar." Yahweh put a word in the mouth of Balaam and said, "Return to Balak, and you must speak thus." So he returned to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, he and all the leaders of Moab. And he lifted up his oracle and said,
"From Aram Balak lead me,
from the mountains of the east the king of Moab,
‘Go for me, curse Jacob,
and go, denounce Israel.’
How can I curse whom God has not cursed,
and how can I denounce whom Yahweh has not denounced?
Because from the top of the rocks I see him,
from hilltops I watch him.
Behold, a people who dwell alone,
they do not consider themselves among the nations.
Who can count the dust of Jacob,
or as a number the fourth part of Israel?
Let my life die the death of an upright person,
and let my end be like his!"
And Balak said to Balaam, "What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have surely blessed them!" He answered and said, "Should I not speak what Yahweh puts in my mouth?"
Then Balak said, "Please walk with me to another place where you will see them, but you will only see part of them and will not see all of them; and curse them for me from there." So he took him to the field of Zophim to the top of Pisgah, and he built seven altars, and he offered a bull and a ram on each altar. Balaam said to Balak, "Station yourself here at the burnt offering while I myself meet with Yahweh there." Then Yahweh met with Balaam, and he put a word in his mouth, and he said, "Return to Balak, and you must speak thus." He came to him, and behold, he was standing at his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, "What has Yahweh spoken?" Then he uttered his oracle, and said,
"Stand up, Balak, and hear;
listen to me, son of Zippor!
God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of humankind,
that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
And has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
Behold, I have received a command to bless;
when he has blessed, I cannot cause it to return.
He has no regard for evil in Jacob,
and he does not see trouble in Israel;
Yahweh his God is with him,
and a shout of a king is among them.
God, who brings them out from Egypt,
is like the strength of a wild ox for them.
Because there is no sorcery against Jacob,
and there is no divination against Israel.
Now it will be said to Jacob and Israel,
what God has done!
Look! the people will rise like the lion;
he raises himself and will not lie down
until he eats the prey
and drinks the blood of the slain."
Then Balak said to Balaam, "Do not curse them at all, nor bless them at all!" But Balaam answered and said to Balak, "Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Whatever Yahweh speaks I will do’?"
Then Balak said to Balaam, "Please, come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will be acceptable to God, and you will curse for me from there." So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, which looks down on the face of the Jeshimon. And Balaam said to Balak, "Build for me these seven altars, and prepare for me these seven bulls and seven rams." Balak did just as Balaam said, and he offered a bull and a ram on each altar.
And Balaam saw that it pleased Yahweh to bless Israel, and he did not go as other times to seek out sorcery; instead, he set his face toward the desert. Balaam lift up his eyes, and he saw Israel dwelling according to its tribes, and the spirit of God was upon it. He uttered his oracle and said,
"The declaration of Balaam son Beor,
the declaration of the man whose eyes are closed,
the declaration of the hearer of God’s words,
who sees the revelation of Shaddai,
falling down but whose eyes are uncovered.
How good are your tents, O Jacob,
your dwellings, O Israel!
They are spread out like valleys,
like gardens on a river,
like aloes planted by Yahweh,
like cedars at the waters.
He will pour water from his buckets,
and his offspring will be like many waters;
his king will be higher than Agag,
and his kingdom will be exalted.
God, who brings him out from Egypt,
is like the strength of a wild ox for him.
He will devour the nations who are his enemies;
he will break their bones;
he will pierce them with his arrows.
He crouches, he lies down like a lion,
and like a lioness, who will rouse him?
They who bless you will be blessed,
and they who curse you will be cursed."
Then Balak became angry with Balaam, and he clapped his hands and said to Balaam, "I called you to curse my enemies, but look, you have surely blessed them these three times. Flee to your place now. I said I would richly honor you, but look, Yahweh has withheld honor from you." Balaam said to Balak, "Did I not speak to your messengers whom you sent to me, saying, ‘If Balak gave to me the fullness of his house full of silver and gold, I am not able to go beyond the command of Yahweh to do good or evil, from my heart; what Yahweh speaks, I will speak’? And now, look, I am about to go to my people; I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the following days."
And he uttered his oracle and said,
"The declaration of Balaam son of Beor,
and the declaration of the man whose eye is closed,
the declaration of the hearer of God’s words,
and the knower of the knowledge of the Most High,
who sees the vision of Shaddai,
who is falling, and his eyes are revealed.
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
a star will go out from Jacob,
and a scepter will rise from Israel;
it will crush the foreheads of Moab
and destroy all the children of Seth.
Edom will be a captive;
Seir, its enemies, will be a captive,
and Israel will be acting courageously.
Someone from Jacob will rule
and will destroy a remnant from the city."
And he looked at Amalek, uttered his oracle, and said,
"Amalek is first of the nations,
but his future will be forever ruin."
And he looked at the Kenites, uttered his oracle, and said,
"Steady is your dwelling place;
in the rock is your nest.
Nevertheless, the Kenite will be burned;
how long will Asshur keep you captive?"
Again he uttered his oracle and said,
"Woe, who will live when God establishes this?
The ships will come from the hand of the Kittim,
and they will afflict Asshur and will afflict Eber;
also he will be forever ruin."
Then Balaam got up and went and returned to his place, and Balak also went on his way.
When Israel dwelled in Shittim, the people began to prostitute themselves with the daughters of Moab. And they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and worshiped their gods. So Israel was joined together to Baal Peor, and Yahweh became angry with Israel. Yahweh said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people and kill them before the sun, so the fierce anger of Yahweh will turn from Israel." So Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you kill his men who are joined together with Baal Peor."
And behold, a man from the Israelites came and brought to his brothers a Midianite woman before the eyes of Moses and before the eyes of all of the community of the Israelites, and they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of assembly. When Phinehas son of Eleazar son of Aaron the priest saw, he got up from the midst of the community and took a spear in his hand. He went after the man of Israel into the woman’s section of the tent, and he drove the two of them, the man of Israel and the woman, into her belly. And the plague among the Israelites stopped. The ones who died in the plague were twenty-four thousand.
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, turned away my anger from among the Israelites when he was jealous with my jealousy in their midst, and I did not destroy the Israelites with my jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I am giving to him my covenant of peace, and it will be for him and his offspring after him a covenant of an eternal priesthood because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the Israelites.’"
The name of the man of Israel who was struck with the Midianite woman was Zimri son of Salu, a leader of the family of the Simeonites. The name of the Midianite woman who was struck was Cozbi daughter of Zur, a leader of a tribe of the family in Midian.
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Attack the Midianites and strike them because they were attacking you with their deception, with which they have deceived you on the matter of Peor and on the matter of Cozbi the daughter of the leader of Midian, their sister who was struck on the day of the plague because of the matter of Peor."
Since many have attempted to compile an account concerning the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses and servants of the word from the beginning passed on to us, it seemed best to me also—because I have followed all things carefully from the beginning—to write them down in orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty concerning the things about which you were taught.
It happened that in the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a certain priest, Zechariah by name, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous in the sight of God, living blamelessly in all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. And they did not have a child, because Elizabeth was barren. And they were both advanced in years.
And it happened that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, according to the custom of the priesthood he was chosen by lot to enter into the temple of the Lord to burn incense. And the whole crowd of the people were praying outside at the hour of the incense offering. And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was terrified when he saw the angel, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him,
"Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard,
and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you will call his name John.
And you will experience joy and exultation,
and many will rejoice at his birth.
For he will be great in the sight of the Lord,
and he must never drink wine or beer,
and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit
while he is still in his mother’s womb.
And he will turn many of the sons of Israel
to the Lord their God.
And he will go on before him
in the spirit and power of Elijah,
to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous,
to prepare for the Lord a people made ready."
And Zechariah said to the angel, "By what will I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years!" And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time."
And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and began to wonder when he was delayed in the temple. And when he came out he was not able to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them, and remained unable to speak. And it happened that when the days of his service came to an end, he went away to his home.
Now after these days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she kept herself in seclusion for five months, saying, "Thus the Lord has done for me in the days in which he has concerned himself with me, to take away my disgrace among people."
Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin legally promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of the house of David. And the name of the virgin was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly perplexed at the statement, and was pondering what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
And behold, you will conceive in the womb and will give birth to a son,
and you will call his name Jesus.
This one will be great, and he will be called the Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.
And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.
And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?" And the angel answered and said to her,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore also the one to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, your relative Elizabeth—she also has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God."
So Mary said, "Behold, the Lord’s female slave! May it happen to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
Now in those days Mary set out and traveled with haste into the hill country, to a town of Judah, and entered into the house of Zechariah, and greeted Elizabeth. And it happened that when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby in her womb leaped and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud shout and said,
"Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy! And blessed is she who believed that there will be a fulfillment to what was spoken to her from the Lord!"
And Mary said,
"My soul exalts the Lord,
and my spirit has rejoiced greatly in God my Savior,
because he has looked upon the humble state of his female slave,
for behold, from now on all generations will consider me blessed,
because the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for generation after generation
to those who fear him.
He has done a mighty deed with his arm;
he has dispersed the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
and has exalted the lowly.
He has filled those who are hungry with good things,
and those who are rich he has sent away empty-handed.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
just as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
And Mary stayed with her about three months, and returned to her home.
Now the time came for Elizabeth that she should give birth, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were wanting to name him after his father Zechariah. And his mother answered and said, "No, but he will be named John." And they said to her, "There is no one of your relatives who is called by this name." So they made signs to his father asking what he wanted him to be named, and he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, saying, "John is his name." And they were all astonished. And his mouth and his tongue were opened immediately, and he began to speak, praising God. And fear came on all those who lived near them, and in all the hill country of Judea all these events were discussed. And all those who heard kept these things in their hearts, saying, "What then will this child be? For indeed the hand of the Lord was with him!"
And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,
"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited to help and has redeemed his people,
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
just as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from earliest times—
salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all those who hate us,
to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to Abraham our father,
to grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies,
could serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.
And so you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the merciful compassion of our God
by which the dawn will visit to help us from on high,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to direct our feet into the way of peace."
And the child kept growing and becoming strong in spirit, and was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.