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offer, and put his army in array, preparing every and shot at them; so that what with darts, and thing in order to hinder their passage over Arnon.* what with arrows, they made a slaughter of them
When Moses saw that the Amorite king was all: Sihon also, their king, was slain. So the Hedisposed to commence hostilities, he thought he brews spoiled their dead bodies, and took their ought not to bear that insult; and determining to prey. The land also, which they took, was full wean the Hebrews from their indolent temper, of fruits, and the army went all over it without and prevent the disorders which arose thence, fear, and fed their cattle upon it, and took the which had been the occasion of their former se- enemies prisoners. For they could noway put a dition; nor indeed were they now thoroughly easy stop to them, since all the fighting men were dein their minds: he inquired of God, whether he stroyed. Such was the destruction which overwould give him leave to fight? which when he took the Amorites, who were neither sagacious in had done, and God had promised him the victory, counsel, nor courageous in action. Hereupon he was very courageous, and ready to proceed to the Hebrews took possession of their land, which fighting. Accordingly he encouraged the soldiers, is situate between three rivers, and naturally reand desired of them that they would take the sembling an island, the river Arnon being its pleasure of fighting, now God gave them leave so northern limit, and the river Jabbok determining to do. Upon this commission, which they so much its southern side ; which, running into Jordan, longed for, they put on their armour, and set loses its own name, and takes the other. While about the work without delay. But the Amorite Jordan itself runs along by it, on its western king was not now like to himself, when the He- coast. brews were ready to attack him; both himself When matters were come to this state, Og, was affrighted at the Hebrews, and his army, the king of Gilead and Gaulanitis, fell upon the which before had shown themselves to be of good Israelites. He brought an army with him, and courage, were then found to be timorous. So came in haste to the assistance of his friend Sithey could not sustain the first onset, nor bear up hon. But though he found him already slain, he against the Hebrews : but fled away, thinking this resolved to fight the Hebrews, supposing he should would afford them a more likely way for their be too hard for them, and being desirous to try escape than fighting. For they depended upon their valour. But failing of his hope, he was both their cities, which were strong; from which they slain in the battle, and all his army was destroyed.S reaped no advantage, when they were forced to So Moses passed over the river Jabbok, and overfly from them. For as soon as the Hebrews saw ran the kingdom of Og. He overthrew their cities, them giving ground, they immediately pursued; and slew all their inhabitants; who exceeded in and when they had broken their ranks, they riches all the men in that part of the continent, on greatly terrified them. And some of them broke account of the goodness of the soil, and the great off from the rest, and ran away to the cities. quantity of his wealth. Now Og had very few Now the Hebrews pursued them briskly; and ob- equals, either in the largeness of his body, or the stinately persevered in the labours they had al- beauty of his appearance. He was also a man of ready undergone; and being very skilful in sling- great activity; so that his actions were not unequal ing, and very dexterous in throwing darts, or any to the vast largeness and handsome appearance of thing else of that kind; and also having on no- his body. And men could easily guess at his strength thing but light armour, which made them quick in and magnitude, when they took his
bed at Rabbath, pursuit, they overtook their enemies. And for the royal city of the Ammonites. Its structure was those that were most remote, and could not be of iron; its breadth four cubits, and its length a cuovertaken, they reached them by their slings and bit more than double thereto. However, his fall did their bows, so that many were slain, and those not only improve the circumstances of the Hebrews that escaped the slaughter were sorely wounded; for the present; but by his death he was the occaand these were more distressed with thirst, than sion of further good success to them; for they preswith any of those that fought against them, for it ently took those sixty cities which were encompassed was the summer season : and when the greatest with excellent walls, and had been subject to him; number of them were brought down to the river, and all the people got, both in general and particuout of a desire to drink; as also when others fled lar, a great prey. away by troops, the Hebrews came round them,
* Numb. xxi. 23.
| This victory is celebrated in Numb. xxi. 30. Deut. i. 4. iii. 2. iv. 46. xxix. 7, 8. Josh. xiii. 10. Judges xi. 21. Ps. cxxxv. 10, 11. cxxxvi. 18, 19. and by Philo, p. 642.
Numb. xxi. 24.
Ś See Numb. xxi. 35. Deut. ii. 3. Josh. xii. 4. Ps. cxxxv. 11, 12. and Philo, P.
kindly. And when he had supped, he inquired what
was God's will, and what this matter was for which OF BALAAM'S ATTEMPT TO CURSE ISRAEL, AND OF THE ARTIFICE BY the Midianites entreated him to come to them: but WHICH THE HEBREWS WERE WEAKENED.
when God opposed his going, he came to the ambasWHEN Moses had brought his army to Jordan, sadors, and told them that he was himself willing he pitched his camp in the great plain over against and desirous to comply with their request, but that Jericho.* This city was a very happy situation, and God was opposite to his intentions, even that God very fit for producing palm-trees and balsam. And who had raised him to great reputation on account now the Israelites began to be very proud of them of the truth of his predictions. "For that this army selves, and were very eager for fighting. Moses, which they entreated him to come to curse, was in then, after he had offered for a few days sacrifice of favour of God. On which account he advised them thanksgiving to God, and feasted the people, sent a to go home again, and not to persist in their enmity party of armed men to lay waste the country of the against the Israelites. And when he had given them Midianites, and to take their cities. Now the occa- that answer, he dismissed the ambassadors. sion which he took for making war upon them was Now the Midianites, at the earnest entreaties of as follows:
Balak, sent other ambassadors to Balaam, who, When Balak, the king of the Moabites, who had desiring to gratify the men, inquired again of God; from his ancestors a friendship and league with the but he was displeased at this second trial, and bid Midianites, saw how greatly the Israelites were in- | him by no means to contradict the ambassadors. creased, he was much affrighted on account of his Balaam did not imagine that God gave this injuncown and his kingdom's danger. For he was notf tion in order to deceive him; so he went along with acquainted with this; that the Hebrews would not the ambassadors. But when the divine angel met meddle with any other country: but were to be con- him in the way, when he was in a narrow passage, tented with the possession of the land of Canaan, and hedged in with a wall on both sides, the ass on God having forbidden them to go any farther. So which Balaam rode, understood that it was a divine he, with more haste than wisdom, resolved to make spirit that met him; and thrust Balaam to one of an attempt upon them by words; but he did not the walls, without regard to the stripes which her judge it prudent to fight against them, after they master, when he was hurt by the wall, gave her. had had the prosperous successes, and even became But when the ass, upon the angel's continuing to out of ill successes more happy than before; but he distress her, and upon the stripes which were given thought to hinder them, if he could, from growing her, fell down; by the will of God she made use of greater; and so he resolved to send ambassadors to the voice of a man, and complained of Balaam, as the Midianites about them. Now these Midianites, acting unjustly to her; that whereas he had no fault knowing there was one Balaam, who lived by Eu- to find with her in her former service, he now inflicted phrates, and was the greatest of the prophets at that stripes upon her, as not understanding that she was time, and one that was in friendship with them, sent hindered from serving him in what he was now going some of their honourable princes along with the about by the providence of God. And when he was ambassadors of Balak, to entreat the prophet to disturbed by reason of the voice of the ass, which come to them; that he might imprecate curses to was that of a man, the angel plainly appeared to the destruction of the Israelites.f So Balaam re- him, and blamed him for the stripes he had given ceived the ambassadors, and treated them very his ass; informing him, that the creature was not in
* Numb. xxii. 1.
and used certain rites and ceremonies, with solemn charms. A # What Josephus here remarks is worthy our remark, viz. that famous instance of this we find in the life of Crassus, where the Israelites were never to meddle with the Moabites, Ammon- Plutarch tells us, that Atticus, tribune of the people, made a ites, or any other people, but those belonging to the land of Ca- fire at the gate out of which Crassus was to march to the war naan, and the countries of Sihon and Og beyond Jordan, as far against the Parthians, into which he threw certain things to as the desert and Euphrates; and that, therefore, no other peo make a fume, and offered sacrifices to the most angry gods, with ple had reason to fear the conquests of the Israelites; but that horrid imprecations upon him; these, he says, according to anthose countries given them by God were their proper and pecu cient tradition, had such a power, that no man who was loaded liar portion among the nations, and that all who endeavoured to with them could avoid being undone. B. possess them might ever be justly destroyed by them.
§ Numb. xxii. 31. “ Then the Lord opened the eyes of Ba. # Numb. xxii. 6. An opinion prevailed both in those days, laam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way.” and in after ages, that some men had a power, by the help of There are several instances to be found, both in the Scriptures their gods, to devote not only particular persons, but whole and in profane authors, where the eyes have been opened by a armies, to destruction. This they are said to have done some divine power, to perceive that which they could not see by mere times by words of imprecation, of which there was a set form | natural discernment. Thus the eyes of Hagar were opened, among some people, which Æschines calls dropsSomavnu apav, that she might see the fountain, Gen. xxi. 19. Homer also prethe determinate curse. Sometimes they also offered sacrifices, sents us with an example of this kind. Minerva says to Diomed:
fault, but that he was himself come to obstruct his | region of it in particular, with inhabitants out of journey, as being contrary to the will of God. Upon your stock. However, Ó blessed army! wonder this Balaam was afraid, and was preparing to return that you are become so many from one father! and back, yet God excited him to go on his intended truly the land of Canaan can now hold you, as being way; but added this injunction, that he should de- yet comparatively few; but know ye, that the whole clare nothing but what he himself should suggest.* world is proposed to be your place of habitation for
When God had given him this charge, the prophet ever. Your posterity shall also live in the islands, came to Balak; and after the king had entertained as well as on the continent, and shall be more nuhim in a magnificent manner, he desired him to go merous than the stars of heaven. And when you to one of the mountains, to take a view of the state are become so many, God will not relinquish bis of the camp of the Hebrews. Balak himself also care of you, but will afford you an abundance of all came to the mountain, and brought the prophet good things in times of peace, with victory and along with him, with a royal attendance. This dominion in times of war. May the children of mountain lay over their heads, and was distant your enemies have an inclination to fight against sixty furlongs from the camp.f. He then slew the you, and may they be so hardy as to come to arms, sacrifices, and offered them as burnt-offerings, that and to assault you in battle, for they will not return he might observe some signal of the flight of the with victory, nor will their return be agrecable to Hebrews. Then said he, “ Happy is this people, on their wives and children. To so great a degree of whom God bestows the possession of innumerable valour will you be raised by the providence of God, good things; and grants them his own providence who is able to diminish the affluence of some, and to be their assistant and their guide: so that there to supply the wants of others." is not any nation among mankind, but you will be Thus did Balaam speak by inspiration; as not esteemed superior to them in virtue, and in the being in his own power, but moved to say what earnest prosecution of the best rules of life, and of he did by the divine spirit
. But Balak was greatly such as are pure from wickedness; and will leave displeased, and said, he had broken the contract those rules to your excellent children: and this out whereby he was to come, as he and his confedof the regard that God bears to you, and the pro- erates had invited him, by the promise of great vision of such things for you as may render you presents. For whereas he came to curse their happier than any other people under the sun. You enemies, he had pronounced an encomium on shall retain that land to which he hath sent you, and them; and had declared they were the happiest of it shall be ever under the command of your children; men. To which Balaam replied ; “O Balak, if and both all the earth, as well as the sea, shall be thou rightly considerest this whole matter, canst filled with their glory. And you shall be sufficiently thou suppose that it is in our power to be silent, numerous to supply the world in general, and every or to say any thing, when the spirit of God seizes
Yet more from mortal mists I purge thy eyes,
perhaps we had better adhere closely to the text; which says, And set to view the warring deities. n. v. 164. Pore
Numb. xxiii. 20, 21, that God only permitted Balaam to go And in Virgil, Venus performs the same office to Æneas, and along with, or in the Septuagint version, to follow, the ambasshows him the gods who were engaged in the destruction of sadors, in case they came and called him; or positively insisted Troy.
on his going along with them, on any terms. Whereas Balaam Aspice ; namque omnem, quæ nunc obducta tuent
seems, out of impatience, to have risen up in the morning and Mortales hebetat visus tibi, et humida circum, &c.
saddled his ass, and rather to have called them, than staid for En. ii. 604
their calling him. So zealous does he seem to have been for Now cast your eyes around: while I dissolve The mists and films that mortal eyes involve;
his reward of divination, his wages of unrighteousness. Numb. Purge from your sight the dross, and make you see
xxii. 7, 17, 18, 37. 2 Pet. ii. 15. Jude 11; which reward or The shape of each avenging deity.
DRYDEN. wages the truly religious prophets of God never required nor Milton seems likewise to have imitated this, when he makes accepted; as Josephus justly takes notice in the cases of Samuel, Michael open Adam's eyes to see the future revolutions of the Antiq. VI. 4, and Daniel, Antiq. X. 17. See also Gen. xiv. 23, world, and the fortunes of his posterity.
24. 2 Kings y. 15, 16, 26. and Acts viii. 18–24. then purg’d with euphrasy and rue
† Balaam required seven altars to be built, and suitable sacThe visual nerve, for he had much to see,
rifices to be prepared. The ancients were very superstitious And from the well of life three drops instillid.
about certain numbers, supposing that God delighted in odd Paradise Lost, b. xi. 414. B
numbers. * Note that Josephus never supposes Balaam to be an idola.
Terna tibi hæc primum triplici diversa colore ter, nor to seek idolatrous enchantments, or to prophesy falsely,
Licia circumdo; terque hæc altaria circum but to be no other than an ill-disposed prophet of the true God:
Effigiem duco; numero Deus impare gaudet. and intimates that God's answer the second time, permitting
VJRG. Eclog. viii. 73. him to go, was ironical, and on design that he should be de
Around his waxen image first I wind
Three woollen fillets, of three colours join'd; ceived; which sort of deception, by way of punishment for
Thrice bind about his thrice devoted head, former crimes, Josephus never scruples to admit; as ever esteem.
Which round the sacred altar thrice is led. ing such wicked men justly and providentially deceived. But
Unequal numbers please the gods. DRYDEN B.
upon us ? for he puts such words as he pleases in seize upon the nation of the Hebrews; neither by our mouths, and such discourses as we are not war, nor by plague, nor by scarcity of the fruits ourselves conscious of. I well remember by what of the earth; nor can any other unexpected acentreaties both you and the Midianites brought cident be to their entire ruin. For the providence me hither; and on that account I took this jour- of God is concerned to preserve them from such ney. It was my prayer that I might not put any a misfortune; nor will it permit any such calamaffront upon you, as to what you desired of me. ity to come upon them, whereby they may all But God is more powerful than the purposes I perish. But some small misfortunes, and those had made to serve you. For those that take upon for some time, whereby they may appear to be them to foretell the affairs of mankind, as from brought low, may still befall them. But after that their own abilities, are entirely unable to do it; they will flourish again, to the terror of those or to forbear to utter what God suggests to them, who brought those mischiefs upon them. So that or to offer violence to his will. For when he pre- if you are desirous of gaining a victory over them vents us, and enters into us, nothing that we say for a short space of time, you will obtain it by is our own. I then did not intend to praise this following my directions. Do you, therefore,t set army, nor to notice the several good things which out the comeliness of such of your daughters as God intended to do to their race. But since he are most eminent for beauty, and proper to conwas so favourable to them, and so ready to be- quer the modesty of those that behold them; and stow upon them a happy life, and eternal glory, these decked and ornamented to the highest dehe suggested the declaration of those things to me. gree you are able. Then send them to the IsraelBut now, because it is my desire to oblige thee ites' camp; and give them in charge, that when thyself, as well as the Midianites, whose entreaties the young men of the Hebrews desire their comit is not decent for me to reject; let us again rear pany, they allow it them. And when they see other altars, and offer the like sacrifices that we that they are enamoured of them, let them take did before; and I may see whether I can persuade their leave; and if they entreat them to stay, let God to permit me to bind these men with curses." them not give their consent, till they have perBalak readily agreed to this proposal; but God suaded them to neglect their own laws, and the would not even upon* second sacrifices consent worship of that God who established them, and to his cursing the Israelites. Then fell Balaam to worship the gods of the Midianites and Moabupon his face, and foretold what calamities would ites: for by this means God will be incensed befall the several kings of the nations, and the againsts them.” Accordingly when Balaam had most eminent cities; some of which of old were suggested this course, he went his
way. not so much as inhabited; which events have When the Midianites had sent their daughters, come to pass among the several people concerned, as Balaam had exhorted them, the Hebrew young both in the preceding ages, and in this, till my men were allured by their beauty; and besought own memory, both by sea and land. From which them not to grudge them the enjoyment of their completion of these predictions, one may natu- beauty, nor to deny them their conversation. rally expect that the rest will have their comple- These daughters of the Midianites received their tions in time to come.
words gladly, and consented to stay with them. Balak, being very angry that the Israelites were But when they had brought them to be perfectly not cursed, sent away Balaam, without thinking enamoured, they began to talk of departing. Then him worthy of any honour. Whereupon, when it was that these men became greatly disconsolate he was just upon his journey, in order to pass the at the women's departure; and were urgent with Euphrates, he sent for Balak, and for the princes them not to leave them; but begged they would of the Midianites, and spake thus to him: “O continue there, and become their wives, and promBalak, and you Midianites that are here present, ised them they should be owned as mistresses I am obliged, even without the will of God, to of all they had. This they said with an oath, gratify you. It is true, no entire destruction can calling God for the arbitrator of what they prom
* Whether Josephus had in his copy but two attempts of Jude 11. Apoc. ii. 14, is preserved, as Reland informs us, in Balaam in all to curse Israel; or whether by his twice offering the Samaritan chronicle, in Philo, and in other writings of the sacrifice he meant twice beside the first time already mentioned, Jews, as well as here by Josephus. which is not yet very probable; cannot now be certainly deter # This grand maxim, that God's people of Israel could never mined. In the mean time all other copies have three such at be hurt, nor destroyed, but by drawing them to sin against God; tempts of Balaam to curse them in the present history.
appears to be true, by the entire history of that people, both in + Such a large and distinct account of this perversion of the the Bible, and in Josephus; and is often noticed in them both. Israelites by the Midianite women, of which our other copies See in particular a most remarkable Ammonite testimony to give us but short intimations, Numb. xxxi. 16. 2 Pet. ii. 15. this purpose : Judith v. 5, 21.
ised; and this with tears in their eyes, and such || must either come into such methods of divine other marks of concern as might show how miser- worship as all others came into, or else they must able they thought themselves without them, and look out for another world, wherein they might so might move their compassion. So the women, live by themselves according to their own laws. as soon as they perceived they had made them Now the young men were induced, by the fondtheir slaves, and had enamoured them with their ness they had for these women, to think they conversation, began to speak thus to them: spake very well. So they gave themselves up to
“() ye illustrious young men; we have houses what they suggested, and transgressed their own of our own at home, and great plenty of good laws; and supposing there were many gods, and things there; together with the natural affection- resolving that they would sacrifice to them acate love of our parents and friends. Nor is it out cording to the law of that country which ordainof our want of any such things that we are come ed them: they both were delighted with their to discourse with you; nor did we admit of your strange food, and went on to do every thing that invitation with design to prostitute our beauty for the women would have them do, though in congain: but, taking you for brave and worthy men, tradiction to their own laws. So far, indeed, that we agreed to your request, that we might treat this transgression was already gone through the you with such honours as hospitality required. whole army of the young men : and they fell into And now seeing you say that you have a great a sedition that was much worse than the former, affection for us, and are troubled when you think and into the danger of the entire abolition of their we are departing, we are not averse to your en own institutions. For when once the youth had treaties, and if we may receive satisfactory assu- tasted of these strange customs, they went with rance of your good-will, we will be glad to lead insatiable inclinations into them; and some of the our lives with you, as your wives; but we are principal men, who were illustrious on account of afraid that you will in time be weary of our com- the virtues of their fathers, were also corrupted pany, and will then abuse us, and send us back to together with the rest. Even Zimri, the head of our parents, after an ignominious manner. You the tribe of Simeon, accompanied with Cozbi, a must, therefore, excuse us in guarding against Midianitish woman, who was the daughter of Sur, that danger.”
a man of authority in that country; and being The young men professed they would give desired by his wife to disregard the laws of Moses, them any assistance they should desire ; nor did and to follow those she was used to, he complied they at all contradict what they requested; so with her: and this both by sacrificing after a mangreat was the passion they had for them.
ner different from his own, and by taking a stran“ If then,” rejoined they, “ this be your resolu- ger to wife. tion; since you make use of such customs* and When things were in this state, Moses was conduct of life as are entirely different from all afraid that matters would grow worse, and called other men; insomuch that your kinds of food are the people to a congregation : he then accused peculiar to yourselves, and your kinds of drink nobody by name; as unwilling to drive those to not common to others; it will be absolutely despair, who, by lying concealed, might come to necessary,
would have us for your wives, repentance; but he said, that they did not do that
you do withal worship our gods. Nor can what was either worthy of themselves, or of their there be any other demonstration of the kindness fathers; by preferring pleasure to God, and to the which you say you already have, and promise living according to his will: that it was fit to to have hereafter to us, than this, that you wor- change their courses, while affairs were in a good ship the same gods as we do. For has any one state ; and think that to be true fortitude, which, reason to complain, that now you are come into instead of offering violence to their laws, enabled this country, you should worship the proper gods them to resist their lusts. And besides that, he of the same country ? especially while our gods said, it was not a reasonable thing, when they had are common to all men, and yours such as belong lived soberly in the wilderness, to act madly now to nobody but yourselves.” So they said they they were in prosperity: and that they ought not
* What Josephus here puts into the mouths of these Midian- stantial reason for the great concern that was ever showed under ite women who came to entice the Israelites to lewdness and the laws of Moses, to preserve the Israelites from idolatry, and idolatry; viz. that their worship of the God of Israel, in oppo- in the worship of the true God; it being of no less consequence sition to their idol gods, implied their living according to the than, whether God's people should be governed by the holy laws holy laws, which the true God had given them by Moses, in op of the true God, or by the impure laws, derived from demons, position to those impure laws, which were observed under their under the pagan idolatry. false gods, well deserves our consideration; and gives us a sub