KJ (King James translation): And Balaam said unto
Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen and seven
BN (BibleNet translation): Then Bil'am said to Balak: Erect for me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams.
SHIVAH: That number seven yet again; however, no Beney Yisra-El shrine ever had seven altars, and seven bullocks, even if they were yearlings, would never have been sacrificed without accompanying heave, wave, sin or guilt offerings - so that we know that we are witnessing either a non Yisra-Eli, or simply a pantomime ceremony
23:2 VA YA'AS BALAK KA ASHER DIBER BIL'AM VA YA'AL BALAK U VIL'AM PAR VA AYIL BA MIZBE'ACH
KJ: And Balaam said unto
Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and I will go: peradventure the LORD will
come to meet me: and whatsoever he sheweth me I will tell thee. And he went to
an high place.
BN: Then Bil'am said to Balak: Stay here beside your burnt-offering, and I shall leave. Maybe YHVH will come to meet me. And whatever He shows me I will tell you. And he went up the hill.
SHEPHI: "Bare height" is the more modern translation, and it accords with several other uses of the word; but grammatically there is a problem. If he went "to" it needs to be in the dative "el" or "la", or with a Hey ending, and it has none of these; indeed, its presence here, adjacent to the verb, infers an adverb, which it just as clearly isn't. Textual error then.
23:4 VA YIKAR ELOHIM EL BIL'AM VA YOMER ELAV ET SHIVAT HA MIZBECHOT ARACHTI VA A'AL PAR VA AYIL BA MIZBE'ACH
KJ: And the LORD put a
word in Balaam's mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus thou shalt speak.
BN: Then YHVH put a word in Bil'am's mouth, and said: Go back to Balak, and speak to him as follows.
DAVAR: in the sense of an oracular pronouncement, "the word of god" so to speak; and indeed, what we have been witnessing, is the customary oracular practice - much the same process and ceremonies would have taken place when Sha'ul visited the witch of Ein Dor or a person visited Delphi.
23:6 VA YASHAV ELAV VE HINEH NITSAV AL OLATO HU VE CHOL SAREY MO-AV
KJ: How shall I curse,
whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the
LORD hath not defied?
BN: But how shall I curse, whom El has not cursed? And how shall I denounce, whom YHVH has not denounced?
EKOV: Aurally punning on Ya'akov/Jacob, which was oddly referenced in the previous verse; here EKOV has an aleph (א), there an ayin (ע), but aurally they are indistinguishable, so the word "curse" and the name "Jacob" become interchangeable.
Once again the translators have ducked the issue; the first "god" is in fact El; I have restored him in my translation
23:9 KI ME ROSH TSURIM ER'ENU U MI GEVA'OT ASHURENU HEN AM LEVADAD YISHKON U VA GOYIM LO YIT'CHASHAV
KJ: And Balak said unto
him, Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, from whence thou mayest see
them: thou shalt see but the utmost part of them, and shalt not see them all:
and curse me them from thence.
BN: And Balak said to him: Come, please, come with me to another place, from where you will be able to see them. You will only be able to see some of them not all of them, from there; but curse them for me from there.
23:14 VA YIKACHEYHU SEDEH TSOPHIM EL ROSH HA PISGAH VA YIVEN SHIVAH MIZBECHOT VA YA'AL PAR VA AYIL BA MIZBE'ACH
KJ: And he brought him
into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and
offered a bullock and a ram on everyaltar.
BN: And he took him to the field of Zophim, to the very summit of the hill, and built seven altars, and offered up a bullock and a ram on every altar.
ZOPHIM: People don't generally have fields on the summits of hills or mountains, especially ones that have been described as SHEPHI - bare. But we have seen SADEH used many times to mean a shrine (Genesis 50:13 for example), and here more altars are being raised. EL ROSH HA PISGAH: But isn't that the very spot where Mosheh himself will later go to watch the people crossing into Kena'an, and then remain there, hospiced for his death? (Deuteronomy 34:1) 23:15 VA YOMER EL BALAK HITYATSEV KOH AL OLATECHA VA ANOCHI IKAREH KOH
KJ: And he said unto
Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering, while I meet the LORD yonder.
BN: And he said to Balak: You stay here beside your burnt-offering, and I've got a meeting up there.
It is phrasing like this verse that convinces me we have a pantomime script in our hands, and not a religious tract or a historical report. VE ANOCHI IKAREH KOH really does translate as I have translated it. The King James has added "the Lord" (in italics, so it is clear that it is an addition), in order to try to make seriousness and sense of what is really a Laurel and Hardy line. And can we really imagine the deity, sitting there while Bil'am runs back and forth, getting his message, delivering it, coming back for another, and then another? 23:16 VA YIKAR YHVH EL BIL'AM VA YASEM DAVAR BE PHIV VA YOMER SHUV EL BALAK VE CHOH TEDABER
KJ: And he took up his
parable, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, thou son of
BN: And he delivered his oracle, saying: Arise, Balak, and hear; give ear to me, ben Tsipor
MESHALO: meaning he pronounced the oracle
HA'AZINAH: The word is used frequently as the opening of Psalms (see Psalm 5:2, 39:13, 78:1, 84:9 for examples), and is probably intended here to mock that familiar refrain. 23:19 LO ISH EL VIY'CHAZEV U VEN ADAM VE YITNECHAM HA HU AMAR VE LO YA'ASEH VE DIBER VE LO YEKIMENAH
KJ: He hath not beheld
iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel: the LORD his
God is with him,
and the shout of a king is among them.
BN: He has found no fault in Ya'akov, nor has anyone seen anything wicked in Yisra-El. YHVH his god is with him, and they are blowing alarums on the trumpet for their king.
Once again confirming that there is a contest here between El and YHVH
TERU'AH: Unclear to me why King James translates this as "shout", when we know from earlier passages that the TERU'AH is one of the trumpet-calls (see under YUVAL and Exodus 19:13, and especially Numbers 10) 23:22 EL MOTSIY'AM MI MITSRAYIM KE TO'APHOT RE'EM LO
אֵל מוֹצִיאָם מִמִּצְרָיִם כְּתוֹעֲפֹת רְאֵם לוֹ
KJ: God brought them out
of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn.
BN: El who brought them out of Mitsrayim is for them like the lofty horns of the wild-ox.
RE'EM: In Numbers 22:4, the phrase that set up this tale, the beast translated as an "ox" was a SHOR; here, with the same translation, it is a RE'EM. Go to the shelves and you will find vast amounts of scholarly debate over this, without any conclusion, but probably the SHOR was a regular ploughing-ox, and the RE'EM the wild oryx, which is to say, the same creature, but the former domesticated, the latter still wild. There is also much speculation as whether the name Av-Ram is connected; obviously it is in terms of the letters that spell the words; but there are also innumerable statues and images of the ancient sun-god (Horus as the golden calf among them) in which the "Great Father", the sun god, is depicted, so to speak, in the star-sign Taurus (the illustration is the Egyptian god Apis as RE'EM, from the Egyptian collection in the Louvre). 23:23 KI LO NACHASH BE YA'AKOV VE LO KESEM BE YISRA-EL KA ET YE'AMER LE YA'AKOV U LE YISRA-EL MAH PA'AL EL
KJ: Surely there is no
enchantment against Jacob, neither is
there any divination against Israel: according to this time it
shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!
BN: There are no serpents with Ya'akov, nor is any one in Yisra-El practising divination; and now it is being asked in Ya'akov and of Yisra-El: What has El done?
Again the translators have ducked the issue; the last named god is EL, as it was in the previous verse - is Bil'am paying lip-service to Balak when he says this?
The English translation adds an exclamation mark. Why? Why not an interrogation mark?
NACHASH: But only two chapters ago there were indeed serpents with Ya'akov (Numbers 21:6), both the Seraphim and the brass rod used to dispel them, not just a NACHASH but NECHUSHTAN itself (Numbers 21:9). KESEM: Whereas, among the Beney Mo-Av and the Beney Midyan, using Bil'am to do so... 23:24 HEN AM KE LAVI YAKUM VE CHA ARI YITNASA LO YISHKAV AD YOCHAL TEREPH VE DAM CHALALIM YISHTEH
KJ: Behold, the people
shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall
not lie down until he eat of the prey,
and drink the blood of the slain.
BN: Behold a people that rises up like a lioness, and like a lion lift himself up; he shall not lie down until he eats of the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain.
Lion? But didn't Ya'akov in his Hikavtsu (Genesis 49:9) describe Yehudah as a lion? (Later, in Deuteronomy 33:22, Dan will be described by Mosheh as a lion's whelp, and Gad in Deuteronomy 33:20as a lioness). 23:25 VA YOMER BALAK EL BIL'AM GAM KOV LO TIKAVENU GAM BARECH LO TEVARCHENU
KJ: And Balak said unto
Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place; peradventure
it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence.
BN: Then Balak said to Bil'am: Come now, I will take you to another place. Perhaps it will please Elohim to have you curse them for me from there.
Enough already. Point made. Pep-talk for the listening congregation of Ezraic or post-Ezraic Jews achieved. Time to move on to another story. 23:28 VA YIKACH BALAK ET BIL'AM ROSH HA PE'OR HA NISHKAPH AL PENEY HA YESHIMON
KJ: And Balak brought
Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward Jeshimon.
BN: Then Balak took Bil'am to the top of Pe'or, which looks down upon the desert.
What is the significance of these three places? Geographically, he seems to be climbing higher each time - is that right?
PE'OR: Short for Ba'al-Pe'or, which will appear again in Numbers 25:18 and 31:16, and then again in Joshua 22:17 and 24:14-23 as the locale for some of the more licentiously orgiastic of the rites in which the Beney Yisra-El will participate.
HA YESHIMON: King James and others seem to think it is a village, and name it. The root is YASHAM, which means "waste", and is simply a description for the desert, it being rather less brown sand and rather more thistles and scrub in this region. 23:29 VA YOMER BIL'AM EL BALAK BENEH LI BA ZEH SHIVAH MIZBECHOT VE HACHEN LI BA ZEH SHIVAH PHARIM VE SHIVAH EYLIM