1 Then the people of Israel traveled to the plains of Moab and camped east of the Jordan River, across from Jericho. 2 Balak son of Zippor, the Moabite king, had seen everything the Israelites did to the Amorites. 3 And when the people of Moab saw how many Israelites there were, they were terrified. 4 The king of Moab said to the elders of Midian, “This mob will devour everything in sight, like an ox devours grass in the field!” So Balak, king of Moab, 5 sent messengers to call Balaam son of Beor, who was living in his native land of Pethor 1 near the Euphrates River. 2 His message said: “Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt. They cover the face of the earth and are threatening me. 6 Please come and curse these people for me because they are too powerful for me. Then perhaps I will be able to conquer them and drive them from the land. I know that blessings fall on any people you bless, and curses fall on people you curse.”
Balak’s messengers, who were elders of Moab and Midian, set out with money to pay Balaam to place a curse upon Israel. 3 They went to Balaam and delivered Balak’s message to him.
“Stay here overnight,” Balaam said. “In the morning I will tell you whatever the Lord directs me to say.” So the officials from Moab stayed there with Balaam.
That night God came to Balaam and asked him, “Who are these men visiting you?”
10 Balaam said to God, “Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent me this message: 11 ‘Look, a vast horde of people has arrived from Egypt, and they cover the face of the earth. Come and curse these people for me. Then perhaps I will be able to stand up to them and drive them from the land.’” 12 But God told Balaam, “Do not go with them. You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!”
13 The next morning Balaam got up and told Balak’s officials, “Go on home! The Lord will not let me go with you.”
14 So the Moabite officials returned to King Balak and reported, “Balaam refused to come with us.”
Then Balak tried again. This time he sent a larger number of even more distinguished officials than those he had sent the first time.
They went to Balaam and delivered this message to him: “This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Please don’t let anything stop you from coming to help me.
I will pay you very well and do whatever you tell me. Just come and curse these people for me!”
But Balaam responded to Balak’s messengers, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I would be powerless to do anything against the will of the Lord my God.
But stay here one more night, and I will see if the Lord has anything else to say to me.”
That night God came to Balaam and told him, “Since these men have come for you, get up and go with them. But do only what I tell you to do.”
21 So the next morning Balaam got up, saddled his donkey, and started off with the Moabite officials.