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  • The Biblical Antiquities of Philo, Chapter 18Philo 18
Andries Hendrik Potgieter Andries Pretorius FW Reitz General Louis Botha Gideon Jacobus Scheepers Jacobus Herculaas de la Rey Johanna Brandt Johannes Cornelius Lötter Koos De La Rey Pres MT Steyn Sarel Cilliers Siener van Rensburg

Debat oor Christendom en Godsdiens

The Biblical Antiquities of Philo

Or the history of philo from the beginning of the world to king david

Chapter 18.


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1. At that time Moses slew Seon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and divided all their land unto his people, and they dwelt therein.

Num. 21

2. But Balac was the king of Moab, that lived over against them, and he was greatly afraid, and sent to Balaam the son of Beor the interpreter of dreams, which dwelt in Mesopotamia, and charged him saying: Behold I know how that in the reign of my father Sefor, when the Amorites fought against him, thou didst curse them and they were delivered up before him. And now come and curse this people, for they are many, more than we, and will do thee great honour.

Num. 22
Num. 22:6

3. And Balaam said: Lo, this is good in the sight of Balac, but he knoweth not that the counsel of God is not as man's counsel. And he knoweth not that the spirit which is given unto us is given for a time, and our ways are not guided except God will. Now therefore abide ye here, and I will see what the Lord will say to me this night.

Num. 22:17
Num. 22:8, 22:9

4. And in the night God said unto him: Who are the men that are come unto thee? And Balaam said: Wherefore, Lord, dost thou tempt the race of man? They therefore cannot sustain it, for thou knewest more than they, all that was in the world, before thou foundedst it. And now enlighten thy servant if it be right that I go with them.

5. And God said to him: Was it not concerning this people that I spake unto Abraham in a vision saying: Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven, when I raised him up above the firmament and showed him all the orderings of the stars, and required of him his son for a burnt offering? and he brought him to be laid upon the altar, but I restored him to his father. And because he resisted not, his offering was acceptable in my sight, and for the blood of him did I choose this people. And then I said unto the angels that work subtilly:(1) Said I not of him: To Abraham will I reveal all that I do?

p. 124

Gen. 22:17
Gen. 18:15

6. Jacob also, when he wrestled in the dust with the angel that was over the praises, did not let him go until he blessed him. And now, behold, thou thinkest to go with these, and curse them whom I have chosen. But if thou curse them, who is he that shall bless thee?

Num. 22:13 sqq.

7. And Balaam arose in the morning and said: Go your way, for God will not have me to come with you. And they went and told Balac all that was said of Balaam. And Balac sent yet again other men to Balaam saying: Behold, I know that when thou offerest burnt offerings to God, God will be reconciled with man, and now ask yet again of thy Lord, and entreat by burnt offerings, as many as he will. For if peradventure he will be propitiated in my necessity, thou shalt have thy reward, if so be God accept thy offerings.

8. And Balaam said to them: Lo, the son of Sephor is foolish, and knoweth not that he dwelleth hard by (lit. round about) the dead:(2) And now tarry here this night and I will see what God will say unto me. And God said to him: Go with them, and thy journey shall be an offence, and Balac himself shall go unto destruction. And he arose and went with them.

p. 125

Num. 22:19

9. And his she-ass came by the way of the desert and saw the angel, and he opened the eyes of Balaam and he saw the angel and worshipped him on the earth. And the angel said to him: Haste and go on, for what thou sayest shall come to pass with him.

10. And he came unto the land of Moab and built an altar and offered sacrifices: and when he had seen a part of the people, the spirit of God abode not in him, and he took up his parable and said: Lo, Balac hath brought me hither unto the mount, saying: Come, run into the fire of these men. "Lo" I cannot abide that <<fire>> which waters quench, but that fire which consumeth water who shall endure? And he said to him: It is easier to take away the foundations and all the topmost part of them, and to quench the light of the sun and darken the shining of the moon, than for him who will to root up the planting of the Most Mighty or spoil his vineyard. And Balac himself hath not known it, because his mind is puffed up, to the intent his destruction may come swiftly.

Num. 23, 24

11. For behold, I see the heritage which the Most Mighty showed me in the night, and lo the days come when Moab shall be amazed at that which befalleth her, for Balac desired to persuade the Most Mighty with gifts and to purchase decision(3) with money. Oughtest thou not to have asked what he sent upon Pharao and upon his land because he would bring them into bondage? Behold an overshadowing vine, desirable exceedingly, and who shall be jealous against it, for it withereth not? But if any say in his counsel that the Most Mighty hath laboured in vain or chosen them to no purpose, lo now I see the salvation of deliverance which is to come unto them. I am restrained in the speech of my voice and I cannot express that which I see with mine eyes, for but a little is left to me of the holy spirit which abideth in me, since I know that in that I was persuaded of Balac I have lost the days of my life:

p. 126

12. Lo, again I see the heritage of the abode of this people,(4) and the light of it shineth above the brightness of lightning, and the running of it is swifter than arrows. And the time shall come when Moab shall groan, and they that serve Cham (Chemosh?) shall be weak, even such as took this counsel against them. But I shall gnash my teeth because I was deceived and did transgress that which was said to me in the night. Yet my prophecy shall remain manifest, and my words shall live, and the wise and prudent shall remember my words, for when I cursed I perished, and though I blessed I was not blessed. And when he had so said he held his peace. And Balac said: Thy God hath defrauded thee of many gifts from me.

Num. 24:11

13. Then Balaam said unto him:(5) Come and let us advise what thou shalt do to them. Choose out the most comely women that are among you and that are in Midian and set them before them naked, and adorned with gold and jewels, and it shall be when they shall see them and lie with them, they will sin against their Lord and fall into your hands, for otherwise thou canst not subdue them.

p. 127

Num. 31:16

14. And so saying Balaam turned away and returned to his place. And thereafter the people were led astray after the daughters of Moab, for Balac did all that Balaam had showed him.


(1) 124:1 And then I said unto the angels that work subtilly. The clause has dropped out of AP, but must be genuine. Angelis minute operantibus is a curious expression. Minute should be λεπτῶσ. Is the reference to evil angels (as in XXXIV.), or to angels set over small things, or to the angels who envied Abraham, as in XXXII. 1, 2?

Probably we ought to follow R in the next words also, and read: "Unto Abraham will I reveal all that I do, and unto Jacob his son's son whom he (1) called (my) first born. Who when he wrestled," etc.

(2) 124:2 nescit quoniam inhabitat in gyro mortuorum. Are the "mortui" anything more than Balak's idols?

(3) 125:1 decision: dogma.

(4) 126:1 the heritage of the abode of this people: haereditatem dissolutionis. I take dissolutionis to be a wrong rendering of κατάλυσισ, which means "abode" in Jer. 49:19 (LXX).

(5) 126:2 Pirke R. Eliezer 47: Balaam said: "You will not be able to prevail against this people, unless they have p. 127 sinned before their Creator." peccabunt domino suo . . . aliter expugnare eos non poteris.