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predominant passion. No thorough transformation had been wrought upon his inward character. He was radically unchanged. Yet the Spirit of God was not wholly withheld. His intellectual nature had been quickened. By the agency of that Spirit, individual rays of light were imparted to him ; the incipient gift of prophecy bursting through the mist of debasing desires, and lifting him beyond the grovelling position he disliked to abandon. No comprehensive gift of prophecy belonged to him : and indeed he can scarcely be classed among true prophets. Yet he was not without the beginnings of such knowledge and reverence of the true God as formed a point of union for the divine Spirit. Hence he can neither be termed a mere heathen soothsayer and impostor, nor a pious prophet of the Lord.

3. What is the meaning of that part of Balaam's fourth prophecy which is contained in Numbers xxiv. 17, etc.?

I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not nigh;
A star arises out of Jacob,
And a sceptre comes forth from Israel,
And breaks to pieces the two sides of Moab,
And shatters all the sons of tumult.
And Edom shall be his possession,
And they of Seir, his enemies, a possession ;
While Israel shall do valiantly;
Out of Jacob rules [Jehovah]
And out of the city (Zion) destroys them that remain.

It is universally allowed, that by the star which should come out of Jacob, and the sceptre which should rise out of Israel, a glorious king and ruler is spoken of. But, when we come to inquire more particularly who is meant, there is considerable diversity of sentiment.

(a) Some think that it refers to David, and appeal to the fact that he completely subdued the Moabites and Edomites as well as all the neighbouring nations hostile to the theocracy (2 Sam. viii). This opinion satisfies most of the conditions of the case. It is no valid objection to it, that the Moabites and Ammonites afterwards asserted their freedom, as related in the Books of the Kings; because the words do not say that the ruler should wholly subjugate them for ever. In the nineteenth verse the prophet's view stretches out into the distant future—far beyond David. His aspirations become, in a wide sense, Messianic. They long for and foretell a glorious time of conquest, of which David's was but the prelude. After the signal victory obtained by the conqueror over his enemies, Jehovah shall rule out of Jacob, in the midst of his people, and complete the subjugation of all his foes. The conqueror David insensibly gives place to Jehovah in the nineteenth verse. There is an imperceptible transition from the one to the other. We do not look upon the seventeenth and eighteenth verses as Messianic, except so far as David's victories may have been connected in the mind of the seer with the ulterior and higher conquest in the golden age. It is strange that the verb ??is not preceded by a noun. We suppose therefore with Ewald, that 77977 has fallen out; because the words in Psalm cx. 2 floated before the writer's mind.

(b) Others as Calvin, Baumgarten, Delitzsch, and Rosenmüller, refer the prophecy to Messiah alone. Why then are the Edomites and Moabites singled out as peoples to be conquered by Him? The hypothesis is utterly unsuitable to the passage.

(c) Others as Kurtz, refer the prophecy both to David and Messiah, to the former as typical and anticipatory of the latter. We object to this double reference as unnecessary and inapposite. The Messianic element of the prophecy is introduced for the purpose of swelling out the number of passages in the Old Testament that speak of the future Redeemer. The words relate to war and conquest alone. There is nothing peaceful in them, as one should expect in allusion to Messianic times. The Messiah is a warrior, smiting the princes of Moab and destroying the tumultuous enemies of Israel. His foes are definitely mentioned. The spiritual blessings resulting to the heathen from Messiah's coming and power are entirely omitted. There is not the slightest allusion to the gracious benefits He bestows on the conquered. All this is in harmony with the character of Balaam. One should not expect the vision of such a seer to rise above the circle of earthly events. Supposing the prophecy to have been really uttered by Balaam, the star out of Jacob, which was also a sceptre, was in his view but one king, glorious and conquering, a shining spot in the darkness of futurity. Macdonald asserts that the prophecy is not more full of denunciation than the primal promise of the seed of the woman. He believes that the seed of the woman means specifically a personal Messiah ; that the words of Gen. iii. 15, were literally and audibly spoken by Jehovah to Eve in the garden; and that both prophecies are essentially identical. It is useless to reason with one who holds such belief

. He has yet to learn the first principles of interpretation.

Hengstenberg's opinion is peculiar. He supposes that the star and sceptre designate an ideal person, the personified Israelitish kingdom, for which four arguments are adduced—by no

a

See Ewald, achtes Jahrbuch., p. 36. 2 Introduction to the Pentateuch, vol. ii. p. 233.

means decisive or valid. They have been refuted by Kurtz.? Yet they are repeated by Reinke. A real, not an ideal person, must be meant. Individual deeds are ascribed to the star out of Jacob, which require a definite person to perform them. No pure abstraction or idea presented itself to the prophetic eye of the seer but a concrete thing when he exclaimed, “I see a star rise out of Jacob, and a sceptre from among Israel.” ”

When it is asserted that the future king and conqueror should destroy all the children of Seth, the son of Adam and parent of the whole human race is not meant. Neither does Seth refer to a Gentile deity, whose priests and votaries are styled the children of Seth, according to Bryant. The word means tumult or noise; and the Moabites are termed sons of tumult, because they were perpetually troublesome and vexatious to the Israelites, by their incursions. So Verschuir first interpreted the noun, annihilating by that means one of the arguments on behalf of the Messianic application of the passage.

Whether the star of Balaam, and the star of the wise men from the east bear an internal relation to one another is more than questionable.

4. What view is to be taken of the ass speaking to Balaam ? This is a very difficult question. Assuming the historical character of the narration, and not resolving it into myth or legend, there are two modes of explaining the circumstance, viz. :

(a) As an external, objective fact. A miracle was wrought, and the tongue of the ass was moved to utter words after the manner of man. Most theologians who adhere to the letter of Scripture, take this view. It has been maintained very strenuously by Baumgarten, Otto von Gerlach, and Kurtz. In its favour, arguments like the following are produced :

1. There is not a trace in the narrative of Balaam being in an ecstacy, or seeing the thing merely in inner vision.

2. The words, "and the Lord opened the mouth of the ass (xxi. 28) necessitate the inference that the divine operation had the ass for its object, not the soul of Balaam. The words of Peter too, are very definite and express. “ The ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet.”

3. As the ass was present, bodily and externally visible, its speaking must also be externally and bodily audible.

(6) On the other hand, it has been asserted by Herder, and especially by Tholuck and Hengstenberg, that the incident occurred in vision. Balaam's soul was vividly impressed with the idea. The divine influence threw it into a peculiar condition, in

i Geschichte Bileam's, pp. 172, 173. 2 Geschichte des alten Bundes, vol. ii. P, 490 et seqq. 3 Die Weissagung Bileam's, Beiträge iv. pp. 259, 260.

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which it conceived that the ass spake such words. The fact therefore was wholly internal, belonging to the soul of the rapt seer.

The argumentation of Hengstenberg in favour of this view is ingenious and laboured, especially where he tries to shew that appearances in dreams and visions have the same reality as those in a waking state. The one class is as certain as the other, the difference being formal not essential. But when fancy is substituted for vision, the actual is subverted. With all the endeavours of this critic to prove that the reality of the thing is the same, whether presented to the inner vision, or to the outward eye as an objective phenomenon, we cannot resolve the whole into what is internal. The reasoning of Hengstenberg has been weakened, if not refuted, by Kurtz. The entire narrative gives every reader the impression, that the writer thought he was relating what was historical and outward. It is expressly said that “the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand," which can hardly agree with the subjective view maintained by Hengstenberg. Still stronger are the words of the twenty-eighth verse, “ the Lord opened the mouth of the ass,” which shew that the divine power was exerted on the mouth of the ass in producing certain words, and not upon the soul of the prophet. The language too in the Second Epistle of Peter proves, that the transaction was regarded as an external one; for it is plainly intimated there that the ass uttered articulate human language, and reproved the prophet.

While the phraseology thus seems to intimate that the narrator intended to describe what was objective and real, there are such difficulties and improbabilities in the transaction as to compel our having recourse to another view, that is, the mythical.

Such a miracle as that of an ass speaking with man's voice seems gratuitous and unmeaning. The divine intention evidently was to make Balaam ashamed, and so to dispel the cloud of earthly passions which prevented him from opening his spirit to a divine impression. It cannot surely be argued, though Kurtz appears to convey the idea,' that the literal speaking of the ass was necessary to rouse the sunken mind of the seer and waken up its prophetic capacity. Balaam, it is true, was stupid, obstinate, insensible to his calling, full of thoughts that were in direct opposition to the character of one who had the true prophetic gift; his heart was blinded by the love of money and honour; but whatever amount of blindness or insensibility is attributed to him, it cannot render such miracle antecedently probable, much less necessary. More depends on what the ass said, than on the simple fact of its speaking. “The dumb ass forbade the madness of the prophet.” She expostulated with and rebuked him. It is unlikely that he would have been reduced to shame and brought to think of his true position by the circumstance that the ass spake, had she not uttered words of rebuke. We cannot therefore agree with Kurtz in laying the stress and significance of the miracle on the mere act of speaking, rather than the words which were spoken. It was needful to recall the spirit of the seer from its sunken condition, that words of piercing reproof should be addressed to him. Hence the bare speaking of an ass seems meaningless.

1 Die Geschichte Bileam's, p. 48 et seqq. 2 Geschichte des alten Bundes, vol. ii. p. 468 et seqq. 3 Geschichte u. s. w. vol. ü. p. 474.

It is very remarkable that the rider sits quietly on the ass and replies to her speaking without the least expression of astonishment. Would it not have been most natural for him to spring off her back ? The first words of Balaam exclude the idea of astonishment: “Because thou hast mocked me; I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.”

Again, the speaking of the ass, taken as an outward and literal fact, transgresses those eternal laws which separate man from the lower animals. There is a wide, impassable line between nature and spirit-between the irrational creature, and the free agent man originally formed in the image of God.

The Supreme Being, therefore, who put such a distinction between the two, will never transfer the qualities of the one to the other. This is freely admitted by Kurtz. But he assumes that the distinction between the two classes of God's creatures does not lie in mere speech, because various animals are able to utter articulate sounds like those of the human voice, and even articulate words; that it lies in the things spoken; that here the utterances themselves belong to the inner nature of the animal, without being a revelation of God to Balaam; and that all which shewed a • divine operation was such modulation of the ass's voice as made it convey to the ears of Balaam words indicative of human speech. This reasoning seems to us fallacious. There is no good reason for separating the mere modulation and tones of the words from the words themselves. And it is contrary to the nature of the ass, whatever instinct, feeling, or intelligence is supposed to belong to it, to utter words of expostulation and reproof to Balaam. The tones of the words and the words themselres must be taken together. If the former was miraculous, the latter were equally so. Both constituted the wonder. . And if that be so, the eternal laws separating the two classes of God's creatures are broken down—a Thing which the Almighty could

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