1Then the people of Isra’el traveled on and camped in the plains of Mo’av beyond the Yarden River, opposite Yericho.
Haftarah Hukkat: Shof’tim (Judges) 11:1–33
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Hukkat: Yochanan (John) 3:9–21; 4:3–30; 12:27–50
Parashah 40: Balak 22:2–25:9
[In regular years read with Parashah 39, in leap years read separately]
2Now Balak the son of Tzippor saw all that Isra’el had done to the Emori. 3Mo’av was very afraid of the people, because there were so many of them; Mo’av was overcome with dread because of the people of Isra’el. 4So Mo’av said to the leaders of Midyan, “This horde will lick up everything around us, the way an ox licks up grass in the field.”
Balak the son of Tzippor was king of Mo’av at that time. 5He sent messengers to Bil‘am the son of B‘or, at P’tor by the [Euphrates] River in his native land, to tell him, “Listen, a people has come out of Egypt, spread over all the land and settled down next to me. 6Therefore, please come, and curse this people for me, because they are stronger than I am. Maybe I will be able to strike them down and drive them out of the land, for I know that whomever you bless is in fact blessed, and whomever you curse is in fact cursed.” 7The leaders of Mo’av and Midyan left, taking with them the payment for divining, came to Bil‘am and spoke to him the words of Balak. 8He said to them, “Stay here tonight, and I will bring you back whatever answer Adonai tells me.” So the princes of Mo’av stayed with Bil‘am.
9God came to Bil‘am and said, “Who are these men with you?” 10Bil‘am said to God, “Balak the son of Tzippor, king of Mo’av, has sent me this message: 11‘The people who came out of Egypt have spread over the land; now, come and curse them for me; maybe I will be able to fight against them and drive them out.’” 12God answered Bil‘am, “You are not to go with them; you are not to curse the people, because they are blessed.”
(RY: v; LY: ii) 13Bil‘am got up in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, “Return to your own land, because Adonai refuses to give me permission to go with you.” 14The princes of Mo’av got up, returned to Balak and said, “Bil‘am refuses to come with us.”
15Balak again sent princes, more of them and of higher status than the first group. 16They went to Bil‘am and said to him, “Here is what Balak the son of Tzippor says: ‘Please don’t let anything keep you from coming to me. 17I will reward you very well, and whatever you say to me I will do. So please come, and curse this people for me.’” 18Bil‘am answered the servants of Balak, “Even if Balak were to give me his palace filled with silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of Adonai my God to do anything, great or small. 19Now, please, you too, stay here tonight; so that I may find out what else Adonai will say to me.” 20God came to Bil‘am during the night and said to him, “If the men have come to summon you, get up and go with them; but do only what I tell you.”
(LY: iii) 21So Bil‘am got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Mo’av. 22But God’s anger flared up because he went, and the angel of Adonai stationed himself on the path to bar his way. He was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23The donkey saw the angel of Adonai standing on the road, drawn sword in hand; so the donkey turned off the road into the field; and Bil‘am had to beat the donkey to get it back on the road. 24Then the angel of Adonai stood on the road where it became narrow as it passed among the vineyards and had stone walls on both sides. 25The donkey saw the angel of Adonai and pushed up against the wall, crushing Bil‘am’s foot against the wall. So he beat it again. 26The angel of Adonai moved ahead and stood in a place so tight that there was no room to turn either right or left. 27Again the donkey saw the angel of Adonai and lay down under Bil‘am, which made him so angry that he hit the donkey with his stick. 28But Adonai enabled the donkey to speak, and it said to Bil‘am, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” 29Bil‘am said to the donkey, “It’s because you’ve been making a fool of me! I wish I had a sword in my hand; I would kill you on the spot!” 30The donkey said to Bil‘am, “I’m your donkey, right? You’ve ridden me all your life, right? Have I ever treated you like this before?” “No,” he admitted. 31Then Adonai opened Bil‘am’s eyes, so that he could see the angel of Adonai standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, and he bowed his head and fell on his face. 32The angel of Adonai said to him, “Why did you hit your donkey three times like that? I have come out here to bar your way, because you are rushing to oppose me. 33The donkey saw me and turned aside these three times; and indeed, if she hadn’t turned away from me, I would have killed you by now and saved it alive!” 34Bil‘am said to the angel of Adonai, “I have sinned. I didn’t know that you were standing on the road to block me. Now, therefore, if what I am doing displeases you, I will go back.” 35But the angel of Adonai said to Bil‘am, “No, go on with the men; but you are to say only what I tell you to say.” So Bil‘am went along with the princes of Balak.
36When Balak heard that Bil‘am had come, he went out to meet him in the city of Mo’av at the Arnon border, in the farthest reaches of the territory. 37Balak said to Bil‘am, “I sent more than once to summon you! Why didn’t you come to me? Did you think I couldn’t pay you enough?” 38Bil‘am replied to Balak, “Here, I’ve come to you! But I have no power of my own to say anything. The word that God puts in my mouth is what I will say.”
(RY: vi, LY: iv) 39Bil‘am went with Balak. When they arrived at Kiryat-Hutzot, 40Balak sacrificed cattle and sheep, then sent to Bil‘am and the princes with him. 41In the morning Balak took Bil‘am and brought him up to the high places of Ba‘al; from there he could see a portion of the people.