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[118] Thus did Balaam speak by inspiration, as not being in his own power, but moved to say what he did by the Divine Spirit. But then Balak was displeased, and said he had broken the contract he had made, whereby he was to come, as he and his confederates had invited him, by the promise of great presents: for whereas he came to curse their enemies, he had made an encomium upon them, and had declared that they were the happiest of men. To which Balaam replied, "O Balak, if thou rightly considerest this whole matter, canst thou suppose that it is in our power to be silent, or to say any thing, when the Spirit of God seizes upon us? - for he puts such words as he pleases in our mouths, and such discourses as we are not ourselves conscious of. I well remember by what entreaties both you and the Midianites so joyfully brought me hither, and on that account I took this journey. It was my prayer, that I might not put any affront upon you, as to what you desired of me; but God is more powerful than the purposes I had made to serve you; for those that take upon them to foretell the affairs of mankind, as from their own abilities, are entirely unable to do it, or to forbear to utter what God suggests to them, or to offer violence to his will; for when he prevents us and enters into us, nothing that we say is our own. I then did not intend to praise this army, nor to go over the several good things which God intended to do to their race; but since he was so favorable to them, and so ready to bestow upon them a happy life and eternal glory, he suggested the declaration of those things to me: but now, because it is my desire to oblige thee thyself, as well as the Midianites, whose entreaties it is not decent for me to reject, go to, let us again rear other altars, and offer the like sacrifices that we did before, that I may see whether I can persuade God to permit me to bind these men with curses." Which, when Balak had agreed to, God would not, even upon second sacrifices, consent to his cursing the Israelites. 1 Then fell Balaam upon his face, and foretold what calamities would befall the several kings of the nations, and the most eminent cities, some of which of old were not so much as inhabited; which events have come to pass among the several people concerned, both in the foregoing ages, and in this, till my own memory, both by sea and by land. From which completion of all these predictions that he made, one may easily guess that the rest will have their completion in time to come.

1 Whether Josephus had in his copy but two attempts of Balaam in all to curse Israel; or whether by this his twice offering sacrifice, he meant twice besides that first time already mentioned, which yet is not very probable; cannot now be certainly determined. In the mean time, all other copies have three such attempts of Balaam to curse them in the present history.

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