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Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.” —"Strong is thy dwelling-place, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock: nevertheless the Kenite shall be wasted, antil Ashur shall carry thee away captive.”
Alas, who shall live when God doeth this! And ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Ashur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.”
Balak had already abandoned, as we have seen, all further attempts to carry his purpose into effect, of having Balaam curse the Israelites. He perceiv. ed that it was hopeless. It would seem, however, that the intercourse between these two men was not broken off; and that notwithstanding the violent
anger of the king, and his command to Balaam to flee from his presence, the latter had an acceptable expedient to propose, by which to enable Balak to inflict
those whom he called his enemies, a severe injury.
At this time, or very soon afterwards, he advised the king of Moab to place a temptation in their way, which would, as he hoped, allure them to great wickedness, and draw down upon them the judgments of the Almighty. Some of the licentious women of Moab and Midian were to endeavor to do this, and to entice the Israelites to their idolatrous feasts. We shall see that in this, alas ! they were too successful; and that one of the results, Part 2
also, was the death of Bulaam. So that this corrupt and unprincipled man was, at length, overtaken and destroyed by his own machinations.
We are told that, after uttering his last remarkable prophecy, " Balaam rose up, and went and re. turned to his place: and Balak also went his way.” It is most probable, that we are to understand by this, his intention merely to go to Mesopotamia, his native country;
for it is certain that, in a very short time after, he was among the Midianites, and then came to his untimely end.
Some have endeavored to cast the mantle of charity over parts of Balaam's conduct, and to rescue him from the charge of being a very bad man. But the whole terror of the history is quite at variance with such a view of his character. Besides, the express declarations of Scripture place the matter beyond all doubt. Does not the apostle Peter say, speaking of some of the vilest und most abominably sinful persons, that they "are gone astray, following the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness.” Does not Jude pronounce a wo on those equally corrupt and licentious sinners whom he describes,-because "they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Must not he whom divine inspiration thus classes with the most vile and sinful, himself have been a very wicked man !
His ruling passions, the love of wealth and of worldly distinction, proved his ruin. He had light enough to guide him in the path of duty. A divine command forbade him to visit Balak. Madly persisting to do it, one obstacle after another was thrown in his way, and he told by a messenger from heaven, that he was grievously sinning against God. But he kept on. He would, if possible, pro nounce the awful curse. Thrice he made the attempt, and was as often defeated, and constrained to utter blessings. A base and wily statagem was adopted, that he might prove his fidelity, to the last, to the interests of the king. And what was his reward, what the real wages of his unrighteous deeds ? No royal favors of which we have any account. Or, if they were bestowed, they were unsatisfying and of short duration. The curse of God rested upon Balaam, the same curse which he would inflict
upon others,—and a speedy death closed his guilty, mortal career!
My young friend, ponder well this instructive history. See the rapid progress of sin, when the plain path of duty is forsaken, and the voice of conscience disregarded. What is your most powerful, sinful passion ? Every unrenewed heart is under the dominion of some one; and even the christian, alas! has long to contend with sin before through grace he gains the victory.
Beware lest this ruling passion prove the ruis
soul. If it is still your master, your danger is tremendous. Struggle against it. Pray against it. Beseech God to create within you a clean heart, and to renew within you a right spirit.
The sin of the Israelites with the Moabites. Zimri. The
people numbered. Moses warned of his approaching death.
The Israelites were still encamped in the plains of Moab, near the river Jordan, and over against Jericho. Balaam, as we have seen, had devised a plot for leading them into the commission of great wickedness. The temptation succeeded; and in addition to other gross offences, many of the Israelites were enticed by the women of Moab and Midian, to unite with them in the sacrifices made to their gods; to partake of the accompanying feasts; and to bow down before Baal-peor, their principal and vile deity. It was a scene altogether of shameful depravity, and called down upon the offenders the terrible indignation of the Almighty.
Moses, having received a divine direction to that effect, ordered the magistrates in the several tribes and families, to take the principal men who had fallen into these grievous sins, and put them to death, by hanging them up in sight of all the people. A plague, too, it seems was spreading at the time, and making dreadful havoc. In the midst of this distress, and while the congregation of the Israelites were humbling themselves before the Lord, and weeping in front of the door of the tabernacle, Zimri, a prince of the tribe of Simeon, was guilty of a very bold and provoking sin. Defying the divine justice, and, as it were, to mock the penitential sorrow of his countrymen, he conducted to his tent a Midianitish woman, in full view of Moses, and of the people. It was a most outrageous insult
God himself; upon the government which he had established over the Israelites; and upon the judicial sentence that had just been inflicted upon those guilty of a similar offence.
Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, and grandson of Aaron, himself a priest, and probably one of the persons directed by Moses to bring the guilty to justice, rushed from among the congregation, with a javelin in his hand, and pursued Zimri. Following him into the tent, he despatched him, and the Midianitish woman, on the spot. She, too, was of distinguished rank, Cozbi by name, the daughter of Zur, a prince of Midian. Their elevated station