Leviticus 19:26 English Standard Version

“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes.

Numbers 24:1 English Standard Version

When Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not go, as at other times, to look for omens, but set his face toward the wilderness.


The "omens" in Lev 19:26 are those used by necromancers and spiritists, etc. There is no evidence that Balaam did this previously but simply inquired of the LORD. The text is quite unambiguous that because Balaam saw that "it pleased the LORD to bless Israel" there was no need to pray to seek God's will because it was already clear.

Benson make this same point:

Numbers 24:1. He went not as at other times — At former times; to seek for enchantments — The word נחשׁ, from which נחשׁים, necashim, here rendered enchantments, is derived, signifies to augur, conjecture, search, make trial, find out: 1 Kings 20:33, it is translated, to observe diligently; Genesis 30:27, to learn by experience, and, in the margin of Genesis 44:5, to make trial, although in the text there it is rendered to divine. It certainly is not necessary to understand the word of enchantments. Nor is there any proof that Balaam had had recourse to any on either of the two former occasions. On the contrary, the sacred historian informs us, that he retired both times, not to meet evil spirits, and receive communications from them, but to meet JEHOVAH, and receive intimations of his will, saying to Balak on the first occasion, Whatsoever he showeth me I will tell thee. And both times we read that Jehovah put a word in Balaam’s mouth. All, therefore, that we can reasonably conclude from the passage before us is, that Balaam omitted to do now what he had done before. He went not — Retired not, as he had done the former times, for the meeting, or obtaining of divinations, that is, for the purpose of obtaining information from the Lord concerning future things, or to make inquiries about them. M. Saurin seems to be clearly of this opinion, and to consider the expression as signifying no more here than “the revelations which Balsam desired of God concerning the destiny of the Israelites.” Houbigant is of the same mind, observing that the word נחשׁיםnechashim, auguries, is here to be understood in a good sense, because Balaam interpreted the will of the true God, and not the will of the god of Moab, from these auguries. Thus also Le Clerc, paraphrasing the passage, says, “He judged it superfluous to inquire further into the mind of God, as God had sufficiently declared his purpose to bless Israel.” Indeed, as Christ is known to have no communion with Belial, it seems strange that any Christian should ever have imagined that God would thus have made known his will, and thus lay open the secrets of futurity, to a man that had or attempted to have intercourse with evil spirits.

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