New Defender's Study Bible Notes
24:7 Agag. This particular king Agag is apparently a different king than the one slain many years later by Samuel (I Samuel 15:2-8). Possibly Agag was a kingly title in Amalek like that of Pharaoh in Egypt.
24:8 an unicorn. The unicorn was a real animal. See footnotes for Job 39:9 and Psalm 92:10.
24:9 couched. That is, “crouched.”
24:13 silver and gold. Balak thought that spiritual benefits could be purchased by money. Perhaps he even believed that Balaam was simply holding out for a higher fee. No doubt monetary gain is part of the motive of many modern occult practitioners, and even of some evangelical counselors and other religionists, but that should not enter into the motivations and advice of the true Christian.
24:16 eyes open. See also Numbers 24:4. Balaam was not dreaming, as some have thought. These were true visions given by God.
24:17 A Star out of Jacob. This remarkable prophecy of Balaam anticipates by over 1400 years the fact that the One who would one day hold the sceptre (symbolic of kingly rule) over all men (the children of Seth, the faithful son of Adam) would arise out of Israel, and be announced to the world by a new Star displayed in the heavens for those who had eyes to see.
24:19 have dominion. The reference to the “sceptre” (Numbers 24:17) and “dominion” also remind us of Jacob’s Messianic prophecy regarding the coming Lion of the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:9,10; Revelation 5:5).
24:20 first of the nations. These Amalekites, with their Agags (Numbers 24:7) may well have descended from an earlier Amalek than Esau’s grandson (Genesis 14:7; 36:10,12). They probably were a Canaanite nation; two of Esau’s wives were Hittites (Genesis 26:34), and it seems possible that Esau’s grandson may have been named after their ancient and very prominent ancestor. In any case, the Amalekites of Scripture, were inveterate enemies of God’s people Israel. A number of modern scholars have even argued that the Amalekites were the cruel Hyksos “shepherd-kings” of Egypt. See notes on Exodus 17:8-13.
24:24 perish for ever. In Numbers 24:21 and 24 Balaam prophesies the eventual disappearance of the nations of Assyria, the descendants of the Kenites and the descendants of Eber. The Kenites are long forgotten, of course, and the mighty Assyrian Empire eventually died, even though remnants may exist in modern Iraq. Eber was an ancestor of Israel, (Genesis 11:16-26), but since Balaam was not directing his prophecy against Israel, it may have been against the descendants of Eber’s other son, Joktan (Genesis 10:25-30). These have all vanished or been assimilated by other nations long ago. The same apparently applies to other descendants of Eber, at least down to the time of Terah.