Numbers 24:17

Hebrew Bible

16 the oracle of the one who hears the words of God, and who knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, although falling flat on the ground with eyes open: 17 ‘I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not close at hand. A star will march forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab, and the heads of all the sons of Sheth. 18 Edom will be a possession, Seir, his enemy, will also be a possession; but Israel will act valiantly.

Onkelos Numbers 24:17


16 He speaks who heard the Word from before God, And who knoweth knowledge from the Most High, Who saw the vision of the Almighty, prostrate when he saw. 17 I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh. When a king shall arise out of Jakob, And the Meshiha be anointed from Israel, He will slay the princes of Moab, and reign over all the children of men; 18 And Edom shall be an inheritance, And Seir a possession of his adversaries; But Israel shall prosper in riches.

 Notes and References

"... The messianic interpretation of Numbers 24:17 around the turn of the era is well attested. Perhaps the most famous messianic interpretation of this passage is in the legend of Akiba’s recognition of Bar Kochba: “Rabbi Akiba interpreted, ‘A star has come forth out of Jacob’ as ‘[Kosiba] has come forth out of Jacob.’ When Rabbi Akiba saw Bar Kosiba he said: ‘This is the King Messiah.’” In CD 7:19, the scepter is interpreted as the Prince of the Congregation, who is elsewhere identified with the Branch of David. The verse is cited without interpretation in the War Scroll (1QM 11:5–7) and in the Testimonia, and is likely to have messianic connotations in both contexts ... The Targumim also interpret the verse with reference to the messiah: “a king shall arise out of Jacob, and be anointed messiah out of Israel.” In view of this widespread interpretation, no great significance can be attached to the lack of specific Davidic attributes in LXX Numbers. We are dealing, after all, with a translation, which enjoys only limited freedom to depart from the source text ..."

Collins, John J. Jewish Cult and Hellenistic Culture: Essays on the Jewish Encounter with Hellenism and Roman Rule (p. 76) Brill, 2005

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.