XLVIII. (263) This war struck all the Asiatic nations with terrible consternation, and especially all those who were near the borders of the Amorites, inasmuch as they looked upon the dangers as being nearer to themselves. Accordingly, one of the neighbouring kings, by name Balak, who ruled over a large and thickly inhabited country of the east, before he met them in battle, feeling great distrust of his own power, did not think fit to meet them in close combat, being desirous to avoid carrying on a war of extermination by open arms; but he had recourse to inquiries and divination, thinking that by some kind of ruse or other he might be able to overthrow the irresistible power of the Hebrews. (264) Now there was a man at that time very celebrated for his skill in divination, dwelling in Mesopotamia, who was initiated in every branch of the soothsayers’ art. And he was celebrated and renowned above all men for his experience as a diviner and prophet, as he had in many instances foretold to many people incredible and most important events; (265) for, on one occasion, he had predicted heavy rain to one nation at the height of summer; to another he had foretold a drought and burning heat in the middle of winter. Others he had forewarned of a dearth which should follow a season of abundance; and, on the other hand, plenty after famine. In some instances he had predicted the inundations of rivers; or, on the contrary, their falling greatly and becoming dried up; and the departure of pestilential diseases, and ten thousand other things. From all which he had obtained a name of wide celebrity, as he was believed to have foreseen them all, and so he had attained to great renown and his glory had spread everywhere and was continually increasing. (266) So this man, Balak, now sent some of his companions, entreating him to come to him, and he gave him some presents at once, and he promised to give him others also, explaining to him the necessity which he was in, on account of which he had sent for him. But he did not treat the messengers with any noble or consistent disposition, but with great courtesy and civility evaded their request, as if he were one of the most celebrated prophets, and as such was accustomed to do nothing whatever without first consulting the oracle, and so he declined, saying that the Deity would not permit him to go with them. (267) So the messengers returned back to the king, without having succeeded in their errand. And immediately other messengers of the highest rank in the whole land were sent on the same business, bringing with them more abundant presents of money, and promising still more ample rewards than the former ambassadors had promised. (268) And Balaam, being allured by the gifts which were already proffered to him, and also by the hopes for the future which they held out to him, and being influenced also by the rank of those who invited him, began to yield, again alleging the commands of the Deity as his excuse, but no longer with sincerity. Accordingly, on the next day he prepared for his departure, relating some dreams by which he said he had been influenced, affirming that he had been compelled by their manifest visions not to remain, but to follow the ambassadors.