I recently got a question from one of my Slovak seminary students who was wondering if Old Testament prophets went into some state of ecstasy or “prophetic awareness” when God’s will was revealed to them. His question was based specifically on the Slovak Ecumenical version’s translation of Numbers 24:4. Here’s his question.
In the Roháček (a Slovak) version of Num 24:4 we read that Balaam, “fell into a sleep” while the Ecumenical version reads that he was in “a state of ecstasy.” Does this mean that the author is expressing some kind of physical sleep but that during the sleep the person is in a state of (prophetic) awareness?
Beyond just answering his question, walking through the exegesis of this text turns out to be a fruitful exercise for demonstrating why we need to be careful as we interpret small segments of text.[Read more…]