Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!
Read Chapter 23
Ambrose of Milan
You have caused me, my brother, not to fear death, and I only would that my life might die with yours! This Balaam wished for as the greatest good for himself, when, inspired by the spirit of prophecy, he said, “Let my soul die in the souls of the righteous, and let my seed be like the seed of them.” And in truth he wished this according to the spirit of prophecy, for as he saw the rising of Christ, so also he saw his triumph; he saw his death but saw also in him the everlasting resurrection of humanity and therefore feared not to die as he was to rise again. Let not then my soul die in sin or admit sin into itself, but let it die in the soul of the righteous, that it may receive his righteousness. Then too, he who dies in Christ is made a partaker of his grace in the font. ...
Dust. God had promised to multiply the seed of Abraham as the dust of the earth, Genesis xiii. 16. Balaam had just beheld several thousands of them, and in rapture, exclaims, according to the Hebrew, "Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? "Their camp was divided into four great battalions, surrounding the ark and the Levites. Who can tell the number of one of these divisions, much less of all the multitudes there assembled, and what millions may, in a short time, proceed from them? You have reason, therefore, O Balac, to tremble, if they continue faithful to their God. But strive to make friends with them.
Let Hebrew may also admit of the version of the Septuagint, "May my soul die among the souls of the just, and may my offspring be like this. "We behold in this sentence, the sentiments of all worldly and interested people, who wish to obtain a reward without submitting to the necessary labour. Impotent desires! selfish views! (Haydock)