Balak (Balaq)


Parsha Balak

Bamidbar (Numbers) 22:1-25:9


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And the children of Yashar’al (Yisra’el) set out and camped in the desert plains of Mo’ab beyond the Yarden of Yericho. And Balaq son of Tsippor saw all that Yashar’al (Yisra’el) had done to the Amorites. Bamidbar (Numbers) 22:1-2

בלק Balak (Balaq), sovereign of the Moabites along with all his people were exceedingly afraid of Yisra’el (Yashar’el). The nation of Moab are the descendants of Lot and his daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Amorah (Gemorah). These people were heavily trained in the world of the occult and magic, therefore Balaq took strategy to fight not with weapons but with words. He took counsel with the elders of Madiyan (Median), the region of Mount Sinai and warned them that the people of the land were too numerous.  בלק Balaq Sovereign of Moab was a sorcerer and knew he must find someone who had even greater capabilities than he had. To fight against Yisrael, Balaq sent for בלעם Bil’am son of Beor in the land of Aram at Pethor.

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Numbers 22:6 “And now, please come at once, curse this people for me, for they are too strong for me. It might be that I smite them and drive them out of the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”7 And the elders of Mo’ab and the elders of Midyan left with the fees for divination in their hand, and they came to Bil’am and spoke the words of Balaq to him.

The Hebrew (Abryt) word for “divination” is Qesem, Qasam and other variants. These words are always used for false prophets who use magic, witchcraft, consider themselves to be mediums or those who can communicate with those who have passed. This is our first clue into what kind of man Bil’am is, and we need this clue. For when the men arrive Bil’am responds:

Bamidbar (Numbers) 22:8 And he said to them, “Spend the night here, and I shall bring back word to you, as YaHuWaH speaks to me.” So the heads of Mo’ab stayed with Bil’am.

In the Hebrew, Bil’am responds that whatsoever YaHuWaH speaks he shall say. This is very interesting, seeing that Balaq and all of Moab worship Ba’al Peor and not YaHuWaH. Bil’am knew of YaHuWaH because he lived in the land of Aram where Abraham and Ya’acob spent many years of their life. He knew that YaHuWaH was the highest of mighty ones (Elohim) and knew his name, but yet he was one involved in Qesem or magic.   That night YaHuWaH even spoke with Bil’am warning him not to go to curse the people for they are baruch (“blessed”) meaning gifted with supernatural favor from on high. Bil’am woke in the morning and refused to go to the land of Moab.   Again Balaq sent leaders more esteemed and numerous than the previous who urged Bil’am to come. Bil’am responds that though Balaq give him his entire house filled with gold he cannot speak past what YaHuWaH his Aluahym (Elohim) commands. That night YaHuWaH gives Bil’am the permission to go to Moab. YaHuWaH was very angry that Bil’am would still go knowing that originally he had been commanded not to, so he sent a Messenger of YaHuWaH (Malak YaHuWaH) to draw the sword against him. So the Messenger of YaHuWaH stood in the way with his sword drawn to kill Bil’am but he could not see it. However, his donkey saw the Messenger (Malak) and turned aside and Bil’am beat his donkey, this happened three times until finally YaHuWaH opened the mouth of the donkey to speak. The donkey responded, “ am I not the donkey you have ridden since the day I became yours, and have I been known to do like this?”


As Bil’am responded “no”, YaHuWaH opened his eyes to see the danger he was in. He saw the Malak YaHuWaH or Messenger of YaHuWaH standing in the way with his sword drawn.

Bamidbar (Numbers) 22:32 And the Messenger of YaHuWaH said to him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? See, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is reckless before Me.33“And the donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, I certainly would have killed you by now, and let her live.”34And Bil’am said to the Messenger of YaHuWaH, “I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. And now, if evil is in Your eyes, let me turn back.”

The Malak (Messenger) YaHuWaH gives permission yet again to go but “only speak the word that I speak to you.” When Bil’am finally arrives in Moab, he is taken to the high places of Ba’al to see the camp of Yisrael (Yashar’el). Bil’am commands that seven altars be built and that seven rams and seven bulls be slaughtered at this location. Balaq and Bil’am offer the sacrifices on the altars. Bil’am goes up further to see if YaHuWaH comes to speak to him. YaHuWaH put a word in his mouth to give to Balaq.

 Bamidbar (Numbers) 23:7And he took up his proverb and said, “Balaq the sovereign of Mo’ab has brought me from Aram, from the mountains of the east. ‘Come, curse Ya’aqob for me, and come, rage at Yashar’al (Yisra’el)!’8“How do I curse whom El has not cursed? And how do I rage at whom YaHuWaH has not raged?9“For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I observe him. Look, a people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations.10 “Who shall count the dust of Ya’aqob, and the number of one-fourth of Yisra’el? Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!”11 And Balaq said to Bil’am, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, and look, you have kept on blessing!”

Bil’am suggests viewing the camp from a different vantage point, there seven altars are built and seven rams with seven bulls are slaughtered. Again Bil’am goes up to see if YaHuWaH will put a word in his mouth.

 Bamidbar (Numbers) 18And he took up his proverb and said, “Rise up, Balaq, and hear! Listen to me, son of Tsippor!19“El is not a man, to lie; nor a son of man, to repent! Has He said, and would He not do it; or spoken, and would not confirm it?20 “See, I have received, to bless. And He has blessed, and I do not reverse it.21 “He has not looked upon wickedness in Ya’aqob, nor has He seen trouble in Yisra’el. YaHuWaH his Elohim is with him, and the shout of a Sovereign is in him.22“El who brought them out of Mitsrayim, is for them like the horns of a wild ox. 23 “For there is no sorcery against Ya’aqob, nor is there any divination against Yisra’el. Now it is said to Ya’aqob and to Yisra’El, ‘What has El done!’ 24 “Look, a people rises like a lioness, and lifts itself up like a lion; it lies not down until it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain.”25And Balaq said to Bil’am, “Do not curse them at all, nor bless them at all!”26And Bil’am answered and said to Balaq, “Have I not spoken to you, saying, ‘All that YaHuWaH speaks, that I do’?”

 For a third time Balaq suggested yet another vantage point and the same process happens all over again. Seven altars are built, seven bulls and seven rams are slain. This time Bil’am does not go away to use Qesem (Sorcery) to hear from YaHuWaH as he did in other times but he set his face towards the wilderness and when he saw the camps of Yisra’el the Ruwach (spirit/wind) of Elohim came upon him.


 Bamidbar (Numbers) 24:3And he took up his proverb and said, “The saying of Bil’am, son of Be’or, and the saying of the man whose eyes are opened,4 the saying of him who hears the words of El, who sees the vision of the Almighty, who falls down, with eyes opened wide:5 “How good are your tents, O Ya’aqoB, your dwellings, O Yisra’El!6“Like wadis that stretch out, like gardens by a river, like aloes planted by YaHuWaH, like cedars beside waters.7“He makes water flow from his buckets, and his seed is in many waters. His sovereign is higher than Agag, and his reign is exalted.8 “El who brought him out of Mitsrayim is for them like the horns of a wild ox; he devours nations, his enemies; and he breaks their bones, and with his arrows he smites.9“He bowed down, he lay down like a lion. And, like a lion, who would rouse him? Blessed is he who blesses you, and cursed is he who curses you.”10Then the displeasure of Balaq burned against BilÈam, and he struck his hands together. Balaq then said to Bil’am, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, and see, you have kept on blessing, these three times!

Bil’am then gave advice to Balaq and spoke to him of what Yisrael shall do to Moab in the “Acharit Yomim” or “end of days.” Interestingly enough the advice that Bil’am gives against Yisrael makes him the greatest enemy Yisrael faced. However this great enemy of YaHuWaH’s people also gave one of the most profound prophecies of Mashyach (Messiah) that we find in Torah.

Bamidbar (Numbers) 24:17“I see Him, but not now; I observe Him, but not near. A Star shall come out of Ya’aqob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Yisra’el, and shall smite the corners of Mo’ab, and shall destroy all the sons of Sheth.18 “And Edom shall be a possession; and Se’ir shall be a possession – enemies – and Yisra’el is doing mightily.19 “And out of Ya’aqob One shall rule and destroy the remnant from Ar.”

Throughout the scriptures Bil’am is mentioned over fifty times. Often times the “sin of Bil’am” is being referred to. What is the sin of Bil’am and what advice did he give to bring wrath on the people of YaHuWaH? The daughters of Moab were advised to whore with the people of YaHuWaH and invite them to their sacrifices, which were done in perversion. Many of the people joined themselves to the cult of Ba’al Peor which involved wearing his name upon their head as a sign.  Mosheh (Mushah) commanded that all who had joined themselves to Baal Peor must be killed. One of the children of Yisrael openly took a Midyanite woman before the entire camp causing a plague to break out. Pinehas son of Aharon slew them both and by doing so, the plague that had broken out came to an end. Those that died were twenty four thousand.

In 1967 archeologists uncovered the Deir Alla inscription just 20 miles north of the plains of Moab. This inscription is carbon-dated to approximately 840–760 BCE.  The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies describes it as “the oldest example of a book in a West Semitic language written with the alphabet, and the oldest piece of Aramaic literature.”  The find refers to בלעם Bilaam as a real person who was considered a true prophet.  In fact the entire inscription calls itself “The Book of Bil’am.”   “The Book of Bil’am” is inscribed on a wall in the side of a temple to pagan deities and refers to Bil’am’s vision of coming doom.


“The Book of Bilaam”


An excerpt from the “Book of Bil’am”

“The misfortunes of the Book of Bilaam, son of Beor. A divine seer was he.The shadin came to him at night.  And he beheld a vision in accordance with El’s utterance.They said to Balaam, son of Beor: “So will it be done, with naught surviving.  No one has seen [the likes of] what you have heard!”…

Though Bil’am received word from YaHuWaH himself this did not keep the “prophet” from error and destruction.  He sought to please man when YaHuWaH warned him otherwise, he sought a reward and esteem.  He was hired to deceive YaHuWaH’s people much like the false prophets of today.  The Book of Bil’am tells us that he esteemed many Elohim and that he was not committed to YaHuWaH.  Yahuwshuwa (Joshua)  13:22 tells us that Yisrael eventually killed the false prophet Bil’am.  From that point on Bil’am’s very name became synonymous with greed, gainsaying and false teachings.