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Icons of the Bible: Balek & Balaam (The False Prophet) & The Donkey

Updated: Aug 31, 2023

Icons of the Bible: Balek & Balaam (The False Prophet) & The Donkey
Icons of the Bible: Balek & Balaam (The False Prophet) & The Donkey

The Icons of The Bible Series will go through all the people of the Bible in chronological order. I will attempt to provide you focused article and videos that will help you become more familiar with those whom God chose to tell us about in His Holy Scripture. - Andy

Icons of the Bible: Balek & Balaam (The False Prophet) & The Donkey

"The fascinating story of Balak and Balaam’s failed attempts to curse the Jewish people is found in Numbers 22-24. The Torah records how, after being thoroughly humiliated by his talking donkey, Balaam, the non-Jewish sorcerer and prophet commissioned by Balak King of Moab to curse the Jews, found himself incapable of cursing them. Instead, he bestowed on the Jews four tremendous blessings, some of which we even recite in our prayers today, and the last which foretells the Messianic redemption.


It was the year 2488 from creation, and the Jewish people had spent the last 40 years in the desert. They were finally prepared to enter the Promised Land, and they camped at the border of Politics makes strange bedfellows Moab. The Moabites were terrified of the Jews, especially after they defeated the Emori, the Moabites’ guardians.1

Politics makes strange bedfellows, so although natural enemies, Moab and Midian banded together and appointed a Midianite, Balak son of Zippor, as king over them.2 Balak recognized that the power of the Jews was supernatural, so he too sought a way of undermining them supernaturally. Together with the elders of Midian, he hatched a plan to hire Balaam—a well known and powerful sorcerer and prophet—to curse the Jews. Since the Jews’ strength lay in their mouths, i.e., in prayer, he planned to defeat them with a stronger "mouth"—Balaam’s curse.

Balak knew Balaam from his hometown of Pesor, and could vouch for his powers firsthand, as Balaam himself had prophesied that Balak would become king.3 Additionally, the Zohar records that when Sichon, the Emorite King, was fighting Moab, he hired Balaam and his father to curse the Moabites, and as a result won the war.4

The Midrash tells us that Balaam was so great a prophet, his prophecy equaled that of Moses. Since G‑d created His world with symmetry, everything that exists on the positive side has a negative counterpart. The equivalent of Moses was Balaam.." from the article: Balaam and Balak: The Full Story

Balaam And His Donkey: Lessons From The Story

Israel was making its journey to the Promised Land. It had been about 40 years since God used Moses to lead them out of Egypt and they were nearing the end of this great trek. Having come from Seir (the land of the people of Esau) and reached the valley of Arnon, Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites asking if they could pass through his land. He declined and instead prepared for war. He attacked Israel at Jahaz but they defeated him taking over his territory in the process. Israel also took many other cities, settling in much of the land of the Amorites, in Heshbon and surrounding villages. At this point, the Israelites moved towards the land of Moab.

Balaam the Seer and King Balak

Bible Reference: Numbers 22-24

They reached the plains of Moab and camped there. Balak was king at the time and he saw the Israelite encampment in the plains—they were in great numbers. He had already heard how the Amorites who lived not far from his own land, had been destroyed by this great people. After talking to the elders of Midian, Balak decided to send messengers to Balaam the diviner (or seer) with precious articles as payment, to curse Israel. The princely men came to Balaam but God advised him not to go with them because the multitude he was meant to curse were already blessed. Balak then sent more honorable messengers this time promising to give him whatever his heart desired. The seer reiterated what God had said (he must not go) BUT told them to wait till he heard from Him again. The Lord later spoke to Balaam advising him to go with the men but only do as he was told. He arose in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab.." from the article: Balaam And His Donkey: Lessons From The Story

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