Balaam

related topics
{god, call, give}
{law, state, case}
{group, member, jewish}
{black, white, people}
{@card@, make, design}
{language, word, form}

Balaam (Hebrew: בִּלְעָם, Standard Bilʻam Tiberian Bilʻām) is a diviner in the Torah, his story occurring towards the end of the Book of Numbers. The etymology of his name is uncertain, and discussed below. Every ancient reference to Balaam considers him a non-Israelite, a prophet, and the son of Beor, though Beor is not so clearly identified. Though other sources describe the apparently positive blessings he delivers upon the Israelites, he is reviled as a "wicked man" in the major story concerning him. Balaam attempted to curse God's people. He failed all three tries, each time producing blessings, not curses (Numbers 22-24).

Contents

The stories

There are two fairly separate accounts of Balaam in the Bible:

  • Balaam and Balak, containing a brief aside concerning Balaam and a talking donkey
  • Balaam and the Midianites

Balaam and Balak

The main story of Balaam occurs during the sojourn of the Israelites in the plains of Midian, east of the Jordan River, at the close of forty years of wandering, shortly before the death of Moses, and the crossing of the Jordan. The Israelites have already defeated two kings on this side of the Jordan: Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan. Balak, king of Moab (Numbers 22:2), consequently becomes alarmed, and sends elders of Midian and his messengers (Numbers 22:4-5), to Balaam, son of Beor, to induce him to come and curse Israel. Balaam's location is simply given as his people in the masoretic text, though the Samaritan Pentateuch, Vulgate, and Syriac Peshitta all identify it as Ammon, which is consequently supported by many modern scholars.

Full article ▸

related documents
Orpheus
Demeter
Kalki
Satyr
Leto
Horned God
Lethe
Centaur
Ark of the Covenant
Ares
Siren
Inanna
Wadjet
Legend of Osiris and Isis
Moab
Isaac
Satan
Avalon
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Lokasenna
Sekhmet
Norns
Asgard
Book of Zephaniah
Sigurd
Anubis
Hadad
Epic of Gilgamesh
Parable of the Good Samaritan
Mummy