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Balak. Learning the Hard Way

Why did Bilaam – a prophet or possibly a wizard – want to travel across the Middle East to curse a small Israelite tribe? It is difficult to know! Was he after money, prestige, did he hate the concept of slaves who had gained their freedom, or was he possessed by an irrational Jew-hatred?

We can only speculate about that, but it seems that Bilaam really wanted to do this job. How do we know?

First, he is approached by a Moabite royal delegation who invite him to curse Israel. Bilaam requests God’s permission. God says: “You cannot go” (v.7-12)

Second, the Moabites return with a higher ranking delegation, offering Bilaam greater rewards (v.16-17). Again, he asks God. God responds:

“If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you.”(22:20)

This is strange language!

  • Did God change his mind?

  • Why does He allow Bilaam to go?

Even when He allows him, it sounds like there is a certain relucta