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by Wayne Blank
"And Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place; peradventure it will please God that thou mayest curse me them from thence. And Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward Jeshimon" (Numbers 23:27-28 KJV)
It of course didn't work because God was with Israel, actually leading and defending the Israelites, who were on the last leg of their journey, through Moab, after the Exodus to their promised land. Although Balak and Balaam may have been looking down on the Israelites from "the top of Peor," The Lord was on much "higher ground" - He was looking down on them all, with an absolute commanding view of all that happens on earth.
"Blessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is he that curseth thee"
Balaam, the son of Beor, was from Pethor in Mesopotamia (Deuteronomy 23:4). He was a very influential sorcerer who, although aware of the true God, made his services available on a freelance basis. Near the end of their Wilderness Journey, as the Israelites under Moses (Aaron had died shortly before, Numbers 20:22-29) were advancing north into Moab just prior to their turning west to cross The Jordan River, King Balak of Moab hired Balaam to perform the impossible task of stopping them (Numbers chapters 22-24).
With the Israelites approaching, King Balak sent messengers to Balaam to get him to put a curse on the Israelites (Numbers 22:5-7). The Lord (see YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD) however appeared to Balaam and warned him not to do it (Numbers 22:12).
King Balak then sent other messengers to Balaam with an offer of great riches if he would curse the Israelites (Numbers 22:15-17). This time The Lord allowed Balaam to go with them to Moab, but on the condition that he do only what The Lord told him (Numbers 22:20).
Then came the famous incident with Balaam's talking donkey on the journey to Moab (Numbers 22:21-35). Centuries later, Peter referred to the incident (2 Peter 2:15-16).
When Balaam arrived in Moab, King Balak greeted him, but Balaam warned the king that he could only say what God allowed him (Numbers 22:36-38). King Balak's strategy was about to backfire.
Balaam's oracles then followed, all of which blessed the Israelites instead of cursing them (Numbers 23:1-29). By the time that he was done, the Holy Spirit had caused Balaam to speak a rich blessing upon Israel:
"And when Balaam saw that it pleased The Lord to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes [for how and why the tribes were camped around the Tabernacle, see The Camp]; and The Spirit Of God came upon him. And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:"
Balaam was killed in a later battle between Israel and the Midianites.
"And Moses [see also The Education Of Moses] sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, to the war, with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow in his hand. And they warred against the Midianites, as The Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. And they slew the kings of Midian, beside the rest of them that were slain; namely, Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian: Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword" (Numbers 31:6-8 KJV)
Fact Finder: What is meant by the Biblical word "oracle"?