Who is Balaam?
(glutton) was the son of Beor or Bosor, and a native of Pethor, a village of Mesopotamia. Num 22:5. He had a great reputation as a prophet or soothsayer, and appears to have been a worshipper of the one God, coming from the country of Abraham, where it is in every way probable that remnants of the primitive monotheism existed to his day. His history is given in Num 22, Num 23, Num 24, and Num 31. So great was his fame that Balak, king of Moab, sent for him to curse Israel when they were encamped upon the plains of Moab; but he consulted God during the night, and the next morning refused, declaring the Lord had not given him leave. But Balak sent again, and Balaam at length obtained the desired permission to go, and went. It was on this journey that his ass spake. Num 22:28. Arriving, he ordered Balak to build seven altars, and to offer a bullock and a ram on each. Then, proclaiming his intention of speaking only what God showed unto him, he twice went aside to watch for an augury. God met him each time and told him what to say, and on his return he uttered a blessing instead of the expected curse. The third time the sacrifices were offered, but Balaam saw that it pleased the Lord to bless Israel; so, without seeking an augury, he uttered these magnificent prophecies, in which Israel's complete supremacy is announced: "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, Thy tabernacles, O Israel! As valleys are they spread forth. As gardens by the river side. As lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, As cedar trees beside the waters. He shall flow with water from his buckets, And his seed shall be in many waters, And his king shall be higher than Agag, And his kingdom shall be exalted. God, he bringeth him forth out of Egypt; He hath as it were the strength of a buffalo; He shall eat up the nations his adversaries, And shall break their bones in pieces, And smite them through with his arrows. He couched, he lay down as a lion, And as a lioness, who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesseth thee. And cursed is he that curseth thee." Num 24:5-9. And again "There shall come forth a Star out of Jacob, And a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, And shall smite through the corners of Moab, And break down all the sons of tumult." Num 24:17. The prophecies of Balaam are justly regarded as some of the most remarkable in Scripture. But having won the anger of Balak by his course, and feeling himself cast out from the people of God by reason of his sinfulness, he became desperate, and endeavored to do as much immediate harm to Israel as he could, since he could in no wise injure her future. He therefore suggested that the Moabites destroy the purity of Israel by seducing the people into fornication while taking part in the worship of Baal. Num 31:16; cf. Num 25:1-5. They did so; and the consequence was, a plague broke out among the Israelites and killed 24,000 of them. Num 25:9. In a battle fought by Israel with the Midianites, Balaam was slain. Num 31:8. The phrase "the doctrine of Balaam," used in Rev 2:14, refers to the above-mentioned sin.