Any thoughts about the Balaam-Balak story ...

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
Post Reply
nili
Posts: 64
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 1:02 pm

Any thoughts about the Balaam-Balak story ...

Post by nili » Sat Jun 24, 2017 4:17 am

... other that those readily found in sources such as Wikipedia, My Jewish Learning, etc.?

As much as I enjoy singing Mah Tovu at services, the story itself strikes me as strangely awkward on a number of levels.

Thanks.

User avatar
arnoldo
Posts: 524
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:10 pm
Location: Latin America

Re: Any thoughts about the Balaam-Balak story ...

Post by arnoldo » Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:20 am

This came to mind. . .
http://biblehub.com/numbers/24-17.htm

"The star" may be possibly illustrated in the following coin in a representation of Bar Kokhba aka"Son of Star"
Attachments
rsz_barkokhba-silver-tetradrachm (2).jpg
rsz_barkokhba-silver-tetradrachm (2).jpg (41.84 KiB) Viewed 307 times

User avatar
Ben C. Smith
Posts: 3755
Joined: Wed Apr 08, 2015 2:18 pm
Location: USA
Contact:

Re: Any thoughts about the Balaam-Balak story ...

Post by Ben C. Smith » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:56 pm

nili wrote:... other that those readily found in sources such as Wikipedia, My Jewish Learning, etc.?

As much as I enjoy singing Mah Tovu at services, the story itself strikes me as strangely awkward on a number of levels.
There does seem to be a missing link between Numbers 22-24, about Balaam and Balak and Israel, and Numbers 25, about the matter of Peor, for which Balaam takes the blame in Numbers 31.8, 16 (as well as in later treatments of him, such as those in the Christian epistles and church fathers, not to mention Philo and Josephus and the like). I have no special insight into this issue, but I recently collected a few passages about Balaam and his dealings with Israel in an effort to track down the elusive Nicolaitans from the Apocalypse of John. I offer them here without comment:

Numbers 22.1-41: 1 Then the sons of Israel journeyed, and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan opposite Jericho. 2 Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 So Moab was in great fear because of the people, for they were numerous; and Moab was in dread of the sons of Israel. 4 And Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now this horde will lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field." And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time. 5 So he sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, at Pethor, which is near the River, in the land of the sons of his people, to call him, saying, "Behold, a people came out of Egypt; behold, they cover the surface of the land, and they are living opposite me. 6 "Now, therefore, please come, curse this people for me since they are too mighty for me; perhaps I may be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed." 7 So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand; and they came to Balaam and repeated Balak's words to him. 8 And he said to them, "Spend the night here, and I will bring word back to you as Yahweh may speak to me." And the leaders of Moab stayed with Balaam. 9 Then God came to Balaam and said, "Who are these men with you?" 10 And Balaam said to God, "Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent word to me, 11 'Behold, there is a people who came out of Egypt and they cover the surface of the land; now come, curse them for me; perhaps I may be able to fight against them, and drive them out.'" 12 And God said to Balaam, "Do not go with them; you shall not curse the people; for they are blessed." 13 So Balaam arose in the morning and said to Balak's leaders, "Go back to your land, for Yahweh has refused to let me go with you." 14 And the leaders of Moab arose and went to Balak, and said, "Balaam refused to come with us." 15 Then Balak again sent leaders, more numerous and more distinguished than the former. 16 And they came to Balaam and said to him, "Thus says Balak the son of Zippor, 'Let nothing, I beg you, hinder you from coming to me; 17 for I will indeed honor you richly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Please come then, curse this people for me.'" 18 And Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, "Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, either small or great, contrary to the command of Yahweh my God. 19 "And now please, you also stay here tonight, and I will find out what else Yahweh will speak to me." 20 And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, "If the men have come to call you, rise up and go with them; but only the word which I speak to you shall you do." 21 So Balaam arose in the morning, and saddled his donkey, and went with the leaders of Moab. 22 But God was angry because he was going, and the angel of Yahweh took his stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of Yahweh standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, the donkey turned off from the way and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back into the way. 24 Then the angel of Yahweh stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of Yahweh, she pressed herself to the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall, so he struck her again. 26 And the angel of Yahweh went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right hand or the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of Yahweh, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his stick. 28 And Yahweh opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?" 29 Then Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now." 30 And the donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said, "No." 31 Then Yahweh opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of Yahweh standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand; and he bowed all the way to the ground. 32 And the angel of Yahweh said to him, "Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out as an adversary, because your way was contrary to me. 33 "But the donkey saw me and turned aside from me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, I would surely have killed you just now, and let her live." 34 And Balaam said to the angel of Yahweh, "I have sinned, for I did not know that you were standing in the way against me. Now then, if it is displeasing to you, I will turn back." 35 But the angel of Yahweh said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but you shall speak only the word which I shall tell you." So Balaam went along with the leaders of Balak. 36 When Balak heard that Balaam was coming, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, which is on the Arnon border, at the extreme end of the border. 37 Then Balak said to Balaam, "Did I not urgently send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me? Am I really unable to honor you?" 38 So Balaam said to Balak, "Behold, I have come now to you! Am I able to speak anything at all? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I shall speak." 39 And Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40 And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent some to Balaam and the leaders who were with him. 41 Then it came about in the morning that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up to the high places of Baal; and he saw from there a portion of the people.

Numbers 23.1-30: 1 Then Balaam said to Balak, "Build seven altars for me here, and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here." 2 And Balak did just as Balaam had spoken, and Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on each altar. 3 Then Balaam said to Balak, "Stand beside your burnt offering, and I will go; perhaps Yahweh will come to meet me, and whatever He shows me I will tell you." So he went to a bare hill. 4 Now God met Balaam, and he said to Him, "I have set up the seven altars, and I have offered up a bull and a ram on each altar." 5 Then Yahweh put a word in Balaam's mouth and said, "Return to Balak, and you shall speak thus." 6 So he returned to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, he and all the leaders of Moab. 7 And he took up his discourse and said, "From Aram Balak has brought me, Moab's king from the mountains of the East, 'Come curse Jacob for me, And come, denounce Israel!' 8 "How shall I curse, whom God has not cursed? And how can I denounce, whom Yahweh has not denounced? 9 "As I see him from the top of the rocks, And I look at him from the hills; Behold, a people who dwells apart, And shall not be reckoned among the nations. 10 "Who can count the dust of Jacob, Or number the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the upright, And let my end be like his!" 11 Then Balak said to Balaam, "What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have actually blessed them!" 12 And he answered and said, "Must I not be careful to speak what Yahweh puts in my mouth?" 13 Then Balak said to him, "Please come with me to another place from where you may see them, although you will only see the extreme end of them, and will not see all of them; and curse them for me from there." 14 So he took him to the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars and offered a bull and a ram on each altar. 15 And he said to Balak, "Stand here beside your burnt offering, while I myself meet the Lord yonder." 16 Then Yahweh met Balaam and put a word in his mouth and said, "Return to Balak, and thus you shall speak." 17 And he came to him, and behold, he was standing beside his burnt offering, and the leaders of Moab with him. And Balak said to him, "What has Yahweh spoken?" 18 Then he took up his discourse and said, "Arise, O Balak, and hear; Give ear to me, O son of Zippor! 19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? 20 "Behold, I have received a command to bless; When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it. 21 "He has not observed misfortune in Jacob; Nor has He seen trouble in Israel; Yahweh his God is with him, And the shout of a king is among them. 22 "God brings them out of Egypt, He is for them like the horns of the wild ox. 23 "For there is no omen against Jacob, Nor is there any divination against Israel; At the proper time it shall be said to Jacob And to Israel, what God has done. 24 "Behold, a people rises like a lioness, And as a lion it lifts itself; It shall not lie down until it devours the prey, And drinks the blood of the slain." 25 Then Balak said to Balaam, "Do not curse them at all nor bless them at all!" 26 But Balaam answered and said to Balak, "Did I not tell you, 'Whatever Yahweh speaks, that I must do '?" 27 Then Balak said to Balaam, "Please come, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will be agreeable with God that you curse them for me from there." 28 So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor which overlooks the wasteland. 29 And Balaam said to Balak, "Build seven altars for me here and prepare seven bulls and seven rams for me here." 30 And Balak did just as Balaam had said, and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

Numbers 24.1-25: 1 When Balaam saw that it pleased Yahweh to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times to seek omens but he set his face toward the wilderness. 2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him. 3 And he took up his discourse and said, "The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened; 4 The oracle of him who hears the words of God, Who sees the vision of the Almighty, Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered, 5 How fair are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel! 6 "Like valleys that stretch out, Like gardens beside the river, Like aloes planted by Yahweh, Like cedars beside the waters. 7 "Water shall flow from his buckets, And his seed shall be by many waters, And his king shall be higher than Agag, And his kingdom shall be exalted. 8 "God brings him out of Egypt, He is for him like the horns of the wild ox. He shall devour the nations who are his adversaries, And shall crush their bones in pieces, And shatter them with his arrows. 9 "He couches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him? Blessed is everyone who blesses you, And cursed is everyone who curses you." 10 Then Balak's anger burned against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, "I called you to curse my enemies, but behold, you have persisted in blessing them these three times! 11 "Therefore, flee to your place now. I said I would honor you greatly, but behold, Yahweh has held you back from honor." 12 And Balaam said to Balak, "Did I not tell your messengers whom you had sent to me, saying, 13 'Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything contrary to the command of Yahweh, either good or bad, of my own accord. What Yahweh speaks, that I will speak'? 14 "And now behold, I am going to my people; come, and I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the days to come." 15 And he took up his discourse and said, "The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, 16 The oracle of him who hears the words of God, And knows the knowledge of the Most High, Who sees the vision of the Almighty, Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered. 17 "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, And a scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth. 18 "And Edom shall be a possession, Seir, its enemies, also shall be a possession, While Israel performs valiantly. 19 "One from Jacob shall have dominion, And shall destroy the remnant from the city." 20 And he looked at Amalek and took up his discourse and said, "Amalek was the first of the nations, But his end shall be destruction." 21 And he looked at the Kenite, and took up his discourse and said, "Your dwelling place is enduring, And your nest is set in the cliff. 22 "Nevertheless Kain shall be consumed; How long shall Asshur keep you captive?" 23 And he took up his discourse and said, "Alas, who can live except God has ordained it? 24 "But ships shall come from the coast of Kittim, And they shall afflict Asshur and shall afflict Eber; So they also shall come to destruction." 25 Then Balaam arose and departed and returned to his place, and Balak also went his way.

Numbers 25.1-18: 1 While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. 2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and Yahweh was angry against Israel. 4 And Yahweh said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before Yahweh, so that the fierce anger of Yahweh may turn away from Israel." 5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor." 6 Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. 9 And those who died by the plague were 24,000. 10 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 11 "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel, in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. 12 "Therefore say, 'Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; 13 and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the sons of Israel.'" 14 Now the name of the slain man of Israel who was slain with the Midianite woman, was Zimri the son of Salu, a leader of a father's household among the Simeonites. 15 And the name of the Midianite woman who was slain was Cozbi the daughter of Zur, who was head of the people of a father's household in Midian. 16 Then Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 17 "Be hostile to the Midianites and strike them; 18 for they have been hostile to you with their tricks, with which they have deceived you in the affair of Peor, and in the affair of Cozbi, the daughter of the leader of Midian, their sister who was slain on the day of the plague because of Peor."

Numbers 31.8: 8 And they killed the kings of Midian along with the rest of their slain: Evi and Rekem and Zur and Hur and Reba, the five kings of Midian; they also killed Balaam the son of Beor with the sword.

Numbers 31.15-16: 15 And Moses said to them, "Have you spared all the women? 16 Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against Yahweh in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of Yahweh."

Samaritan Chronicle (Book of Joshua) 4-5: 4 When the kings heard him relate what has preceded, they said to him: "How is the way to accomplish what thou hast mentioned concerning their destruction?" And he looked up the last resource of infidelity and pollution, and made it known unto them, and said to them: "Select of the most beautiful and fair women as many as ye can, and the king shall be the first to send forth his daughter with them; thereupon give unto each one of them an idol which she may worship, and an ornament which she may look at, and perfume which she may inhale, and food and drink; and the daughter of the king should be in a chariot which is wafted along with the wind, and it should be enjoined upon her that she make it her aim to go to the tabernacle, and pay her respects to no one except to their chief unto whom the crowd show deference, for he is their chief. And if in this she meets his approval, then she shall say unto him: " Wilt thou not receive me, or eat of my food and drink of my drink and offer sacrifices unto my god? For after this I will be thine, and with thee will do whatsoever thou desirest." For know, O king, that by the chief of this people being polluted, both he and his company will perish, and of them there will not remain a survivor." And the kings did what he recommended unto them; and there were collected to them twenty-four thousand girls, and they sent them away on the Sabbath day. And as they descended opposite the tabernacle, the chief of the tribe of Shim'aun (Simeon) rose up; for he was the chief of fifty-nine thousand men and was in the advance. And the daughter of the king advanced unto him, for she on beholding the great deference shown to him by his companions supposed him to be the prophet Musa — peace be upon him, and he ate of her food and drank of her drink and worshipped the idol which was in her hand, and after this she was submissive to him in his desire. Thereupon everyone of them — I mean this particular tribe- took one girl for himself; and the Creator became angry at the people, and destroyed of them in the wink of an eye four thousand men together with four thousand girls. And had not Finahas (Phinehas) the imam- peace be upon him- rushed from the presence of Musa the Prophet- peace be upon him- while he and his assembly were weeping at the door of the tabernacle, and seized in his hand a lance and bursting in upon them thrust through the man and girl- I mean the daughter of the king- and dispatched them, assuredly would the wrath of the Creator have destroyed the whole people; but by this action he removed and warded off the Divine anger from the children of Israil. And to Finahas — peace be upon him — there resulted from this noble fame and an excellent remembrance, and a covenant to the end of the ages. And praise be to God the Creator without cessation! 5 When the stratagem of Bila'am against the children of Israil was accomplished and there had perished of them this great number, and they had been overtaken by this calamity, God revealed to the prophet Musa- peace be upon him- that he should take vengeance for the children of Israil upon the people of Midyan, before that he should return to his elements (meaning by this, before his decease). So he commanded Yush'a the son of Nun, at the time of his investing him with his successorship, that he should go forth with the company which he specially mentioned, and with him Finahas, the imam, for he had gained the victory and a name, and he it was who had averte3d the Divine anger, and not anyone else, for he had hastened to obey his Lord. Now Bila'am had returned unto the king of Mab to congratulate him over the calamity of the children of Israil, and he found the kings collected together and indulging in joy and merriment, and before they were aware, 12,000 men had surrounded their city, whereupon they made haste in sending out the harlots with ornaments and censers and perfumes, taking for granted that what they had made a successful beginning in would be carried out to a perfect completion. But they (i.e., the Israelites) slaughtered these (the women) with the sword. Then Finahas- peace be upon him- with his cousin, went in advance and sounded with the trumpets, and the walls of the fortress fell down in ruins, and the army entered into Midyan, and they killed simultaneously the five kings and every man whom they found in it. And they began to make inquires about Bila'am, and they found him in a house of worship, and lo, he engaged in worship and was performing service. And they brought him out, and he was talking in speech that was unintelligible and could not be understood, because of the greatness of his confusion and bewilderment and the aberration of his mental faculties. And Yusha, the son of Nun, exerted himself to preserve him alive, that our master Musa- the peace of God be upon him- might behold him; but they of the tribe of Shima'un who beheld him were not obedient, nay, even, they cried out the Law against him, and put him to death. And Yusha said: "Who killed him? Why have ye done this, seeing we had taken him under our protection?" And they said unto him: " O our master, there should be no protection granted to an infidel, nor security to a sorcerer; had we not killed him, he might have effected the accomplishment of a stratagem against thee and against thy people. And we have dared to go contrary to thee in killing him, because of what was in our hearts concerning his deed, and if there be sin in our action in violating the protection accorded to him, lo, we assume it; but to our master belongs such exalted sentiments that he will look with liberality upon our excuse." And he approved of what they said and justified their action. And the people plundered Midyan, and drove away its cattle and took captive its women and children; and not a thing remained in it but they took it. And they returned laden with booty, victorious and safe; not a single man of them was missing. And our master Musa, the prophet- peace be upon him- with el-`Azar (Eleazar), the imam, the son of Harun (Aaron), and a crowd of chiefs went out to meet them. And when the beheld what there was among their number of captive women, our master Musa, the Prophet- upon him be the most excellent peace- became angry at them, and said to them: "This crowd has been the cause of your destruction." Thereupon he commanded them to kill every women who had known a man, and every boy child, and that none should remain except female children who had not known a man; and that they, together with the company that was with them, should separate themselves seven days for the purpose of purification. And they did so. And the number of the female captives who remained over after those who were killed, was thirty-two thousand girls; and of sheep there was 675,000 head, and of cattle there was 72,000 head; and of horses and mules and camels, 61,000 head; and of gold and silver and vessels and general goods, such a quantity as is impossible to define and describe. But, more wonderful than this, was the unharmed condition of the 12,000 men who entered a province such as this was, without the loss of a single man of them, or even one of them being overtaken by the bow of a sword or hit with a stone. Blessed be God, the One who is able to do whatsoever He pleaseth, and of Him do I ask assistance, and unto Him do I put my trust, and unto Him do I return penitently. [Source: http://www.sacred-texts.com/jud/sam/chron1.htm.]

Philo, Life of Moses 1: LIV (295) Come, then, let us examine into his fine recommendations, and see how cunningly they were contrived with reference to the most certain defeat of those who had hitherto always been able to conquer. As he knew that the only way by which the Hebrews could be subdued was by leading them to violate the law, he endeavoured to seduce them by means of debauchery and intemperance, that mighty evil, to the still greater crime of impiety, putting pleasure before them as a bait; (296) for, said he, "O king! the women of the country surpass all other women in beauty, and there are no means by which a man is more easily subdued than by the beauty of a woman; therefore, if you enjoin the most beautiful of them to grant their favours to them and to prostitute themselves to them, they will allure and overcome the youth of your enemies. (297) But you must warn them not to surrender their beauty to those who desire them with too great facility and too speedily, for resistance and coyness will stimulate the passions and excite them more, and will kindle a more impetuous desire; and so, being wholly subdued by their appetites, they will endure to do and to suffer anything. (298) "And let any damsel who is thus prepared for the sport resist, and say, wantonly, to a lover who is thus influenced, "It is not fitting for you to enjoy my society till you have first abandoned your native habits, and have changed, and learnt to honour the same practices that I do. And I must have a conspicuous proof of your real change, which I can only have by your consenting to join me in the same sacrifices and libations which I use, and which we may then offer together at the same images and statues, and other erections in honour of my gods. (299) And the lover being, as it were, taken in the net of her manifold and multiform snares, not being able to resist her beauty and seductive conversation, will become wholly subdued in his reason, and, like a miserable man, will obey all the commands which she lays upon him, and will en enrolled as the salve of passion." LV. (300) This, then, was the advice which Balaam gave to Balak. And he, thinking that what he said to him did not want sense, repealed the law against adulteries, and having abrogated all the enactments which had been established against seduction and harlotry, as if they had never been enacted at all, exhorted the women to admit to their favours, without any restraint, every man whom they chose. (301) Accordingly, when licence was thus given, they brought over a multitude of young men, having already long before this seduced their minds, and having by their tricks and allurements perverted them to impiety; until Phinehas, the son of the chief priest, being exceedingly indignant at all that was taking place (for it appeared to him to be a most scandalous thing for his countrymen to give up at one time both their bodies and souls--their bodies to pleasure, and their souls to transgression of the law, and to works of wickedness), undertook a bold and impetuous action, such as was becoming to a young, and grave, and virtuous man. (302) For when he saw a man of his nation sacrificing with and then entering into the tent of a harlot, and that too without casting his eyes down on the ground and seeking to avoid the notice of the multitude, but making a display of his licentiousness with shameless boldness, and giving himself airs as if he were about to engage in a creditable action, and one deserving of smiles--Phinehas, I say, being very indignant and being filled with a just anger, ran in, and while they were still lying on the bed, slew both the lover and the harlot, cutting them in two pieces in the middle, because they thus indulged in illicit connections. (303) When some persons of those who admired temperance, and chastity, and piety, saw this example, they, at the command of Moses, imitated it, and slew all their own relations and friends, even to a man, who had sacrificed to idols made with hands, and thus they effaced the stain which was defiling the nation by this implacable revenge which they thus wreaked on those who had set the example of wrong doing, and so saved the rest, who made a clear defence of themselves, demonstrating their own piety, showing no compassion on any one of those who were justly condemned to death, and not passing over their offences out of pity, but looking upon those who slew them as pure from all sin. Therefore they did not allow any escape whatever to those who sinned in this way, and such conduct is the truest praise; (304) and they say that twenty-four thousand men were slain in one day, the common pollution, which was defiling the whole army, being thus at once got rid of. And when the works of purification were thus accomplished, Moses began to seek how he might give an honour worthy of him who had displayed such permanent excellence to the son of the chief priest, who was the first who hastened to inflict chastisement on the offenders. But God was beforehand with him, giving to Phinehas, by means of his holy word, the greatest of all good things, namely, peace, which no man is able to bestow; and also, in addition to this peace, he gave him the perpetual possession of the priesthood, an inheritance to his family, which could not be taken from it.

Josephus, Antiquities 4.6.6 §126-130: 126 Βάλακος δὲ ἀγανακτήσας ἐπὶ τῷ μὴ καταράτους γενέσθαι τοὺς Ἰσραηλίτας ἀποπέμπει τὸν Βάλαμον μηδεμιᾶς τιμῆς ἀξιώσας: ὁ δὲ ἀπιὼν ἤδη κἀπὶ τῷ περαιοῦν τὸν Εὐφράτην γενόμενος τόν τε Βάλακον μεταπεμψάμενος καὶ τοὺς ἄρχοντας τῶν Μαδιηνιτῶν 127 'Βάλακε, φησί, καὶ Μαδιηνιτῶν οἱ παρόντες, χρὴ γὰρ καὶ παρὰ βούλησιν τοῦ θεοῦ χαρίσασθαι ὑμῖν, τὸ μὲν Ἑβραίων γένος οὐκ ἂν ὄλεθρος παντελὴς καταλάβοι οὔτ᾽ ἐν πολέμῳ οὔτ᾽ ἐν λοιμῷ καὶ σπάνει τῶν ἀπὸ γῆς καρπῶν, οὔτ᾽ ἄλλη τις αἰτία παράλογος διαφθείρειεν. 128 πρόνοια γάρ ἐστιν αὐτῶν τῷ θεῷ σώζειν ἀπὸ παντὸς κακοῦ καὶ μηδὲν ἐπ᾽ αὐτοὺς ἐᾶσαι τοιοῦτον πάθος ἐλθεῖν, ὑφ᾽ οὗ κἂν ἀπόλοιντο πάντες: συμπέσοι δ᾽ αὐτοῖς ὀλίγα τε καὶ πρὸς ὀλίγον, ὑφ᾽ ὧν ταπεινοῦσθαι δοκοῦντες εἶτ᾽ ἀνθήσουσιν ἐπὶ φόβῳ τῶν ἐπαγαγόντων αὐτοῖς τὰς βλάβας. 129 ὑμεῖς δ᾽ εἰ νίκην τινὰ πρὸς βραχὺν καιρὸν κατ᾽ αὐτῶν κερδᾶναι ποθεῖτε, τύχοιτ᾽ ἂν αὐτῆς ταῦτα ποιήσαντες: τῶν θυγατέρων τὰς μάλιστα εὐπρεπεῖς καὶ βιάσασθαι καὶ νικῆσαι τὴν τῶν ὁρώντων σωφροσύνην ἱκανὰς διὰ τὸ κάλλος ἀσκήσαντες τὴν εὐμορφίαν αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τὸ μᾶλλον εὐπρεπὲς πέμψατε πλησίον ἐσομένας τοῦ ἐκείνων στρατοπέδου, καὶ δεομένοις συνεῖναι τοῖς νεανίαις αὐτῶν προστάξατε. 130 ἐπειδὰν δὲ κεχειρωμένους ὁρῶσι ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις, καταλιπέτωσαν καὶ παρακαλούντων μένειν μὴ πρότερον ἐπινευέτωσαν, πρὶν ἂν πείσωσιν αὐτοὺς ἀφέντας τοὺς πατρίους νόμους καὶ τὸν τούτους αὐτοῖς θέμενον τιμᾶν θεὸν τοὺς Μαδιηνιτῶν καὶ Μωαβιτῶν σέβωσιν: οὕτως γὰρ αὐτοῖς τὸν θεὸν ὀργισθήσεσθαι.' καὶ ὁ μὲν τοῦθ᾽ ὑποθέμενος αὐτοῖς ᾤχετο. / 126 But Balak being very angry that the Israelites were not cursed, sent away Balaam without thinking him worthy of any honor. Whereupon, when he was just upon his journey, in order to pass the Euphrates, he sent for Balak, and for the princes of the Midianites, and spake thus to them: - 127 "O Balak, and you Midianites that are here present, (for I am obliged even without the will of God to gratify you,) it is true no entire destruction can seize upon the nation of the Hebrews, neither by war, nor by plague, nor by scarcity of the fruits of the earth, nor can any other unexpected accident be their entire ruin; 128 for the providence of God is concerned to preserve them from such a misfortune; nor will it permit any such calamity to come upon them whereby they may all perish; but some small misfortunes, and those for a short time, whereby they may appear to be brought low, may still befall them; but after that they will flourish again, to the terror of those that brought those mischiefs upon them. 129 So that if you have a mind to gain a victory over them for a short space of time, you will obtain it by following my directions: - Do you therefore set out the handsomest of such of your daughters as are most eminent for beauty, 1 and proper to force and conquer the modesty of those that behold them, and these decked and trimmed to the highest degree able. 130 Then do you send them to be near camp, and give them in charge, that the young men of the Hebrews desire their allow it them; and when they see they are enamored of them, let them take leaves; and if they entreat them to stay, let give their consent till they have persuaded leave off their obedience to their own laws, the worship of that God who established them to worship the gods of the Midianites and for by this means God will be angry at them 2. Accordingly, when Balaam had suggested counsel to them, he went his way.

2 Peter 2.12-16: 12 But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15 forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.

Jude [1.]10-13: 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

Revelation 2.12-17: 12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: "The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: 13 'I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. 14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 15 Thus [οὕτως] you also [καὶ] have some who likewise [ὁμοίως] hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. 17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.'"

ΤΙ ΕΣΤΙΝ ΑΛΕΘΕΙΑ

Ulan
Posts: 980
Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2014 3:58 am

Re: Any thoughts about the Balaam-Balak story ...

Post by Ulan » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:43 am

I'm not sure whether this gives any new insights, but I found this write-up of the Balaam issue quite interesting:

The Story of Balaam: How Biblical Tradition Turned a Prophet of God into an Arch-Heretic

User avatar
arnoldo
Posts: 524
Joined: Sat Oct 12, 2013 6:10 pm
Location: Latin America

Re: Any thoughts about the Balaam-Balak story ...

Post by arnoldo » Wed Jul 05, 2017 2:26 pm

Ulan wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:43 am
I'm not sure whether this gives any new insights, but I found this write-up of the Balaam issue quite interesting:

The Story of Balaam: How Biblical Tradition Turned a Prophet of God into an Arch-Heretic
This part was interesting.
white wrote: And [Balaam] looked about and saw that a man, son of a woman, will arise, who seeks to make himself God and to seduce all the world without exception. Therefore, he gave strength to his voice, that all nations of the world might hear, and thus he spake: Take heed that you go not astray after that man, as it is written [Num. 23:19], God is not a man, that he should lie, and if he says that he is God, he is a liar…. (Yalkut Shimoni on Numbers 23:7)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests