Balak, King of Moab

Balaam and the Angel

Summary: Balak, the king of Moab, summons the prophet Balaam to curse the people of Israel. On the way, Balaam is berated by his donkey, who sees, before Balaam does, the angel that יהוה sends to block their way. Three times, from three different vantage points, Balaam attempts to pronounce his curses, but each time blessings issue forth instead. Balaam also prophesies on the end of the days and the coming of the Messiah. The people fall prey to the charms of the daughters of Moab, and are enticed to worship the idol Peor. When a high-ranking Israelite official publicly takes a Midianite princess into a tent, Pinchas kills them both, stopping the plague raging among the people.

Numbers 22:2 Now saw Balak, the son of Zippor, את all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3 Moab was very afraid of the people, because there were so many of them: Moab was overcome with stress, because of the Children of Israel. 4 Moab said to the elders of Midian, Now shall lick up (consume us), this company (Israelites) את־ all that is around us, as licks up the ox את the grass of the field. Balak, the son of Zippor, was king of the Moabites at that time. C-MATS

Question: Why did the Moabites and the Midianites come together to fight Israel? Moab and Midian had been traditional enemies, but now they came together in response to the perceived threat from Israel, which, they feared, would uproot and utterly destroy everything in its path, as an ox pulls out the roots of grass so that nothing is left of it. Seeking some formula to save itself, Moab hoped that the Midianites, among whom Moses had lived when he fled Egypt as a boy, could shed light on the reason for his success and how he could be defeated. The Midianites said that his strength lay in his mouth, so the Moabites sent for the evil prophet Balaam, whose power lay in his ability to curse. Chumash

Question: Who were the Moabites? The Moabites were relatives of the Israelites, both peoples tracing their descent back to a common ancestor, Terah. Terah’s son Haran fathered Lot, whose son Moab was born after an incestuous relationship between Lot and his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:37). The Moabites descended from Lot’s son Moab. Moab was eventually overtaken by tribes from northern Arabia and no longer existed among the nations. Chumash