Daily mannaWeekly parashahDonationsAudio

Parashah 40 Balak

Numbers 22:2 – 25:9

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted.   

Torah Readings:

  1. 22:2-12

  2. 22:13-20

  3. 22:21-38

  4. 22:39 – 23:12

  5. 23:13-26

  6. 23:27 – 24:14

  7. 24:15 – 25:9

  8. Maftir: 25:7-9

Haftarah: Micah 5:7 (heb 6) – 6:8


means “destroyer”


The First Aliyah, 22:1-12

22:2 “Balak the son of Tzippor saw all that Yisra'el had done to the Amori.”(HNV) – Balak was the king of Moav. His name means “destroyer”.[1] According to a Midrash,[2] Balak was chosen to be king at this time because of the serious situation and the fear of the children of Israel, even though he was not of royal or noble blood. He was not even a native Moavite, but a Midyanite. His reputation as a mighty hero and powerful sorcerer is what caused the Moavites to make him their king. This Moavite king did not let the children of Israel go through his territory. Therefore the children of Israel walked around Moav. They had not been given permission from HaShem to take the territory of Moav since it was given to Lot’s children according to Deuteronomy 2:9. This teaches us that HaShem divides the earth for the people, compare with Deuteronomy 2:19. At this point Moav was aggravated. Israel took an area that used to belong to them that the Amorite king had taken from them. It seems as though the king of Moav wanted to take that territory back so he sought the help of a pagan prophet through whom he tried to curse the people of Israel. By doing this he would be able to fight them, drive them out of Amorite territory, and take it back for himself.

22:3 “Mo'av was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Mo'av was distressed because of the children of Yisra'el.”(HNV) – It is repeated twice in the Torah that Moav was afraid. This means that they were very afraid. According to Rashi, the two giants, Sichon and Og, were the ones who had protected the surrounding nations, and now Israel had conquered both of them. If they could defeat the giants, it would be easy for them to fight the other surrounding nations.

22:4, 7 “Mo'av said to the elders of Midyan, Now will this multitude lick up all that is round about us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field. Balak the son of Tzippor was king of Mo'av at that time… The elders of Mo'av and the elders of Midyan departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came to Bil`am, and spoke to him the words of Balak.”(HNV revised) – The leaders of the two nations, Moav and Midyan, united against Israel and spoke with Bil’am, who was known as a successful prophet, or sorcerer. When he spoke his words came to pass. According to Rashi, the king of the Amorites had earlier paid Bil’am to curse the Moavites so that they could drive them out of the land that would later become Israel’s territory, from the river Arnon in the north all the way to Cheshbon. This thought is based on the words in verse 6 that say, “I know…” The king of Moav knew by experience.

Through the prophet, HaShem tells us to remember what happened with Balak and Bil’am. Therefore this is one of the most important things that has happened in the history of the Jewish people, as it is written in Micah 6:5,

“My people, remember now what Balak king of Mo'av devised, and what Bil`am the son of Be'or answered him from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of HaShem.”(HNV revised)

22:5 “He sent messengers to Bil`am the son of Be'or, to Petor, which is by the River, to the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the surface of the earth, and they abide over against me.”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew word that is translated as “messengers” is malachim, which means “angels” or “messengers”. Here we see that the word malach does not only refer to divine beings, but also to human beings. The word malach does not describe the being itself, but rather its function. A malach is one who has been sent by a higher authority to fulfill a special mission.

22:6 “Please come now therefore curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may strike them, and that I may drive them out of the land; for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed.”(HNV) – Balak had intended to defeat and drive Israel out of the land. However, since they had shown their military prowess over the people of the giants, he now sought to use sorcery. The enemy has a threefold strategy:

  • Defeat them with physical military might.

  • Dominate them through magic, which is spiritual and psychological might.

  • Draw them into sin by taking advantage of the desire for food and sex so that they would be destroyed from within through the customs and ideas of pagan religions.

In this case, the first two were not successful, but Israel fell on the third point.

22:11 “Behold, the people that is come out of Egypt, it covers the surface of the earth: now, come curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to fight against them, and shall drive them out.”(HNV revised) – Here we see the typical attitude of enmity among the people that surround Israel. They want to curse them, fight them, and drive them out. The same thing is happening today with the people that surround Israel. They are doing the exact same thing. History has not changed over three thousand years.

22:12 “God said to Bil`am, You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people; for they are blessed.”(HNV revised) – Blessing and cursing cannot be mixed. It is hard for a curse to affect a person that has been blessed by the Eternal. However, one who has been blessed can be affected by curses in areas where there is disobedience. The blessing can be at work in certain areas of his life, while the curse can be at work in other areas of his life where the Torah is not being obeyed.

The Hebrew name Bil’am is written with the letters bet, lamed, ayin, and mem. Since the original text does not have any vowels, one possible understanding of his name could be bli am, which means “without a people”. This was one of Bil’am’s problems; he was not part of the people of Israel. He could have done as Yitro did and united himself with the people, but he preferred to not be a part of the people of Israel. He was a lone prophet. HaShem had given him a natural ability to receive and proclaim prophetic words. However, instead of using that ability for the general good, he used it for personal gain. Bil’am was not the leader of any people.

The rabbis say that he could have been for the gentiles what Moshe was for the people of Israel. Because of his prophetic gift, he could have been one of the most influential people in the gentile world. However, he was a fallen man seeking money and honor from important people in this world. This became his ruin.

The Second Aliyah, 22:13-20

22:13 “Bil`am rose up in the morning, and said to the princes of Balak, Get you into your land; for HaShem refuses to give me leave to go with you.”(HNV revised) – Bil’am knew HaShem and called him “my God”, compare with verse 18. The source of his prophecy was not demonic; it was from the Spirit of the Eternal, compare with verse 24:2. Divination comes from unclean spirits and prophecy comes from the Spirit of the Eternal. However, when the Eternal’s prophecy is used for manipulation and personal purposes, it becomes sorcery. The dividing line between a true prophet and a false prophet is hard to make out sometimes. All those who are successful within occultism have a natural gift that HaShem has given them, which makes them sensitive and able to receive impressions from the spirit world. When these people turn to the Eternal and repent of their sin, they still retain their ability to be spiritually sensitive. This means that they can be used greatly by HaShem’s Spirit. However, they can also be influenced by evil spirits if they are not careful.

The main reason that people are drawn into the occult world is because they want power. Demons give power. As a person that has been involved in that realm humbles himself before HaShem and receives forgiveness and cleansing from his sins through the blood of Yeshua the Messiah, he will still be tempted to exercise power over others, compare with Acts 8:19.

Our Rabbi Yeshua warned us according to what is written in Matthew 7:15-20,

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do you gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree produces good fruit; but the corrupt tree produces evil fruit. A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit. Every tree that doesn’t grow good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits you will know them.”

If false prophets were easy to expose, no warning would have been needed concerning them. The fact that we are warned against them teaches us that it is not easy to know when a prophet is speaking on behalf of HaShem and when he is speaking on behalf of a deceptive evil spirit. On the surface, the messages of false prophets can seem right. It is important for us to look at the fruit that comes from the influence that the prophet has. How does he live? How is his moral and sexual life and finances? How is his family, his wife and children, doing? What does his wife say about him? What do his children say about their father? All this, and more, is the fruit of a prophet’s life. Yeshua said, “Therefore, by their fruits you will know them”.

It is one thing to test a prophecy, and it is another to test the prophet. A prophet is tested by his fruit and a prophecy is tested by two rods; the Torah and HaShem’s Spirit. There are prophecies that are given according to the Torah, but with a spirit that is strange to the Torah. An example of this is in Acts 16:16-18, where it is written,

“It happened, as we were going to prayer, that a certain girl having a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much gain by fortune telling. Following Sha'ul and us, she cried out, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation!’ She was doing this for many days. But Sha'ul, becoming greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, ‘I charge you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah to come out of her!’ It came out that very hour.”(HNV revised)

The message that the girl gave was true, but it was given through an impure spirit. Shaliach Shaul had the ability to discern between spirits and he knew in his spirit that the source of this prophecy came from an unclean spirit (from a python[3] spirit, according to the Greek text). Shaul attacked the python spirit in the girl and drove it out in the Name of Yeshua HaMashiach.

On the other hand, there are also prophetic words that are given by HaShem’s Spirit through people whose personal lives do not line up with their words, as in the case of Bil’am. May the Eternal give us wisdom to discern between one and the other!

The words that came from Bil’am’s mouth are eternal; they came from the Eternal. But Bil’am died a sinner’s death and lost his soul because his life did not line up with his words.

22:18 “Bil`am answered the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I can’t go beyond the word of HaShem my God, to do less or more.”(HNV revised) – Here we see that prophecy does not come from man. No matter how much the prophet wanted to give a message, he could not do it himself because the initiative of prophecy does not come from the prophet, but from HaShem, as it is written in 2 Peter 1:20-21,

“knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but consecrated men of God spoke, being moved by the Ruach HaKodesh.”(HNV revised)

Maimonides[4] says of prophecy:

  • There are different levels among the prophets. Just as with wisdom there are those who are wiser than others, with prophecy there are those who are greater than others. However, all see their prophecies only through dreams, in the night, or during the day if they have fallen into a trance, as it is written, “I make myself known to him in a vision, I will speak with him in a dream” (Numbers 12:6). When they prophecy, their limbs shake, their bodies become numb, and their thoughts scattered so that the mind can be clear in order to understand what he sees.

  • What the prophet communicates in a prophetic vision comes to him in the form of a parable. The interpretation of the parable that the prophetic vision contains is immediately engraved on his heart so that he can understand what it means.

  • The prophets do not prophecy when they feel like it, but after they have gone aside and focused their senses and have been able to reach a joyful and cheerful state of mind, for prophecy does not come to one who is melancholy or apathetic, but to one who is joyful. Therefore young prophets would let harps, tambourines, flutes, and lyres play for them when they wanted to prophecy (1 Samuel 10:5). The word mitnab’im in this case means that they are on their way to prophecy, as it is written, “that one and that one becomes greater”.

  • Those who try to prophesy are called sons of the prophets (or of the school of the prophets), and even though they concentrate, the Heavenly Presence may come on them but it may not.

22:20 “God came to Bil`am at night, and said to him, If the men are come to call you, rise up, go with them; but only the word which I speak to you, that shall you do.”(HNV revised) – God came to Bil’am in the night. The Eternal can speak to us through our dreams. Prophecy is spiritual in its character, not intellectual. There is a significant difference between the mind and the spirit. During the day, the mind is receiving information through the five senses and many impressions are stored in the brain. During the night, while we sleep, the mind processes the information that it has received throughout that day or previously. Since there is not so much information entering the mind through the body during sleep, the soul is more sensitive to receive impressions from the spirit.

Man’s spirit also has five senses, just like his body does. Through these five senses it can receive information in the spirit. This information is not always easy to detect and it is even harder for the mind to understand, since the mind is so busy with the information that is entering through the physical senses, especially during the day. One who is fleshly, unspiritual, does not have his mind set on the things in his spirit. A spiritual person, however, sets his mind on spiritual things and makes an effort to receive and understand the information that is coming from his spirit, compare with Romans 8:5-6. However, since the mind is busy with many physical things during the day, the spiritual sensitivity is lower during the day than it is during the night. Man’s spirit does not sleep during the night and the mind is active as well. This is why we can see in the Scriptures that many were given messages from the Eternal in dreams. That is the time when the mind is relaxed and more sensitive to spiritual things. One who has a very sensitive spirit and a mind that is open to receive impressions in the spirit, can also receive messages and visions during the day. The prophetic ability can also be developed.

As we mentioned, some have been created with more sensitivity and spiritual perception than others. These people are particularly exposed to evil spirits that want to use their natural capacity to manipulate their lives and the lives of others through them.

Sorcerers and witches have the natural gifting to be able to pick up things in the spirit easier that most people. To begin with, this ability was created to serve the Eternal, but the enemy has taken over their lives because they have allowed him.

The Third Aliyah, 22:21-38

22:22 “God’s anger was kindled because he went; and the angel of HaShem placed himself in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.”(HNV revised) – This seems like a contradiction. First God tells Bil’am that he is to go with them, but then he becomes angry when he does. How are we to understand this?

First of all, we can see that when an evil person stubbornly holds on to something that is against the will of the Eternal, He will allow him to go ahead. In verse 12, God told him not to go. In verse 20, He allows him to, and later He becomes angry because Bil’am went, according to verse 22.

The Eternal’s wrath was over the motives that Bil’am had when he went. His desire was to be paid and honored by authorities through his prophecy. That is foolish.

Woe unto those who want to make financial and personal gain through the spiritual gifts they have received from HaShem!

This text teaches us that the most important thing is not what you are doing, but why you are doing what you are doing.

The Hebrew word that is translated as “for an adversary” is satan. This does not mean that it was an angel sent by the adversary, but that it was an angel that resisted Bil’am. This teaches us that the word satan means adversary, one who resists and works against another person. The expression “angel of HaShem” occurs ten times in this text.

22:32 “The angel of HaShem said to him, Why have you struck your donkey these three times? behold, I am come forth for an adversary, because your way is perverse before me”(HNV revised) – The first thing that this angel told Bil’am was, “Why have you struck your donkey?” He rebuked him because he mistreated his animal. This teaches us the importance of treating animals well. Mistreatment of animals is noted in the spirit world. Man was placed in the Garden of Eden to care for it and that included caring for the animals, as it is written in Proverbs 12:10,

“A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”(HNV)

22:35 “The angel of HaShem said to Bil`am, Go with the men; but only the word that I shall speak to you, that you shall speak. So Bil`am went with the princes of Balak.”(HNV revised) – Once again HaShem tells him, through the angel, that he is to go with these men. However, he warned him against speaking anything other than what He told him to speak. The words that come out of a person’s mouth have great influence in the air. That is why Lavan was not allowed to speak against Yaakov, neither good nor evil, compare with Genesis 31:24. Bil’am did not have permission to speak his own words. Our words can be very harmful. There are occasions when we do not have permission to say anything at all, compare with Joshua 6:10; Matthew 26:63.

22:38 “Bil`am said to Balak, Behold, I have come to you: have I now any power at all to speak anything? the word that God puts in my mouth, that shall I speak.”(HNV revised) – This is the foundational principle of prophecy. Compare with the texts in 22:8, 18, 20, 35, 38; 23:5, 12, 16, 26; 24:4, 13, 16. The fact that Bil’am pointed this out so many times shows that he would actually have liked to utter his own words of curses over the people. He tried, but as soon as he opened his mouth, the words became blessings.

The Fourth Aliyah, 22:39 – 23:12

The First Prophecy

23:4-5a “God met Bil`am: and he said to him, I have prepared the seven altars, and I have offered up a bull and a ram on every altar. HaShem put a word in Bil`am’s mouth, and said,”(HNV revised) – Even though it is possible that Bil’am was trying to bribe HaShem, we can still see a principle here about the price of partaking in the true prophetic revelation. How much is prophesy worth? How many innocent animals had to die so that the prophetic word would be revealed to the prophet? This was a prophecy that would only have four verses in the Torah! The prophetic word is very valuable.

This teaches us that prophecy comes by a combination of God’s will and man’s sacrifice. Bil’am knew very well that it was necessary to bring a large offering in order to become a channel of the prophetic word. Are we willing to offer as much as fourteen animals in order to have the prophetic word among us? Do we want prophecy? How much are we willing to give for it? Are you willing to fast, sacrifice hours in prayer and hours of your night sleep in order to become a prophetic channel for the Eternal? How much is prophecy worth? This text teaches us that even though the elements are there, I am referring to the natural gift and the supernatural ability to prophesy, prophecy will not come unless there is sacrifice from man’s side. Are we willing to pay the price?

When you are going to make an important decision in your life, you need a prophecy, a word from heaven. Are you willing to do your part in order for the word to come to you? Not that we can force God to speak to us and give us prophetic words. The purpose of our sacrifice is not to appease God, but that to humble ourselves and prepare ourselves to receive signals from heaven.

The supernatural manifestation is a result of the sacrifice among the people. Why were there such great miracles in connection with the exodus from Egypt? It was because four hundred years of prayers and cries for deliverance had gone by.

Why did the Spirit come with powerful manifestations in Acts chapter two? It was because the assembly had been in prayer and fasting for ten days preparing for Shavuot. The greater the sacrifice, the more power will be revealed in the prophetic word.

23:7 “He took up his parable, and said, From Aram has Balak brought me, The king of Mo'av from the mountains of the East: Come, curse me Ya`akov, Come, defy Yisra'el.”(HNV) – Bil’am came from Aram to curse Israel. Aram corresponds with modern day Syria, northeast of Israel.

Talmud[5] says that Bil’am was the son of Lavan.

23:8 “How shall I curse, whom God has not cursed? How shall I defy, whom HaShem has not defied?”(HNV revised) – These words are very similar to Romans 8:33-34a, were it is written,

“Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns?”(HNV revised)

Just as he opened his mouth, HaShem changed the curse to a blessing, as it is written in Deuteronomy 23:5,

“Nevertheless HaShem your God wouldn’t listen to Bil`am; but HaShem your God turned the curse into a blessing to you, because HaShem your God loved you.”(HNV revised)

23:9 “For from the top of the rocks I see him, from the hills I see him: behold, it is a people that dwells alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.”(HNV) – Israel will not be reckoned among the gentiles. They are a special, consecrated, and set apart people. HaShem treats Israel differently. And because they are different they have a greater responsibility before the nations, that they may know the Name of the Eternal.

There are two ways of interpreting this text. Rashi refers to the moment when all the nations will be destroyed and Israel will not be counted among them, as it is written in Jeremiah 30:11,

“For I am with you, says HaShem, to save you: for I will make a full end of all the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not make a full end of you; but I will correct you in measure, and will in no way leave you unpunished.”(HNV revised)

The second interpretation is that there will come a time when all the people of the earth will be re-grouped and registered into the seventy original nations, according to Psalm 87:1-7,

“A Song. A Psalm by the sons of Korach. His foundation is in the sacred mountains. HaShem loves the gates of Tziyon more than all the dwellings of Ya`akov. Glorious things are spoken about you, city of God. Selah. I will record Rachav and Bavel among those who acknowledge me. Behold, Peleshet, Tzor, and also Kush: ‘This one was born there.’ Yes, of Tziyon it will be said, ‘This one and that one was born in her’. The Most High himself will establish her. HaShem will count, when he writes up the peoples, ‘This one was born there.’ Selah. Those who sing as well as those who dance say, ‘All my springs are in you.’”(HNV revised)

At that time, those who were born in Tziyon will not be counted among the other nations, as it is written in Galatians 4:26,

“But the Yerushalayim that is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”(HNV)

This means that the gentiles that have turned from idols to the Eternal of Israel and have been born through God’s Spirit, in the coming age will not be counted with the nation that they were born into, but with Israel that they were adopted into.

23:10 “Who can count the dust of Ya`akov, or number the fourth part of Yisra'el? Let me die the death of the righteous, let my last end be like his!”(HNV) – Bil’am wanted to die like the Israelites, but he died as an unrighteous man, compare with 31:8. HaShem’s plan for him was that he would be united with them, but he pulled away and taught their enemies how they could cause Israel to sin.

The Fifth Aliyah, 23:13-26

The Second Prophecy

23:19 “God is not a man, that he should lie, neither the 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?”(HNV revised) – This verse completely denies that God could be a man or a son of man. God is NOT a man and neither can he be or ever become a man. However, he can reveal himself through a man. This is the foundation of the Torah concerning the understanding of Yeshua.

Everything that God says, he does. This is one of the most important characteristics that our heavenly Father has; his faithfulness to his own words. If he says something, he will fulfill it, as it is written in Jeremiah 1:12,

“Then said HaShem to me, You have well seen: for I watch over my word to perform it.”(HNV revised)

Man has a tendency not to fulfill his word. This is one of man’s worst weaknesses. That is why HaShem is comparing himself to a man in this passage, and saying that he is not that way. Even though a man can say something that he later does not fulfill, we can never think that the Eternal is that way. There is no separation between word and action with HaShem. Everything that he says, he will do. A mature person is like HaShem, and he honors his own word highly. A spiritual person will fulfill his words, or will at least do everything in his power not to break a promise. His promises are more important than his own gain. If the fulfillment of a promise means great personal loss, he will fulfill it anyway, regardless of the loss. To him, a promise is sacred and must be fulfilled, just as the words of the heavenly Father. Psalm 15, puts it this way,

”HaShem, who shall dwell in your sanctuary? Who shall live on your sacred hill? He who walks blamelessly, does what is right, and speaks truth in his heart; he who doesn’t slander with his tongue, nor does evil to his friend, nor casts slurs against his fellow man; in whose eyes a vile man is despised, but who honors those who fear HaShem; he who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and doesn’t change; he who doesn’t lend out his money for usury, nor take a bribe against the innocent.”(HNV revised)

23:21 “He has not seen iniquity in Ya`akov; neither has he seen perverseness in Yisra'el: HaShem his God is with him, the shout of a king is among them.”(HNV revised) – This is the result of the forgiveness that they received for the sins with the golden calf, the complaining, the rebellion, and the disobedience. Forgiveness followed Israel continuously and it covered their sins so that they were not visible from above. Moreover, the blood of the Messiah not only covers sin so that it is not visible from heaven, but removes it completely.

This covering that was there through the forgiveness, protected the children of Israel from attacks by the enemy. Bil’am could not see unrighteousness in Israel and the enemy had no arguments with which to accuse the people. Thanks to the forgiveness through the blood, Israel is protected.

23:23 “Surely there is no enchantment with Ya`akov; neither is there any divination with Yisra'el: now shall it be said of Ya`akov and of Yisra'el, what has God done!”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew text literally says, “There is no divination in Ya’akov”. This teaches us that a true Israelite does not read palms or use any other means to tell fortunes. He does not come near occultism, astrology, or magic at all.

23:14, 28 “He took him into the field of Zophim, to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered up a bull and a ram on every altar… Balak took Bil`am to the top of Pe`or, that looks down on the desert.”(HNV) – Moshe died on the top of Pisgah, and Pe’or was the idol before whom the children of Israel sinned with the daughters of Moav. So, these two places that Balak chose would have influence over the people in the future. Rashi says that Balak was a sorcerer and could see into the future what would happen on these two places. I, however, question that interpretation because the adversary, who is behind the spirits of sorcery, does not know the future. He can only guess. He does not know what is coming except for what has been revealed to him from heaven, as it is written in Isaiah 46:9-10,

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me; declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure”(HNV revised)

In Isaiah 48:5-7, it is written,

“therefore I have declared it to you from of old; before it came to pass I have shown it to you; lest you should say, My idol has done them, and my engraved image, and my molten image, has commanded them. You have heard it; see all this; and you, will you not declare it? I have shown you new things from this time, even hidden things, which you have not known. They are created now, and not from of old; and before this day you didn’t hear them; lest you should say, Behold, I knew them.”(HNV revised)

The Sixth Aliyah, 23:27 – 24:14

The Third Prophecy

24:1 “When Bil`am saw that it pleased HaShem to bless Yisra'el, he didn’t go, as at the other times, to meet with enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.”(HNV revised) – It is possible that he turned toward the desert to call to mind the sin with the golden calf that was worshipped there. The Targum text reads, “toward the calf that Israel had worshipped in the desert”.

23:16 and 24:2 “HaShem met Bil`am, and put a word in his mouth, and said, Return to Balak, and thus shall you speak… Bil`am lifted up his eyes, and he saw Yisra'el dwelling according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came on him.”(HNV revised) – On the one hand, these texts say that HaShem laid the words in the mouth of the prophet, and on the other hand they say that God’s Spirit came over him. Here we have the two most important ingredients in the Eternal’s work, the Word and the Spirit. When these two are working together, there will always be supernatural activity. One who only studies the Torah, without the presence of the Eternal will have a dry spiritual life. One who only seeks the Presence of the Eternal, without studying the Torah, will be like a water stream that is poured out on the ground, not producing anything tangible in his life. One who is filled with the Torah and the Spirit will be like Yeshua HaMashiach, useful in the hands of the Eternal.

Make sure that you do not lose either of the two! A balanced spiritual life will be found in both sides simultaneously.

24:3b “the man whose eye was closed…”(HNV) – According to Rashi, Bil’am had one eye. Verses 2 and 4, however, speak of “eyes” plural, not only one eye.

According to Ephesians 1:18, the heart has eyes. Man’s spirit has five senses, just like the body does. Therefore one can speak of a man having “opened eyes” even though he only has one eye. On the other hand, it is possible to speak of an open eye, referring to the prophetic ability to see visions.

24:4 “He says, who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of Shaddai, falling down, and having his eyes open:”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, God only revealed himself during the night, when he was lying down.

24:5 “How goodly are your tents, Ya`akov, your tents, Yisra'el!”(HNV) – According to Talmud,[6] this means that the entrances of the tents were not facing each other, so that they could not see from one tent into the next.

24:7 “Water shall flow from his buckets, his seed shall be in many waters, his king shall be higher than Agag, his kingdom shall be exalted.”(HNV) – The king that was greater than Agag was Shaul, the first king of Israel, who defeated Agag, the king of Amalek, according to 1 Samuel 15:7-8,

“Sha'ul struck the `Amaleki, from Chavilah as you go to Shur, that is before Egypt. He took Agag the king of the `Amaleki alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.”(HNV)

In its prophetic extension, this word is also speaking of the Messiah, who will finally crush Agag, the king of Amalek, who will probably be the same person as the Gog that is mentioned in Ezekiel 39-40. In the Samaritan version of the five books of Moshe, as well as in the Septuagint, the name Agag was written as Gog, compare with also Revelation 20:8.

24:9 “He couched, he lay down as a lion, as a lioness; who shall rouse him up? Blessed be everyone who blesses you, cursed be everyone who curses you.”(HNV) – This verse teaches us that the blessing and the curse that were tied to Avraham were inherited by the children of Israel, not the children of Yishmael or Esav.

The Fourth Prophecy

24:14 “Now, behold, I go to my people: come, and I will warn you what this people shall do to your people in the latter days.”(HNV revised) – The root of the Hebrew word that is translated “warn you” is yaats,[7] which means “give advice”. This teaches us that Bil’am advised Balak to send his most beautiful girls to the children of Israel so that they would sin, as it is written in Numbers 31:16,

“Behold, these caused the children of Yisra'el, through the counsel of Bil`am, to commit trespass against HaShem in the matter of Pe`or, and so the plague was among the congregation of HaShem.”(HNV revised

If the enemy does not manage to destroy you from without, he will try to destroy you from within. If he cannot crush you by force, he will try to do it through friendship. Guard yourself carefully from false brothers and sisters and guard yourself from women!

In Ecclesiastes 7:25-26, it is written,

“I turned around, and my heart sought to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know that wickedness is stupidity, and that foolishness is madness. I find more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and traps, whose hands are chains. Whoever pleases God shall escape from her; but the sinner will be ensnared by her.”(HNV revised)

“in the latter days” – This prophecy speaks of the last days, the time before the Messiah’s second coming. It was written in the Torah to instruct us who live in the time that is mentioned.

The Seventh Aliyah, 24:15 – 25:9

24:17 “I see him, but not now; I see him, but not near: there shall come forth a star out of Ya`akov, a scepter shall rise out of Yisra'el, shall strike through the corners of Mo'av, break down all the sons of Shet.”(HNV revised) – The words “I see him… I see him” are referring to King David, and the words “but not now… but not near” are referring to the Mashiach. The words “a star” speak of a king, according to Rashi, as Targum translated it, “a king shall be raised up out of Yaakov”. This is first of all speaking of King David, who defeated the Moavites, as it is written in 2 Samuel 8:2,

“He struck Mo'av, and measured them with the line, making them to lie down on the ground; and he measured two lines to put to death, and one full line to keep alive. The Mo`avim became servants to David, and brought tribute.”(HNV)

Secondly, the star is speaking of the Messiah, the son of David, as it is written in Revelation 22:16,

“I, Yeshua, have sent my angel to testify these things to you for the assemblies. I am the root and the offspring of David; the Bright and Morning Star.”(HNV)

This prophecy about the star was the basis upon which Rabbi Akiva falsely proclaimed Bar Kochvah, the general of the Jewish army that was later crushed by the Romans, as Messiah in the second century. In year 135 CE, the state of Israel was wiped off the map and Yerushalayim was plowed with oxen.

Shet, the son of Adam and Chavah, is the forefather of all mankind. This teaches us that a king will rise up in Yaakov that will have power over all men on earth. This is talking about King Mashiach ben David. His name is Yeshua.

24:19 “Out of Ya`akov shall one have dominion, shall destroy the remnant from the city.”(HNV) – This is primarily speaking of Edom, which was defeated by King David, as it is written in 2 Samuel 8:14,

“He put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom put he garrisons, and all the Edom became servants to David. HaShem gave victory to David wherever he went.”(HNV revised)

Bil’am’s prophecy is also speaking about the Roman Empire, which will finally be destroyed through the coming of the Messiah ben David, as it is written in Daniel 2:44-45; 7:11,

“In the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty of it be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Because you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God has made known to the king what shall happen hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation of it sure… I saw at that time because of the voice of the great words which the horn spoke; I saw even until the animal was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given to be burned with fire.”(HNV revised)

“the city” – According to Rashi, this is referring to Rome. King Mashiach will crush the remnant of Rome, i.e. the Roman system that has stood against Israel and the Eternal throughout the course of history, both politically and religiously, as it is written in Revelation 14:8,

“Another, a second angel, followed, saying, ‘Bavel the great has fallen, which has made all the nations to drink of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality.’”(HNV)

In Revelation 18:2, it is written,

“He cried with a mighty voice, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Bavel the great, and she has become a habitation of demons, a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird!’”(HNV)

The Fifth Prophecy

24:20 “He looked at Amalek, and took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall come to destruction.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, Amalek was the first nation to war against Israel. As we said earlier, there will be war between Israel and Amalek in every generation, compare with Exodus 17:16. The evil Haman was a descendant of Amalek, see Esther.

Shaul and David struck the Amalekites so thoroughly that they were no longer a nation, according to 1 Chronicles 4:42-43; 18:11, where it is written,

“Some of them, even of the sons of Shim`on, five hundred men, went to Mount Se`ir, having for their captains Pelatyah, and Ne`aryah, and Refayah, and `Uzzi'el, the sons of Yish`i. They struck the remnant of the `Amaleki who escaped, and have lived there to this day… These also did king David dedicate to HaShem, with the silver and the gold that he carried away from all the nations; from Edom, and from Mo'av, and from the children of `Ammon, and from the Pelishtim, and from `Amalek.”(HNV revised)

In spite of this, Amalek’s physical and spiritual descendants will continue to make war against Israel up until the end times. Then they will be completely annihilated by the Messiah.

The Sixth Prophecy

24:21-22 “He looked at the Kenites, and took up his parable, and said, strong is your dwelling-place, your nest is set in the rock. Nevertheless Kayin shall be wasted, until Ashur shall carry you away captive.”(HNV) – The Kenites were Yitro’s, Moshe’s father-in-law’s, people who were exiled during the Assyrian captivity, compare with Judges 1:16.

The Seventh Prophecy

24:23-24 “He took up his parable, and said, alas, who shall live when God does this? But ships shall come from the coast of Kittim, they shall afflict Ashur, and shall afflict `Ever; he also shall come to destruction.”(HNV revised) – Kittim is a reference to the Romans (Rashi, Targum). Kittim is Cyprus. In Daniel 11:29-30, it speaks of the first Roman attack against Syria in year 168 BCE.

 “alas” – An implication of the Assyrian invasion of Israel year 722 BCE.

“they shall afflict Ashur” – Bil’am’s prophecy would be fulfilled when Rome attacked the Greek Empire, reaching all the way into the areas of the ancient Ashur (or Assyria, which corresponds with modern day Syria and northern Iraq).

“they shall afflict Ever” – The Hebrews, the children of Israel, who are descendants of Ever, would also be defeated by the Roman system, both politically and religiously.

 “he also shall come to destruction” – The Roman political-religious system will come to eternal destruction at and through the second coming of the Messiah.

In Psalm 106:28-31, it is written,

“They joined themselves also to Ba`al-Pe`or, and ate the sacrifices of the dead. Thus they provoked him to anger with their deeds. The plague broke in on them. Then Pinechas stood up, and executed judgment, so the plague was stopped. That was credited to him for righteousness, for all generations to come.”(HNV)

25:1 “Yisra'el abode in Shittim; and the people began to play the prostitute with the daughters of Mo'av”(HNV) – These texts teach us that there is a connection between immorality and idolatry and even a cult of death. According to Psalm 106, it seems like the god Baal-Pe’or was a god of the dead.

25:2 “for they called the people to the sacrifices of their gods; and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods.”(HNV) – Once again, sin entered through food, just as it had in the Garden of Eden. The daughters of Moav offered them food that was not kasher; food that had been sacrificed to idols. At the same time they offered their bodies. The fleshly lusts among the sons of Israel were not submitted to the Torah and a door was opened for the enemy. It is very important to control one’s desires for food and sex!

In Revelation 2:14, it is written,

“But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Bil`am, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Yisra'el, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.”(HNV)

How important food is! How important it is not to eat forbidden food! Our fleshly needs cannot rule us. The body was created to be a servant, not to be our lord. One who is not capable of controlling his fleshly desires is not capable of serving the Eternal. An uncontrolled lust for food other than manna became an open door for the enemy to harm the children of Israel. The second thing was that they released their sexual desires. Thus a plague came over Israel. Bil’am was able to take advantage of these two areas in the children of Israel to bring about their fall. The teaching of Bil’am is one that tries to cause the children of Israel to stop eating kasher food and to stop living according to the rules of family purity.

25:3 “Yisra'el joined himself to Ba`al-Pe`or: and the anger of HaShem was kindled against Yisra'el.”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, the name of the idol came from the fact that its worshippers would exalt it by exposing their buttocks and emptying their bowels.

25:9 “Those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.”(HNV) – Immorality brought serious consequences over Israel. This number represents two thousand people per tribe. In 1 Corinthians 10:8, it says that twenty-three thousand died in one day. Is this a contradiction? It seems as though the remaining one thousand died during the following days. It is also possible that a mistake was made in one of the copies of the texts.

In Deuteronomy 4:3, it is written,

“Your eyes have seen what HaShem did because of Ba`al-Pe`or; for all the men who followed Ba`al-Pe`or, HaShem your God has destroyed them from the midst of you.”(HNV revised)

In Hosea 9:10, it is written,

“I found Yisra'el like grapes in the wilderness. I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree at its first season; but they came to Ba`al-Pe`or, and consecrated themselves to the shameful thing, and became abominable like that which they loved.”(HNV)

In Joshua 22:17, it is written,

“Is the iniquity of Pe`or too little for us, from which we have not cleansed ourselves to this day, although there came a plague on the congregation of HaShem”(HNV revised)

In Pirkei Avot,[8] it is written,

“All those who possessed the three positive characteristics, which we now will mention, belong to the disciples of the Patriarch Avraham; and all those who posses the three following weaknesses belong to the disciples of the ungodly Bilam.

A good eye, humility and self-denial characterize the disciples of Avraham. Jealousy (an evil eye), pride, and an insatiable lust for pleasure characterize the disciples of the ungodly Bilam.”

In 2 Peter 2:15-16, it is written,

“forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Bil`am the son of Be'or, who loved the wages of wrong-doing; but he was rebuked for his own disobedience. A mute donkey spoke with man’s voice and stopped the madness of the prophet.”(HNV)

In Jude 11, it is written,

“Woe to them! For they went in the way of Kayin, and ran riotously in the error of Bil`am for hire, and perished in Korach’s rebellion.’”(HNV)

What can we learn from this account and these texts concerning Bil’am’s way? First of all we see that Bil’am had a very important prophetic gift, so great that Talmud compares him to Moshe. As we said earlier, Bil’am could have been for the nations what Moshe was for Israel. The words that he spoke were recorded in the Torah, just as Moseh rabbenu’s words were. One part of Bil’am’s words are used in the daily prayers of the Jewish people all over the earth,

“Ma tovu ohaleicha Yaakov, mishkenoteicha Israel.” – “How lovely are your tents O Yaakov, your dwelling places O Israel.”

However, Bil’am’s prophetic ability was not used properly. This prophet’s character was perverted so that he was willing to curse a people whom God had not cursed. Furthermore, it was all for the purpose of making money and being honored by important people in this world. The texts in the letters of Peter and Jude teach us that Bil’am was working for profit and turned himself over to insanity. Even though God had told him not to go with the princes of Moav, he stubbornly went anyway, to make profit and be honored by the leaders and governors of Moav. He knew very well that he had no ability to speak prophetically on his own. That is why he forewarned the messengers of Balak that he could not say anything other than what HaShem his God would put in his mouth.

What strikes me is that it seems as though Bil’am was trying to change a heavenly decision in order to make personal profit through a spiritual ministry. Trying to manipulate God is madness. You cannot play games with God, and His words cannot be changed. Trying to use HaShem’s revelations for financial gain is also madness. In the Christian world today, you do not hear many messages about sin, repentance, and a life of consecration through the redemption of the Messiah, but rather it is a “gospel” that speaks about financial success. Throughout the whole Christian world, you can find preachers that speak about personal financial advantages that a believer can get from a heavenly revelation. Repentance is no longer preached, as it was in the old days. Could this possibly be the falling away that must come before the second coming of the Messiah? See 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Instead of submitting to HaShem’s revelation, they try to twist God’s arm to get money through their ministry. They bless Israel, only to get the blessing promised for those who bless the descendants of Avraham. Instead of blessing Israel out of love for Israel, they bless Israel out of love for themselves, for personal gain. Instead of uniting with Israel and the Jewish people who believe in the Messiah and accepting the Scripture passages what speak of the ingrafting, they criticize those who begin to take this ingrafting seriously by living the universal Judaism together with the Messiah. In their hearts they curse Israel, but with their mouths they bless Israel for personal gain. That is the teaching of Bil’am.

God’s wrath was kindled against Bil’am when he tried to change the heavenly decision and manipulate the Word that had gone out of HaShem’s mouth.

There are significant sins in Bil’am’s character:

·         He wanted to curse Israel.

·         He had an uncontrolled desire for honor, material wealth, and sex.

·         He tried to make God change his mind and to manipulate His Word according to his own wishes.

Bil’am did not understand the importance of a consecrated character that could control evil desires to sin.

In Proverbs 16:32, it is written,

“One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty; one who rules his spirit, than he who takes a city.”(HNV)

Avraham was able to control his fleshly desires and he reached perfect faith and was called the friend of God.

Anyone who copies these weekly commentaries in order to make money or changes the authors name to replace it with his own name to obtain honor is a disciple of Bil’am. One who copies this message without making any money from it, even losing money by it, so that others can partake of the blessing of these truths, is a disciple of Avraham.

There is no commandment of the 613 in this Parashah.

[1]     Strong H1111 bâlâq, baw-lawk', From H1110; waster; Balak, a Moabitish king: - Balak.

[2]     Mishnaj; R´Aarón; Midrash HaGadol; Psikta Drav Kaana 13.

[3]     Strong G4436 Πύθων, Puthōn, poo'-thone, From Πυθώ Puthō (the name of the region where Delphi, the seat of the famous oracle, was located); a Python, that is, (by analogy with the supposed diviner there) inspiration (soothsaying): - divination.

[4]     Mishné Torá, sid. 9 Fundamentos de la Torá Capítulo 7. Translated from Spanish by the author.

[5]     Sanhedrin 105a.

[6]     Babá Batrá 60a.

[7]     Strong H3289 yâ‛ats, yaw-ats', A primitive root; to advise; reflexively to deliberate or resolve: - advertise, take advice, advise (well), consult, (give take) counsel (-lor), determine, devise, guide, purpose.

[8]     The statutes of the Fathers. Chapter 5 Mishna 19 (23 in certain versions). Translated from Spanish by the author.