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Balaam

A soothsayer who blessed Israel at the end of the wilderness wanderings.

Background

Balaam was a soothsayer summoned by the Moabite king Balak to curse the invading people of Israel. But Balaam had a vision of God forbidding him to curse the blessed and victorious nation. Later, when Balaam saddled his donkey to go to Moab, the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with a drawn sword in his hand. Balaam beat the donkey which then spoke reproachfully to his master. Then Balaam's eyes were opened and he too saw the angel who told him to say only what he was divinely instructed to say.  The king of Moab offered sacrifices three times and each time he expected Balaam to curse Israel, but Balaam repeatedly blessed the Israelites instead.  Later, however, Balaam was said to have encouraged the Israelites to practice idolatry.

AUTHOR: Robert Brusic, Seminary Pastor Emeritus