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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Philo Of Alexandria, On The Cherubim, 32

nanMoses also represents Balaam, who is the symbol of a vain people, stripped of his arms, as a runaway and deserter, well knowing the war which it becomes the soul to carry on for the sake of knowledge; for he says to his ass, who is here a symbol of the irrational designs of life which every foolish man entertains, that "If I had had a sword, I should ere now have slain Thee." And great thanks are due to the Maker of all things, because he, knowing the struggles and resistance of folly, did not give to it the power of language, which would have been like giving a sword to a madman, in order that it might have no power to work great and iniquitous destruction among all whom it should meet with.

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19 results
1. Hebrew Bible, Deuteronomy, 23.5, 34.10 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

23.5. עַל־דְּבַר אֲשֶׁר לֹא־קִדְּמוּ אֶתְכֶם בַּלֶּחֶם וּבַמַּיִם בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם וַאֲשֶׁר שָׂכַר עָלֶיךָ אֶת־בִּלְעָם בֶּן־בְּעוֹר מִפְּתוֹר אֲרַם נַהֲרַיִם לְקַלְלֶךָּ׃ 23.5. because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Aram-naharaim, to curse thee." 34.10. And there hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face;"
2. Hebrew Bible, Genesis, 22.6 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

22.6. וַיִּקַּח אַבְרָהָם אֶת־עֲצֵי הָעֹלָה וַיָּשֶׂם עַל־יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ וַיִּקַּח בְּיָדוֹ אֶת־הָאֵשׁ וְאֶת־הַמַּאֲכֶלֶת וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם יַחְדָּו׃ 22.6. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt-offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife; and they went both of them together."
3. Hebrew Bible, Numbers, 22.29, 31.16 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

22.29. וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם לָאָתוֹן כִּי הִתְעַלַּלְתְּ בִּי לוּ יֶשׁ־חֶרֶב בְּיָדִי כִּי עַתָּה הֲרַגְתִּיךְ׃ 31.16. הֵן הֵנָּה הָיוּ לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּדְבַר בִּלְעָם לִמְסָר־מַעַל בַּיהוָה עַל־דְּבַר־פְּעוֹר וַתְּהִי הַמַּגֵּפָה בַּעֲדַת יְהוָה׃ 22.29. And Balaam said unto the ass: ‘Because thou hast mocked me; I would there were a sword in my hand, for now I had killed thee.’" 31.16. Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to revolt so as to break faith with the LORD in the matter of Peor, and so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD."
4. Anon., Sibylline Oracles, 4.18-4.21 (1st cent. BCE - 5th cent. CE)

4.18. of springs perennial, creatures meant for life 4.19. And rains at once producing fruit of field 4.20. 20 And tree and vine and oil. This God a whip 4.21. Struck through my heart within to make me tell
5. Philo of Alexandria, On The Cherubim, 33-34, 27 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)

27. I have also, on one occasion, heard a more ingenious train of reasoning from my own soul, which was accustomed frequently to be seized with a certain divine inspiration, even concerning matters which it could not explain even to itself; which now, if I am able to remember it accurately, I will relate. It told me that in the one living and true God there were two supreme and primary powers--goodness and authority; and that by his goodness he had created every thing, and by his authority he governed all that he had created; 27. For one may almost say that the whole infinity of numbers is measured by this one, because the boundaries which make it up are four, namely, one, two, three, and four; and an equal number of boundaries, corresponding to them in equal proportions, make up the number of a hundred out of decades; for ten, and twenty, and thirty, and forty produce a hundred. And in the same way one may produce the number of a thousand from hundreds, and that of a myriad from thousands.
6. Philo of Alexandria, On The Confusion of Tongues, 159 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)

159. At all events, the law says that that soothsayer and diviner who was led into folly in respect of his unstable conjectures (for the name, Balaam, being interpreted, means unstable), "cursed the people that Saw;" and that, too, though as far as his words go he uttered only words of good omen and prayers. The law here looking not at the words he uttered, which, through the providence of God, did change their character, becoming good money instead of base coinage, but having regard to the intention in which injurious things were resolved in preference to beneficial ones. But these things are, by nature inimical to one another, conjectures being at variance with truth, and vain opinion with knowledge, and prophecy, which is not dictated by divine inspiration, being directly opposed to sober wisdom.
7. Philo of Alexandria, On The Migration of Abraham, 114-115, 113 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)

113. Therefore, the vain Balaam, although he sang hymns of exceeding sublimity to God, among which, also, is that one beginning, "God is not as a Man," the most beautiful of all songs, and who uttered panegyrics on the seeing multitude, Israel, going through a countless body of particulars, is rightly judged by the wise lawgiver to have been an impious man and accursed, and to have been cursing rather than blessing;
8. Philo of Alexandria, On The Life of Moses, 1.153-1.154, 1.263-1.304 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)

1.153. But as he thought it a token of poverty of soul to be anxious about material wealth, he despised it as a blind thing, but he honoured the far-sighted wealth of nature, and was as great an admirer as any one in the world of that kind of riches, as he showed himself to be in his clothes, and in his food, and in his whole system and manner of life, not indulging in any theatrical affectation of pomp and magnificence, but cultivating the simplicity and unpretending affable plainness of a private individual, but a sumptuousness which was truly royal, in those things which it is becoming for a ruler to desire and to abound in; 1.154. and these things are, temperance, and fortitude, and continence, and presence of mind, and acuteness, and knowledge, and industry, and patience under evil, and contempt of pleasure, and justice, and exhortations to virtue and blame, and lawful punishment of offenders, and, on the contrary, praise and honour to those who did well in accordance with law. 1.263. This war struck all the Asiatic nations with terrible consternation, and especially all those who were near the borders of the Amorites, inasmuch as they looked upon the dangers as being nearer to themselves. Accordingly, one of the neighbouring kings, by name Balak, who ruled over a large and thickly inhabited country of the east, before he met them in battle, feeling great distrust of his own power, did not think fit to meet them in close combat, being desirous to avoid carrying on a war of extermination by open arms; but he had recourse to inquiries and divination, thinking that by some kind of ruse or other he might be able to overthrow the irresistible power of the Hebrews. 1.264. Now there was a man at that time very celebrated for his skill in divination, dwelling in Mesopotamia, who was initiated in every branch of the soothsayers' art. And he was celebrated and renowned above all men for his experience as a diviner and prophet, as he had in many instances foretold to many people incredible and most important events; 1.265. for, on one occasion, he had predicted heavy rain to one nation at the height of summer; to another he had foretold a drought and burning heat in the middle of winter. Others he had forewarned of a dearth which should follow a season of abundance; and, on the other hand, plenty after famine. In some instances he had predicted the inundations of rivers; or, on the contrary, their falling greatly and becoming dried up; and the departure of pestilential diseases, and ten thousand other things. From all which he had obtained a name of wide celebrity, as he was believed to have foreseen them all, and so he had attained to great renown and his glory had spread everywhere and was continually increasing. 1.266. So this man, Balak, now sent some of his companions, entreating him to come to him, and he gave him some presents at once, and he promised to give him others also, explaining to him the necessity which he was in, on account of which he had sent for him. But he did not treat the messengers with any noble or consistent disposition, but with great courtesy and civility evaded their request, as if he were one of the most celebrated prophets, and as such was accustomed to do nothing whatever without first consulting the oracle, and so he declined, saying that the Deity would not permit him to go with them. 1.267. So the messengers returned back to the king, without having succeeded in their errand. And immediately other messengers of the highest rank in the whole land were sent on the same business, bringing with them more abundant presents of money, and promising still more ample rewards than the former ambassadors had promised. 1.268. And Balaam, being allured by the gifts which were already proffered to him, and also by the hopes for the future which they held out to him, and being influenced also by the rank of those who invited him, began to yield, again alleging the commands of the Deity as his excuse, but no longer with sincerity. Accordingly, on the next day he prepared for his departure, relating some dreams by which he said he had been influenced, affirming that he had been compelled by their manifest visions not to remain, but to follow the ambassadors. 1.269. But when he was on his road a very manifest sign met him in the way, showing him plainly that the purpose for which he was travelling was displeasing to God, and ill-omened; for the beast on which he was riding, while proceeding onwards in the straight road, at first stopped suddenly 1.270. then, as if some one was forcibly resisting it, or standing in front and driving it back by force, it retreated, moving first to the right and then to the left, and could not stand still, but kept moving, first to one side and then to the other, as if it had been under the influence of wine and intoxication; and though it was repeatedly beaten, it disregarded the blows, so that it very nearly threw its rider, and though he stuck on did still hurt him considerably; 1.271. for close on each side of the path there were walls and strong fences; therefore, when the beast in its violent motions struck heavily against the walls, the owner had his knee, and leg, and foot pressed and crushed, and was a good deal lacerated. 1.272. The truth is, that there was, as it seems, a divine vision, which, as the beast, on which the diviner was seeking, saw at a great distance as it was coming towards him, and it was frightened at it; but the man did not see it, which was a proof of his insensibility, for he was thus shown to be inferior to a brute beast in the power of sight, at a time when he was boasting that he could see, not only the whole world, but also the Creator of the world. 1.273. Accordingly, having after some time seen the angel opposing him, not because he was desiring to see so astonishing a spectacle, but that he might become acquainted with his own insignificance and nothingness, he betook himself to supplications and prayers, entreating to be pardoned, on the ground that he had acted as he had done out of ignorance, and had not sinned of deliberate purpose. 1.274. Then, as he said that he ought to return back again, he asked of the vision which appeared to him, whether he should go back again to his own house; but the angel beholding his insincerity, and being indigt at it (for what need was there for him to ask questions in a matter which was so evident, which had its answer plain in itself, and which did not require any more positive information by means of words, unless a person's ears are more to be trusted than his eyes, and words than thing 1.275. But when the king heard that he was now near at hand, he went forth with his guards to meet him; and when they met at first there were, as was natural, greetings and salutations, and then a brief reproof of his tardiness and of his not having come more readily. After this there were feastings and costly entertainments, and all those other things which are usually prepared on the occasion of the reception of strangers, everything with royal magnificence being prepared, so as to give an exaggerated idea of the power and glory of the king. 1.276. The next day at the rising of the sun, Balak took the prophet and led him up to a high hill, where it also happened that a pillar had been erected to some deity which the natives of the country had been accustomed to worship; and from thence there was seen a portion of the camp of the Hebrews, which was shown to the magician from this point, as if from a watch tower. 1.277. And he when he beheld it said: "Do thou, O king, build here seven altars, and offer upon every one of them a bullock and a ram. And I will turn aside and inquire of God what I am to say." So, having gone forth, immediately he became inspired, the prophetic spirit having entered into him, which drove all his artificial system of divination and cunning out of his soul; for it was not possible that holy inspiration should dwell in the same abode with magic. Then, returning back to the king, and beholding the sacrifices and the altars flaming, he became like the interpreter of some other being who was prompting his words 1.278. and spoke in prophetic strain as follows: "Balak has sent for me from Mesopotamia, having caused me to take a long journey from the east, that he might chastise the Hebrews by means of curses. But in what manner shall I be able to curse those who have not been cursed by God? For I shall behold them with my eyes from the loftiest mountains, and I shall see them with my mind; and I shall never be able to injure the people which shall dwell alone, not being numbered among the other nations, not in accordance with the inheritance of any particular places, or any apportionment of lands, but by reason of the peculiar nature of their remarkable customs, as they will never mingle with any other nation so as to depart from their national and ancestral ways. 1.279. Who has ever discovered with accuracy the first origin of the birth of these people? Their bodies, indeed, may have been fashioned according to human means of propagation; but their souls have been brought forth by divine agency, wherefore they are nearly related to God. May my soul die as to the death of the body, that it may be remembered among the souls of the righteous, such as the souls of these men are. 1.280. When Balak heard these words he was grieved within himself; and after he had stopped speaking, not being able to contain his sorrow, he said: "You were invited hither to curse my enemies, and are you not ashamed to offer up prayers for their good? I must, without knowing it, have been deceiving myself, thinking you a friend; who were, on the contrary, without my being aware of it, enrolled among the ranks of the enemy, as is now plain. Perhaps, too, you made all the delay in coming to me by reason of the regard for them, which you were secretly cherishing in your soul, and your secret dislike to me and to my people; for, as the old proverb says, what is apparent affords the best means of judging of what is not visible. 1.281. But Balaam, his moment of inspiration being now past, replied: "I am exposed in this to a most unjust charge, and am undeservedly accused; for I am saying nothing of my own, but whatever the Deity prompts me to say. And this is not the first time that I have said and that you have heard this, but I declared it on the former occasion when you sent the ambassadors, to whom I made the same answer. 1.282. But as the king thought either that the prophet was deceiving him, or that the Deity might change his mind, and the consequence of a change of place might alter the firmness of his decision, he led him off to another spot, where, from an exceedingly long, and high, and distant hill, he might be able to show him a part of the army of his enemies. Then, again, he built seven altars and sacrificed the same number of victims that he had sacrificed at first, and sent the prophet to look for favourable omens and predictions. 1.283. And he, as soon as he was by himself, was again suddenly filled by divine inspiration, and, without at all understanding the words which he uttered, spoke everything that was put into his mouth, prophesying in the following manner:--"Rise up and listen, O king! prick up thy ears and hear. God is not able to speak falsely as if he were a man, nor does he change his purpose like the son of man. When he has once spoken, does he not abide by his word? For he will say nothing at all which shall not be completely brought to pass, since his word is also his deed. I, indeed, have been brought hither to bless this nation, and not to curse it. 1.284. There shall be no labour or distress among the Hebrews. God visibly holds his shield over them, who also dissipated the violence of the Egyptian attacks, leading forth all these myriads of people as one man. Therefore they disregarded auguries and every other part of the prophetic art, trusting to the one sole Governor of the world alone. And I see the people rising up like a young lion, and exulting as a lion. He shall feast on the prey, and for drink he shall drink the blood of the wounded; and, when he is satisfied, he shall not turn to sleep, but he shall be awake and sing the song of victory. 1.285. But Balak, being very indigt at finding that all the assistance which he expected to derive from divination was turning out contrary to his hopes, said: "O man, neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all; for silence, which is free from danger, is better than unpleasant speeches." And when he had said this, as if he had forgotten what he had said, owing to the inconstancy of his mind, he led the prophet to another place, from which he could show him a part of the Hebrew army; and again he invited him to curse them. 1.286. But the prophet, as being even more wicked than the king, although he had always replied to the accusations which were brought against him with one true excuse, namely, that he was saying nothing out of his own head, but was only interpreting the words of another, being himself carried away and inspired, when he ought no longer to have accompanied him but to have gone away home, ran forward even more eagerly than his conductor, although in his secret thoughts he was oppressed by a heavy feeling of evil, yet still desired in his mind to curse this people, though he was forbidden to do so with his mouth. 1.287. So, coming to a mountain greater than any of those on which he had stood before, and which reached a very long way, he bade the king perform the same sacrifices as before, again building seven altars, and again offering up fourteen victims, on each altar two, a bullock and a ram. And he himself did no longer, according to his usual custom, go to seek for divination and auguries, since he much loathed his art, looking upon it as a picture which had become defaced through age, and had been obscured, and lost its felicity of conjecture. But he now, though with difficulty, understood the fact that the designs of the king, who had hired him, did not correspond with the will of God. 1.288. Therefore, turning to the wilderness, he saw the Hebrews encamped in their tribes, and he saw their numbers and their array, and admired it as being like the order of a city rather than of a camp, and, becoming inspired, he again spoke. 1.289. What, then, said the man who saw truly, who in his sleep saw a clear vision of God with the ever open and sleepless eyes of his soul? "How goodly are thy abodes, O army of Hebrews; they tents are shady as groves, as a paradise on the bank of a river, as a cedar by the waters. 1.290. A man shall hereafter come forth out of thee who shall rule over many nations, and his kingdom shall increase every day and be raised up to heaven. This people hath God for its guide all the way from Egypt, who leads on their multitude in one line. 1.291. Therefore they shall devour many nations of their enemies, and they shall take all their fat as far as their very marrow, and shall destroy their enemies with their far-shooting arrows. He shall lie down to rest like a lion, and like a lion's whelp, fearing no one, but showing great contempt for every one, and causing fear to all other nations. Miserable is he who shall stir up and rouse him to anger. Blessed are they that bless thee, and cursed are they that curse thee. 1.292. And the king, being very indigt at these words, said: "Having been invited hither to curse my enemies, you have now prayed for and blessed them these three times. Fly, therefore, quickly, passion is a hasty affection, lest I be compelled to do something more violent than usual. 1.293. of what a vast amount of money, O most foolish of men, of how many presents, and of how much renown, and celebrity, and glory, hast thou deprived thyself in thy madness! Now you will return to thy home from a foreign land, bearing with thee no good thing, but only reproaches and (as it seems likely 1.294. And Balaam replied: "All that I have hitherto uttered have been oracles and words of God; but what I am going to say are merely the suggestions of my own mind: and taking him by the right hand, he, while they two were alone, gave him advice, by the adoption of which he might, as far as possible, guard against the power of his enemies, accusing himself of the most enormous crimes. For why, some one may perhaps say, do you thus retire into solitude and give counsel suggesting things contrary to the oracles of God, unless indeed that your counsels are more powerful than his decrees? 1.295. 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; 1.296. 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. 1.297. 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. 1.298. 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. 1.299. 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. 1.300. 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. 1.301. 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 indigt 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 wickedne 1.302. 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 indigt 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. 1.303. 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; 1.304. 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.
9. Philo of Alexandria, That The Worse Attacks The Better, 71 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)

71. For neither was the sophist, Balaam, who was an empty multitude of contrary and contending doctrines, when he was desirous to imprecate curses upon and to injure the good man, able to do so; since God turned his curses into a blessing, in order to correct the unjust man of wickedness and to display his own love of virtue. XXI.
10. Philo of Alexandria, That God Is Unchangeable, 182, 181 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)

181. among whom we must enroll Balaam, for he also is a child of the earth, and not a shoot of heaven, and a proof of this is, that he, being influenced by omens and false prophecies, not even when the eye of his soul, which had been closed, recovered its sight, and "saw the angel of God standing against him in the way;"45 not even then did he turn back and desist from doing wrong, but giving way to a mighty torrent of folly, he was washed away and swallowed up by it.
11. Josephus Flavius, Jewish Antiquities, 4.103, 4.105-4.108, 4.111-4.116, 4.118-4.121, 4.125-4.158 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

4.103. but he did not judge it prudent to fight against them, after they had such prosperous successes, and even became out of ill successes more happy than before, but he thought to hinder them, if he could, from growing greater, and so he resolved to send ambassadors to the Midianites about them. 4.105. So Balsam received the ambassadors, and treated them very kindly; and when he had supped, he inquired what was God’s will, and what this matter was for which the Midianites entreated him to come to them. But when God opposed his going, he came to the ambassadors, and told them that he was himself very willing and desirous to comply with their request, but informed them that God was opposite to his intentions, even that God who had raised him to great reputation on account of the truth of his predictions; 4.106. for that this army, which they entreated him to come and curse, was in the favor of God; on which account he advised them to go home again, and not to persist in their enmity against the Israelites; and when he had given them that answer, he dismissed the ambassadors. 4.107. 3. Now the Midianites, at the earnest request and fervent entreaties of Balak, sent other ambassadors to Balaam, who, desiring to gratify the men, inquired again of God; but he was displeased at this [second] trial, and bid him by no means to contradict the ambassadors. Now Balsam did not imagine that God gave this injunction in order to deceive him, so he went along with the ambassadors; 4.108. but when the divine angel met him in the way, when he was in a narrow passage, and hedged in with a wall on both sides, the ass on which Balaam rode understood that it was a divine spirit that met him, and thrust Balaam to one of the walls, without regard to the stripes which Balaam, when he was hurt by the wall, gave her; 4.111. Upon which Balaam was afraid, and was preparing to return back again: yet did God excite him to go on his intended journey, but added this injunction, that he should declare nothing but what he himself should suggest to his mind. 4.112. 4. When God had given him this charge, he came to Balak; and when the king had entertained him in a magnificent manner, he desired him to go to one of the mountains to take a view of the state of the camp of the Hebrews. Balak himself also came to the mountain, and brought the prophet along with him, with a royal attendance. This mountain lay over their heads, and was distant sixty furlongs from the camp. 4.113. Now when he saw them, he desired the king to build him seven altars, and to bring him as many bulls and rams; to which desire the king did presently conform. He then slew the sacrifices, and offered them as burnt-offerings, that he might observe some signal of the flight of the Hebrews. 4.114. Then said he, “Happy is this people, on whom God bestows the possession of innumerable good things, and grants them his own providence to be their assistant and their guide; so that there is not any nation among mankind but you will be esteemed superior to them in virtue, and in the earnest prosecution of the best rules of life, and of such as are pure from wickedness, and will leave those rules to your excellent children; and this out of the regard that God bears to you, and the provision of such things for you as may render you happier than any other people under the sun. 4.115. You shall retain that land to which he hath sent you, and it shall ever be under the command of your children; and both all the earth, as well as the seas, shall be filled with your glory: and you shall be sufficiently numerous to supply the world in general, and every region of it in particular, with inhabitants out of your stock. 4.116. However, O blessed army! wonder that you are become so many from one father: and truly, the land of Canaan can now hold you, as being yet comparatively few; but know ye that the whole world is proposed to be your place of habitation for ever. The multitude of your posterity also shall live as well in the islands as on the continent, and that more in number than are the stars of heaven. And when you are become so many, God will not relinquish the care of you, but will afford you an abundance of all good things in times of peace, with victory and dominion in times of war. 4.118. 5. Thus did Balaam speak by inspiration, as not being in his own power, but moved to say what he did by the Divine Spirit. But then Balak was displeased, and said he had broken the contract he had made, whereby he was to come, as he and his confederates had invited him, by the promise of great presents: for whereas he came to curse their enemies, he had made an encomium upon them, and had declared that they were the happiest of men. 4.119. To which Balaam replied, “O Balak, if thou rightly considerest this whole matter, canst thou suppose that it is in our power to be silent, or to say any thing, when the Spirit of God seizes upon us?—for he puts such words as he pleases in our mouths, and such discourses as we are not ourselves conscious of. 4.121. but God is more powerful than the purposes I had made to serve you; for those that take upon them to foretell the affairs of mankind, as from their own abilities, are entirely unable to do it, or to forbear to utter what God suggests to them, or to offer violence to his will; for when he prevents us and enters into us, nothing that we say is our own. 4.125. Then fell Balaam upon his face, and foretold what calamities would befall the several kings of the nations, and the most eminent cities, some of which of old were not so much as inhabited; which events have come to pass among the several people concerned, both in the foregoing ages, and in this, till my own memory, both by sea and by land. From which completion of all these predictions that he made, one may easily guess that the rest will have their completion in time to come. 4.126. 6. 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 4.127. and spake thus to them:—“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; 4.128. 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. 4.129. 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, and proper to force and conquer the modesty of those that behold them, and these decked and trimmed to the highest degree you are able. Then do you send them to be near the Israelites’ camp, and give them in charge, that when the young men of the Hebrews desire their company, they allow it them; 4.131. 7. So when the Midianites had sent their daughters, as Balaam had exhorted them, the Hebrew young men were allured by their beauty, and came to discourse with them, and besought them not to grudge them the enjoyment of their beauty, nor to deny them their conversation. These daughters of the Midianites received their words gladly, and consented to it, and staid with them; 4.132. but when they had brought them to be enamored of them, and their inclinations to them were grown to ripeness, they began to think of departing from them: then it was that these men became greatly disconsolate at the women’s departure, and they were urgent with them not to leave them, but begged they would continue there, and become their wives; and they promised them they should be owned as mistresses of all they had. 4.133. This they said with an oath, and called God for the arbitrator of what they promised; and this with tears in their eyes, and all other such marks of concern, as might shew how miserable they thought themselves without them, and so might move their compassion for them. So the women, as soon as they perceived they had made them their slaves, and had caught them with their conversation, began to speak thus to them:— 4.134. 8. “O you illustrious young men! we have houses of our own at home, and great plenty of good things there, together with the natural, affectionate love of our parents and friends; nor is it out of our want of any such things that we came to discourse with you; nor did we admit of your invitation with design to prostitute the beauty of our bodies for gain; but taking you for brave and worthy men, we agreed to your request, that we might treat you with such honors as hospitality required: 4.135. and now seeing you say that you have a great affection for us, and are troubled when you think we are departing, we are not averse to your entreaties; and if we may receive such assurance of your good-will as we think can be alone sufficient, we will be glad to lead our lives with you as your wives; 4.136. but we are afraid that you will in time be weary of our company, and will then abuse us, and send us back to our parents, after an ignominious manner.” And so they desired that they would excuse them in their guarding against that danger. But the young men professed they would give them any assurance they should desire; nor did they at all contradict what they requested, so great was the passion they had for them. 4.137. “If then,” said they, “this be your resolution, since you make use of such customs and conduct of life as are entirely different from all other men, insomuch that your kinds of food are peculiar to yourselves, and your kinds of drink not common to others, it will be absolutely necessary, if you would have us for your wives, that you do withal worship our gods. Nor can there be any other demonstration of the kindness which you say you already have, and promise to have hereafter to us, than this, that you worship the same gods that we do. 4.138. For has any one reason to complain, that now you are come into this country, you should worship the proper gods of the same country? especially while our gods are common to all men, and yours such as belong to nobody else but yourselves.” So they said they must either come into such methods of divine worship as all others came into, or else they must look out for another world, wherein they may live by themselves, according to their own laws. 4.139. 9. Now the young men were induced by the fondness they had for these women to think they spake very well; so they gave themselves up to what they persuaded them, and transgressed their own laws, and supposing there were many gods, and resolving that they would sacrifice to them according to the laws of that country which ordained them, they both were delighted with their strange food, and went on to do every thing that the women would have them do, though in contradiction to their own laws; 4.141. 10. Even Zimri, the head of the tribe of Simeon accompanied with Cozbi, a Midianitish women, who was the daughter of Sur, a man of authority in that country; and being desired by his wife to disregard the laws of Moses, and to follow those she was used to, he complied with her, and this both by sacrificing after a manner different from his own, and by taking a stranger to wife. 4.142. When things were thus, Moses was afraid that matters should grow worse, and called the people to a congregation, but then accused nobody by name, as unwilling to drive those into despair who, by lying concealed, might come to repentance; 4.143. but he said that they did not do what was either worthy of themselves, or of their fathers, by preferring pleasure to God, and to the living according to his will; that it was fit they should change their courses while their affairs were still in a good state, and think that to be true fortitude which offers not violence to their laws, but that which resists their lusts. 4.144. And besides that, he said it was not a reasonable thing, when they had lived soberly in the wilderness, to act madly now when they were in prosperity; and that they ought not to lose, now they have abundance, what they had gained when they had little:—and so did he endeavor, by saying this, to correct the young inert, and to bring them to repentance for what they had done. 4.145. 11. But Zimri arose up after him, and said, “Yes, indeed, Moses, thou art at liberty to make use of such laws as thou art so fond of, and hast, by accustoming thyself to them, made them firm; otherwise, if things had not been thus, thou hadst often been punished before now, and hadst known that the Hebrews are not easily put upon; 4.146. but thou shalt not have me one of thy followers in thy tyrannical commands, for thou dost nothing else hitherto, but, under pretense of laws, and of God, wickedly impose on us slavery, and gain dominion to thyself, while thou deprivest us of the sweetness of life, which consists in acting according to our own wills, and is the right of free-men, and of those that have no lord over them. 4.147. Nay, indeed, this man is harder upon the Hebrews then were the Egyptians themselves, as pretending to punish, according to his laws, every one’s acting what is most agreeable to himself; but thou thyself better deservest to suffer punishment, who presumest to abolish what every one acknowledges to be what is good for him, and aimest to make thy single opinion to have more force than that of all the rest; 4.148. and what I now do, and think to be right, I shall not hereafter deny to be according to my own sentiments. I have married, as thou sayest rightly, a strange woman, and thou hearest what I do from myself as from one that is free, for truly I did not intend to conceal myself. 4.149. I also own that I sacrificed to those gods to whom you do not think it fit to sacrifice; and I think it right to come at truth by inquiring of many people, and not like one that lives under tyranny, to suffer the whole hope of my life to depend upon one man; nor shall any one find cause to rejoice who declares himself to have more authority over my actions than myself.” 4.151. for he avoided that, lest many should imitate the impudence of his language, and thereby disturb the multitude. Upon this the assembly was dissolved. However, the mischievous attempt had proceeded further, if Zimri had not been first slain, which came to pass on the following occasion:— 4.152. Phineas, a man in other respects better than the rest of the young men, and also one that surpassed his contemporaries in the dignity of his father, (for he was the son of Eleazar the high priest, and the grandson of [Aaron] Moses’s brother,) who was greatly troubled at what was done by Zimri, he resolved in earnest to inflict punishment on him, before his unworthy behavior should grow stronger by impunity, and in order to prevent this transgression from proceeding further, which would happen if the ringleaders were not punished. 4.153. He was of so great magimity, both in strength of mind and body, that when he undertook any very dangerous attempt, he did not leave it off till he overcame it, and got an entire victory. So he came into Zimri’s tent, and slew him with his javelin, and with it he slew Cozbi also 4.154. Upon which all those young men that had a regard to virtue, and aimed to do a glorious action, imitated Phineas’s boldness, and slew those that were found to be guilty of the same crime with Zimri. Accordingly many of those that had transgressed perished by the magimous valor of these young men; 4.155. and the rest all perished by a plague, which distemper God himself inflicted upon them; so that all those their kindred, who, instead of hindering them from such wicked actions, as they ought to have done, had persuaded them to go on, were esteemed by God as partners in their wickedness, and died. Accordingly there perished out of the army no fewer than fourteen [twenty-four] thousand at this time. 4.156. 13. This was the cause why Moses was provoked to send an army to destroy the Midianites, concerning which expedition we shall speak presently, when we have first related what we have omitted; for it is but just not to pass over our legislator’s due encomium, on account of his conduct here 4.157. because, although this Balaam, who was sent for by the Midianites to curse the Hebrews, and when he was hindered from doing it by Divine Providence, did still suggest that advice to them, by making use of which our enemies had well nigh corrupted the whole multitude of the Hebrews with their wiles, till some of them were deeply infected with their opinions; yet did he do him great honor, by setting down his prophecies in writing. 4.158. And while it was in his power to claim this glory to himself, and make men believe they were his own predictions, there being no one that could be a witness against him, and accuse him for so doing, he still gave his attestation to him, and did him the honor to make mention of him on this account. But let every one think of these matters as he pleases.
12. Mishnah, Avot, 5.19 (1st cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

5.19. Whoever possesses these three things, he is of the disciples of Abraham, our father; and [whoever possesses] three other things, he is of the disciples of Balaam, the wicked. A good eye, a humble spirit and a moderate appetite he is of the disciples of Abraham, our father. An evil eye, a haughty spirit and a limitless appetite he is of the disciples of Balaam, the wicked. What is the difference between the disciples of Abraham, our father, and the disciples of Balaam, the wicked? The disciples of Abraham, our father, enjoy this world, and inherit the world to come, as it is said: “I will endow those who love me with substance, I will fill their treasuries” (Proverbs 8:21). But the disciples of Balaam, the wicked, inherit gehinnom, and descend into the nethermost pit, as it is said: “For you, O God, will bring them down to the nethermost pit those murderous and treacherous men; they shall not live out half their days; but I trust in You” (Psalms 55:24)."
13. Mishnah, Sanhedrin, 10.2 (1st cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

10.2. Three kings and four commoners have no portion in the world to come:The three kings are Jeroboam, Ahab, and Manasseh. Rabbi Judah says: “Manasseh has a portion in the world to come, for it says, “He prayed to him, and He granted his prayer, and heard his plea and he restored him to Jerusalem, to his kingdom” (II Chronicles 33:13). They [the sages] said to him: “They restored him to his kingdom, but not to [his portion in] the world to come.” The four commoners are: Bilaam, Doeg, Ahitophel, and Gehazi."
14. New Testament, 2 Peter, 2.15 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

2.15. forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of wrong-doing;
15. New Testament, Acts, 1.15-1.26 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

1.15. In these days, Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (and the number of names was about one hundred twenty), and said 1.16. Brothers, it was necessary that this Scripture should be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was guide to those who took Jesus. 1.17. For he was numbered with us, and received his portion in this ministry. 1.18. Now this man obtained a field with the reward for his wickedness, and falling headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines gushed out. 1.19. It became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem that in their language that field was called 'Akeldama,' that is, 'The field of blood.' 1.20. For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation be made desolate, Let no one dwell therein,' and, 'Let another take his office.' 1.21. of the men therefore who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and went out among us 1.22. beginning from the baptism of John, to the day that he was received up from us, of these one must become a witness with us of his resurrection. 1.23. They put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 1.24. They prayed, and said, "You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two you have chosen 1.25. to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas fell away, that he might go to his own place. 1.26. They drew lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
16. New Testament, Apocalypse, 2.7, 2.11, 2.14-2.17, 2.26, 3.5, 3.12, 3.21, 5.5-5.6, 6.2, 11.7, 12.11, 13.7, 15.2, 17.14, 21.7 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

2.7. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God. 2.11. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes won't be harmed by the second death. 2.14. But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel , to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. 2.15. So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans in the same way. 2.16. Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth. 2.17. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it. 2.26. He who overcomes, and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. 3.5. He who overcomes will be arrayed in white garments, and I will in no way blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 3.12. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name. 3.21. He who overcomes, I will give to him to sit down with me on my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father on his throne. 5.5. One of the elders said to me, "Don't weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals. 5.6. I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, having seven horns, and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. 6.2. And behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow. A crown was given to him, and he came forth conquering, and to conquer. 11.7. When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them. 12.11. They overcame him because of the Lamb's blood, and because of the word of their testimony. They didn't love their life, even to death. 13.7. It was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them. Authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation was given to him. 15.2. I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who overcame the beast, and his image, and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. 17.14. These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings. They also will overcome who are with him, called and chosen and faithful. 21.7. He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son.
17. New Testament, Jude, 11 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

18. Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, None (3rd cent. CE - 6th cent. CE)

105a. דקאתי מיהודה מואב סיר רחצי זה גחזי שלקה על עסקי רחיצה על אדום אשליך נעלי זה דואג האדומי עלי פלשת התרועעי אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע אם יבא דוד שהרג את הפלשתי והוריש את בניך גת מה אתה עושה לו אמר להן עלי לעשותן ריעים זה לזה,(ירמיהו ח, ה) מדוע שובבה העם הזה ירושלים משובה נצחת וגו' אמר רב תשובה נצחת השיבה כנסת ישראל לנביא אמר להן נביא לישראל חזרו בתשובה אבותיכם שחטאו היכן הם אמרו להן ונביאיכם שלא חטאו היכן הם שנאמר (זכריה א, ה) אבותיכם איה הם והנביאים הלעולם יחיו אמר להן (אבותיכם) חזרו והודו שנאמר (זכריה א, ו) אך דברי וחוקי אשר צויתי את עבדי הנביאים וגו',שמואל אמר באו עשרה בני אדם וישבו לפניו אמר להן חזרו בתשובה אמרו לו עבד שמכרו רבו ואשה שגרשה בעלה כלום יש לזה על זה כלום אמר לו הקב"ה לנביא לך אמור להן (ישעיהו נ, א) איזה ספר כריתות אמכם אשר שלחתיה או מי מנושי אשר מכרתי אתכם לו הן בעונותיכם נמכרתם ובפשעכם שלחה אמכם,והיינו דאמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב דוד עבדי (ירמיהו מג, י) נבוכדנצר עבדי גלוי וידוע לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם שעתידין ישראל לומר כך לפיכך הקדים הקב"ה וקראו עבדו עבד שקנה נכסים עבד למי נכסים למי,(יחזקאל כ, לב) והעולה על רוחכם היה לא תהיה אשר אתם אומרים נהיה כגוים כמשפחות הארצות לשרת עץ ואבן חי אני נאם ה' אלהים אם לא ביד חזקה ובזרוע נטויה ובחימה שפוכה אמלוך עליכם אמר רב נחמן כל כי האי ריתחא לירתח רחמנא עלן ולפרוקינן,(ישעיהו כח, כו) ויסרו למשפט אלהיו יורנו אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר להן נביא לישראל חזרו בתשובה אמרו לו אין אנו יכולין יצר הרע שולט בנו אמר להם יסרו יצריכם אמרו לו אלהיו יורנו:,ארבעה הדיוטות בלעם ודואג ואחיתופל וגחזי: בלעם בלא עם דבר אחר בלעם שבלה עם בן בעור שבא על בעיר,תנא הוא בעור הוא כושן רשעתים הוא לבן הארמי בעור שבא על בעיר כושן רשעתים דעבד שתי רשעיות בישראל אחת בימי יעקב ואחת בימי שפוט השופטים ומה שמו לבן הארמי שמו,כתיב (במדבר כב, ה) בן בעור וכתיב (במדבר כד, ג) בנו בעור אמר רבי יוחנן אביו בנו הוא לו בנביאות,בלעם הוא דלא אתי לעלמא דאתי הא אחריני אתו מתניתין מני,רבי יהושע היא דתניא ר"א אומר (תהלים ט, יח) ישובו רשעים לשאולה כל גוים שכחי אלהים ישובו רשעים לשאולה אלו פושעי ישראל כל גוים שכחי אלהים אלו פושעי עובדי כוכבים דברי ר"א אמר לו ר' יהושע וכי נאמר בכל גוים והלא לא נאמר אלא כל גוים שכחי אלהים אלא ישובו רשעים לשאולה מאן נינהו כל גוים שכחי אלהים,ואף אותו רשע נתן סימן בעצמו אמר (במדבר כג, י) תמות נפשי מות ישרים אם תמות נפשי מות ישרים תהא אחריתי כמוהו ואם לאו הנני הולך לעמי,וילכו זקני מואב וזקני מדין תנא מדין ומואב לא היה להם שלום מעולם משל לשני כלבים שהיו בעדר והיו צהובין זה לזה בא זאב על האחד אמר האחד אם איני עוזרו היום הורג אותו ולמחר בא עלי הלכו שניהם והרגו הזאב אמר רב פפא היינו דאמרי אינשי כרכושתא ושונרא עבדו הלולא מתרבא דביש גדא,(במדבר כב, ח) וישבו שרי מואב עם בלעם ושרי מדין להיכן אזול כיון דאמר להו (במדבר כב, ח) לינו פה הלילה והשבותי אתכם דבר אמרו כלום יש אב ששונא את בנו,אמר רב נחמן חוצפא אפילו כלפי שמיא מהני מעיקרא כתיב לא תלך עמהם ולבסוף כתיב קום לך אתם אמר רב ששת חוצפא מלכותא בלא תאגא היא דכתיב (שמואל ב ג, לט) ואנכי היום רך ומשוח מלך והאנשים האלה בני צרויה קשים ממני וגו',א"ר יוחנן בלעם חיגר ברגלו אחת היה שנאמר (במדבר כג, ג) וילך שפי שמשון בשתי רגליו שנאמר (בראשית מט, יז) שפיפון עלי אורח הנושך עקבי סוס בלעם סומא באחת מעיניו היה שנאמר (במדבר כד, ג) שתום העין,קוסם באמתו היה כתיב הכא נופל וגלוי עינים וכתיב התם (אסתר ז, ח) והנה המן נופל על המטה וגו' איתמר מר זוטרא אמר קוסם באמתו היה מר בריה דרבינא אמר שבא על אתונו מ"ד קוסם באמתו היה כדאמרן ומ"ד בא על אתונו היה כתיב הכא (במדבר כד, ט) כרע שכב וכתיב התם (שופטים ה, כז) בין רגליה 105a. bwho comes fromthe tribe of bJudah. “Moab is My washing pot”; thisis referring to bGehazi, who was afflictedwith leprosy bover matters of washing,as he took money from Naaman, who he instructed to immerse in the Jordan River. b“Over Edom I will cast My shoe”; thisis referring to bDoeg the Edomite. “Philistia, cry aloud [ ihitroa’i /i] because of Me”;this is referring to the fact that bthe ministering angels said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, if David, who killed the Philistine and bequeathedthe city of bGath to your sons, will comeand complain that You gave a share in the World-to-Come to his enemies Doeg and Ahithophel, bwhat will You do concerning him?Will you accept his complaint? God bsaid tothe ministering angels: bIt is upon me to renderDavid and his enemies bfriends [ ire’im /i] with each other,and even David will agree.,§ With regard to the verse: b“Why is this people of Jerusalem slid back in perpetual backsliding?”(Jeremiah 8:5), bRav says: The congregation of Israel answeredwith ba convincing response to the prophet. The prophet said to the Jewish people: Repent,as byour ancestors sinned,and bwhere are they? They saidto the prophets: bAnd your prophets who did not sin, where are they?They too died, bas it is stated: “Your fathers, where are they, and the prophets; do they live forever?”(Zechariah 1:5). The prophet bsaid tothe Jewish people: bYour ancestors reconsidered and concededthat the admonitions of the prophets were fulfilled, bas it is stated: “By my words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets,did they not overtake your fathers? And they repented and said: As the Lord of hosts intended to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so has He dealt with us” (Zechariah 1:6)., bShmuel saysthat this was the convincing answer: bTen people came and sat beforethe prophet Ezekiel. bHe said to them: Repent. They said toEzekiel: In the case of ba slave sold by his ownerto another master, bor a woman divorced by her husband, does thisperson bhave anyclaim bupon thatperson? Since God gave the Jewish people to other masters, the ties that existed between Him and us were severed. bThe Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the prophet: Go say to them: “Where is your mother’s scroll of severance, with which I sent her away? Or to which of My creditors have I sold you? For your iniquities you sold yourselves and for your transgressions was your mother sent away”(Isaiah 50:1). Learn from this that God did not sever His ties to the Jewish people., bAnd that is what Reish Lakish says: Whatis the meaning of that bwhich is written: “David, My slave”(II Samuel 3:18), and: b“Nebuchadnezzar, my slave”(Jeremiah 43:10)? How can the wicked Nebuchadnezzar be depicted as a slave of God in the same manner that David was depicted? Rather, bit is revealed and known before the One Who spoke and the world came into being, that the Jewish people are destined to say thatGod sold them to the nations and they no longer have ties to Him. bTherefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, preemptively calledNebuchadnezzar bHis slave.With regard to the ihalakhaconcerning ba slave who acquires property, the slavebelongs bto whomand bthe propertybelongs bto whom?They both belong to the master, in this case, the Holy One, Blessed be He.,With regard to the verse: b“And what comes into your mind shall never come to be, that you say: We will be like the nations, like the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I rule over you”(Ezekiel 20:32–33), bRav Naḥman says: Let the Merciful One become wrathful at uswith ball that wrath, and redeem us. /b,With regard to the verse: b“And chastise in judgment; his God will instruct him”(Isaiah 28:26), bRabba bar bar Ḥana saysthat bthe prophet said to the Jewish people: Repent. They said to him: We cannot,since bthe evil inclination dominates us. He said to them: Chastise your inclinations. They said to him: “His God will instruct him,”i.e., God should instruct the evil inclination to allow us to overcome him, as we are incapable of doing so on our own.,§ The mishna teaches that bfourprominent bcommoners, Balaam, Doeg, Ahithophel, and Gehazi,have no share in the World-to-Come. The Gemara elaborates: The name bBalaamis interpreted as a contraction of: bWithout a nation [ ibelo am /i],or one who has no share in the World-to-Come with the Jewish nation. bAlternatively,the name bBalaamis interpreted as one bwho wore down theJewish bpeople [ ibila am /i].He is the bson of Beor,one bwho engaged in bestiality [ ibe’ir /i]. /b,It was btaughtin a ibaraita /i: bHe is Beor,father of Balaam, bhe is Cushan-Rishathaim, he is Laban the Aramean.He was called bBeor because he engaged in bestiality.He was called bCushan-Rishathaim because he performed two evil deeds [ irishiyyot /i] to the Jewish people, one during the time of Jacob,when he pursued him intending to kill him, band one during the time when the judges judged. And what was hisactual bname? His name was Laban the Aramean. /b, bIt is written: “Son of Beor”(Numbers 22:5), band it is writtenelsewhere: b“His son Beor”(Numbers 24:3). bRabbi Yoḥa saysin resolving the apparent contradiction: Balaam’s bfather was his son interms of bprophecy,as Balaam was a much greater prophet.,The Gemara infers from the mishna: bBalaam isthe bone who does not come into the World-to-Come; but othergentiles bcomeinto the World-to-Come. bWhoseopinion is expressed in bthe mishna? /b, bIt isin accordance with the opinion of bRabbi Yehoshua, as it is taughtin a ibaraitathat bRabbi Eliezer says:It is written: b“The wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld, all that nations that forget God”(Psalms 9:18). b“The wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld”; these are the sinners of the Jewish people,as only the sinners are sentenced to the netherworld. b“All the gentiles that forget God”; these are the sinners of the gentiles.From the fact that it is written: “All the gentiles,” it is apparent that none of the gentiles have a share in the World-to-Come. This is bthe statement of Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: But is it statedin the verse that the sinners of the Jewish people will be blike all of the gentiles? It is stated only: “All the gentiles that forget God.” Rather, the wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld,and bwho are they?They are ball the gentiles that forget God.Gentiles who fear God do have a share in the World-to-Come., bAnd that wicked person,Balaam, balso provided a sign with regard to himself. He said: “Let me die the death of the righteous,and let my end be like his” (Numbers 23:10). bIf I die the death of the righteous,by natural causes, bmy end will be like his,i.e., I will receive a share in the World-to-Come like the Jewish people. bAnd ifI do bnotdie by natural causes: b“I will go to my people”(Numbers 24:14), i.e., my fate will be that of the rest of the wicked people in my generation, who have no share in the World-to-Come.,With regard to the verse: b“And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian set outwith their divinations in their hands, and they came to Balaam” (Numbers 22:7), it was btaughtin a ibaraita /i: bMidian and Moabhad previously bnever had peacebetween them, and they were always at war with each other. What led them to make peace at that time? There is ba parable of two dogs that were with the flock, and they were hostile to one another. A wolf cameand attacked bone. Theother bone said: If I do not help him, today he kills him and tomorrow he comes toattack bme. They both went and killed the wolf.Moab and Midian joined together to face the potential common threat, the Jewish people. bRav Pappa saysthat bthisis in accordance with the adage bthat people say: A weasel [ ikarkushta /i] and a cat made a wedding from the fat of the luckless.Despite their hatred of one another, they join together for their mutual benefit at the expense of a third party.,It is written: b“And the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam”(Numbers 22:8). The Gemara asks: bAnd to where did the princes of Midianwho accompanied the princes of Moab bgo?The Gemara answers: bOnceBalaam bsaid to them: “Lodge here this night, and I will bring you wordwhen the Lord speaks to me” (Numbers 22:8), the elders of Midian bsaid:If he seeks permission from the Lord, he will not join us, as bis there any father who hates his son?Certainly the Lord will help the Jewish people., bRav Naḥman says: Impudence is effective even toward Heaven.How so? bInitially, it is writtenthat God said to Balaam: b“You shall not go with them”(Numbers 22:12), band ultimatelyafter Balaam persisted and asked, bit is written: “Rise up and go with them”(Numbers 22:20). bRav Sheshet says: Impudence is monarchy without a crown,as it is an assertion of leadership and lacks only the official coronation as king, bas it is written: “And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me”(II Samuel 3:39). The sons of Zeruiah, due to their impudence, were as formidable as David himself., bRabbi Yoḥa says: Balaam was disabled in one of his legs, as it is statedconcerning him: b“And he went limping [ ishefi /i]”(Numbers 23:3). bSamsonwas disabled bin both his legs, as it is statedwith regard to Samson, who was from the tribe of Dan, in the prophetic blessing of Jacob: “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, ban adder [ ishefifon /i] in the path that bites the horse’s heels”(Genesis 49:17). Rabbi Yoḥa interprets ishefifonas the plural of ishefi /i, indicating disability in both legs. bBalaam was blind in one of his eyes, as it is stated: “Whose eye is open”(Numbers 24:3), indicating that one eye was open and the other was blind.,The Gemara relates: Balaam bwas a diviner byusing bhis penis. It is written here: “Fallen, yet with opened eyes”(Numbers 24:4), band it is written there: “And Haman was fallen upon the divanwhereupon Esther was” (Esther 7:8), indicating that the verb fallen has sexual connotations. bIt was statedthat there is an amoraic dispute with regard to this matter. bMar Zutra says:Balaam bwas a diviner byusing bhis penis. Mar, son of Ravina, says: He engaged in bestiality with his donkey. The one who saysthat he bwas a diviner byusing bhis penisderives it bas we stated. And the one who saysthat bhe engaged in bestiality with his donkeyderives it as follows: bIt is written here: “He crouched, he lay down”(Numbers 24:9), band it is written there: “Between her legs /b
19. Anon., Numbers Rabba, 20.2, 20.9, 20.11-20.12, 20.14-20.15, 20.19, 20.23 (4th cent. CE - 9th cent. CE)

20.9. וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים וַיֹּאמֶר מִי הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה (במדבר כב, ט), זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (משלי כח, י): מַשְׁגֶּה יְשָׁרִים בְּדֶרֶךְ רָע בִּשְׁחוּתוֹ הוּא יִפּוֹל, זֶה בִּלְעָם, שֶׁבַּתְּחִלָּה הַבְּרִיּוֹת נוֹהֲגוֹת בְּכַשְׁרוּת, וּבִדְבָרָיו אֵלּוּ הָיוּ נוֹהֲגִין בַּעֲרָיוֹת, שֶׁהָרִאשׁוֹנִים (בראשית כט, ט): וְרָחֵל בָּאָה עִם הַצֹּאן, (שמות ב, טז): וּלְכֹהֵן מִדְיָן שֶׁבַע בָּנוֹת, עָמַד בִּלְעָם וְהִטְעָה אֶת הַבְּרִיוֹת בַּעֲרָיוֹת, וּכְמוֹ שֶׁהִטְעָה הֻטְעָה, בָּעֵצָה שֶׁנָּתַן בָּהּ נָפַל, וְהִטְעָהוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, שֶׁכָּךְ כְּתִיב (איוב יב, כג): מַשְֹּׂגִּיא לַגּוֹיִם וַיְאַבְּדֵם. כֵּיוָן שֶׁאָמַר לוֹ מִי הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה עִמָּךְ, אָמַר אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע אֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ בָּהֶן, יֵשׁ שָׁעָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ, וַאֲנִי אֶעֱשֶׂה בְּבָנָיו כָּל מַה שֶּׁאֲנִי רוֹצֶה, לְכָךְ אָמַר לְהַטְעוֹתוֹ. דָּבָר אַחֵר, מִי הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה עִמָּךְ וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם בָּלָק בֶּן צִפֹר, הִתְחִיל מִתְגָּאֶה וְאָמַר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין אַתָּה מְכַבְּדֵנִי וְאֵין אַתָּה מוֹצִיא לִי שֵׁם בָּעוֹלָם הַמְּלָכִים מְבַקְּשִׁים אוֹתִי. (במדבר כב, יא): הִנֵּה הָעָם הַיֹּצֵא מִמִּצְרַיִם, עַתָּה לְכָה קָבָה לִּי אֹתוֹ, לְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁשֹּׂוֹנֵא יוֹתֵר מִבָּלָק, שֶׁבָּלָק לֹא אָמַר קָבָה, אֶלָּא אָרָה, וְזֶה קָבָה בְּפֵרוּשׁ, הוּא אָמַר (במדבר כב, ו): וַאֲגָרְשֶׁנּוּ מִן הָאָרֶץ, וְהוּא אוֹמֵר (במדבר כב, יא): וְגֵרַשְׁתִּיו, מִן הָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וּמִן הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. 20.11. וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים אֶל בִּלְעָם לַיְלָה (במדבר כב, כ), זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (איוב לג, טו יז): בַּחֲלוֹם חֶזְיוֹן לַיְלָה בִּנְפֹל תַּרְדֵּמָה עַל אֲנָשִׁים, אָז יִגְלֶה אֹזֶן אֲנָשִׁים, לְהָסִיר אָדָם מַעֲשֶׂה וְגֵוָה מִגֶּבֶר יְכַסֶּה. הֶעֱלִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִמֶּנּוּ שֶׁהֲלִיכָתוֹ מְאַבַּדְתּוֹ מִן הָעוֹלָם וּמוֹלִיכַתּוּ לִבְאֵר שַׁחַת, (איוב לג, ל): [לחשך] לְהָשִׁיב נַפְשׁוֹ מִנִּי שָׁחַת לֵאוֹר בְּאוֹר הַחַיִּים, שֶׁאִבֵּד נַפְשׁוֹ בַּהֲלִיכָתוֹ, שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהוֹלֵךְ אָדָם לַחְטוֹא הַשָֹּׂטָן מְרַקֵּד לוֹ עַד שֶׁגּוֹמֵר הָעֲבֵרָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאִבְּדוֹ חוֹזֵר וּמוֹדִיעוֹ. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (משלי ז, כב כג): הוֹלֵךְ אַחֲרֶיהָ פִּתְאֹם כְּשׁוֹר אֶל טֶבַח יָבֹא, עַד יְפַלַּח חֵץ כְּבֵדוֹ כְּמַהֵר צִפּוֹר אֶל פָּח. הֶעֱלִים הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מִן בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע עַד שֶׁהָלַךְ וְאִבֵּד אֶת נַפְשׁוֹ, מִשֶּׁיָּצָא מִן כְּבוֹדוֹ וְיָדַע בַּמֶּה שֶׁהוּא בּוֹ, הִתְחִיל לְבַקֵּשׁ עַל נַפְשׁוֹ (במדבר כג, י): תָּמֹת נַפְשִׁי מוֹת יְשָׁרִים. 20.12. וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים אֶל בִּלְעָם לַיְלָה. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב (שמות יב, מב): לֵיל שִׁמֻרִים הוּא לַה' הוּא הַלַּיְלָה הַזֶּה. כָּל הַנִּסִּים שֶׁנַּעֲשׂוּ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל וּפָרַע לָהֶם מִן הָרְשָׁעִים בַּלַּיְלָה הָיָה (בראשית לא, כד): וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים אֶל לָבָן הָאֲרַמִּי בַּחֲלֹם הַלָּיְלָה, (בראשית כ, ג): וַיָּבֹא אֱלֹהִים אֶל אֲבִימֶלֶךְ בַּחֲלוֹם הַלָּיְלָה, (שמות יב, כט): וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה, וּכְתִיב (שמות יד, כ): וַיְהִי הֶעָנָן וְהַחשֶׁךְ וַיָּאֶר אֶת הַלָּיְלָה, (בראשית יד, טו): וַיֵּחָלֵק עֲלֵיהֶם לַיְלָה, וְכֵן כֻּלָּם. דָּבָר אַחֵר, לָמָּה נִגְלָה עַל בִּלְעָם לַיְלָה, לֹא הָיָה רָאוּי לְרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ, לְפִי שֶׁכָּל נְבִיאֵי הַגּוֹיִם בַּלַּיְלָה מְדַבֵּר עִמָּהֶם. וְכֵן אֱלִיפַז אוֹמֵר (איוב ד, יג): בִּשְׂעִפִּים מֵחֶזְיוֹנוֹת לָיְלָה. וְכֵן אֱלִיהוּא אוֹמֵר עַל זֶה שֶׁדִּבֵּר אִתּוֹ לַיְלָה. (במדבר כב, כ): אִם לִקְרֹא לְךָ בָּאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים קוּם לֵךְ אִתָּם. מִכָּן אַתּ לָמֵד שֶׁבַּדֶּרֶךְ שֶׁאָדָם רוֹצֶה לֵילֵךְ בָּהּ מוֹלִיכִין אוֹתוֹ, שֶׁמִּתְּחִלָּה נֶאֱמַר לוֹ (במדבר כב, יב): לֹא תֵלֵךְ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהֵעֵז פָּנָיו לַהֲלֹךְ הָלַךְ, שֶׁכֵּן כְּתִיב (במדבר כב, כב): וַיִּחַר אַף אֱלֹהִים כִּי הוֹלֵךְ הוּא. אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רָשָׁע אֵינִי חָפֵץ בְּאִבּוּדָן שֶׁל רְשָׁעִים, הוֹאִיל וְאַתְּ רוֹצֶה לֵילֵךְ לֵאָבֵד מִן הָעוֹלָם קוּם לֵךְ. (במדבר כב, כ): וְאַךְ אֶת הַדָּבָר, לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁבְּהַתְרָאָה הָלַךְ, מִיָּד וַיַּשְׁכֵּם, קָדַם וְעָמַד בִּזְרִיזוּת הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ, אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רָשָׁע, כְּבָר קְדָמְךָ אַבְרָהָם אֲבִיהֶם לַעֲקֹד אֶת יִצְחָק בְּנוֹ, (בראשית כב, ג): וַיַּשְׁכֵּם אַבְרָהָם בַּבֹּקֶר וַיַּחֲבשׁ אֶת חֲמֹרוֹ וגו'. (במדבר כב, כא): וַיֵּלֶךְ עִם שָׂרֵי מוֹאָב, לְלַמֶּדְךָ שֶׁהָיָה שָׂמֵחַ בְּפֻרְעָנוּת יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמוֹתָן. 20.14. וַתֵּט הָאָתוֹן מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ וַתֵּלֶךְ (במדבר כב, כג), הָרָשָׁע הַזֶּה הוֹלֵךְ לְקַלֵּל אֻמָּה שְׁלֵמָה שֶׁלֹא חָטְאָה לוֹ וּמַכֶּה אֲתוֹנוֹ שֶׁלֹא תֵּלֵךְ בַּשָֹּׂדֶה, וּכְתִיב (במדבר כב, כד): וַיַּעֲמֹד מַלְאַךְ ה' בְּמִשְׁעוֹל הַכְּרָמִים, וְכִי לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לוֹ לֵילֵךְ אַחֲרָיו, אֶלָּא כָּךְ מִדַת הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֶלֶךְ בָּשָׂר וָדָם מְשַׁלֵּחַ סְפֶקְלָטוֹר לַהֲרֹג אֶת הָאָדָם, מְהַלֵּךְ אַחֲרָיו יָמִים הַרְבֵּה, וְזֶה שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב מִיתָה אוֹכֵל וְשׁוֹתֶה וְהַסְּפֶקְלָטוֹר מְהַלֵּךְ וּמִטָּרֵף אַחֲרָיו מִמָּקוֹם לְמָקוֹם, וְלִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֵינוֹ כֵן הַסְּפֶקְלָטוֹר בִּמְקוֹמוֹ עוֹמֵד וּמִי שֶׁנִּתְחַיֵּב מִיתָה בָּא אֶצְלוֹ בְּרַגְלָיו, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹא יִצְטָעֵר הַמַּלְאָךְ לֵילֵךְ אַחַר בִּלְעָם קְדָמוֹ לַדָּרֶךְ. וַיַּעֲמֹד מַלְאַךְ ה' בְּמִשְׁעוֹל, אָמַר לוֹ הַכְּרָמִים נִמְכָּרִים כַּשּׁוּעָלִים (במדבר כב, כד): גָּדֵר מִזֶּה וְגָדֵר מִזֶּה, אֵין אַתָּה יָכוֹל לִשְׁלֹט בָּהֶן, שֶׁבִּידֵיהֶם (שמות לב, טו): לֻחוֹת כְּתוּבִים מִשְּׁנֵי עֶבְרֵיהֶם מִזֶּה וּמִזֶּה הֵם כְּתֻבִים. (במדבר כב, כה כו): וַתֵּרֶא הָאָתוֹן אֶת מַלְאַךְ ה' וַתִּלָּחֵץ אֶל הַקִּיר, וַיּוֹסֶף מַלְאַךְ ה' עֲבוֹר, מָה רָאָה לְקַדְּמוֹ שָׁלשׁ פְּעָמִים עַד שֶׁלֹא נִרְאָה לוֹ, סִימָנִין שֶׁל אָבוֹת הֶרְאָה לוֹ, עָמַד לוֹ בָרִאשׁוֹנָה הָיָה רֶוַח מִכָּאן וּמִכָּאן וַתֵּט הָאָתוֹן מִן הַדֶּרֶךְ וַתֵּלֶךְ, בַּשְּׁנִיָּה לֹא יָכְלָה לָזוּז אֶלָּא לְצַד אֶחָד, בַּשְׁלִישִׁית (במדבר כב, כו): אֵין דֶּרֶךְ לִנְטוֹת יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאול. וּמָה הָיוּ הַסִּימָנִין הָאֵלֶּה, שֶׁאִלּוּ בִּקֵּשׁ לְקַלֵּל בָּנָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם, הָיָה מוֹצֵא מִיכָּן וּמִיכָּן בְּנֵי יִשְׁמָעֵאל בְּנֵי קְטוּרָה. בִּקֵּשׁ לְקַלֵּל בְּנֵי יִצְחָק, הָיָה מוֹצֵא בָּהֶן צַד אֶחָד בְּנֵי עֵשָׂו, וַתִּלָחֵץ אֶל הַקִּיר, בָּנָיו שֶׁל יַעֲקֹב לֹא מָצָא בָּהֶן פְּסוֹלֶת לִגַּע בָּהֶן, לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר בַּשְּׁלִישִׁית (במדבר כב, כו): בְּמָקוֹם צָר, זֶה יַעֲקֹב, דִּכְתִיב (בראשית לב, ח): וַיִּירָא יַעֲקֹב מְאֹד וַיֵּצֶר לוֹ. אֲשֶׁר אֵין דֶּרֶךְ לִנְטוֹת יָמִין וּשְׂמֹאול, שֶׁלֹא מָצָא פְּסֹלֶת בְּאֶחָד מִבָּנָיו. (במדבר כב, כז): וַתֵּרֶא הָאָתוֹן אֶת מַלְאַךְ ה' וַתִּרְבַּץ תַּחַת בִּלְעָם וַיִּחַר אַף בִּלְעָם וַיַּךְ אֶת הָאָתוֹן בַּמַּקֵּל, עַל בִּזְיוֹנוֹ שֶׁבִּזְּתָה אוֹתוֹ. (במדבר כב, כח): וַיִּפְתַּח ה' אֶת פִּי הָאָתוֹן, לְהוֹדִיעוֹ שֶׁהַפֶּה וְהַלָּשׁוֹן בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ, שֶׁאִם בִּקֵּשׁ לְקַלֵּל פִּיו בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ. (במדבר כב, כח): וַתֹּאמֶר לְבִלְעָם מֶה עָשִׂיתִי לְךָ כִּי הִכִּיתָנִי זֶה שָׁלשׁ רְגָלִים, רָמְזָה לוֹ אַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ לַעֲקֹר אֻמָּה הַחוֹגֶגֶת שָׁלשׁ רְגָלִים. (במדבר כב, כט): וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם לָאָתוֹן כִּי הִתְעַלַּלְתְּ בִּי, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמְדַבֵּר בְּלָשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ, עוֹבֵד כּוֹכָבִים לְשׁוֹנוֹ סָרוּחַ. (במדבר כב, כט): לוּ יֶשׁ חֶרֶב בְּיָדִי, מָשָׁל לְרוֹפֵא שֶׁבָּא לְרַפְּאוֹת בִּלְשׁוֹנוֹ נְשׁוּךְ נָחָשׁ, בַּדֶּרֶךְ רָאָה אֲנָקָה אַחַת הִתְחִיל מְבַקֵּשׁ מַקֵּל לְהָרְגָהּ, אָמְרוּ זוֹ אִי אַתָּה יָכוֹל לִטֹּל, הֵיאַךְ בָּאתָ לְרַפְּאוֹת בִּלְשׁוֹנְךָ נְשׁוּךְ נָחָשׁ. כָּךְ אָמְרָה הָאָתוֹן לְבִלְעָם אֲנִי אֵין אַתָּה יָכוֹל לְהָרְגֵנִי אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן חֶרֶב בְּיָדְךָ, וְהֵיאַךְ אַתָּה רוֹצֶה לַעֲקֹר אֻמָּה שְׁלֵמָה, שָׁתַק וְלֹא מָצָא תְּשׁוּבָה, הִתְחִילוּ תְּמֵהִים שָׂרֵי מוֹאָב שֶׁרָאוּ נֵס שֶׁלֹא הָיָה כָּמוֹהוּ מֵעוֹלָם. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים אָמַר לָהֶם אֵינָהּ שֶׁלִּי, הֵשִׁיבַתּוּ (במדבר כב, ל): הֲלוֹא אָנֹכִי אֲתֹנְךָ אֲשֶׁר רָכַבְתָּ עָלַי מֵעוֹדְךָ עַד הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה, הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁלֹא הָיָה זָקֵן, שֶׁהָאָתוֹן גְּדוֹלָה הֵימֶנּוּ. (במדבר כב, כט): הַהַסְכֵּן הִסְכַּנְתִּי לַעֲשׂוֹת לְךָ כֹּה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁדִּבְּרָה מֵתָה, שֶׁלֹא יִהְיוּ אוֹמְרִים זוֹ שֶׁדִּבְּרָה וְעוֹשִׂין אוֹתָהּ יִרְאָה. דָּבָר אַחֵר, הַהַסְכֵּן הִסְכַּנְתִּי לַעֲשׂוֹת לְךָ כֹּה, חָס הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל כְּבוֹדוֹ שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע, שֶׁלֹא יֹאמְרוּ זוֹ הָיְתָה שֶׁסִּלְּקָה אֶת בִּלְעָם. וְאִם חָס הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל כְּבוֹד הָרָשָׁע, אֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר עַל כְּבוֹד הַצַּדִּיק. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (ויקרא כ, טז): וְאִשָּׁה אֲשֶׁר תִּקְרַב אֶל כָּל בְּהֵמָה לְרִבְעָה אֹתָהּ וְהָרַגְתָּ אֶת הָאִשָּׁה וְאֶת הַבְּהֵמָה, שֶׁלֹא יֹאמְרוּ זוֹ הַבְּהֵמָה שֶׁנֶּהֶרְגָה אִשָּׁה פְּלוֹנִית עַל יָדֶיהָ, לְהוֹדִיעֲךָ שֶׁחָס הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עַל כְּבוֹדָן שֶׁל בְּרִיּוֹת וְיוֹדֵעַ צָרְכָּן וְסָתַם פִּי הַבְּהֵמָה, שֶׁאִלּוּ הָיְתָה מְדַבֶּרֶת לֹא הָיוּ יְכוֹלִין לְשַׁעְבְּדָהּ וְלַעֲמֹד בָּהּ, שֶׁזּוֹ הַטִּפֶּשֶׁת שֶׁבַּבְּהֵמָה, וְזֶה חָכָם שֶׁבַּחֲכָמִים, כֵּיוָן שֶׁדִּבְּרָה לֹא הָיָה יָכוֹל לַעֲמֹד בָּהּ. 20.15. וַיְגַל ה' אֶת עֵינֵי בִלְעָם (במדבר כב, לא), וְכִי סוּמָא הָיָה, לְהוֹדִיעַ שֶׁאַף הָעַיִן בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ. (במדבר כב, לא): וַיִּקֹּד וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לְאַפָּיו, שֶׁדִּבֵּר עִמּוֹ. (במדבר כב, לב): וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו מַלְאַךְ ה' עַל מָה הִכִּיתָ, וְכִי דִּקָּיוֹן שֶׁל אָתוֹן בָּא מַלְאָךְ לְבַקֵּשׁ מִיָּדוֹ, אֶלָּא אָמַר לוֹ מָה הָאָתוֹן שֶׁאֵין לָהּ זְכוּת וְלֹא בְּרִית אָבוֹת נִצְטַוֵּיתִי לִתְבֹּעַ עֶלְבּוֹנָהּ מִיָּדְךָ, אֻמָּה שְׁלֵמָה שֶׁאַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ לְעָקְרָהּ, שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ זְכוּת וּבְרִית אָבוֹת, עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. (במדבר כב, לב): הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי יָצָאתִי לְשָׂטָן כִּי יָרַט הַדֶּרֶךְ. יָרְאָ"ה רָאֲתָ"ה נָטְתָ"ה. דָּבָר אַחֵר, יָרַט בְּא"ת ב"ש מָגֵן. (במדבר כב, לג): וַתִּרְאַנִי הָאָתוֹן, גַּם אֹתְכָה הָרַגְתִּי וְאוֹתָהּ הֶחֱיֵיתִי, מִיכָּן אַתְּ לָמֵד שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הָאָתוֹן. (במדבר כב, לד): וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם אֶל מַלְאַךְ ה' חָטָאתִי, שֶׁהָיָה רָשָׁע עָרוּם וְיוֹדֵעַ שֶׁאֵין עוֹמֵד מִפְּנֵי הַפֻּרְעָנוּת אֶלָּא תְּשׁוּבָה, שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁחוֹטֵא וְאוֹמֵר חָטָאתִי, אֵין רְשׁוּת לַמַּלְאָךְ לִגַּע בּוֹ. (במדבר כב, לד): כִּי לֹא יָדָעְתִּי. וְעַתָּה אִם רַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ אָשׁוּבָה לִי, אָמַר לוֹ אֲנִי לֹא הָלַכְתִּי עַד שֶׁאָמַר לִי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא (במדבר כב, כ): קוּם לֵךְ אִתָּם, וְאַתָּה אוֹמֵר שֶׁאֶחֱזֹר, כָּךְ אֻמְנָתוֹ, לֹא כָךְ אָמַר לְאַבְרָהָם לְהַקְרִיב אֶת בְּנוֹ וְאַחַר כָּךְ (בראשית כב, יא יב): וַיִּקְרָא מַלְאַךְ ה', וַיֹּאמֶר אַל תִּשְׁלַח יָדְךָ, לָמוּד הוּא לוֹמַר דָּבָר וּמַלְאָךְ מַחֲזִירוֹ, וְעַכְשָׁו הוּא אוֹמֵר לִי לֵךְ אִתָּם, וְעַכְשָׁו אִם רַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ אָשׁוּבָה לִי. (במדבר כב, לה): וַיֹּאמֶר מַלְאַךְ ה' אֶל בִּלְעָם לֵךְ עִם הָאֲנָשִׁים, שֶׁחֶלְקְךָ עִמָּהֶם וְסוֹפְךָ לֵאָבֵד מִן הָעוֹלָם. (במדבר כב, לה): וַיֵּלֶךְ בִּלְעָם עִם שָׂרֵי בָלָק, מְלַמֵּד שֶׁכְּשֵׁם שֶׁהֵם שְׂמֵחִים לְקַלֵּל כָּךְ הוּא שָׂמֵחַ. 20.19. וַיִּשָֹּׂא מְשָׁלוֹ וַיֹּאמַר מִן אֲרָם יַנְחֵנִי, פָּתַח וְאָמַר מִן הָרָמִים הָיִיתִי וְהוֹרִידַנִי בָּלָק לִבְאֵר שַׁחַת. יַנְחֵנִי, כְּמָה דְאַתְּ אָמַר (יחזקאל לב, יח): נְהֵה עַל הֲמוֹן מִצְרַיִם וְהוֹרִדֵהוּ. דָּבָר אַחֵר, מִן אֲרָם, עִם רָם, שֶׁלְּמַעְלָן הָיִיתִי וְהוֹרִידַנִי בָּלָק מִכְּבוֹדִי, מָשָׁל לְמִי שֶׁמְהַלֵּךְ עִם הַמֶּלֶךְ, רָאָה לִיסְטִין הִנִּיחַ אֶת הַמֶּלֶךְ וְטִיֵּל עִם הַלִּיסְטִין, כְּשֶׁחָזַר אֵצֶל הַמֶּלֶךְ אָמַר לוֹ הַמֶּלֶךְ לֵךְ עִם אוֹתוֹ שֶׁטִּיַּלְתָּ עִמּוֹ, שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְךָ שֶׁתֵּלֵךְ עִמִּי. כָּךְ בִּלְעָם נִזְקַק לְרוּחַ הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְחָזַר לִהְיוֹת קוֹסֵם כְּבַתְּחִלָּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יהושע יג, כב): וְאֶת בִּלְעָם בֶּן בְּעוֹר הַקּוֹסֵם, לְפִיכָךְ צָוַח רָם הָיִיתִי וְהוֹרִידַנִי בָּלָק. דָּבָר אַחֵר, מִן אֲרָם יַנְחֵנִי, אָמַר לוֹ הֻשְׁוֵינוּ שְׁנֵינוּ לִהְיוֹת כְּפוּיֵי טוֹבָה, אִלּוּלֵי אַבְרָהָם אֲבִיהֶם לֹא הָיָה בָלָק, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית יט, כט): וַיְהִי בְּשַׁחֵת אֱלֹהִים אֶת עָרֵי הַכִּכָּר וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים אֶת אַבְרָהָם וַיְשַׁלַּח אֶת לוֹט, וְלוּלֵי אַבְרָהָם לֹא פָּלַט לוֹט מִסְּדוֹם, וְאַתָּה מִבְּנֵי בָּנָיו שֶׁל לוֹט. וְאִלּוּלֵי יַעֲקֹב אֲבִיהֶם לֹא הָיִיתִי אֲנִי בָעוֹלָם, שֶׁלֹא רָאָה לָבָן בָּנִים אֶלָּא בִּזְכוּת יַעֲקֹב, שֶׁבַּתְּחִלָּה כְּתִיב (בראשית כט, ט): וְרָחֵל בָּאָה עִם הַצֹּאן, וְאִלּוּ הָיָה לוֹ בָנִים הֵיאַךְ בִּתּוֹ רוֹעָה, וּמִשֶּׁהָלַךְ יַעֲקֹב לְשָׁם נִתְּנוּ לוֹ בָנִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (בראשית לא, א): וַיִּשְׁמַע אֶת דִּבְרֵי בְנֵי לָבָן, וְכֵן אָמַר לוֹ (בראשית ל, כז): נִחַשְׁתִּי וַיְבָרְכֵנִי ה' בִּגְלָלֶךָ. (במדבר כג, ז): לְכָה אָרָה לִי, מִי שֶׁהוּא מְאָרֵר לְעַצְמוֹ מְאָרֵר, שֶׁכָּךְ כְּתִיב (בראשית יב, ג): וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ אָאֹר, וְאוֹמֵר (בראשית כז, כט): אֹרְרֶיךָ אָרוּר. לְכָה אָרָה לִי יַעֲקֹב וּלְכָה זֹעֲמָה יִשְׂרָאֵל, אִלּוּ לְאֻמָּה אַחֶרֶת בִּקֵּשׁ שֶׁאֲקַלֵּל, כְּגוֹן בְּנֵי אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק, הָיִיתִי יָכוֹל, אֶלָּא יַעֲקֹב, מֶלֶךְ שֶׁבּוֹרֵר לְעַצְמוֹ מָנָה וְעָמַד אֶחָד וְאָמַר גְּנַאי עָלֶיהָ כְּלוּם יֵשׁ לוֹ חַיִּים, וְאֵלּוּ חֶבְלָתוֹ וְנַחֲלָתוֹ וּסְגֻלָּתוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לב, ט): כִּי חֵלֶק ה' עַמּוֹ יַעֲקֹב חֶבֶל נַחֲלָתוֹ, (שמות יט, ה): וִהְיִיתֶם לִי סְגֻלָּה. וּלְכָה זֹעֲמָה יִשְׂרָאֵל, מֶלֶךְ שֶׁנָּטַל עֲטָרָה וּנְתָנָהּ בְּרֹאשׁוֹ וְאָמַר אָדָם שֶׁאֵינָהּ כְּלוּם, יֵשׁ לוֹ חַיִּים, וְאֵלּוּ כְּתִיב בָּהֶן (ישעיה מט, ג): יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲשֶׁר בְּךָ אֶתְפָּאָר. מָה אֶקֹּב לֹא קַבֹּה אֵל (במדבר כג, ח), בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהָיוּ רְאוּיִין לְהִתְקַלֵּל לֹא נִתְקַלְּלוּ, כְּשֶׁנִּכְנַס יַעֲקֹב לִטֹּל אֶת הַבְּרָכוֹת נִכְנַס בְּמִרְמָה, דִּכְתִיב (בראשית כז, טז): וְאֵת עֹרֹת גְּדָיֵי הָעִזִּים, אָמַר אָבִיו (בראשית כז, יח): מִי אַתָּה, אָמַר לוֹ (בראשית כז, יט): אָנֹכִי עֵשָׂו בְּכֹרֶךָ, מִי שֶׁמּוֹצִיא שֶׁקֶר מִפִיו אֵינוֹ רָאוּי לְהִתְקַלֵּל, וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא שֶׁנִּתְבָּרֵךְ, דִּכְתִיב (בראשית כז, לג): גַּם בָּרוּךְ יִהְיֶה, וְהֵיאַךְ אֲנִי מְקַלְּלָן לֹא קַבֹּה אֵל. דָּבָר אַחֵר, מָה אֶקֹּב לֹא קַבֹּה אֵל, בְּנֹהַג שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם לִגְיוֹן שֶׁמָּרַד בַּמֶּלֶךְ חַיָּב מִיתָה, וְאֵלּוּ כָּפְרוּ בּוֹ וּמָרְדוּ וְאָמְרוּ (שמות לב, ד): אֵלֶּה אֱלֹהֶיךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל, לֹא הָיָה צָרִיךְ לְכַלּוֹתָן, אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה לֹא זָז מֵחִבָּתָן, לִוָּה לָהֶן עַנְנֵי כָּבוֹד וְלֹא פָסְקוּ מֵהֶם הַמָּן וְהַבְּאֵר, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (שמות לב, ח): כִּי עָשׂוּ עֵגֶל מַסֵּכָה. (נחמיה ט, יט כ): וְאַתָּה בְּרַחֲמֶיךָ הָרַבִּים לֹא עֲזַבְתָּם בַּמִּדְבָּר אֶת עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן לֹא סָר מֵעֲלֵיהֶם בְּיוֹמָם, וּמַנְךָ לֹא מָנַעְתָּ מִפִּיהֶם וּמַיִם נָתַתָּה לָהֶם לִצְמָאָם, וְהֵיאַךְ אֲנִי יָכוֹל לְקַלְּלָם, מָה אֶקֹב לֹא קַבֹּה אֵל, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁהָיָה מְצַוֶּה אוֹתָם עַל הַבְּרָכוֹת וְעַל הַקְּלָלוֹת, בַּבְּרָכוֹת הָיָה מַזְכִּירָן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כז, יב): אֵלֶּה יַעַמְדוּ לְבָרֵךְ אֶת הָעָם, בַּקְּלָלוֹת לֹא הָיָה טוֹבְעָן, שֶׁכֵּן הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים כז, יג): וְאֵלֶּה יַעַמְדוּ עַל הַקְּלָלָה בְּהַר עֵיבָל. וּכְשֶׁהֵן חוֹטְאִין וְאוֹמֵר לְהָבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן קְלָלָה, אֵינוֹ כּוֹתֵב שֶׁהוּא מְבִיאָהּ, אֶלָּא בַּבְּרָכוֹת הוּא בְּעַצְמוֹ מְבָרְכָן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כח, א): וּנְתָנְךָ ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ עֶלְיוֹן וגו', (דברים כח, ח): יְצַו ה' אִתְּךָ אֶת הַבְּרָכָה, וּבַקְּלָלוֹת לֹא הָיָה טוֹבְעָן, שֶׁכֵּן הוּא אוֹמֵר (דברים כח, טו): וְהָיָה אִם לֹא תִשְׁמַע, וּבָאוּ עָלֶיךָ, מֵעַצְמָן, הֱוֵי מָה אֶקֹּב לֹא קַבֹּה אֵל. כְּתִיב (במדבר כג, ט): כִּי מֵרֹאשׁ צֻרִים אֶרְאֶנּוּ, לְהוֹדִיעַ שִׂנְאָתוֹ שֶׁל אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע שֶׁמִּתּוֹךְ בִּרְכוֹתָיו אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ מַחֲשַׁבְתּוֹ, לְמָה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה, לְאָדָם שֶׁבָּא לָקֹץ אֶת אִילָן, מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ בָּקִי קוֹצֵץ אֶת הַנּוֹפִים, כָּל עָנָף וְעָנָף וּמִתְיַגֵּעַ, וְהַפִּקֵּחַ מְגַלֶּה אֶת הַשָּׁרָשִׁין וְקוֹצֵץ, כָּךְ אָמַר אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע, מָה אֲנִי מְקַלֵּל כָּל שֵׁבֶט וְשֵׁבֶט, הֲרֵינִי הוֹלֵךְ לְשָׁרְשָׁן, בָּא לִגַּע מְצָאָן קָשִׁים, לָכֵן אָמַר: כִּי מֵרֹאשׁ צֻרִים אֶרְאֶנּוּ. דָּבָר אַחֵר, כִּי מֵרֹאשׁ, אֵלּוּ אָבוֹת, (במדבר כג, ע): וּמִגְּבָעוֹת, אֵלּוּ אִמָּהוֹת. (במדבר כג, ט): הֶן עָם לְבָדָד יִשְׁכֹּן. וּכְשֶׁהוּא מְשַׂמְּחָן מְשַׂמְּחָן לְבַדָּן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לב, יב): ה' בָּדָד יַנְחֶנּוּ. וּכְשֶׁהָאֻמּוֹת בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה שְׂמֵחִים הֵן אוֹכְלִים עִם כָּל מַלְכוּת וּמַלְכוּת וְאֵין עוֹלֶה לָהֶם מִן הַחֶשְׁבּוֹן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר כג, ט): וּבַגּוֹיִם לֹא יִתְחַשָּׁב. (במדבר כג, י): מִי מָנָה עֲפַר יַעֲקֹב, מִי יוּכַל לִמְנוֹת מִצְווֹת שֶׁהֵן עוֹשִׂין בֶּעָפָר, (דברים כב, י): לֹא תַחֲרשׁ בְּשׁוֹר וּבַחֲמֹר, (דברים כב, ט): לֹא תִזְרַע כַּרְמְךָ כִּלְאָיִם. (במדבר יט, ט): וְאָסַף אִישׁ טָהוֹר אֵת אֵפֶר הַפָּרָה, (במדבר ה, יז): וּמִן הֶעָפָר אֲשֶׁר יִהְיֶה בְּקַרְקַע הַמִּשְׁכָּן. (ויקרא יט, כג): שָׁלשׁ שָׁנִים יִהְיֶה לָכֶם עֲרֵלִים, וְכֵן כֻּלָּם. (במדבר כג, י): וּמִסְפָּר אֶת רֹבַע יִשְׂרָאֵל, הָרְבִיעִית שֶׁלָּהֶן, מִי יוּכַל לִמְנוֹת אֻכְלוּסִין שֶׁיָּצְאוּ מֵאוֹתָן שֶׁהָיוּ חוֹטְפוֹת וּמְחַבְּבוֹת אֶת הַמִּצְווֹת, (בראשית ל, טו): וַתֹּאמֶר לָהּ הַמְעַט קַחְתֵּךְ אֶת אִישִׁי. (בראשית ל, ג): הִנֵּה אֲמָתִי בִלְהָה בֹּא אֵלֶיהָ, (בראשית ל, ט): וַתֵּרֶא לֵאָה כִּי עָמְדָה מִלֶּדֶת. (בראשית טז, ג): וַתִּקַּח שָׂרַי אֵשֶׁת אַבְרָם אֶת הָגָר, (במדבר כג, י): תָּמֹת נַפְשִׁי מוֹת יְשָׁרִים, מָשָׁל לְטַבָּח שֶׁבָּא לִשְׁחֹט פָּרָתוֹ שֶׁל מֶלֶךְ, הִתְחִיל הַמֶּלֶךְ רוֹאֶה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִרְגִּישׁ שֶׁהַמֶּלֶךְ רוֹאֶה הִתְחִיל מַשְׁלִיךְ אֶת הַסַּכִּין וּמְשַׁפְשֵׁף בָּהּ וּמְמַלֵּא אֶת הָאֵבוּס לְפָנֶיהָ, הִתְחִיל לוֹמַר תֵּצֵא נַפְשִׁי שֶׁבָּאתִי לְשָׁחֲטָהּ וַהֲרֵי זְנַחְתִּיהָ. כָּךְ בִּלְעָם אָמַר תֵּצֵא נַפְשִׁי שֶׁבָּאתִי לְקַלֵּל וַאֲנִי אֲבָרֵךְ. (במדבר כג, יד): וַיִּקָּחֵהוּ שְׂדֵה צֹפִים רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה, רֹאשׁ שֶׁיֵּשׁ פְּרָצִים שָׁם, שֶׁשָּׁם מֵת משֶׁה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ג, כז): עֲלֵה רֹאשׁ הַפִּסְגָּה, יֵשׁ פִּרְצָה גְדוֹלָה מִזּוֹ שֶׁרָאָה בַּנְּחָשִׁים וְהָיָה סָבוּר שֶׁשָּׁם יִכְלוּ. 20.23. וַיָּחֶל הָעָם לִזְנוֹת אֶל בְּנוֹת מוֹאָב (במדבר כה, א), בּוֹא וּרְאֵה מַה כְּתִיב בִּיצִיאָתָן מִמִּצְרַיִם (שמות יד, ב): דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיָשֻׁבוּ וְיַחֲנוּ לִפְנֵי פִּי הַחִירֹת, מַהוּ פִּי הַחִירֹת, מָקוֹם קָבוּעַ לִזְנוּת הָיָה, וּלְפִי שֶׁהִצְנִיעוּ עַצְמָן בִּיצִיאָתָן מִמִּצְרַיִם נִקְרָא פִּי הַחִירֹת, וְאֵלּוּ שֶׁהִפְקִירוּ עַצְמָן לַאֲנָשִׁים, כְּתִיב: וַיָּחֶל הָעָם לִזְנוֹת, וַיָּחֶל הָעָם, כָּל מָקוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הָעָם, לְשׁוֹן גְּנַאי הוּא, וְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר יִשְׂרָאֵל, לְשׁוֹן שֶׁבַח הוּא, (במדבר יא, א): וַיְהִי הָעָם כְּמִתְאֹנְנִים. (במדבר כא, ה): וַיְדַבֵּר הָעָם בֵּאלֹהִים וּבְמשֶׁה. (במדבר יד, א): וַיִּבְכּוּ הָעָם בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא. (במדבר יד, יא): עַד אָנָה יְנַאֲצֻנִי הָעָם. (שמות לב, כה): וַיַּרְא משֶׁה אֶת הָעָם כִּי פָרֻעַ הוּא. (שמות לב, א): וַיִּקָּהֵל הָעָם עַל אַהֲרֹן, וְכֵן כֻּלָּם. וַיָּחֶל הָעָם לִזְנוֹת, זְרֹק מַטֶּה לָאֲוִיר לְעִקָּרוֹ נוֹפֵל, מִי שֶׁפָּתַח בִּזְנוּת תְּחִלָּה, הִשְּׁלִים לְבַסּוֹף, אִמּוֹתֵיהֶם הִתְחִילוּ בְּזִמָּה (בראשית יט, לא לד): וַתֹּאמֶר הַבְּכִירָה אֶל הַצְּעִירָה, לְכָה נַשְׁקֶה אֶת אָבִינוּ יַיִן וְנִשְׁכְּבָה, וַיְהִי מִמָּחֳרָת וַתֹּאמֶר הַבְּכִירָה אֶל הַצְּעִירָה הֵן שָׁכַבְתִּי אֱמֶשׁ, לִמְּדַתָּה אֲחוֹתָהּ, וּלְפִיכָךְ חָסַךְ הַכָּתוּב עַל הַצְּעִירָה וְלֹא פֵּרְשָׁהּ, אֶלָּא (בראשית יט, לה): וַתִּשְׁכַּב עִמּוֹ, וּבַגְּדוֹלָה כְּתִיב (בראשית יט, לג): וַתִּשְׁכַּב אֶת אָבִיהָ. אוֹתָהּ שֶׁפָּתְחָה בִּזְּנוּת תְּחִלָּה הִשְׁלִימוּ בְּנוֹתֶיהָ אַחֲרֶיהָ לִזְנוֹת אֶל בְּנוֹת מוֹאָב. (במדבר כה, ב): וַתִּקְרֶאןָ לָעָם לְזִבְחֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶן, שֶׁהָלְכוּ בַּעֲצָתוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לא, טז): הֵן הֵנָּה הָיוּ לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּדְבַר בִּלְעָם לִמְסָר מַעַל בַּה'. עָשׂוּ לָהֶם קְלָעִים וְהוֹשִׁיבוּ בָּהֶם זוֹנוֹת וּבִידֵיהֶן כָּל כְּלֵי חֶמְדָה, וְהָיְתָה זְקֵנָה יוֹשֶׁבֶת מִבַּחוּץ וּמְשַׁמֶּרֶת לַיַּלְדָה שֶׁהָיְתָה לִפְנִים מִן הַחֲנוּת, כְּשֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל עוֹבְרִין לִטֹּל חֵפֶץ בַּשּׁוּק זְקֵנָה אוֹמֶרֶת לוֹ בָּחוּר אִי אַתָּה רוֹצֶה כְּלִי פִּשְׁתָּן שֶׁבָּא מִבֵּית שְׁאָן, וְהָיְתָה מַרְאָה לוֹ וְאוֹמֶרֶת לוֹ הִכָּנֵס לִפְנִים וְתִרְאֶה חֲפָצִים נָאִים, הַזְּקֵנָה אוֹמֶרֶת לוֹ בְּיוֹתֵר, וְיַלְדָה בְּפָחוֹת, מִכָּאן וָאֵילָךְ אוֹמֶרֶת לוֹ יַלְדָה הֲרֵי אַתָּה כְּבֶן בַּיִת שֵׁב בְּרֹר לְעַצְמְךָ, וְצַרְצוּר יַיִן מֻנָּח אֶצְלָהּ וַעֲדַיִן לֹא נֶאֱסַר יַיִן שֶׁל גּוֹיִם, נַעֲרָה יוֹצְאָה מְקֻשֶּׁטֶת וּמְבֻסֶּמֶת וּמְפַתָּה אוֹתוֹ וְאוֹמֶרֶת לוֹ לָמָּה אָנוּ אוֹהֲבִין אֶתְכֶם וְאַתֶּם שׂוֹנְאִין אוֹתָנוּ, טֹל לְךָ כְּלִי זֶה חִנָּם, הֲלוֹא (בראשית מב, יא): כֻּלָּנוּ בְּנֵי אִישׁ אֶחָד, בְּנֵי תֶּרַח אֲבִי אַבְרָהָם, אֵין אַתֶּם רוֹצִים לֶאֱכֹל מִזִּבְחוֹתֵינוּ וּמִבִּשׁוּלֵינוּ, הֲרֵי לָנוּ עֲגָלִים וְתַרְנְגוֹלִים שַׁחֲטוּ כְּמִצְוַתְכֶם וְאִכְלוּ, מִיָּד מַשְׁקַתּוּ הַיַּיִן וּבוֹעֵר בּוֹ הַשָֹּׂטָן, הָיָה נִשְׂטֶה אַחֲרֶיהָ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (הושע ד, יא): זְנוּת וְיַיִן וְתִירוֹשׁ יִקַּח לֵב, וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים בִּלְעָם צִוָּה אוֹתָם שֶׁלֹא לְהַשְׁקוֹתָם, שֶׁלֹא יִדּוֹנוּ כִּשְׁתוּיֵי יַיִן אֶלָּא כִּמְזִידִין. כֵּיוָן שֶׁהָיָה תּוֹבְעָהּ אוֹמֶרֶת לוֹ אֵינִי נִשְׁמַעַת לָךְ עַד שֶׁתִּשְׁחַט זֶה לִפְעוֹר וְתִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לוֹ, וְהוּא אוֹמֵר לַעֲבוֹדַת כּוֹכָבִים אֵינִי מִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה, וְאוֹמֶרֶת לוֹ אֵין אַתָּה אֶלָּא כִּמְגַלֶּה עַצְמְךָ, וְהוּא נִשְׂטֶה אַחֲרֶיהָ וְעוֹשֶׂה כֵן. זוֹ שֶׁאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים הַפּוֹעֵר עַצְמוֹ לְבַעַל פְּעוֹר זוֹ הִיא עֲבוֹדָתוֹ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר כה, ב): וַיִּשְׁתַּחֲווּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶן, וַיִּצָּמֶד יִשְׂרָאֵל לְבַעַל פְּעוֹר (במדבר כה, ג), בַּתְּחִלָּה הָיוּ נִכְנָסִין בְּצִנְעָה, וּלְבַסּוֹף נִכְנָסִין צְמִידִים צְמִידִים, זוּגוֹת, כְּעִנְיָן שֶׁל צֶמֶד בָּקָר. דָּבָר אַחֵר, כְּאָדָם צָמִיד בִּמְלַאכְתּוֹ, וַיִּצָּמֶד, כִּצְמִידִים עַל יָדֶיהָ, רַבִּי לֵוִי אָמַר זוֹ גְזֵרָה קָשָׁה מִן הָעֵגֶל, דְּאִלּוּ בָּעֵגֶל כְּתִיב (שמות לב, ב): פָּרְקוּ נִזְמֵי הַזָּהָב, וּבְכָאן, וַיִּצָּמֶד, כִּצְמִידִים. בָּעֵגֶל נָפְלוּ שְׁלשֶׁת אֲלָפִים, וְכָאן עֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה אֶלֶף. (במדבר כה, ד): וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל משֶׁה קַח אֶת כָּל רָאשֵׁי הָעָם וְהוֹקַע אֹתָם, רַבִּי יוּדָן אָמַר רָאשֵׁי הָעָם תָּלָה עַל שֶׁלֹא מִיחוּ בִּבְנֵי אָדָם. רַבִּי נְחֶמְיָה אָמַר לֹא תָּלָה רָאשֵׁי הָעָם, אֶלָּא אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמשֶׁה הוֹשֵׁב לָהֶן רָאשֵׁי סַנְהֶדְרִיּוֹת וְיִהְיוּ דָּנִים כָּל מִי שֶׁהָלַךְ לִפְעוֹר. אָמַר, מִי מוֹדִיעָן, אָמַר לוֹ אֲנִי מְפַרְסְמָן, כָּל מִי שֶׁטָּעָה הֶעָנָן סָר מֵעָלָיו וְהַשֶּׁמֶשׁ זוֹרַחַת עָלָיו בְּתוֹךְ הַקָּהָל, וְיִהְיוּ הַכֹּל יוֹדְעִין מִי שֶׁטָּעָה וְיִתְלוּ אוֹתוֹ, תֵּדַע לְךָ שֶׁהוּא כֵּן (במדבר כה, ה): וַיֹּאמֶר משֶׁה אֶל שֹׁפְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל הִרְגוּ אִישׁ אֲנָשָׁיו וגו'. 20.9. 9 (Numb. 22:9) “Then God came unto Balaam and said, ‘Who are these people with you’”: This text is related (to Prov. 28:10), “One who leads the upright astray on an evil course will fall into his own pit.” This refers to Balaam. For at first mortals [behaved] with propriety, but because of his (Balaam's) words, they became [unbridled] in sexual matters. sup14 /supclass=\"footnote\" iSanh /i. 106a.Thus, of former [generations] it is stated (in Gen. 29:9), “Rachel came with the sheep.” And so (in Exod. 2:16), “Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters.” sup15 /supclass=\"footnote\"I.e., although these seven daughters and Rachel were shepherdesses, they had no fear of being alone among males.[But] Balaam the wicked arose and led mortals astray into unchastity. But as he led [others] astray, he [himself] was led astray. By the [very] counsel he gave, he [himself] fell. So the Holy One, blessed be He, led him astray, as stated (in Job 12:23), “He exalts the nations and destroys them.” When [the Holy One, blessed be He,] asked him (in Numb. 22:9), “Who are these people with you,” that wicked one said [to himself,] “He knows nothing about them; It appears to me [that] there are times when [God] does not know. And so I can do all that I want to His children.” That is why [God] said it. In order to lead him astray. (Numb. 22:10), “And Balaam said to God, ‘Balak ben Zippor, [the king of Moab] sent [this message] unto me”: He began to boast and say, “Even though You do not honor me, and You do not put out a good name for me in the world, kings seek me. (Numb. 22:11) “Behold the people has come out of Egypt […]; come now, curse ( iqavah /i) them for me”: [This is] to make known that he (Balaam) hated Israel more than Balak, because (in Numb. 22:6) Balak did not say iqavah(as Balaam claimed he had said in Numb. 22:11) but iarah /i. sup16 /supclass=\"footnote\"Both words mean “curse,” but the former is worse than the latter, because iqavahinvolves the use of the Divine Name.This one (Balaam), however, said (in vs. 11), “curse explicitly ( iqavah /i).” Moreover, while the former (Balak) said (in Numb. 22:6) “And drive them away from the land,” the latter (Balaam) said [simply] (in vs. 11), “and drive them out” [i.e.,] from this world and from the world to come." 20.11. 11 (Numb. 22:20) “Then God came unto Balaam at night”: This text is related (to Job 33:15-17), “In a dream, a vision of the night […]; Then he uncovers a human ear […]; To turn a person from an action and conceal pride from a man.” What is the meaning of “conceal from a man”? The Holy One, blessed be He, hid from him (i.e, from Balaam) that his going (with Balak's messengers) would obliterate him from the world and bring him to the grave.” [To darken (from)] (as in Job 33:30) “Bringing him back from the grave, that he may bask in the light of life,” to destroy his soul in his going. For when someone is going to sin, Satan dances before him until he completes the transgression. As soon as he has transgressed, he returns to inform Him. Thus it is stated (in Prov. 7: 22–23), “Going after her right away, he comes like an ox to the slaughter …. Until an arrow pierces his liver […].” [So] did the Holy One, blessed be He, hide [obliteration] from Balaam, until he had gone and destroyed his soul. After he had taken leave of his honor, had gone and destroyed his soul and realized how he stood, he began to beg for his soul (saying in Numb. 23:10), “let my soul die the death of the righteous.”" 20.12. 12 (Numb. 22:20) “Then God came unto Balaam at night”: This text is related (to Exod. 12:42), “That was for the Lord a night of vigil […].” All miracles which were done for Israel and which involved exacting retribution for them from the wicked took place at night: (Gen. 31:24) “And God came unto Laban the Aramean in a dream at night”: And it is written (in Gen. 20:3), “But God came unto Abimelech in a dream at night.” And it is written (in Exod. 12:29), “And it came to pass in the middle of the night.” And it is written (in Exod. 14:20), “there was the cloud with the darkness, and it cast a spell upon the night.” And it is written (in Gen. 14:15), “And he deployed at night.” And so [it was with] all of them. Another interpretation: Why did he reveal himself to Balaam by night? He was not worthy of [receiving] the holy spirit [except at night]. As He speaks at night with all the prophets of the nations, as stated (in Job 4:13), “In opinions from night visions.” And so Eliphaz says (in Job 4:13), “In a dream, a vision of the night,” about [Balaam’s] speaking with him at night. And similarly Elihou speaks about that which He had spoken with him at night. (Numb. 22:20, cont.) “If these men have come to invite you, arise and go with them”: From here you learn that in the way that a man wants to go, in it is he driven. As at first it was said to him (in Numb. 22:12), “Do not go with them.” As soon as he had become defiant, he went. As so is it written about him (in Numb. 22:22), “But God's anger was kindled because he was going.” The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “I do not desire the death of the wicked. [But] in as much as you want to be obliterated from the world, ‘arise and go with them.’” (Numb. 22:20, cont.), “But only the thing [that I tell you are you to do].” [These words are] to teach you that he went with a warning. Immediately he got up early in the morning [preparing his donkey] quickly all by himself. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “You wicked man! Their ancestor Abraham has already anticipated you at the binding of his son Isaac,” as stated (in Gen. 22:3), “So Abraham arose early in the morning, saddled his he-ass.” (Numb. 22:21, cont.) “And went with the princes of Moab”: [These words are] to teach you that he was as glad at the tribulation of Israel as they were. " 20.14. ... [T]he Holy One has pity on the honor of the creatures/b’riyot (here meaning “people”) and knows their needs. And He shut the mouth of the beast/b’heimah, for if she would speak, they could not make her serve or stand up to her /bah, for [there was] this silent one from the animals (the ass) and this wise one from the sages (Bil`am) – [and] when she spoke he could not stand up to her." 20.15. 15 (Numb. 22:31) “Then the Lord uncovered the eyes of Balaam and he saw [the angel of the Lord….]”: Was he blind? [These words were] simply to inform him that even the eye is in [God’s] control. (Ibid., cont.) “Then he bowed down and prostrated himself on his face,” because [the angel] had spoken with him. (Numb. 22:32) “And the angel of the Lord said unto him, ‘Why did you strike your she-ass these three times’”: Did the angel come to seek [satisfaction] at his hand for the she-ass? It is simply that he said to him, “Now if for the she-ass, which has neither merit nor a covet from the ancestors, I have been commanded to seek satisfaction from your hand, how much the more so for an entire people that has merit and the covet of the ancestors that you have come to uproot!“ (Numb. 22:32, cont.) “Here I have come out as an adversary ( isatan /i), because your way is contrary ( iyrt /i).” [ iYrtis interpreted as] an acronym [concerning the ass for] iyare'ah(she feared), ira'atah(she saw), inatetah(she turned away). Another interpretation: [The numerical value of] iyrt /i, in the iatbash[scheme] is [equivalent to that of] shield ( imagen /i). (Numb. 22:33) “For the she-ass saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away [from me, surely just now I would have killed you] and let her live”: From here you have learned that he killed the ass. (Numb. 22:34) “Then Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, ‘I have sinned’”: As he was a crafty evildoer. He knew that nothing can withstand divine punishment except for repentance; for whenever anyone sins and says, “I have sinned,” the angel has no authority to touch him. (Ibid.) “Because I did not know; and now, if it is evil in your eyes, I will return.” sup22 /supclass=\"footnote\"This verb can also be rendered as “repent.”He said to him, “I did not go until the Holy One, blessed be He, said to me (in Numb. 22:20), “Arise and go with them”; yet you are saying that I should return! [Indeed] such is His practice! Similarly, did he not tell Abraham to sacrifice his son? Then after that [it is stated (in Gen. 22:11-12)], ‘But the angel of the Lord called [unto him…]. And he said, “Do not raise your hand [against the lad].”’ He is used to saying something, then to have an angel come and reverse it. And now He had said to me, ‘Go with them,’ [but (in vs. 34)] ‘if it is evil in your eyes, I will return.’” (Numb. 22:35) “The angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, ‘Go with the men’”; for your lot is [to be] with them, and your end is to be obliterated from the world. (Ibid., cont.) “So Balaam went with the princes of Balak”: [These words] teach that just as they were happy to curse [Israel], so was he happy. " 20.19. 19 (Numb. 23:7) “So he took up his theme and said, ‘From Aram, Balak the king of Moab has brought me, from the hills of the east.’” I was one of the exalted ones, sup31 /supclass=\"footnote\" iRamim.The midrash links this word with ARAM in Numb. 23:7.but Balak has brought me down to the pit of corruption. (Ibid.) “Brought me ( iyanheni,rt.: inhh /i),” [is to be understood] just as you say (in Ezek. 32:18), “bring (rt.: inhh /i) the masses of Egypt [and cast them down [… unto the lowest part of the netherworld along with those who go down to the pit].” sup32 /supclass=\"footnote\"Thus Numb. 23:7 comes to mean that Balak BROUGHT (rt.: iNHH /i) Balaam down to the grave. The unusual Biblical translation is necessary to fit the sense of the midrash.Another interpretation (of Numb. 23:7), “From Aram”: I was with the highest ( iram /i) of the high, and Balak has brought me down from my glory. [The matter] is comparable to one who was walking with the king. When he saw [some] robbers, sup33 /supclass=\"footnote\"Gk.: ilestai./i he left the king and toured along with the robbers. When he returned to be with the king, the king said to him, “Go with whomever you have toured with, because it not possible for you to walk with me again.” Similarly Balaam had been bound to the holy spirit. When he paired himself with Balak, the holy spirit departed from him. So he returned to being a diviner as in the beginning. Thus it is stated (at his execution in Josh. 13:22), “Balaam ben Beor the diviner….” Therefore did he yell out, “I was high up ( iram /i), and Balak brought me down.” Another interpretation (of Numb. 23:7), “From Aram, he has brought me”: [Balaam] said to [Balak], “We are alike, even both of us, for being ungrateful, because were it not for their father Abraham, there would have been no Balak. Thus it is stated (in Gen. 19:29), ‘And it came to pass that when God destroyed the cities of the plain, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot away.’ Except for Abraham, he would not have delivered Lot from Sodom; and you are one of the children of the children of Lot. sup34 /supclass=\"footnote\"As a Moabite, Balak was descended from Moab, the son of Lot. See Gen. 19:37.Moreover, if it were not for their father Jacob, I should not have been present in the world, because Laban had sons only through the merit of Jacob, since it is written at the beginning (in Gen. 29:9), ‘Rachel came with the sheep.’ Now if he had sons, how was his daughter a shepherdess? As soon as Jacob came there, sons were given to him, as stated (in Gen. 31:1), ‘Now he heard the things that Laban's sons [were saying].’ sup35 /supclass=\"footnote\"Jewish tradition gives three views on Balaam’s relation to Laban: That he was Laban himself, that he was Laban’s nephew, and that he was Laban’s grandson. See Ginzberg, vol. III, p. 354; vol.. V, p. 303, n. 229; vol. VI, pp. 123f., nn. 722f.; p. 130, n. 764.And it also says [that Laban said] (in Gen. 30:27), ‘I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me for your sake.’” (Numb. 23:7, cont.) “Come, curse Jacob for me”: Whoever curses [the Children of Jacob] is cursing himself, since it is stated (in Gen. 12:3), “and the one who curses you, I will curse.” It also says (in Gen. 27:29), “cursed be those who curse you.” (Numb. 23:7) “Come, curse [Jacob] for me […].” If you had told me to curse another people, for example, the Children of Abraham and Isaac, I would have been able [to do so]. But Jacob? When a king selects a portion for himself, and someone else gets up and speaks disparagingly about it, will he keep his life? Now these people are the Holy One, blessed be He’s, heritage, His portion, and His treasure. Thus it is stated (in Deut. 32:9), “For the Lord's share is His people; Jacob the portion of His heritage.” And it is written (in Exod. 19:5), “and you shall be My treasure.” (Numb. 23:7, cont.) “And come, denounce Israel:” When a king takes a crown and puts it on his head, and someone says of it that it is nothing, will he keep his life? Now in regard to these people it is written about them (in Is. 49:3), “Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” (Numb. 23:8) “How shall I curse [the one] whom God has not cursed”: When they deserved to be cursed, they were not cursed: When Jacob went in to receive the blessings, he went it with deception. As it is written (in Gen. 27:16), “[Then she clothed his arms and the hairless part of his neck] with the skins of goat kids.” His father said to him (in Gen. 27:18), “Who are you?” He said to him (in vs. 19), “I am Esau, your first-born.” Does not the one who puts forth a lie with his mouth deserve to be cursed? Yet not only [was he not cursed], but he was blessed; as stated (in Gen. 27:33), “he shall also be blessed.” So how do I curse them? (In the words of Numb. 23:8) “God has not cursed.” Another interpretation (of Numb. 23:8), “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?” According to universal custom, when a legion sup36 /supclass=\"footnote\"Lat.: ilegio./i rebels against the king, it incurs the penalty of death. Now since these denied and revolted against Him, when they said [about the calf] (in Exod. 32:4), “This is your god, O Israel,” was it not necessary to have Him destroy them at that time? [Still] He did not cease to cherish them. Instead He had clouds of glory accompany them. Nor did He withhold the manna and the well from them. And so it says (in Exod. 32:4), “When they made a molten calf,” (in Neh. 9:18-20), “You in Your great mercies did not abandon them in the desert […]; and You did not withhold Your manna from their mouth […].” How can I curse them? (Numb. 23:8) “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed” When He commanded them concerning the blessings and the curses, He mentioned them (as the people) in connection with the blessings where it is stated (in Deut. 27:12), “These shall stand [on Mount Gerizim] for blessing the people;” but He did not mention them in connection with the curses. Thus it is stated (in vs. 13), “And these shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse.” Moreover, when they sin and He plans to bring a curse upon them, it is not written that He Himself is bringing them (i.e., the curses); but with respect to the blessings, He Himself is blessing them; for so it says (in Deut. 28:1, 8), “And it shall come to pass that, if you diligently obey […], the Lord your God will set you high [over all the nations of the earth]. The Lord will command the blessing to be with you.” But with respect to the curses, it is written (according to Deut. 28:15), “And it shall come to pass that, if you do not obey […], then [all these curses] shall come upon you,” [i.e.,] of their own accord. Ergo (in Numb. 23:8), “How shall I curse whom God has not cursed?” (Numb. 23:9) “For from the top of the rocks I see him,” in order to make the hatred of that evil man (i.e., Balaam) known to you. As from his blessing you may know his thoughts. To what is he comparable? To someone who came to chop down a tree. One who is not an expert chops off the branches one at a time and becomes tired, but the clever one exposes the roots and [then] chops it down. Similarly that wicked man said, “Why shall I curse each and every tribe? Rather I will go to their roots.” When he came to touch them, he found them hard [to cut]. It is therefore stated (in Numb. 23:9), “For from the top of the rocks I see him.” Another interpretation (of Numb. 23:9): “For from the top of the rocks,” these are the patriarchs; (ibid., cont.) “and from the hills I behold him,” these are the matriarchs. (Numb. 23:9, cont.) “Here is a people dwelling alone”: When He makes them rejoice, no nation rejoices along with them. But when the nations are rejoicing in this world, they (i.e., the Children of Israel) eat with each and every kingdom, and no one is charging [such pleasures] against their account (rt: ihshb /i). sup37 /supclass=\"footnote\"In other words the pleasures that Israel enjoys in this world are not to be deducted from their pleasures in the world to come.It is so stated (in Numb. 23:9, cont.), “and they shall not be reckoned (rt.: ihshb /i) among the nations.” (Numb. 23:10) “Who has counted the dust of Jacob”: Who is able to count the commandments which they carry out upon the dust: (In Deut. 22:10,) “You shall not plow with an ox and an ass”; (in Deut. 22:9,) “You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed”; (in Numb. 19:9,) “Then someone clean shall gather the ashes of the heifer”; (in Numb. 5:17,) “[Then the high priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel] and some of the dust which is on the floor of the tabernacle”; (in Lev. 19:23,) “[Moreover, when you come into the land and plant any tree for food, you shall count its fruit as forbidden,] three years it shall be forbidden to you, [it shall not be eaten]”; and so on with all of them. (Numb. 23:10, cont.) “Or numbered the sand ( irb /i') of Israel,” [i.e.,] their copulations (rt.: irb /i') sup38 /supclass=\"footnote\"For this interpretation, cf. iNid.31a.Who can number the masses sup39 /supclass=\"footnote\"Gk.: iochloi./i that have emerged from them, from those women who seize on and cherish the commandments (of procreation), as stated (in Gen. 30:15), “But she said to her, ‘Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband?’” [And so too (in Gen. 30:3, 9),] “Here is my maid Bilhah; go into her.” “When Leah saw that she had ceased bearing children, [she took her maidservant Zilpah and gave her to Jacob as a wife].” [And so too (in Gen. 16:3),] “So Abraham's wife Sarai took her maidservant Hagar the Egyptian… [and gave her to her husband Abraham as a wife].” (Numb. 23:10, cont.) “Let me die the death of the upright”: The matter is comparable to a butcher who came to slaughter a cow that belonged to a king. The king began to take notice. When [the butcher] realized [what was happening], he began by discarding the knife, then giving [the cow] a rubdown [and] filling the feeding trough for it. He began to say, “Let my life be forfeit for coming to slaughter it; but observe that I have [now given it sustece].” Similarly Balaam said, “Let my life be forfeit for coming to curse, but I will bless [them].” Ergo (in Numb. 23:10), “let me die the death of the upright!” (Numb. 23:14) “So he took him to the Field of Zophim at the top of Pisgah”: He saw that [Israel would be] breached there, for it was there that Moses died, as stated (in Deut. 3:27), “Go up to the top of Pisgah …, [for you shall not cross over this Jordan].” Is there a breach greater than this? What he saw was through divinations, and he was of the opinion that because of him they would fall there." 20.23. 23 (Numb. 25:1) “The people began to go whoring unto the daughters of Moab.” Come and see what is written in their leaving from Egypt: (In Exodus 14:2,) “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp before Pi-Hahiroth (which sounds like liberty, iheiruth /i).” What is the meaning of Pi-Hahiroth? It was a place that was fixed for unchastity. And because they sheltered themselves [from it] in their leaving, it was called Pi-Hahiroth. But these [Moabite women] because they made themselves available to the people, it is written, (in Numb. 25:1), “the people began to go whoring [unto the daughters of Moab].” (Numb. 25:1) “The people began”: Every place that “the people” is mentioned, it is an expression of shame; but every place that “Israel” is mentioned, it is an expression of commendation: (In Numb. 11:1,) “Now the people were as murmurers [speaking evil in the ears of the Lord]”; (in Numb. 21:5,) “So the people spoke against God and against Moses”; (in Numb. 14:1,) “and the people wept on that night”; (in Numb. 14:11), “Until when will the people anger Me”; (in Exod. 32:25,) “And Moses saw that the people were wild”; (in Exod. 32:1,) “and the people gathered together against Aaron”; and similarly in all of them. (Numb. 25:1) “The people began to go whoring.” Throw a stick into the air, sup68 /supclass=\"footnote\"Gk.: iaer./i [and] it falls to its place of origin (i.e., its root). sup69 /supclass=\"footnote\"For this proverb in other contexts, see Gen. R. 53:15; 86:6.The one who had begun with the whoredom at first, finished with it in the end. Their matriarchs (i.e., the matriarchs of Ammon and Moab) began with whoredom (according to Gen. 19:31-34), “And the first-born said to the younger, ‘Let us give our father to drink […].’ So it came to pass on the next day that the first-born said unto the younger […].” She (the first-born) had instructed her in whoredom, and for that reason the Holy One, blessed be He, had pity on the younger and did not expose her. Rather (according to vs. 35), “and she slept with him”; but with reference to the elder, it is written (in vs. 33), “and slept with her father.” sup70 /supclass=\"footnote\"Thus in the case of the elder, her incest was specifically mentioned.In the case of the one who began in whoredom at first, her daughters (i.e., the daughters of Moab) went after her to finish [it, as stated (in Numb. 25:1), “the people began] to go whoring unto the daughters of Moab.” (Numb. 25:2) “And they invited the people to the sacrifices for their gods”: Thus they (i.e., daughters of Moab) were going by the counsel of Balaam, as stated (in Numb. 31:16), “Here these women at the bidding of Balaam made the Children of Israel.” sup71 /supclass=\"footnote\" iySanh.10:2 (28cd); iSanh.106a; iPRE47.They made themselves curtained stalls and installed harlots in them with every object of delight in their hands. Now a girl would have an old woman as an agent, for an old woman would be in front of the shop. During the time that Israel was passing by on the way to the marketplace, the woman would say to him, “Young man, surely you want objects of linen which have come from Beth-Shean!” Then she would show them to him and say to him, “Come inside and you will see fine things”; and when the old woman would tell him a high price, the girl would [give him] a lower one. From then on the girl would tell him, “You are like one of the family. Sit down and choose for yourself.” Now a jug of wine was placed by her, since the wine of gentiles had not yet been forbidden. Then out comes the girl, perfumed and adorned, and seduces him and says to him, “Why do you hate us, when we love you? Take for yourself this article gratis. We all are children of a single man, children of Terah, the father of Abraham. So do you not want to eat from our sacrifices and from our cooking? Here are calves and cocks for you; slaughter them according to your own precepts, and eat.” Immediately she has him drink the wine, and then the Satan burned within him, so that he became a fool for her, as stated (in Hosea 4:11), “Harlotry, wine and young wine sway the heart.” There are also those who say [that] Balaam commanded them not to have them drink the wine, so that they would not be judged as those who are drunk, but as willful sinners. When he sought her out, she said to him, “I am not listening to you until you slaughter it [as a sacrifice] to Peor and bow down to it.” But he would say, “I am not bowing down to idolatry.” And she would say to him, “You only need to reveal yourself to it.” And [since] he had become a fool for her, he would do so. This is what the masters said, “One who reveals himself (to defecate) to Baal Peor – this is its worship” (Sanhedrin 64a). It is so stated (Numb. 25:2), “and they bowed down to their gods.” (Numb. 25:3) “Thus Israel was joined (rt.: itsmd /i) to Baal Peor”: At the beginning, they went in chastely, but at the end they went as many teams of pairs, like a pair ( itsemed /i) of oxen. Another explanation: Like a man tied to his work; joined (rt.: itsmd /i) [to Baal Peor] like bracelets (rt.: itsmd /i). R. Levi said, “This was more serious than the [sin of the golden] calf, for while in reference to the calf, it is written (in Exod. 32:2), ‘Take off the gold rings,’ here [it is written] (in Numb. 25:3), ‘was joined (rt.: itsmd /i) [to Baal Peor,]’ like bracelets (rt.: itsmd /i)]. Because of the calf about three thousand fell, but here (according to Numb. 25:9) [the number fallen is] twenty-four thousand.” (Numb. 25:4) “[…] Take all the heads of the people, and impale them [before the Lord in the sun].” R. Judan said, “He hanged the heads of the people, because they had not protested about the people.” R. Nehemiah said, “He did not hang them. Rather the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses, ‘Appoint Sanhedrin sup72 /supclass=\"footnote\" iSanhedraot.Gk. plural: isynhedria./i heads for them, and let them judge whoever went to Peor.’ He said to him, ‘But who will make such a one known?’ The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, ‘I will expose them. In the case of whoever has gone astray, the cloud shall be peeled back from upon him, and the sun shall shine upon him in the midst of the congregation. Then they will know anyone who has gone astray and hang him.’” You know for yourself that it is so, as stated (in Numb. 25:5), “So Moses said unto the judges of Israel, ‘Each of you kill [those of] his own people [who have been joined to Baal Peor].’”"

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
abraham Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 82, 85
angels Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 81, 82
apollo,intermarriage Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 89
balaam,prophecy of,according to josephus Feldman (2006), Judaism and Hellenism Reconsidered, 588
balaam Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52, 53; Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153; Potter Suh and Holladay (2021), Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays, 331
beast,the Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
bosor Potter Suh and Holladay (2021), Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays, 331
buying and selling Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
claudius,roman emperor,expulsion of jews from rome by Feldman (2006), Judaism and Hellenism Reconsidered, 588
coins,counterfeit currency Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 84
control Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 53
death Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
desire Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52
dragon,the Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
evil Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
evil eye Potter Suh and Holladay (2021), Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays, 331
exchange Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 85, 89
false prophecy Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 81, 82, 85, 89
gender Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 53
god Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52, 53
greed Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 82, 85, 89; Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
hospitality Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 85
idolatry,food sacrificed to idols Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 89
idols) Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 85
judas,death of Potter Suh and Holladay (2021), Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays, 331
lamb,the Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
masculinity Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52, 53; Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 81, 82, 84, 85, 89
moses Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 81, 82, 85
nicolaitans,the Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
nicolaitans Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 89
nicolaus Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
origen Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52, 53
pergamum Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 89
philo of alexandria Potter Suh and Holladay (2021), Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays, 331
polemic Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 84
possession Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 53
prophecy Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52, 53
pythia Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 53
reading Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 53
repetition Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52
reward of unrighteousness Potter Suh and Holladay (2021), Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays, 331
self Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52
septuagint,lukes use Potter Suh and Holladay (2021), Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays, 331
seven messages Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
sibyls,jewish/christian sibyls Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 84
sobriquet Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
sophistry Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 84, 85
speech Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 53
spirit Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52, 53; Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 82
vessel Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 53
victory Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
violence,divine violence Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 84
violence Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 84, 89
war' Lester (2018), Prophetic Rivalry, Gender, and Economics: A Study in Revelation and Sibylline Oracles 4-5. 89
war Mathews (2013), Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John, 153
worthy Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 52