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Balaam, son of Beor, was a prophet from Pethor.[1] Rather than honoring God as a prophet, Balaam worked with Balak, the king of Moab, to curse the Israelites. Balaam is remembered throughout the rest of the Bible as having a false teaching. Balaam is primarily recorded and is introduced in the Pentateuch's Book of Numbers.


Early life[]

Little is known about Balaam's early life. Balaam was born to a man named Beor in the town of Pethor, near the Euphrates River.[1] At one point he became a prophet of God, and was known well enough where he would soon be summoned by the king of Moab. It was also known that those that Balaam blessed and cursed, received the blessing or curse given.[2]

Summoning by Moab[]

Balaam is first mentioned when messengers of King Balak of Moab are sent[1] to request him to put a curse on the rapidly approaching Israelite army, because Balaam was known for his successful blessings and curses.[2] The elders of Moab then evacuated the area where the Israelites were edging closer, and set out to discuss with Balaam, bringing with them a payment for Balaam's divination.[3]

Once they arrived Balaam told the elders to spend the night and that he would report back with an answer from God.[4] God then came down to Balaam and asked who the men staying with him were.[5] Balaam responded by telling God that they had asked for a divination.[6] God replied to Balaam by telling him not to go with the Moab elders and to not put a curse on Israel because they were blessed.[7] Balaam got up the following morning and informed Balak's officials that God had refused for him to go with them and curse Israel.[8] The officials returned to their king and reported this to him.[9]

Afterwards Balak sent another group of officials, being of large number and of higher authority.[10] This time they asked the Balaam would not let anything prevent him from meeting with the king[11] as he would be given a great reward.[12] Balaam replied that even if he were given all the gold and silver in the palace of Balak he could not disobey God,[13] and so he had the officials spend the night so that he may consult God.[14] So God told Balaam to go with the men since he had been summoned, but to only obey God.[15]

Riding to Moab[]

Therefore Balaam saddled his donkey and started off with the messengers and his two servants.[16] But God, who had already told Balaam not to curse the Israelites, was angry with Balaam's eager attitude, so he sent an Angel to stand in the road to stop him.[17] Balaam's donkey saw the Angel while Balaam did not, so the donkey shied away and went off road into a field. Balaam unknowing of his mount's reasons for fear,beat the donkey to get it back on the path of the road.[18] Soon Balaam arrived at a narrow path cutting through vineyards with walls on both sides.[19] When the donkey saw the Angel again, it leaned up against the wall, crushing his master's foot against it. Thus, Balaam beat the donkey again.[20] As they continued to travel, they encountered a narrow area where there was no room to turn.[21] When the donkey saw the Angel this time, he stopped and sat with Balaam riding on him, angering Balaam to beat the donkey with his staff.[22] After this God caused the donkey to speak who asked Balaam what he had done to receive three beatings.[23] Balaam then explained to his animal that he had been made a fool of by it, and then told it he would kill it if he had a sword.[24] The donkey then reminded Balaam that he had been his mount for a long period of time, and that it was not his regular behavior.[24]

After this God revealed to Balaam that an Angel with a sword drawn had been standing in the road, and so he bowed facedown to the Angel.[25] The traveling prophet was then questioned by the Angel of why he had beaten his donkey, since the path he was on was reckless.[26] The Angel then told Balaam that if it weren't for his donkey, he would've been killed by him with his donkey spared.[27] Balaam responded to the Angel's statements that he had sinned and did not realize he was in the road to blockade him.[28] However, Balaam was told to continue with Balak's officials, but to only speak what God would tell him.[29]

Prophesying for Balak[]

The First Prophecy[]

Soon king Balak heard that the summoned prophet was coming, and arranged to meet him in the border town of Arnon.[30] Balak then reminded Balaam of the urgency of his request,[31] and Balaam assured him that he was there, but could only speak what God gave him.[32] So Balaam went up to Kiriath Huzoth.[32] The next morning Balaam went up to Bamoth Baal where the outskirts of the Israelite camp could be seen.[33] Balaam then told Balak to have seven altars and one bull and one ram for each prepared for him.[34] Balaam then instructed Balak to stay with the offerings while he went aside to see if God would meet with discus with him.[35] Going off to a barren height, God met with him and was told by Balaam that sacrifices had been prepared.[36] Words were then given to Balaam to speak to Balak.[37] Balaam then told the Moabite King and all his officials the message that God had given him:[38] that despite being asked to curse the Israelite descendants of Jacob,[39] he could not curse those not cursed by God[40] as they were were distinguished,[41] and that he (Balaam) would want to die a righteous death.[42]

Hearing this, Balak was furious that all Balaam had done was bless the Israelites,[43] but Balaam told Balak he could only say what God told him to say.[44]

The Second Prophecy[]

So Balak brought Balaam to the field of Zophim on top of Pisgah and with Balaam built seven altars with a bull on each,[45] to see if Balaam would curse the Israelites. Then Balaam went off on his own to meet with God to receive another prophecy.[46] The LORD came and met with him and gave him a prophecy.[47] After returning to the Moabite officials, they asked him what the prophecy was.[48] He told them the prophecy:[49] God was not human and would not change his mind[50] and therefore he could not curse Israel, but only bless.[51] By his prophecy, Balaam once again enraged Balak,[52] but Balaam reminded him that he could only prophesy what God told him to.[53]

The Third Prophecy[]

Balaam was then brought to the top of Peor overlooking a desolate wasteland, in hopes that he would be able to curse Israel.[54] Balaam had Balak build seven altars and a bull and ram for each one.[55] When Balaam realized that it was pleasing to God to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination (going to meet with God) but looked over at the wilderness.[56] While Balaam was overlooking the nation of Israel encamped by the tribes, the Holy Spirit came to him[57] and so he spoke a message[58] blessing Israel again.[59] Then Balak's anger burned against the prophet Balaam and Balaam was told to go home and would not receive his payment.[60]

Prophecies against Nations[]

Balaam then reminded Balak that he had told his officials that he could only speak what God would tell him, despite any amount of riches he was given.[13][61] Before he returned to his people,[62] Balaam gave the King of Moab a prophecy[63] against his nation of Moab.[64] He then "saw" (revealed by God) the nation of Amalek and gave a prophecy concerning it.[65]

Balaam then gave a prophecy on the Kenites[66] and a prophecy about an attack from Cyprus on the cities of Asshur and Eber.[67] Then Balaam returned home.[62][68]


Later when Moses and the Israelites fought Sihon and the other Kings of Midian Balaam was executed along with Kings of Midian.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Numbers 22:5
  2. 2.0 2.1 Numbers 22:6, 11
  3. Numbers 22:7 (Link)
  4. Numbers 22:8 (Link)
  5. Numbers 22:9 (Link)
  6. Numbers 22:10 (Link)
  7. Numbers 22:12 (Link)
  8. Numbers 22:13 (Link)
  9. Num 22:14 (Link)
  10. Num 22:15 (Link)
  11. Num 22:16 (Link)
  12. Num 22:17 (Link)
  13. 13.0 13.1 Num 22:18
  14. Num 22:19 (Link)
  15. Num 22:20 (Link)
  16. Num 22:21 (Link)
  17. Num 22:22 (Link)
  18. Num 22:23 (Link)
  19. Num 22:24 (Link)
  20. Num 22:25 (Link)
  21. Num 22:26 (Link)
  22. Num 22:27 (Link)
  23. Num 22:28 (Link)
  24. 24.0 24.1 Num 22:30
  25. Num 22:31 (Link)
  26. Num 22:32 (Link)
  27. Num 22:33 (Link)
  28. Num 22:34 (Link)
  29. Num 22:35 (Link)
  30. Num 22:36 (Link)
  31. Num 22:37 (Link)
  32. 32.0 32.1 Num 22:38
  33. Num 22:41 (Link)
  34. Num 23:1-2 (Link)
  35. Num 23:3 (Link)
  36. Num 23:4 (Link)
  37. Num 23:5 (Link)
  38. Num 23:6 (Link)
  39. Num 23:7 (Link)
  40. Num 23:8 (Link)
  41. Num 23:9 (Link)
  42. Num 23:10 (Link)
  43. Num 23:11 (Link)
  44. Num 23:12 (Link)
  45. Num 23:13-14 (Link)
  46. Num 23:15 (Link)
  47. Num 23:16 (Link)
  48. Num 23:17 (Link)
  49. Num 23:18 (Link)
  50. Num 23:19 (Link)
  51. Num 23:20-24 (Link)
  52. Num 23:25 (Link)
  53. Num 23:26 (Link)
  54. Num 23:27-28 (Link)
  55. Num 23:29-30 (Link)
  56. Num 24:1 (Link)
  57. Num 24:2 (Link)
  58. Num 24:3-4 (Link)
  59. Num 24:5-9 (Link)
  60. Num 24:10-11 (Link)
  61. Num 24:12-13 (Link)
  62. 62.0 62.1 Num 24:14
  63. Num 24:15-16 (Link)
  64. Num 24:17-19 (Link)
  65. Num 24:20 (Link)
  66. Num 24:21-24 (Link)
  67. Num 24:23-24 (Link)
  68. Num 24:25 (Link)