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Balak was the son of Zippor, and was a king of Moab.


The name Balak, or Balaq (בָלָ֧ק), is from the Hebrew verb balaq (בלק), which means "to waste, lay waste, devastate". As such, it seems to have been an appellative for a warrior king. As a title, it would be "The Devastator".


Background and Family[]

The origin of the nation of Moab goes back to the same year as the birth of Isaac, son of Abraham. Abraham's nephew, Lot, had chosen to live in the lush Jordan valley and ended up living in the doomed city of Sodom. Having escaped with his grown daughters, but afraid to live among the pagans, he took them to live with him in the hill country. Without husbands, the two women conspired instead to continue the family line through their father. Moab was the son of the elder sister.[1]

The tribe grew, eventually claiming land from Edomites, Ishmaelites and Midianites. Based on the list of Edomite kings "before there were kings [in] Israel" there was a Moabite presence in the days of Jacob.[2] By the time of Moses, Moab was a major player in the region.

Somewhere about the time of the Passover, a son was born to Zippor (Heb: Bird). He became known as Balak (Heb: the Devastator).

Encounter with Israel[]

When Israelites were piled east of the Jordan River, Balak, in fear of being conquered (as the Amorites were as well), requested for Balaam, a prophet, to curse the Israelites in order to drive them out of the land. Balaam was stopped by God, however, and was sent back to Balak to prophesy to him the future destruction of Moab.


  1. Gen 19:23-38; 19:37 (Link)
  2. Gen 36:31-35 (Link)
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