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A-Z » Balaam

Definition

Old Testament (non-Israelite) prophet whom Balak, king of Moab, urged to curse the invading Israelites for a fee. The Bible says that Balaam's donkey saw and recognised an angel sent to block their path. Balaam did not recognise the angel and the donkey is said to have rebuked Balaam audibly (Numbers 22:4-35).

  • English Standard Version
  • King James Version
1Then the people of Israel set out and camped in the plains of Moab beyond the Jordan at Jericho. 2And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3And Moab was in great dread of the people, because they were many. Moab was overcome with fear of the people of Israel. 4And Moab said to the elders of Midian, This horde will now lick up all that is around us, as the ox licks up the grass of the field. So Balak the son of Zippor, who was king of Moab at that time, 5sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor at Pethor, which is near the River in the land of the people of Amaw, to call him, saying, Behold, a people has come out of Egypt. They cover the face of the earth, and they are dwelling opposite me. 6Come now, curse this people for me, since they are too mighty for me. Perhaps I shall be able to defeat them and drive them from the land, for I know that he whom you bless is blessed, and he whom you curse is cursed. 7So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the fees for divination in their hand. And they came to Balaam and gave him Balak's message. 8And he said to them, Lodge here tonight, and I will bring back word to you, as the Lord speaks to me. So the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam. 9And God came to Balaam and said, Who are these men with you? 10And Balaam said to God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, has sent to me, saying, 11Behold, a people has come out of Egypt, and it covers the face of the earth. Now come, curse them for me. Perhaps I shall be able to fight against them and drive them out. 12God said to Balaam, You shall not go with them. You shall not curse the people, for they are blessed. 13So Balaam rose in the morning and said to the princes of Balak, Go to your own land, for the Lord has refused to let me go with you. 14So the princes of Moab rose and went to Balak and said, Balaam refuses to come with us. 15Once again Balak sent princes, more in number and more honorable than these. 16And they came to Balaam and said to him, Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: Let nothing hinder you from coming to me, 17for I will surely do you great honor, and whatever you say to me I will do. Come, curse this people for me. 18But Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God to do less or more. 19So you, too, please stay here tonight, that I may know what more the Lord will say to me. 20And God came to Balaam at night and said to him, If the men have come to call you, rise, go with them; but only do what I tell you. 21So Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey and went with the princes of Moab. 22But God's anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road. 24Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side. 25And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam's foot against the wall. So he struck her again. 26Then the angel of the Lord went ahead and stood in a narrow place, where there was no way to turn either to the right or to the left. 27When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam. And Balaam's anger was kindled, and he struck the donkey with his staff. 28Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times? 29And Balaam said to the donkey, Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you. 30And the donkey said to Balaam, Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way? And he said, No. 31Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his drawn sword in his hand. And he bowed down and fell on his face. 32And the angel of the Lord said to him, Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to oppose you because your way is perverse before me. 33The donkey saw me and turned aside before me these three times. If she had not turned aside from me, surely just now I would have killed you and let her live. 34Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, I have sinned, for I did not know that you stood in the road against me. Now therefore, if it is evil in your sight, I will turn back. 35And the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, Go with the men, but speak only the word that I tell you. So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak. 36When Balak heard that Balaam had come, he went out to meet him at the city of Moab, on the border formed by the Arnon, at the extremity of the border. 37And Balak said to Balaam, Did I not send to you to call you? Why did you not come to me? Am I not able to honor you? 38Balaam said to Balak, Behold, I have come to you! Have I now any power of my own to speak anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that must I speak. 39Then Balaam went with Balak, and they came to Kiriath-huzoth. 40And Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and sent for Balaam and for the princes who were with him. 41And in the morning Balak took Balaam and brought him up to Bamoth-baal, and from there he saw a fraction of the people.
1And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in the plains of Moab on this side Jordan by Jericho. 2And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. 3And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. 4And Moab said unto the elders of Midian, Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field. And Balak the son of Zippor was king of the Moabites at that time. 5He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me: 6Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me: peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land: for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed. 7And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand; and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak. 8And he said unto them, Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word again, as the LORD shall speak unto me: and the princes of Moab abode with Balaam. 9And God came unto Balaam, and said, What men are these with thee? 10And Balaam said unto God, Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab, hath sent unto me, saying, 11Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, which covereth the face of the earth: come now, curse me them; peradventure I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. 12And God said unto Balaam, Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed. 13And Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you. 14And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said, Balaam refuseth to come with us. 15And Balak sent yet again princes, more, and more honorable than they. 16And they came to Balaam, and said to him, Thus saith Balak the son of Zippor, Let nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me: 17For I will promote thee unto very great honor, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me: come therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people. 18And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. 19Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more. 20And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. 21And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab. 22And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. 23And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. 24But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side. 25And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again. 26And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. 27And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff. 28And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times? 29And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee. 30And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay. 31Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face. 32And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me: 33And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive. 34And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again. 35And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak. 36And when Balak heard that Balaam was come, he went out to meet him unto a city of Moab, which is in the border of Arnon, which is in the utmost coast. 37And Balak said unto Balaam, Did I not earnestly send unto thee to call thee? wherefore camest thou not unto me? am I not able indeed to promote thee to honor? 38And Balaam said unto Balak, Lo, I am come unto thee: have I now any power at all to say any thing? the word that God putteth in my mouth, that shall I speak. 39And Balaam went with Balak, and they came unto Kirjathhuzoth. 40And Balak offered oxen and sheep, and sent to Balaam, and to the princes that were with him. 41And it came to pass on the morrow, that Balak took Balaam, and brought him up into the high places of Baal, that thence he might see the utmost part of the people.
A 'testament' is a covenant or binding agreement and is a term used in the Bible of God's relationship with his people). The sacred writings of Judaism (the Hebrew Bible). These also form the first part of the Christian Bible.
Descendant of Israel (Jacob) and occupant of Israel.
Someone who conveys God's message to human beings or speaks about the future sometimes through words alone, sometimes through dramatic actions.
Calling on / use of supernatural power to bring trouble or harm to something / someone.
The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament scriptures inherited from Judaism, together with the New Testament, drawn from writings produced from c.40-125CE, which describe the life of Jesus and the establishment of the Christian church.
Associated with peace rather than war, and therefore appropriate as the animal ridden by Jesus when he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Supernatural beings closely linked with the work of God; his messengers, traditionally portrayed as having a winged human form.