Numbers 24:16

Hebrew Bible

14 And now, I am about to go back to my own people. Come now, and I will advise you as to what this people will do to your people in future days.” 15 Then he uttered this oracle: “The oracle of Balaam son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eyes are open, 16 the oracle of the one who hears the words of God, and who knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, although falling flat on the ground with eyes open: 17 ‘I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not close at hand. A star will march forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab, and the heads of all the sons of Sheth.

Jude 1:11

New Testament

10 But these men do not understand the things they slander, and they are being destroyed by the very things that, like irrational animals, they instinctively comprehend. 11 Woe to them! For they have traveled down Cain’s path, and because of greed have abandoned themselves to Balaam’s error; hence, they will certainly perish in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These men are dangerous reefs at your love feasts, feasting without reverence, feeding only themselves. They are waterless clouds, carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit—twice dead, uprooted;

 Notes and References

"... Balaam was another somewhat ambiguous figure (like Lot or Esau) whose portrayal troubled ancient interpreters. On the one hand, he seemed unarguably good. He was a true prophet of God, a man who "knows the knowledge of the Most High" (Numbers 24:16) and whose effectiveness at blessing and cursing (Numbers 22:6) could hardly have existed without God's help. In the Bible, Balaam steadfastly refused to say anything not authorized by God, repeatedly scorning the pleadings of royalty and the promises of certain gain that stood behind them. What is more, Balaam's words were unequivocally favorable to Israel, and he even predicted the coming of their long-awaited messiah. How could such a figure be thought of as anything but good? On the other hand, the whole episode of Balaam's balking, talking donkey did not show him in a good light. It was as if Scripture wished to say that any dumb animal would make a better prophet than Balaam ... Perhaps an objective evaluation of this conflicting evidence would nevertheless find that Balaam's positive characteristics outweighed his negative ones. Yet ancient interpreters by and large chose the opposite path: Balaam became 'Balaam the Wicked,' the prophet for hire who was only interested in his own material gain and self-aggrandizement ..."

Kugel, James L. The Bible as it Was (pp. 482-483) Harvard University Press, 1998

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