Balaam, A True Prophet of God, Loved the Wages of Unrighteousness. A Man Full of Greed Who Ran Hastily Towards the Things of this World, and Was Judged by God 

Balaam is mostly mentioned in Numbers chapters 22-24. When the Children of Israel came up out of Egypt they walked around in a wilderness for forty years (Numbers 14:33). The Lord led them in the plains of Moab where they camped.  At this time, Balak king of Moab sent for him to prophecy against the Israelites to destroy them. For he had a reputation, “For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed” (Numbers 22:6; NIV). 

Interesting that Balaam was a true prophet of God that was being raised up; though he was not an Israelite. However, somehow, God revealed Himself to him[1]. He understood the laws of God[2], although at this time, he probably never heard of Moses.

Who He Was and Where He Came From

His name in Hebrew word is the word Bil`am meaning “not of the people”. His name is the same in Greek as in English, but means “perhaps”. According to Bible Hub “the later Jews saw in him a most abandoned deceiver”. He was a false teacher.

Peter wrote and said, “he loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15). Jude said he was full of greed (1:11), and Jesus in Revelation associated him with false doctrine
(Revelation 2:14).  

Obviously, his name was a popular name at the time, because the Word points out he was the son of Beor which means “burning, torch, or lamp”[3]. This is a counterfeit of the true light—Jesus (John 8:12). This shows a generational curse in his family line[4][5].

And we know according to the Word he was from a city called Pethor. Pethor is the Hebrew word Pĕthowr meaning soothsayer; a city in Mesopotamia located on a river[6] (Num 22:5). This shows us that Balaam lived under a principality of soothsaying, which is the counterfeit of prophecy. 

Balaam

Balaam's Greed Which Caused Him to Put a Stumbling Block in Front of Israel and God's Judgement

So, he is called of God to be a true prophet. But because of the generational curse that ran in the family and the principality which influenced him, he was consumed with greed. This greed separated him from the people of God, causing uncertainty and doubt in his walk with God. This became his downfall. However, after reading Numbers Chapters 22-24 the Word reads, “And Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way” (Numbers 24:25).

Now if it would have ended here I believe God would have raised him up in that region to be His spokesman in the earth. he could had been used by God to turn entire nations around to come to the saving knowledge of Jehovah. But the story doesn’t end there.

We understand from further studying he counseled Balak to bring the woman of his people and go down to seduce the men and to worship their gods. (Numbers 31:16). He knew that sexual immorality would remove the hedge of protection from God’s people. God immediately judged His people and removed the sin (Numbers 25). Then commanded Moses to arm Israel and go fight against the Midianites (Numbers 31:1). And the Word says: “Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them” (Joshua 13:22).

He desired God to curse Israel that 1) Balak was going to pay him riches 2) that he might develop a name for himself. When Balaam saw that God would not be moved to curse the people, Balaam put a “stumbling block” (Revelation 2:14) in front of God’s chosen.


[1]We know this in two ways: first, in Num 22:8 he referred to God as Jehovah. This is the same name God revealed to His People in the Old Testament. Also, he understood the sin of sexual immorality, and how Jehovah judges this sin.

[2]Later we’ll read how he enticed the Children of Israel to commit sexual immorality. He knew that God would immediately judge this sin. This shows that he had knowledge of Jehovah’s ways.

[3]If his name wasn’t popular it wouldn’t have said who his dad was.

[4]A generational curse is an iniquity passed from generation to generation (Exodus 34:7).

[5]The enemy often parades himself as light (2 Cor 11:14).

[6]The enemy is not an original. Everything he does mimics the things of God. Pethor was located on a river. Spiritually speaking this is saying that soothsaying flows like a river. This is exactly how prophecy flows: “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38).

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