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Bible Dictionaries

People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Balaam (bâ'lam, or bâ'la-am), not of the people, i.e., a foreigner. The son of Beor or Bosor, and a native of Pethor, on the Euphrates. Numbers 22:5. Evidently he was an unrighteous man, but was selected for a special mission, as in some other cases. See 1 Samuel 10:10; 1 Kings 13:18-20; Matthew 7:22; John 11:51. He had the reputation of a famous diviner. When the Hebrews were journeying to Canaan, Balak king of Moab, sent for Balaam, to curse the Hebrew armies. Balaam ultimately accepted the tempting offer, and returned with the messengers to Moab. On his way he was miraculously informed that his course was wicked and perverse; and he was effectually restrained by the beast on which he rode from doing what Balak had sent for him to do. So far from cursing, he was led to pronounce a prophetic blessing on the Hebrews, in language which, for eloquence and force, is hardly surpassed in the whole range of Hebrew poetry. Balaam, however, seems to have suggested to Balak a much more certain method of destroying them. This was by causing the young women of Moab to inveigle the Hebrews into the impure and idolatrous worship of Baal-Peor. The stratagem was successful, and 24,000 Hebrews were slain. Numbers 31:16; 2 Peter 2:15; Judges 1:11; Revelation 2:14. Balaam himself fell shortly afterwards in an engagement between the Hebrews and the Midianites. Numbers 31:8; Joshua 13:22.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Balaam'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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