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Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. - Numbers 22:2

  • Balak, the king of Moab, persuades the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites so that he can defeat them and drive them out of the region. However, Balaam blesses the Children of Israel instead and prophesies that Israel's enemies will be defeated. (22:2-24:25)
  • God punishes the Israelites with a plague for consorting with the Moabite women and their god. The plague is stayed after Pinchas kills an Israelite man and his Midianite woman. (25:1-9)

When do we read Balak?

2017 Jul 8
/14 Tammuz, 5777
2018 Jun 30
/17 Tammuz, 5778


  • By Joseph A. Skloot

    This week's Torah reading, Parashat Balak, helps us consider the effects of persecution on our psyches. In it, we encounter Balaam, a prophet for hire, whom the Moabite king Balak enlists to curse the Israelites. Balaam, however, is unable to fulfill his commission. Balaam recounts:

    From Aram has Balak brought me,
    Moab's king from the hills of the East:
    Come, curse me Jacob, Come, tell Israel's doom!
    How can I damn whom God has not damned,
    How doom when the Eternal has not doomed?
    As I see them from the mountain tops,
    Gaze on them from the heights,
    There is a people that dwells apart,
    Not reckoned among the nations, . . . (Numbers 23:7-9)

    Balaam, looking down at the Children of Israel's camp from the heights of the surrounding peaks, sums up the people's history up to that point and well into the future: "There is a people that dwells apart, / Not reckoned among the nations," he sings... Continue Reading

  • Torah for Tots

    …Blessed are they who bless you, accursed are they who curse you.

    -Numbers 24:9

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