I’ve been reading the OT in my quiet times and am up to Numbers. I have questions and not many theories…
1. Who is Balaam and where did he come from?
He seems to just pop out of no where, and all of a sudden God is meeting with him and talking to him and it doesn’t seem like he is an Israelite. This is also very uncharacteristic of how God has been meeting with people so far, unless they are an important part of the covenant (like Abraham, Jacob, Moses). Balaam seems to be the first prophet (apart from Moses); perhaps the first prophet against the nations.
2. Why is God angry with him when he goes with the princes of Moab, even after God tells him to do so (Numb 22:22)?
My only theory on this is that Balaam intended to buy in to Balak’s offer of reward and the bible simply doesn’t mention his intentions. Other than that, it seems like he was obeying the command that God gave him.
One other observation is that it reminds me of Micah (which we are studying at uni).
“Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money.” Micah 3:11a
Moab expected to pay a price for Balaam’s divination (22:7) and expected that the more they rewarded him, the better advantage to them for the prophecy he would give (22:17, “I will reward you handsomely… put a curse on them.”)
Yet, Balaam recognises and acknowledges that “I could not do anything great or small to go beyond the command of the Lord my God” (Num 22:18), and “Can I say just anything? I must speak only what God puts in my mouth” (Num 22:38).
I suppose application-wise, it’s a challenge to speak the truth of God and not tell people what they want to hear. This is something I will be considering as I prepare an evangelistic talk for the first year Speechie group on Monday.