Posts Tagged ‘Balaam’

Parashah 47: Re’eh (See)

Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17

“See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse — the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot of Adonai your God, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28).

In Hebrew, ‘see’ is re’eh and is the imperative singular like a parent telling a child to ‘see’ something by saying, “Look!”  The singular means that one individual’s response to the commandments will affect the blessing or cursing of the entire nation of Isra’el –– each person is accountable to the others.  The words ‘seer’ or ro’eh means ‘shepherd’ and is derived from the same root as ‘see.’

The word ‘blessing’ in Hebrew is barakah and means ‘to kneel.’  In Jewish thought, the purpose of making a barakah is to ‘kneel before Elohim’ and bless Him as the source of all blessing increasing awareness of Him. When a barakah is made at a meal, the Creator of the food is blessed, not the food.

In general Hebrew blessings begin: ‘Blessed are you Adonai our God, King of the Universe ….’  The blessing for bread is completed with: ‘who brings forth bread from the earth.’ If blessing wine, the blessing is completed with: ’who brings forth the fruit of the wine.’ Our family meal time barachah is completed with: ‘who creates the various kinds of foods.’

One of my favorite Hebrew blessings is called the Shehecheyanu meaning ‘who has given us life.’ While walking down the stairs near the Temple Institute in the Old City of Jerusalem, a Jewish man stopped me, took my hand, and asked if he could bless me. He blessed me with the Shehecheyanu:

Baruch atah Eloheinu melek ha’olam, she-echeyanu, ve’qi’eh’manu ve’higiy’anu lazman hazeh.

Blessed are You, Adonai our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life,
sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.

It was the perfect blessing for my first visit to Jerusalem, and the perfect blessing for Isra’el as they arrived at the place where they would cross the Jordan and enter the Promised Land.  Only because of Adonai who had given them life, sustained them for 40 years in the wilderness, and enabled them to reach that season in time, did they enter the Land of Promise.

The Hebrew word for ‘curse’ is alah.  Like blessings, curses were invoked in the name of Elohim.  This is why Balaam wanted Balak to curse the Israelites. A curse is more than a loss of blessing, it is a powerful use of words or actions to destroy a soul. When spoken, a curse actually invites demonic activity into the lives of those being cursed and the cursor. Curses are so serious that children who curse their parents are to be put to death (Deuteronomy 5:16). An undeserved curse will return on the one who cursed (Proverbs 26:2). When Yeshua cursed the fig tree, it withered up and died (Mark 11:20-21). When cursed, Yeshua says to speak a blessing in return (Luke 6:28).

Alla in Hebrew means ‘curse’ and is similar to the Arabic Allah who is the ‘god’ of Islam.

Blessings and curses result from our faithfulness to Adonai’s commandments.  When we keep the Sabbath day as commanded by Elohim, we receive the blessing of rest and put aside the slavery to the never-ending cycle of work. If one chooses not to remember the Sabbath day as Elohim commanded, they lose the blessing of rest and are cursed in a never-ending enslaved cycle of work.

Hebrew Word Pictures
See or re’eh – ראה – resh, alef, hey
– highest authority first strength, revealed

Blessing or barakah – ברכה – bet, resh, kaf, hey
– family highest authority covers, behold

Curse or alah – אלה – alef, lamed, hey
– first strength urges forward revealed

Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal are mountains west of the Jordan River ‘in the direction of the sunset’ in Canaan near the ‘Pistaschio trees of Moreh.’ These mountains sit in the West Bank near the city of Nablus or Shechem. Mount Ebal is on the northern side of the valley and Mount Gerizim is on the southern.

Pistachio trees, like the Almond, blossom and produce early fruit. These particular Pistachio trees were near Shechem where Abraham had passed, and where the sons of Isra’el committed murder to avenge the dignity of their sister. The specific place was named moreh meaning ‘to teach.’ When the Israelites crossed the Jordan, between the mountains Gerizim and Ebal where there was a grove of Pistachio trees, they would have a time of teaching. They were to put blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal as they learned Adonai’s rules for living in the Land of Promise.

The Place with His Name

“You are to come to the place where Adonai your God will put His name.  He will choose it from all your tribes; and you will seek out that place, which is where He will live, and go there”
(Deuteronomy 12:5).

Adonai gave Isra’el a place to worship Him so they would not serve the Canaanite gods.  At the place where ‘I Am’ put His name, the Tribes of Isra’el would bring their offerings, sacrifices, and tithes.  They would eat in His presence and rejoice because of His blessings.

They were not to offer burnt offerings anywhere else, only in the place where Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh put His name.   They could slaughter meat for food wherever they lived according to how they had been blessed. They were not to eat blood, but pour it out on the ground.

“Just take care not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you are not to eat the life with the meat.  Don’t eat it, but pour it out on the ground like water.  Do not eat it, so that all things will go well with you and your children after you as you do what Adonai sees right” (Deuteronomy 12:16).

Book of Second Opinion

“You will not do things the way we do them here today, where everyone does whatever in his own opinion seems right…” (Deuteronomy 12:8).

We have a family joke whenever we encounter someone who believes their opinion has far greater weight than the D’var Elohim. We say they are quoting from the ‘Book of Second Opinion,’ and sometimes we even add a chapter and verse.

The ‘Book of Second Opinion’ gives everyone the freedom to do what is right in their own eyes rather transforming their behavior to the commandments of Elohim. This isn’t freedom in Christ, it is apostasy from the Torah or ‘lawlessness.’ Of course, each person has a different halacha or way of expressing the commandments of Elohim, but ‘expression’ is different from situational ethics and the ‘Book of Second Opinion Chapter 2, verse 18.’

‘Apostasy’ in Greek is apostasia and means ‘to turn away, pervert, and divorce.’ Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines apostasy as ‘a declension from apostolic teachings.’ ‘Declension’ means ‘a condition of decline or moral deterioration.’ This definition of ‘declension’ is actually found under ‘Sabbath’ in new testament words. According to Vine’s, apostasy is ‘turning way, perverting and divorcing oneself’ from the Torah: the teachings and instructions of Adonai, Yeshua, and the apostles.

Sha’ul describes the ‘great apostasy’ to the Thessalonians: “For the Day [of Adonai] will not come until after the Apostasy has come and the man who separates himself from Torah has been revealed, the one destined for doom. He will oppose himself to everything that people call a god or make an object of worship; he will put himself above them all, so that he will sit in the Temple of God and proclaim that he himself is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

Apostasy isn’t just a denial of Yeshua (Jesus), it is turning away and divorcing oneself from Torah, one of the foundations of faith. Without a solid foundation, the whole building will fall and crumble. Some translations say, ‘man of lawlessness’ because this ‘man’ will deny Torah. Those who separate themselves from Torah are like this ‘lawless man’ and apostatize from the faith. Those who are sanctified, set-apart and ‘Kadosh l’Adonai’ not only remain faithful to Yeshua, but also obey the commandments of Elohim (Revelations 14:12).

“Many will say to Me [Yeshua] on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands]’” (Matthew 7:22,23, AMP).

The Israelites cannot have a ‘Book of Second Opinion’ when they enter the Promised Land because ‘they have not yet arrived at the rest and inheritance that Adonai was giving them’ (Deuteronomy 12:9). This concurs with Yeshua’s words regarding the duration of the Torah (Matthew 5:17-20). Until there is a new heaven and new earth with the New Jerusalem, no one will enter in the eternal Kingdom with the inheritance promised by ‘I am.’ Torah is still in force, and the ‘Book of Second Opinion,’ whether written by Jewish sages or church fathers is just opinions.

Adding and Subtracting

“Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do.  Do not add to it or subtract from it” (Deuteronomy 13:1).

Human nature loves to add to or take away from the D’var Elohim because it allows humanity to be ‘god’ and remain sinful, not perfecting holiness out of reverence for Adonai. Re-defining sin from breaking Elohim commandments to whatever we like or don’t like in the behavior of another person has become the standard for righteousness.

There are denominations that don’t allow music or dancing when the Scriptures clearly encourage these powerful ways to worship ‘I Am.’ Some denominations consider drinking a sin when the Bibles says that getting drunk, not consuming a glass of wine, is a sin.  They forget that Yeshua changed water into wine, and blessed two cups of wine at his Pesach seder.

A cautionary statement about adding to or subtracting from the D’var Elohim needs to be addressed. Taken literally, adding would mean that the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures are the only valid Scriptures. This is not true. Yeshua read from the Prophets in a synagogue validating their ‘addition.’ He used the Prophets and the Psalms to explain his suffering, death, and resurrection to his disciples. He quoted Psalm 22 on the cross. Some of Yeshua’s teachings came directly from the Talmud or oral teachings. Peter and Jude quote from the Book of Enoch, and the Book of Jasher is quoted by Joshua –– both books removed from today’s Bibles. Adding and subtracting needs to be discerned rightly and according to the revelation of Truth encompassing all Scripture.

“For Adonai your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love Adonai your God with all your heart and being.  You are to follow Adonai your God, hear him, obey his mitzvot, listen to what he says, serve him and cling to him; and that prophet or dream is to be put to death, because he urged rebellion against Adonai your God … in order to seduce you away from the path Adonai your God ordered you to follow” (Deuteronomy 13:4-6).  

The False Prophet

Adonai warns about those who use dreams to cause a rebellion against Him. John says to ‘test the spirits’ because not every spirit comes from Elohim (1 John 4:1). Because the D’var Elohim is readily available to everyone, it should be easy to test the prophet or the wolf wearing a sheep coat. Most believers, however, do not study the Scriptures for themselves and lack the knowledge to ‘test the spirits.’

The punishment for a false prophet was death. Since there is no longer a governing court to render justice to the false prophet, rebellious leaders are given a platform, a television show or a youtube channel. Some wolves wearing fleece have mega churches with bank accounts that make them appear righteous, but their twisted teachings and feel-good doctrines deceive everyone who listens them (2 Timothy 3:1-8).

“You are the people of Adonai your God.  You are not to gash yourselves or shave the hair above your foreheads in mourning for the dead, because you are a people set apart as holy for Adonai your God.  Adonai your God has chosen you to be his own unique treasure out of all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:1-2).  

This command about false prophets wasn’t new for Isra’el; it had been given 40 years earlier. Now, it became a reminder to the Israelites that when they entered the Promised Land, they were not to act like the nations –– tattooing and cutting themselves as ritual worship of other gods. Isra’el is Elohim’s unique treasure in all the earth. How we treat the tabernacle of our souls is of great importance to Adonai.

Disgusting Foods

“Because you are a holy people to Adonai your God, you are not to eat anything disgusting”
(Deuteronomy 14:2-3).

Because Isra’el is a holy people, set-apart for Elohim, they were given dietary instructions. The regulations did not mention health and wellness because they were faith-based works of obedience. Sha’ul taught, “We do not abolish Torah by faith. Heaven forbid! On the contrary, we confirm Torah” (Romans 3:31). The Greek word for ‘confirm’ is histemi and means ‘make it stand.’ Leviticus 11 lists the animals that Adonai called ‘clean’ to eat and what He called ‘unclean’ and disgusting. It is faith which confirms His instructions; it is faith make makes His instructions stand thousands of years later.

‘Heaven forbid’ is an idiom for ‘a curse be upon it.’

The Yearly Tithe

“Every year you must take one tenth of everything your seed produces in the field, and eat it in the presence of Adonai your God.  In the place where he chooses, to have his name live you will eat the tenth of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first born of your cattle and sheep, so that you will learn to fear Adonai your God always” (Deuteronomy 14:22-23).

The significance of obeying this command was to fear Elohim forever.  The tithe consisted of one-tenth of the produce, grain, wine, olive oil, cattle, and sheep to be eaten in the presence of Adonai. It was not given weekly at a church service, but was brought once a year to Jerusalem.  If the distance was too far to travel with the produce or livestock, then it was exchanged for money and used to buy the items necessary to fulfill the command at the Temple. Remember the moneychangers?  This was their job, and they perverted it by taking over court of the Gentiles so thatYeshua overturned their tables.

Every three years the tithes were collected in the villages and given to the Levites.  These tithes would be their sustenance and wage for serving at the Altar and teaching the Israelites Torah.

“And Yeshua entered the temple [grounds] and drove out [with force] all who were buying and selling [birds and animals for sacrifice] in the temple area, and He turned over the tables of the moneychangers [who made a profit exchanging foreign money for temple coinage] and the chairs of those who were selling doves [for sacrifice]” (Matthew 21:12, AMP).

In Jerusalem, there are still money changers. They exchange currency: dollars to shekels.


“At the end of every seven years you are to have a sh’mittah” (Deuteronomy 15:1).  
At the sh’mittah, all debt was abolished whether with a native Israelite or a foreigner. Slavery between brothers was dissolved unless the slave wanted to remain in the house of his owner. The owner would then take an awl and pierce through his ear and the man would remain his slave forever.

During the sh’mittah, no planting or harvesting of the land was to be done. The land was to settle or rest, only bringing forth what naturally grew for food. If Isra’el obeyed this command, they would receive a blessing.

Piercing the ear was a sign of permanent slavery (James 4:4).

“You will lend money to many nations without having to borrow, and you will rule over many nations without their ruling over you…. Guard yourself against allowing your heart to entertain the mean-spirited thought that because the seventh year, the year of sh’mittah is at hand, you would be stingy toward your needy brother and not give him anything. God will bless you in all your work, in everything you undertake – for there will always be poor people in the land.  That is why I am giving you this order. You must open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land” (Deuteronomy 15:6, 9-11).

The Mo’edim of Adonai

Moshe’s last words remind the Israelites about the ‘appointed times’ or mo’edim. With his final words, he names the place that bears Adonai’s name – Yerushalayim.

The Israelites were to keep Passover in the month of Aviv. They were to sacrifice the Passover offering only in the place where Adonai put His name, not in any other place.

They were to eat bread without chametz for seven days for the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was to be known as ‘the bread of affliction’ and a reminder of the exact day the Israelites left Egypt.   

They were to count seven weeks from the day the barley harvest began.   On that day, they were to present a voluntary offering and rejoice in the presence of Adonai celebrating the Feast of Weeks.  

They were to keep the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days in the fall after they gathered the produce of the threshing floor and winepress. They were to rejoice before Adonai for seven days.
For each these mo’edim, Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot, all Israelite men were to appear in the presence of Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh at the place where He put His Name – Jerusalem. 

Yeshua and the Blessings

“Prompted by the Spirit, he went into the Temple courts; and when the parents brought in the child Yeshua to do for him what the Torah required, Shim‘on took him [Yeshua] in his arms, made a b’rakhah to God…” (Luke 2:27-28).

“He asked them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and check.’ When they had found out, they said, ‘Five. And two fish.’ Then he ordered all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. They sat down in groups of fifty or a hundred. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, and, looking up toward heaven, made a b’rakhah” (Mark 6:37-41).

“Then Yeshua took the loaves of bread, and, after making a b’rakhah, gave to all who were sitting there, and likewise with the fish, as much as they wanted” (John 6:11).

“However, when Yeshua saw it, he became indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me, don’t stop them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Yes! I tell you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will not enter it!’ And he took them in his arms, laid his hands on them, and made a b’rakhah over them” (Mark 10:14-16).

“Also he [Yeshua]  took a cup of wine, made the b’rakhah, and gave it to them, saying, ‘All of you, drink from it! For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven’” (Matthew 26:27-28).

“He led them out toward Beit-Anyah; then, raising his hands, he said a b’rakhah over them; and as he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, Study Helps, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Parashah 40: Balak (Balak)

Numbers 22:2-25:9
(In a regular year, read with Parashah 39; in a leap year read separately.)

“Now Balak the son of Tzippor saw all that Isra’el had done to the Emori” (Numbers 22:2).

This parashah is about a talking donkey. As a child, I remember hearing about this donkey, but never understood the reason for his chattering.  I knew there was an angel and some man hit his donkey a few times; however, no one in my years of Sunday school or even my early years as a believer taught the reasons for this event. Since Yeshua warns the Congregation in Pergamum about the teachings of Balaam, it is important to understand who this man was and what he did (Revelation 2:14-15).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Balak (Devastator) – בלק – bet, lamed, kof
– the house urges forward what is behind

Balaam (Corrupter of People) or Bil’am – בלעם – bet, lamed, ayin, mem
– the house urges forward to see the chaos

Balak was the King of Moab. He had witnessed what Isra’el had done to the Emorites and was afraid the Israelite multitude might destroy his nation. He meets with the leaders of Midian to plan a way to bring Isra’el down. He writes a message to Balaam asking him to curse Isra’el. He sends the leaders of Midian and Moab along with divining money to Balaam.

“Listen, a people has come out of Egypt, spread over all the land and settled down next to me. Therefore, please come, and curse this people for me, because they are stronger than I am. Maybe I will be able to strike them down and drive them out of the land, for I know that whomever you bless is in fact blessed, and whomever you curse is in fact cursed” (Numbers 22:5-6).

Balaam was from Pethor (Soothsayer) in Mesopotamia near the Euphrates River. This area had become hostile to Isra’el making Balaam an obvious and willing participant in cursing the Israelites. Balaam was a powerful and gifted prophet because whoever and whatever he blessed is blessed and whatever and whoever he cursed is cursed. It appears that Balaam is a god-fearer as he tells the messengers that he must first ask Elohim for an answer to the message.

“God came to Bil‘am and said, ‘Who are these men with you?’ Bil‘am said to God, ‘Balak the son of Tzippor, king of Mo’av, has sent me this message: The people who came out of Egypt have spread over the land; now, come and curse them for me; maybe I will be able to fight against them and drive them out.’ God answered Bil‘am, ‘You are not to go with them; you are not to curse the people, because they are blessed’” (Numbers 22:9-12).

Balaam does not have Elohim’s permission go with the messengers nor to curse Isra’el because they are blessed. Balaam tells the messengers Elohim’s response and they return to Balak. However, he doesn’t tell them Adonai’s complete response: Isra’el cannot be cursed because they are blessed. He cannot curse those whom Adonai has blessed, rendering him a powerless diviner.

Balak doesn’t back down and bribes Balaam. Along with the pledge of a great reward, Balak promises complete obedience to Balaam’s instructions.

Even if Balak were to give him his palace filled with silver and gold, Balaam could not go beyond the word of “Adonai my God” to do anything great or small. He tells the princes to spend the night and he will inquire of Elohim once more. This time, however, Elohim tells him he may go with the men “if they summon him,” but only to do whatever Elohim tells him.

Without being summoned, Balaam gets up in the morning, saddles his donkey and leaves with the princes of Moab. Elohim becomes angry with Balaam and his rebellious attitude. In order to get his attention ‘I Am’ uses the donkey and the ‘angel of Adonai.’

Balaam is riding his donkey when the ‘angel of Adonai’ blocks the pathway. Only the donkey can see the angel with his sword drawn so the donkey turns off the path and into a field. Balaam beats the donkey to get it back on the path. They go on a little further to a place where the path narrows between a stone wall and some vineyards and the angel stands in the path again. The donkey sees the angel and pushes against the wall crushing Balaam’s foot. Balaam beats the donkey a second time. The angel moves ahead to where the path became so tight there is no turning right or left. The donkey sees the angel again and lies down. Balaam becomes so angry that he beats the donkey a third time with his stick. ‘I Am’ enables the donkey to speak:

“What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

“Bil‘am said to the donkey, ‘It’s because you’ve been making a fool of me! I wish I had a sword in my hand; I would kill you on the spot!’”

“The donkey said to Bil‘am, ‘I’m your donkey, right? You’ve ridden me all your life, right? Have I ever treated you like this before?’”

“‘No,’ he admitted.”

“Then Adonai opened Bil‘am’s eyes, so that he could see the angel of Adonai standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand, and he bowed his head and fell on his face. The angel of Adonai said to him, ‘Why did you hit your donkey three times like that? I have come out here to bar your way, because you are rushing to oppose me’” (Numbers 22:28-32).

Balaam learns he remains alive only because of the donkey. He fears Elohim enough to admit his sin. He offers to turn around and go home, but the ‘angel of Adonai’ tells him to go with the men, but only say what he is told to say.

Balak meets Balaam at the Arnon border at the far end of his country. He is quite frustrated with Balaam and asks what has taken him so long to arrive.

“Here, I’ve come to you! But I have no power of my own to say anything. The word that God puts in my mouth is what I will say” (Numbers 22:38).

First Word of Elohim
Balak takes Baalam to the high places of Ba’al so he can see some of the Israelite camp. He believes if Balaam can actually see the nation of Isra’el, he can curse them. Baalam builds seven altars and offers sheep and cattle on the high places of Ba’al.  He seeks the word of Elohim and makes his first pronouncement:

“Balak, the king of Mo’av, brings me from Aram, from the eastern hills, saying, ‘Come, curse Ya‘akov for me; come and denounce Isra’el.’ How am I to curse those whom God has not cursed? How am I to denounce those whom Adonai has not denounced? From the top of the rocks I see them, from the hills I behold them — yes, a people that will dwell alone and not think itself one of the nations. Who has counted the dust of Ya’akov or numbered the ashes of Isra’el? May I die as the righteous die! May my end be like theirs!” (Numbers 23:7-10)

Balak is angry; Balaam has blessed those he was hired to curse.

Second Word of Elohim
Balak takes Balaam through the field of Tzofim to the top of the Pisgah Range so Baalam can see “some of the Israelites, but not all of them” (Numbers 23:13).   Tzofim means ‘watchers’ in Hebrew; the same word used for the fallen angels in the Book of Enoch. Pisgah means ‘cleft’ in Hebrew, like the ‘cleft of the rock’ where Moshe was hidden by Adonai. Again, Balaam builds seven altars and sacrifices a bull and ram. He tells Balak to wait by the burnt offerings while he inquires of Elohim.  He makes his second pronouncement:

“Get up, Balak, and listen! Turn your ears to me, son of Tzippor! God is not a human who lies or a mortal who changes his mind. When he says something, he will do it; when he makes a promise, he will fulfill it. Look, I am ordered to bless; when he blesses, I can’t reverse it. No one has seen guilt in Ya’akov, or perceived perversity in Isra’el; Adonai their God is with them and acclaimed as king among them. God, who brought them out of Egypt, gives them the strength of a wild ox; thus one can’t put a spell on Ya’akov, no magic will work against Isra’el. It can now be said of Ya‘akov and Isra’el, What is this that God has done?’Here is a people rising up like a lioness; like a lion he rears himself up — he will not lie down till he eats up the prey and drinks the blood of the slain” (Numbers 23:18-24).

Balak responds; if Balaam won’t curse them, then he certainly shouldn’t bless them!

The first two times Balaam sets out to curse Isra’el, he builds seven altars and sacrifices sheep, cattle, rams, and bulls.  These offerings are not done at the command of Elohim; nor are they done in the place where Adonai has put His name. Balaam is using the sacrifices to divine false gods or ‘watchers’ to enable him to curse Isra’el. Each time he is disappointed because he can only speak the words of Elohim and bless Isra’el.

Third Word of Elohim
Balak takes Balaam to see the entire Israelite camp where he believes Balaam can curse them.  They go to the top of the mountain of Ba’al P’or overlooking the desert.  This time Balaam does not rely on divination, but “looked out and saw Isra’el encamped tribe by tribe and the Spirit of God came on him and he spoke his message” (Numbers 24:1-2).  He makes his third pronouncement: 

“This is the speech [prophecy] of Bil‘am, son of B’or; the speech of the man whose eyes have been opened; the speech of him who hears God’s words; who sees what Shaddai sees, who has fallen, yet has open eyes: ‘How lovely are your tents, Ya’akov; your encampments, Isra’el! They spread out like valleys, like gardens by the riverside, like succulent aloes planted by Adonai, like cedar trees next to the water. Water will flow from their branches, their seed will have water aplenty. Their king will be higher than Agag and his kingdom lifted high. God, who brought them out of Egypt, gives them the strength of a wild ox. They will devour the nations opposing them, break their bones, pierce them with their arrows. When they lie down they crouch like a lion, or like a lioness — who dares to rouse it? Blessed be all who bless you! Cursed be all who curse you!” (Numbers 24:3-9)

Balak blazes with anger against Balaam. He strikes his hands together and says, “I summoned you to curse my enemies. But here, you have done nothing but bless them –– three times already! Now you had better escape to your own place. I had planned to reward you very well, but now Adonai has deprived you of payment” (Numbers 24:10-11). Balak did not appreciate that this renowned prophet who through diving false gods could not curse his enemies for profit. Balak is so angry that he sends Balaam back to his own country.

“May those who bless Isra’el be blessed and those who curse Isra’el be cursed!” (Numbers 24:9)

These words came out of the mouth of a prophet from a nation that hated Isra’el. Elohim would not allow him to use his prophetic gift to curse His chosen people. In fact, the words that Balaam spoke through the Ruach Elohim have been repeated millions of times over the centuries. Those nations who curse Isra’el will be cursed; those nations who bless Isra’el will be blessed.

With the Ruach Elohim on him, Balaam lost the ability to speak his own words as Adonai spoke through him. Balaam’s spiritual eyes were opened to see the “tents of Jacob, the dwelling place of Isra’el” as Adonai saw them: a garden beside a river like aloes and cedars planted by waters.  He didn’t see the barren desert, but the living water of the Ruach Elohim flowing through the camps (Numbers 24:5-6). Because Balaam had blessed Isra’el, the blessing came back upon him.

Fourth Word of Elohim
Before Balaam is allowed to return home, Adonai has the last word. He gives Balaam a prophetic vision for the acharit-hayamim (last days):

“This is the speech [prophecy] of Bil‘am, son of B’or; the speech of the man whose eyes have been opened; the speech of him who hears God’s words; who knows what ‘Elyon knows, who sees what Shaddai sees, who has fallen, yet has open eyes: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not soon — a star will step forth from Ya’akov, a scepter will arise from Isra’el, to crush the corners of Mo’av and destroy all descendants of Shet. His enemies will be his possessions — Edom and Se‘ir, possessions. Isra’el will do valiantly, From Ya‘akov will come someone who will rule, and he will destroy what is left of the city” (Numbers 24:15-19).

Balaam is given a vision of the coming Messiah, the redeemer who is the star from Jacob and the scepter from Isra’el. The Hebrew word for ‘star’ is kochab and refers to Abraham’s descendants being as numerous as the stars. The ‘scepter’ refers to the Tribe of Judah from which King Messiah will come. According to the Mishnah, there are two redeemers mentioned in this passage: King David who Balaam sees, but not now, who will save Isra’el from her enemies, and King Messiah who Balaam beholds, but not soon, who will save Isra’el at the end of time.

The ‘angel of Adonai’ is the same ‘angel of Adonai’ that wrestled with Jacob before his name was changed to Isra’el. The ‘angel of Adonai’ says Baalam was “rushing to oppose me” (Numbers 22:32). Balaam was not rushing to oppose an angel, a messenger of Elohim. In the prophecy, Balaam says, “I behold him” (Numbers 24:17). In Hebrew, the word is chazah and means ‘perceive with the eyes.’ Baalam perceived with his eyes, Yeshua, the Commander of Adonai’s armies blocking his path and holding the sword of His word.

Amalek will eventually be destroyed and Canaan will be wasted and taken captive to Assyria near the Tigris River. Even Assyria and Eber will be destroyed. Moab will be destroyed by King David (2 Samuel 8:2).

When Balaam was done prophesying, he went home; Balak also went his own way.

The Plague of Abominations

“They yoked themselves to the Baal of P’or and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods”
(Psalm 106:28).

Soon after Baalam’s prophecies, Isra’el began committing sexual sins with Moabite women and eating foods sacrificed to idols. They sacrificed to Ba’al P’or, a Canaanite god, whose worship involved complete depravity consisting of defecating on the god-idol. There is one account of  Ba’al P’or referenced in the Talmud when a Jewish man defecated at the idol and then wiped himself on its nose.  Those who worshiped Ba’al P’or considered this action a high act of worship though it was an abomination to Elohim.

Adonai’s anger blazed against Isra’el. He had Moshe gather the Israelite leaders together and hang them facing east, toward the sun to appease His anger. The judges of Isra’el were put to death along with everyone who had sacrificed to Ba’al P’or.

Yeshua and Pergamum
Revelation 2:2-17

Yeshua refers to himself in his message to Pergamum as the “one who has the sharp double-edged sword” (Revelation 2:12).  The double-edged sword is a description of the Word of Elohim and how it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. When Balaam’s donkey saw the ‘angel of Adonai,’ the angel held this sword.

Pergamum was a city in ancient Greece located in Asia Minor some miles inland from the Aegean Sea.  This city had multiple shrines for the worship of Athena, Dionysus, and Zeus. The Great Altar of Zeus partially remains today on the Acropolis; the other part is in a museum in Berlin, Germany.

Yeshua knows the Adversary has his throne in Pergamum, hates the Word of Elohim, and abhors Isra’el. Pergamum’s battle is with the Adversary and overcoming the twisting of Adonai’s word along with the hatred he spews towards the chosen people.

Part of the Adversary’s altar is found in Germany, the place where the evil one twisted the Word of Elohim and threw his hatred onto the Jewish people in the Holocaust.

The congregation in Pergamum is commended for holding onto Yeshua’s name and standing against multi-god worship (Proverbs 30:4).  Over the centuries, the Adversary has played a major role in changing the Savior’s Hebrew name, Yeshua, into the Greek rendering, Jesus, that has its root in the Greek god, Zeus. Using the name the Father gave for His Son set Pergamum people free from demons and the worship of Zeus. This congregation watched a faithful follower of Yeshua, who cast out many demons, be martyred.  According to Wikipedia,  Antipas was tortured and executed in a bronze bull-shaped altar –– the Great Altar of Zeus.

There were some believers in Pergamum, however, who held to the teachings of Baalam who taught Balak to set a trap for the Israelites.  This trap enticed them to take part in sexual immorality and eat foods sacrificed to idols. Once Balaam understood that he could not curse Isra’el, he taught Balak how to entice the Israelites to sin.

When missionaries go into the world and preach a ‘Jesus’ who doesn’t keep the Sabbath, doesn’t celebrate the Biblical holy days, and eats all ‘unclean’ food, they also ‘entice Isra’el to sin.’ Recently, our family received a letter asking us to support a young woman going on a mission trip to Isra’el. She needed to raise thousands of dollars to ‘take the love of Jesus’ to the Jewish people. We knew she had been raised with anti-semitic doctrines so we could not support her. Though her message may appear to be one of love, it will not include repentance and returning to the Torah of Adonai. She will only ‘entice’ the Jewish people into sin and make impotent the good news of Yeshua.

The double-edged sword of Yeshua’s mouth will make war with those who curse Isra’el. Those who twist the eternal covenants given to the Jews blame those same Jews for everything from killing ‘Jesus’ millennia ago to whatever happens in the stock market today.   Balak was warned by Baalam, and Yeshua warns Pergamum. The nations and churches hostile to Isra’el today should heed those warnings.  Isra’el is still Adonai’s nation; the Jewish people are still His chosen people. The land remains His Land of Promise; His Name continues to reside in Jerusalem.  “Those who curse Isra’el will be cursed; those who bless Isra’el will be blessed” (Numbers 24:9).  

Believers in Pergamum who overcome the teachings of Baalam and Balak will receive hidden manna. A jar of manna was kept ‘hidden’ in the Ark of the Covenant as a testimony of Adonai’s physical provision for the Israelites in the wilderness. This manna is the spiritual nourishment of Adonai’s word needed for being an overcomer in the Adversary’s world; Yeshua reveals himself to be the ‘hidden manna’ (Psalm 78:24-25, John 6:51).

The overcomer in Pergamum will also receive a white stone with a new name on it. A white stone was given to the victor of a race (Galatians 5:7, 1 Corinthians 9:24). Believers in Pergamum were running a race, only it became hindered by the teachings of Baalam, the sins of sexual immorality and idolatry that needed to be overcome in order to receive their reward.

Yeshua, the Double-Edged Sword

“See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged sword — it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)

“Don’t suppose that I have come to bring peace to the Land. It is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword! For I have come to set a man against his father a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, so that a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Whoever loves his father or mother more than he loves me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than he loves me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:34-37).

“In his {Yeshua’s] right hand he held seven stars, out of his mouth went a sharp double-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Revelation 1:16).

“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Pergamum, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword…’” (Revelation 2:12).

“The armies of heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him [Yeshua] on white horses. And out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations — “He will rule them with a staff of iron.” It is he who treads the winepress from which flows the wine of the furious rage of Adonai, God of heaven’s armies” (Revelation 19:14-15).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, Study Helps, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.