Author: Ron Graham


The Error of Balaam
—2nd Peter 2:15-16

The story of Balaam, referred to by Peter (2Peter 2:15-16), is one of the strange yet true stories of the Bible. It is found in Numbers 22,23,24.

While the Israelite multitude was camped in Moab listening to Moses, the Moabites and Midianites were receiving oracles from God through Balaam —one of those many prophets whom God had dispersed throughout the world since the dawn of history. . Balaam was of Mesopotamian extraction (Deuteronomy 23:4). He was therefore a foreigner among the Ammonites and Moabites (the name Balaam apparently means foreigner). He was considered by them to be a diviner or soothsayer of considerable power.

The intrusion of the Israelites alarmed Balak, king of Moab. He called upon the services of of Balaam, who had a reputation for powerful divining. Balak wanted Balaam to put a curse upon the Israelites so as to stop their progress.

1 What Balaam did right

Balaam refused to make any pronouncement other than what God says. Even though the king pressed Balaam for another message, Balaam would give him none but God’s. The king wanted a curse upon the Israelites, but Balaam gave them a blessing. Over and over the leaders of Moab asked Balaam to have another go at divining the message they wanted. Each time the Lord gave Balaam a stronger version of the truth, and told him to pronounce a blessing instead of a curse. Balaam repeated the blessing faithfully, defying the king. His attitude was, "I must be careful to speak what the Lord puts in my mouth." (Numbers 23:12).

2 Bible Blasts Balaam

Although Balaam was right to speak only what God told him to speak, Balaam gets very bad press repeatedly in the Bible...

3 What Balaam did wrong

4 How God dealt with Balaam

More on Balaam...

ico Teaching in Moab

—By Moses God instructed the Israelites who were on the verge of taking possession of the promised land. God also counselled the nations in that land through prophets such as Balaam (Deuteronomy 1-34). Touch the button title to go to that page.