lord of the people; foreigner or glutton, as interpreted by
others, the son of Beor, was a man of some rank among the
Midianites (Num. 31:8; compare 16). He resided at Pethor (Deut.
23:4), in Mesopotamia (Num. 23:7). It is evident that though
dwelling among idolaters he had some knowledge of the true God;
and was held in such reputation that it was supposed that he
whom he blessed was blessed, and he whom he cursed was cursed.
When the Israelites were encamped on the plains of Moab, on the
east of Jordan, by Jericho, Balak sent for Balaam "from Aram,
out of the mountains of the east," to curse them; but by the
remarkable interposition of God he was utterly unable to fulfil
Balak's wish, however desirous he was to do so. The apostle
Peter refers (2 Pet. 2:15, 16) to this as an historical event.
In Micah 6:5 reference also is made to the relations between
Balaam and Balak. Though Balaam could not curse Israel, yet he
suggested a mode by which the divine displeasure might be caused
to descend upon them (Num. 25). In a battle between Israel and
the Midianites (q.v.) Balaam was slain while fighting on the
side of Balak (Num. 31:8).
The "doctrine of Balaam" is spoken of in Rev. 2:14, in
allusion to the fact that it was through the teaching of Balaam
that Balak learned the way by which the Israelites might be led
into sin. (See NICOLAITANES T0002725.) Balaam was constrained
to utter prophecies regarding the future of Israel of wonderful
magnificence and beauty of expression (Num. 24:5-9, 17).