Balak, the King of Moab was frightened by what
Israel had done to the mighty Emorite kings, Sihon
and Og. He sent messengers to Bilam to help him
defeat Israel by weakening them through imprecation.
Bilam, however, did not go with Balak's messengers.
“Return to your land for G-d refuses to allow me to
go with you” (Numbers 22:13). Balak sent messengers
a second time but Bilam stood his ground. “If Balak
were to give me a house full of silver and gold, I
would be unable to transgress the word of G-d”
G-d allowed Bilam to travel with the messengers of
Balak with the condition that Bilam can only do or
say what G-d places in his mind.
When Bilam traveled to Balak, King of Moab, G-d was
unhappy with Bilam's intentions. God sent forth an
angel and warned Balak that, if he does not follow
G-d's instructions, he will perish.
Bilam made three attempts to curse Israel but
failed. Each time, Bilam was forced to say what G-d
had placed in his mind – blessings.
Apparently even the prophets of the nations of the
world understand that G-d alone controls the
The Ralbag asks (Toelet Hashlishi), if G-d controls
every facet of the world what difference does it
make if Bilam curses the Jewish people? Why is it
necessary to warn Bilam numerous times to not curse
Israel? The Ralbag answers that G-d was doing this
for Israel's benefit. G-d did not want Bilam to
curse Israel for one reason; the next time G-d
punishes Israel, the Jews should know their
suffering is punishment for their sins and not
because of someone’s curse.
Bilam’s curse would have provided us with an excuse
for the Jewish Nation to not repent for their
mistakes – the next time G-d punishes Israel. By
making sure Bilam did not curse the Jewish people,
G-d taught us that Israel has no excuses to not
repent. From this week’s parsha, we learn that
Israel's punishments, for their lack of Teshuva,
repentance, came directly from G-d and not from any