By Theodore Wright.
What was the “Counsel of Balaam” given to the princes of Moab that led them to send their women to seduce the men of Israel in the wilderness?
From the Holy Bible, Numbers chapter 22 talks about how God did not want Balaam (בִּלְעָם) to go to the princes of Moab to curse Israel since God had blessed them. Yet, God did let Balaam go to speak His word after telling him not to since Balaam God wanted Moab and the world to know His will for Israel.
God then sent an angel to block the way of Balaam by sending an angel which Balaam’s donkey saw. Balaam struck the donkey three times for what he thought was the ass misturning. Then God allowed Balaam to see the angel with the LORD again allowing Balaam to go.
In Numbers chapters 23 and 24, Balaam only prophesied good for Israel at God’s command despite the desire of the princes of Moab for him to prophesy evil. Balaam did speak God’s word faithfully.
However, Balaam should have understood the will of God was really for him not to go. Balaam did desire to please God more than these men but still desired much more to be enriched with the reward of these Moabite princes. Balaam was not going to get the reward from them for bringing God’s word to them. He was only going to get paid for bringing a curse upon Israel. This is what lead to Balaam advising the princes of Moab what they could do to bring a curse on Israel. The advise he gave is referred to as the “Counsel of Balaam”.
They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; – 2 Peter 2:15 (NKJV)
Balaam was offered by Balak great reward if he would curse Israel.
And they came to Balaam and said to him, “Thus says Balak the son of Zippor: ‘Please let nothing hinder you from coming to me; for I will certainly honor you greatly, and I will do whatever you say to me. Therefore please come, curse this people for me.’” Then Balaam answered and said to the servants of Balak, “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. – Numbers 22:16-18 (NKJV)
Though Balaam would not speak prophesy beyond what the Lord had him speak, he really did want the reward. He prophesied nothing but God’s blessings upon Israel.
10 Then Balak’s anger was aroused against Balaam, and he struck his hands together; and Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies, and look, you have bountifully blessed them these three times! 11 Now therefore, flee to your place. I said I would greatly honor you, but in fact, the Lord has kept you back from honor.” 12 So Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not also speak to your messengers whom you sent to me, saying, 13 ‘If Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the word of the Lord, to do good or bad of my own will. What the Lord says, that I must speak’? – Numbers 24:10-13 (NKJV)
Balaam was yet hopeful that if he went with Balak he would somehow receive the reward Balak offered. Still, Balak was not pleased with Balaam prophesying God’s blessings upon Israel. After Balaam prophesied further before Balak, the end of Numbers chapter 24 stated…
So Balaam rose and departed and returned to his place; Balak also went his way. – Numbers 24:25 (NKJV)
Immediately, in the next chapter 25, we see the women who came to Israel after Balaam was with the princes of Moab…
Now Israel remained in Acacia Grove, and the people began to commit harlotry with the women of Moab. They invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. So Israel was joined to Baal of Peor, and the anger of the Lord was aroused against Israel. – Numbers 24:1-3 (NKJV)
There was a part not mentioned in the Scriptures here but was commented on later in Numbers chapter 31 and referred to as the “Counsel of Balaam”…
And Moses said to them: “Have you kept all the women alive? Look, these women caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the incident of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. – Numbers 31:15-16 (NKJV)
The “Counsel of Balaam” was mentioned in the book of Micah…
O My people, remember now What Balak king of Moab counseled, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, from Acacia Grove to Gilgal, that you may know the righteousness of the Lord. – Micah 6:5 (NKJV)
The “Counsel of Balaam” is more clearly mentioned in the book of Revelation…
But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
Yes, the Counsel of Balaam is mentioned about in the Holy Bible but alas, you do not find the words of the counsel therein.
However, we do find these words recorded in the writings of Flavius Josephus who later wrote a history on the Jews when he lived in the first century A.D.
The Counsel of Balaam
Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 6, 6 …
But Balak being very angry that the Israelites were not cursed, sent away Balaam without thinking him worthy of any honor. Whereupon, when he was just upon his journey, in order to pass the Euphrates, he sent for Balak, and for the princes of the Midianites, and spake thus to them: – “O Balak, and you Midianites that are here present, (for I am obliged even without the will of God to gratify you,) it is true no entire destruction can seize upon the nation of the Hebrews, neither by war, nor by plague, nor by scarcity of the fruits of the earth, nor can any other unexpected accident be their entire ruin; for the providence of God is concerned to preserve them from such a misfortune; nor will it permit any such calamity to come upon them whereby they may all perish; but some small misfortunes, and those for a short time, whereby they may appear to be brought low, may still befall them; but after that they will flourish again, to the terror of those that brought those mischiefs upon them. So that if you have a mind to gain a victory over them for a short space of time, you will obtain it by following my directions: – Do you therefore set out the handsomest of such of your daughters as are most eminent for beauty, and proper to force and conquer the modesty of those that behold them, and these decked and trimmed to the highest degree able. Then do you send them to be near camp, and give them in charge, that the young men of the Hebrews desire their company, they allow it them; and when they see they are enamored of them, let them take leaves; and if they entreat them to stay, let give their consent till they have persuaded leave off their obedience to their own laws, the worship of that God who established them to worship the gods of the Midianites and for by this means God will be angry at them. Accordingly, when Balaam had suggested counsel to them, he went his way.
As a result of this God commanded…
3 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the Lord forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5 Nevertheless the Lord your God would not listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you. 6 You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever. – Deuteronomy 23:3-6 (NKJV)
In the end, Balaam was slain…
The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them.
– Joshua 13:22 (NKJV)
Beware lest you fall into the same temptation of greed which leads to condemnation…
Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. – Jude 11 (NKJV)
We are saved by grace which is through faith. We are not saved by abandoning faith in God by trusting our own greed. That would not be the wisdom of God. Remember the warnings of
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. – Jude 20-21 (NKJV)