3.44 Numbers -- Balaam's Curse
The next event with major significance to a study of racial teachings was Balaam's attempts to curse Israel. This episode occurs over three chapters (Num 22-24), and gives us great insight into both the contemporary historical situation and into God's perspective on the nations. Balaam was sort of an inter-religious shaman-for-hire, a mercenary prophet, outside the Jewish prophetic tradition -- yet in touch with authentic spirituality. Nowhere does the Bible depict him as a faker, a lying psychic, a charlatan. In fact, he ends up speaking blessings over Israel that came directly from the true God, in spite of his own wish to curse them. In Num 24:2, the text explicitly states that the Spirit of God came upon him.
At this time, Israel was stumbling around in the Transjordan bumping into settled peoples, causing them great anxiety. Balak, king of Moab, made an alliance with the leaders of Midian to oppose Israel, but not by going to war. Instead, they hired a prophet to put a curse on Israel. This was believed to have great power:
"Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the country. For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed" (Num 22:6).
After considerable interaction with Balak's representatives, and with God, Balaam consented to accompany Balak.