|Bilam may be a prophet
but he's also a Rasha! He still believes that he can just
get up and curse the Bnei Yisroel.
The next morning Bilam sets
out to curse the Bnei Yisroel. Balak is also a great
magician, so he joins Bilam.
Bilam knows that Hashem
doesn't want him to curse the Jews, but he has a plan: There is
a moment in the morning when Hashem is angry. Hashem
is judging sinners at that time. Bilam knows when that moment
is, and at that exact moment Bilam will do his dirty work.
Balak has another plan. He
will find the Bnei Yisroel who have done Aveirot
(sins) and curse Bnei Yisroel through them. Balak leads
Bilam to Ba'al, a mountaintop, where, in the future, men from
the tribe of Dan will set up an idol. Bilam orders Balak to set
up seven altars to bring sacrifices to Hashem. Meanwhile,
Bilam will go further up the mountain to meditate.
Bilam finds a spot to wait
for the moment when Hashem will be angry with the sinners
of the world. But today that moment does not come. Hashem
decides not to sit in judgement on this day. Bilam's plans are
Hashem appears to
Bilam and informs him that the party is over. From now on, Hashem
will tell him what to say and when to say it! But Bilam still
doesn't believe he's through. He trots down the mountain to find
Balak and the Moavite princes still sacrificing on the seven altars.
Bilam is now ready to start
the cursing festival. He takes a breath and gets ready to start.
But instead of a curse, his tongue rolls out a bracha
Essentially he compares the
Avot (forefathers) to rocks and the Imahot (foremothers)
to hills, declaring that they will support the world forever through
the Z'chut (merit) of their good deeds.
When Bilam finishes, Balak is waiting for an explanation. "If you
can't curse them, do you have to bless them? Why can't you just
keep your mouth closed?" Bilam replies, "Do you think I wanted to
bless them? Hashem's the one who put words in my mouth!"
Balak decides that they must
try a different mountain. So they go to Mount Nevo where Moshe
is destined to die. They set up the altars, they start sacrificing
the bulls and rams again, and once again, Bilam climbs a little
higher to meditate.
But again Hashem commands
Bilam to bless the Bnei Yisroel. When Bilam returns to
Balak, the king has already figured out that Bilam has no control
over his speech. Balak starts to make fun of him. In response,
Bilam spews out words in the name of G-d:
"Don't make fun of me, Balak.
The words you hear are the words of G-d!" Bilam goes
on to repeat Hashem's promise to give Canaan (Eretz
Yisroel) to the Bnei Yisroel. Additionally, he tells
Balak that even when the Bnei Yisroel sin, Hashem
knows their innermost hearts and forgives them. Bilam informs
Balak that the Bnei Yisroel will conquer Canaan and will
kill its kings. Moshe will die before they enter the land of Eretz
Yisroel but not before he destroys the princes of Midyan!
Bilam blesses the Jews two
more times. . Bilam has noticed that the tents of Bnei Yisroel
are carefully arranged so no two entrances or windows face each
other. No one can look in the tent of another. In honor of this
modesty, Bilam blesses Bnei Yisroel with a famous prayer we say
"Mah Tovu Ohalecha Yaakov
How good are your tents, Yaakov;
your dwellings, Yisroel."
In the fourth and final blessing
of Bilam, he mentions a star shooting out of Yaakov. This is King
David, who will destroy Moav. In addition, much further into the
future, Moshiach will destroy Aisav's descendants, Edom
After this accursed fiasco,
Bilam leaves Moav quietly. He is partially blinded. He is limping.
The great Bilam is left just an ordinary magician with no power
of prophecy anymore. Needless to say, Balak looks like a real
fool and loses his throne.