MembersAncient Middle East Disney Script?

Caught between opposing forces, a surprising voice speaks

| Topics: Weekly Torah Portion
Photo: Illustration - Flash90

This ancient historical text feels as colorful as a fantasy from Walt Disney. There are good characters and bad. There are spells and gold. And there is even a talking animal. This story is as good as any fiction; and it has a valuable lesson for us.

King Balak, with a realm in modern-day Jordan, understands that he cannot beat Israel militarily. So he turns to a famous magician/sorcerer named Balaam and asks him to curse Israel (“Balak” Torah portion, Numbers 22-25). Notice that King Balak chooses to fight Israel with the power of words, and not swords. He seems to realize that the Israelite people before him are a people defined by teachings, held together with words.

People throughout the region have already heard news of the Exodus from Egypt, and a numerous people walking in the wilderness – led by words, blessings and divine power (See also Joshua 2:10). Therefore, King Balak reasons that the way to weaken the Israelite people is by cursing them. He sends messengers to Balaam and asks him to do so.

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