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Notes on Revelation


"...'because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication': which latter was in order to the former: the instruction Balaam gave to Balak, which is here called his doctrine, was, that Balak should get some of the most beautiful women in his kingdom to ply the men of Israel, and draw them into uncleanness, and so to idolatry; by which means, God being angry with them, he might get an advantage over them: that the Israelites did commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab, and eat things sacrificed to idols, and bowed down to Baal Peor, is certain, (Nu 25:1-3); but that this was brought about through the counsel of Balaam is not so plainly expressed, though it is hinted at in (Nu 31:15,16); but the Jewish writers are very express about this matter. Jonathan ben Uzziel, one of their Targumists on (Nu 24:14), has these words of Balaam;

Come, and I will counsel thee, (speaking to Balak,) go and set up inns, and place in them whorish women, to sell food and drink at a low price: and this people will come and eat and drink, and be drunken, and will lie with them, and deny their God; and they will be quickly delivered into thine hands, and many of them shall fall.
"This now was the stumbling block he taught Balak to lay before them. And elsewhere it is said,

that Balaam, the wicked, gave counsel to Balak, the son of Zippor, to cause the Israelites to fall by the sword; he said to him, the God of this people hates whoredom, cause thy daughters to commit whoredom with them, and ye shall rule over them.
"And then they go on to relate how they built shops, and placed an old woman without, and a young woman within; and when the Israelites came to buy, how well they used them, and what familiarity they admitted them to; how they made them drink of Ammonitish wine, which inclined to lust and when the signified their desire, oblige them to worship Baal Peor, and renounce the law of Moses. Both Philo and Josephus speak of this counsel of Balaam, much to the same purpose. The Samaritan Chronicle says that this counsel pleased the king, and he sent into the camp of Israel, on a sabbath day, twenty four thousand young women, by whom the Israelites were so seduced, that they did everything they desired them, which was just the number of those that were slain, (Nu 25:9). By Balaam may be meant the pope of Rome, for that name signifies, 'the lord of the people'; and is very appropriate to him, who in this interval took upon him to be universal bishop, and lorded it over both church and state, in a most haughty and tyrannical manner; and the Balaamites were those who submitted to his power and authority, and received his doctrines; and by Balak, king of Moab, may be intended the secular powers, the emperors, kings, and princes of the earth, who were instructed by the popes of Rome, to draw their subjects into idolatry, which is spiritual fornication, to eat the breaden God, to worship the host, images, and saints departed; and which proved a snare, and a stumbling to some of this church, as to the Israelites of old, to do the same things."

(The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible)

"And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel"--Numbers 25:1-3

"Do you see what happened? Balaam couldn't curse Israel, but he could tell Balak what to do. They should infiltrate Israel, integrate with them, intermarry with them, and introduce idolatry to them to turn them away from their God.

"I'm sure they told Israel not to be a bunch of squares, not to be so narrow-minded. They insisted they were broad-minded and invited Israel to come over and worship with them. But they never went to worship with the children of Israel.

"It has always interested me that a liberal in the church wants me, a fundamentalist, to come over on his side and agree with him. But I have never been albe to get him to come over to my side and agree with me--yet he claims to be the broad-minded fellow and I am the narrow-minded fellow. It is very interesting that the tendency of the human heart is always downward and away from God. This is the reason religious rackets prosper--radio religious rackets, church religious rackets, and educational religious rackets. Look how the people support such things. They appeal to the natural man. This is the reason some of those people think I am pretty foolish to teach the Bible. If I introduced something other than the Word of God, the program would prosper. I am very sorry to have to tell you that is the way it is. Old Balaam knew that Balak could corrupt the people by getting a religious racket going. He could appeal to them and get the children of Israel to turn to the worship of Baal. And that is exactly what happened."

(Numbers, J. Vernon McGee)

Balaam = "not of the people"
Balak = "destroyer"
Baalpeor = "lord of the gap" (<---this should make every PromiseKeeper pause and reflect on their latest [fall 1997] rally in Washington named something like "Standing in the Gap")

"To see his [Balaam's] conduct in its true light, we must call to mind the geography of the scene. This professed servant and prophet of Jehovah was standing at the time on one of the summits of the Abarim beyond the Jordan, from which Moses was permitted to behold the Land of Promise just before his death...Standing there, Balaam was on a mount consecrated to pagan worship and thronged with idolaters. On his left hand he sees the dark waters of the Dead Sea with its black and desolate shores, which were recognized among all the eastern tribes as a monument of God's wrath against the impious and ungodly. On the right he sees the land of the Amorites, whom Jehovah had just overthrown as proof of His power and purpose to destroy the wicked and to give the victory to His people. In the valley of the Jordan lies spread out before him the camp of Israel, divided acording to their tries, in the midst of which is seen the tabernacle of God, above which hangs the pillar of cloud; while in the distance beyond the camp his eyes rest upon the land which he knew to be promised to the people of Israel. Yet even in this situation, amid so much adapted to show him how fearful a thing it is to sin against the Infinite One, he dared, for the reward with which Balak tempted his avarice, to abuse his office as a holy prophet and to attempt, once and again, to call down curses on those whom God had blessed. How much more vivid is our conception of Balaam's apostasy and guilt, when we thus place ourselves in imagination where he stood in that critical hour of his moral history!"

(Dr. William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, 1872)

See also Pergamum


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