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Balak

In this portion, Balak, King of Moab, becomes alarmed at the victory of the Israelites over the Amorites. Fearing that the Israelites are too powerful to defeat in battle, Balak sends messengers to the renowned prophet Balaam in Mestopotamia to summon him to Moab in order to curse the Israelites. At first God instructs Balaam that he is not to go. Balak, however, sends a second set of messengers to plead with Balaam, and God agrees that the prophet can go to Moab on the clear understanding that he will only speak as God commands him. Once in Moab, Balaam blesses the Israelites three different times instead of cursing them. Balak is furious and sends the prophet home, but Balaam first prophesies the destruction of Moab and the neighboring countries. The future of Israel now seems bright, indeed, but the promise is immediately dashed when the people are enticed to participate in the idolatrous cult of Baal-peor. The unique relationship with God is still not firmly enough established.