Balak (parsha)

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Balak (בָּלָקHebrew for “Balak,” a name, the second word, and the first distinctive word, in the parashah) is the 40th weekly Torah portion (פָּרָשָׁה, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the seventh in the book of Numbers. It constitutes Numbers 22:2–25:9. The parashah is made up of 5,357 Hebrew letters, 1,455 Hebrew words, and 104 verses, and can occupy about 178 lines in a Torah Scroll (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, Sefer Torah).[1]

Jews generally read it in late June or July. In most years (for example, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2024, and 2025), parashah Balak is read separately. In some years (for example, 2020 and 2023) when the second day of Shavuot falls on a Sabbath in the Diaspora (where observant Jews observe Shavuot for two days), parashah Balak is combined with the previous parashah, Chukat, in the Diaspora to synchronize readings thereafter with those in Israel (where Jews observe Shavuot for one day).

Coastal Landscape with Balaam and the Ass (1636 painting by Bartholomeus Breenbergh)

In the parashah, Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, tries to hire Balaam to curse Israel,[2] Balaam’s donkey speaks to Balaam,[3] and Balaam blesses Israel instead.

The name Balak means “devastator,”[4] “empty,”[5] or “wasting.”[6] The name Balak apparently derives from the sparsely used Hebrew verb (balak), “waste or lay waste.”[7] There are no derivations of this verb besides this name.

Readings[edit]

In traditional Sabbath Torah reading, the parashah is divided into seven readings, or עליות, aliyot.[8]

Balaam Receiving Balak’s Messengers (illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible)
Balaam and the Angel (illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible)

First reading — Numbers 22:2–12[edit]

In the first reading (עליה, aliyah), Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, grew alarmed at the Israelites’ military victories among the Amorites.[9] He consulted with the elders of Midian and sent elders of Moab and Midian to the land by the Euphrates to invite the prophet Balaam to come and curse the Israelites for him.[10] Balaam told them: “Spend the night here, and I shall reply to you as the Lord may instruct me.”[11] God came to Balaam and said: “You must not curse that people, for they are blessed.”[12]

Second reading — Numbers 22:13–20[edit]

In the second reading (עליה, aliyah), in the morning, Balaam asked Balak’s dignitaries to leave, as God would not let him go with them, and they left and reported Balaam’s answer to Balak.[13] Then Balak sent more numerous and distinguished dignitaries, who offered Balaam rich rewards in return for damning the Israelites.[14] But Balaam replied: “Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything, big or little, contrary to the command of the Lord my God.”[15] Nonetheless, Balaam invited the dignitaries to stay overnight to let Balaam find out what else God might say to him, and that night God told Balaam: “If these men have come to invite you, you may go with them.”[16]

Balaam and the Ass (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)
Balaam and the Angel (1836 painting by Gustav Jaeger)

Third reading — Numbers 22:21–38[edit]

In the third reading (עליה, aliyah), in the morning, Balaam saddled his donkey and departed with the dignitaries, but God was incensed at his going and placed an angel in Balaam’s way.[17] When the donkey saw the angel standing in the way holding his drawn sword, the donkey swerved from the road into the fields, and Balaam beat the ass to turn her back onto the road.[18] The angel then stationed himself in a lane with a fence on either side.[19] Seeing the angel, the donkey pressed herself and Balaam’s foot against the wall, so he beat her again.[20] The angel then stationed himself on a narrow spot that allowed no room to swerve right or left, and the donkey lay down under Balaam, and Balaam became furious and beat the ass with his stick.[21] Then God allowed the donkey to speak, and she complained to Balaam.[22] And then God allowed Balaam to see the angel, and Balaam bowed down to the ground.[23] The angel questioned Balaam for beating his donkey, noting that she had saved Balaam’s life.[24] Balaam admitted his error and offered to turn back if the angel still disapproved.[25] But the angel told Balaam: “Go with the men. But you must say nothing except what I tell you.” So Balaam went on.[26] Balak went out to meet Balaam on the Arnon border, and asked him why he didn’t come earlier.[27] But Balaam told Balak that he could utter only the words that God put into his mouth.[28]

Fourth reading — Numbers 22:39–23:12[edit]

In the fourth reading (עליה, aliyah), Balaam and Balak went together to Kiriath-huzoth, where Balak sacrificed oxen and sheep, and they ate.[29] In the morning, Balak took Balaam up to Bamoth-Baal, overlooking the Israelites.[30] Balaam had Balak build seven altars, and they offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.[31] Then Balaam asked Balak to wait while Balaam went off alone to see if God would grant him a manifestation.[32] God appeared to Balaam and told him what to say.[33] Balaam returned and said: “How can I damn whom God has not damned, how doom when the Lord has not doomed? . . . Who can count the dust of Jacob, number the dust-cloud of Israel? May I die the death of the upright, may my fate be like theirs!”[34] Balak complained that he had brought Balaam to damn the Israelites, but instead Balaam blessed them.[35] Balaam replied that he could only repeat what God put in his mouth.[36]

Baal (14th–12th century BCE bronze figurine from Ugarit)
Balaam Blessing the Israelites (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible)

Fifth reading — Numbers 23:13–26[edit]

In the fifth reading (עליה, aliyah), Balak took Balaam to the summit of Pisgah, once offered a bull and a ram on each of seven altars, and once again Balaam asked Balak to wait while Balaam went off alone to seek a manifestation, and once again God told him what to say.[37] Balaam returned and told Balak: “My message was to bless: When He blesses, I cannot reverse it. No harm is in sight for Jacob, no woe in view for Israel. The Lord their God is with them.”[38] Then Balak told Balaam at least not to bless them, but Balaam replied that he had to do whatever God directed.[39]

Sixth reading — Numbers 23:27–24:13[edit]

In the sixth reading (עליה, aliyah), Balak took Balaam to the peak of Peor, and once offered a bull and a ram on each of seven altars.[40] Balaam, seeing that it pleased God to bless Israel, immediately turned to the Israelites and blessed them: “How fair are your tents, O Jacob, your dwellings, O Israel! . . . They shall devour enemy nations, crush their bones, and smash their arrows. . . . Blessed are they who bless you, accursed they who curse you!”[41] Enraged, Balak complained and dismissed Balaam.[42]

Seventh reading — Numbers 24:14–25:9[edit]

In the seventh reading (עליה, aliyah), Balaam replied once again that he could not do contrary to God’s command, and blessed Israelites once again, saying: “A scepter comes forth from Israel; it smashes the brow of Moab.”[43] Then Balaam set out back home, and Balak went his way.[44] While the Israelites stayed at Shittim, the people went whoring with the Moabite women and worshiped their god Baal-peor, enraging God.[45] God told Moses to impale the ringleaders, and Moses directed Israel’s officials to slay those who had attached themselves to Baal-peor.[46] When one of the Israelites publicly brought a Midianite woman over to his companions, Phinehas son of Eleazar took a spear, followed the Israelite into the chamber, and stabbed the Israelite and the woman through the belly.[47] Then the plague against the Israelites was checked, having killed 24,000.[48]

Readings according to the triennial cycle[edit]

Jews who read the Torah according to the triennial cycle of Torah reading read the parashah according to a different schedule.[49]

In inner-Biblical interpretation[edit]

The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these Biblical sources:[50]

Numbers chapter 22[edit]

Micah 6:5 says that Balak consulted Balaam and Balaam advised him. The only time in the Bible that Balak is not mentioned in direct conjunction with Balaam is in Judges 11:25.

Numbers chapter 24[edit]

Psalm 1:3 interprets the words “cedars beside the waters” in Balaam’s blessing in Numbers 24:6. According to Psalm 1:3, “a tree planted by streams of water” is one “that brings forth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither.”

Numbers chapter 25[edit]

Numbers 31:16 reports that Balaam counseled the Israelites to break faith with God in the sin of Baal-Peor.

Joshua 13:22 states that the Israelites killed Balaam during war.

In classical rabbinic interpretation[edit]

The parashah is discussed in these rabbinic sources from the era of the Mishnah and the Talmud:

Balaam and the Angel (illustration from the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle)

Numbers chapter 22[edit]

A Baraita taught that Moses wrote the Torah, the portion of Balaam, and the book of Job.[51]

Reading Deuteronomy 2:9, “And the Lord spoke to me, ‘Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle,’” Ulla argued that it certainly could not have entered the mind of Moses to wage war without God’s authorization. So we must deduce that Moses on his own reasoned that if in the case of the Midianites who came only to assist the Moabites (in Numbers 22:4), God commanded (in Numbers 25:17), “Vex the Midianites and smite them,” in the case of the Moabites themselves, the same injunction should apply even more strongly. But God told Moses that the idea that Moses had in his mind was not the idea that God had in God’s mind. For God was to bring two doves forth from the Moabites and the Ammonites — Ruth the Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess.[52]

Balaam and the Angel (illustration from the 13th Century Psalter of Louis IX of France)

Classical Rabbinic interpretation viewed Balaam unfavorably. The Mishnah taught that Balaam was one of four commoners who have no portion in the world to come, along with Doeg, Ahitophel, and Gehazi.[53] Following the teaching of Rabbi Joshua, the Gemara deduced from the Mishnah’s statement that the gentile Balaam would not enter the world to come that other gentiles would do so. The Gemara read Balaam’s name to demonstrate that he was “without a people” (belo am). Alternatively, the Gemara read Balaam’s name to demonstrate that he “confused a people” (bilah am), namely the Israelites. Noting the similarity of Balaam’s father name Beor to the Aramaic word for “beast” (be’ir), the Gemara read the allusion to Balaam’s father in Numbers 22:5 to demonstrate that Balaam committed bestiality. A Tanna taught that Beor was the same person as Cushan-rishathaim and Laban. As rishathaim means “two evils,” the Tanna deduced from the name Cushan-rishathaim that Beor perpetrated two evils on Israel — one in pursuing Jacob in Genesis 31:23-29 and the other by oppressing the Jews in Judges 3:8. Noting that Numbers 22:5 calls Balaam “the son of Beor” while Numbers 24:3 says of Balaam “his son [was] Beor,” Rabbi Johanan deduced that Balaam’s father Beor was like his son (less able) in matters of prophecy.[54]

Similarly, the Mishnah taught that anyone who has an evil eye, a haughty spirit, and an over-ambitious soul is a disciple of Balaam the wicked, and is destined for Gehinnom and descent into the pit of destruction. The Mishnah taught that Psalm 55:24 speaks of the disciples of Balaam when it says, "You, o God, will bring them down to the nethermost pit; men of blood and deceit shall not live out half their days.[55]

An Angel Met Balaam with a Sword (illustration from the 1897 Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster)

Reading the description of Joshua 13:22, “Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer,” the Gemara asked why Joshua 13:22 describes Balaam merely as a soothsayer when he was also a prophet. Rabbi Johanan taught that at first, Balaam was a prophet, but at the end, he was merely a soothsayer. Rav Papa observed that this is an application of the popular saying that she who descended from princes and governors played the harlot with laborers (showing that she had no conception of the dignity of her beginnings).[56]

Interpreting the words, “And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed,” in Numbers 22:7 a Tanna taught that there never was peace between Midian and Moab, comparing them to two dogs in a kernel that always fought each other. Then a wolf attacked one, and the other concluded that if he did not help the first, then the wolf would attack the second tomorrow. So they joined to fight the wolf. And Rav Papa likened the cooperation of Moab and Midian to the saying: “The weasel and cat had a feast on the fat of the luckless.”[57]

Balaam and the Angel (illustration from a 14th-century Spanish Bible (Biblia romanceada escurialense))

Noting that Numbers 22:8 makes no mention of the princes of Midian, the Gemara deduced that they despaired as soon as Balaam told them (in Numbers 22:8) that he would listen to God’s instructions, for they reasoned that God would not curse Israel any more than a father would hate his son.[58]

Noting that in Numbers 22:12 God told Balaam, “You shall not go with them,” yet in Numbers 22:20, after Balaam impudently asked God a second time, God told Balaam, “Rise up and go with them,” Rav Nachman concluded that impudence, even in the face of Heaven, sometimes brings results.[59]

A Midrash taught that the words of Numbers 22:20 “And God came to Balaam at night,” indicated God’s distance from Balaam. Rabbi Leazar taught that the words of Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked,” refer to the prophets of other nations. But the continuation of Proverbs 15:29, “He hears the prayer of the righteous,” refers to the prophets of Israel. God appears to nations other that Israel only as one who comes from a distance, as Isaiah 39:3 says, “They came from a far country to me.” But in connection with the prophets of Israel, Genesis 18:1 says, “And the Lord appeared,” and Leviticus 1:1 says, “And the Lord called,” implying from the immediate vicinity. Rabbi Haninah compared the difference between the prophets of Israel and the prophets of other nations to a king who was with his friend in a chamber (separated by a curtain). Whenever the king desired to speak to his friend, he folded up the curtain and spoke to him. (But God speaks to the prophets of other nations without folding back the curtain.) The Rabbis compared it to a king who has a wife and a concubine; to his wife he goes openly, but to his concubine he repairs with stealth. Similarly, God appears to non-Jews only at night, as Numbers 22:20 says, “And God came to Balaam at night,” and Genesis 31:24 says, “And God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream of the night.”[60]

Balaam and the Ass (1626 painting by Rembrandt)

A Tanna taught in the name of Rabbi Simeon ben Eleazar that intense love and hate can cause one to disregard the perquisites of one’s social position. The Tanna deduced that love may do so from Abraham, for Genesis 22:3 reports that “Abraham rose early in the morning, and saddled his donkey,” rather than allow his servant to do so. Similarly, the Tanna deduced that hate may do so from Balaam, for Numbers 22:21 reports that “Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his donkey,” rather than allow his servant to do so.[61]

Balaam and the Angel (1984 illustration by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing)

Reading Numbers 22:23, a Midrash remarked on the irony that the villain Balaam was going to curse an entire nation that had not sinned against him, yet he had to smite his donkey to prevent it from going into a field.[62]

The Mishnah taught that the mouth of the donkey that miraculously spoke to Balaam in Numbers 22:28–30 was one of ten things that God created on the eve of the first Sabbath at twilight.[63]

Expanding on Numbers 22:30, the Gemara reported a conversation among Balak’s emissaries, Balaam, and Balaam’s donkey. Balak’s emissaries asked Balaam, “Why didn’t you ride your horse?”

Balaam replied, “I have put it out to pasture.”

But Balaam’s donkey asked Balaam (in the words of Numbers 22:30), “Am I not your donkey?”

Balaam replied, “Merely for carrying loads.”

Balaam’s donkey said (in the words of Numbers 22:30), “Upon which you have ridden.”

Balaam replied, “That was only by chance.”

Balaam’s donkey insisted (in the words of Numbers 22:30), “Ever since I was yours until this day.”[64]

Numbers chapter 23[edit]

Rabbi Johanan deduced from the words “and he walked haltingly” in Numbers 23:3 that Balaam was disabled in one leg.[65]

Rabbi Johanan interpreted the words "And the Lord put a word (or 'a thing') in Balaam's mouth" in Numbers 23:5 to indicate that God put a hook in Balaam's mouth, playing Balaam like a fish.[66] Similarly, a Midrash taught that God controlled Balaam's mouth as a person who puts a bit into the mouth of a beast and makes it go in the direction the person pleases.[67]

Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani interpreted the words “that the Lord your God shall keep for you” in Deuteronomy 7:12, teaching that all the good that Israel enjoys in this world results from the blessings with which Balaam blessed Israel, but the blessings with which the Patriarchs blessed Israel are reserved for the time to come, as signified by the words, “that the Lord your God shall keep for you.”[68]

The Gemara interpreted the words “knowing the mind of the most High” in Numbers 24:16 to mean that Balaam knew how to tell the exact moment when God was angry. The Gemara taught that this was related to what Micah meant (in Micah 6:5, in the haftarah for the parashah) when he told the Israelites (quoting God): “O My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him; . . . that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.” The Gemara taught that by the words “that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord,” God meant to say to the Israelites, “You should know how many acts of charity I performed for you, in that I did not become angry all that time, in the days of wicked Balaam; for had I become angry at that time, no Israelite would have remained alive or been spared.” And the Gemara indicated that this is why Balaam told Balak in Numbers 23:8, “How can I curse whom God has not cursed? or how shall I become angry, when the Lord has not become angry?” For Balaam knew that God was not angry at the Israelites. The Gemara thus concluded that for all of the time of the Balaam story, God had not been angry.[69]

The Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer taught that Balaam saw the wilderness filled with the Israelites’ foreskins after they had circumcised themselves, and asked who would be able to arise by the merit of the blood of the covenant of this circumcision, which was covered by the dust, and thus in Numbers 23:10 Balaam said, “Who can count the dust of Jacob?”[70]

The Gemara interpreted Balaam’s words, “Let me die the death of the righteous,” in Numbers 23:10 to foretell that he would not enter the world to come. The Gemara interpreted those words to mean that if Balaam died a natural death like the righteous, then his end would be like that of the Jewish people, but if he died a violent death, then he would go to the same fate as the wicked.[71]

Numbers chapter 24[edit]

Rabbi Johanan interpreted Numbers 24:2 to support the rule of Mishnah Bava Batra 3:7 that a person should not construct a house so that its doorway opens directly opposite another doorway across a courtyard. Rabbi Johanan taught that the words of Numbers 24:2, "And Balaam lifted up his eyes and he saw Israel dwelling according to their tribes," indicate that Balaam saw that the doors of their tents did not exactly face each other (and that the Israelites thus respected each other's privacy). So Balaam concluded that the Israelites were worthy to have the Divine Presence rest upon them (and he spoke his blessing in Numbers 24:5 of the tents of Jacob).[72]

The Gemara deduced from the words “the man whose eye is open” in Numbers 24:3, which refer to only a single open eye, that Balaam was blind in one eye.[73]

Rabbi Abbahu explained how Balaam became blind in one eye. Rabbi Abbahu interpreted the words of Balaam's blessing in Numbers 23:10, "Who has counted the dust of Jacob, or numbered the stock of Israel?" to teach that God counts the cohabitations of Israel, awaiting the appearance of the drop from which a righteous person might grow. Balaam questioned how God Who is pure and holy and Whose ministers are pure and holy could look upon such a thing. Immediately, Balaam's eye became blind, as attested in Numbers 24:3 (with its reference to a single open eye).[74]

Moab Leads Israel into Sin (illustration from the 1728 Figures de la Bible)

Numbers chapter 25[edit]

Rabbi Johanan taught that wherever Scripture uses the term “And he abode” (וַיֵּשֶׁב, vayeishev), as it does in Numbers 25:1, it presages trouble. Thus in Numbers 25:1, “And Israel abode in Shittim” is followed by “and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.” In Genesis 37:1, “And Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan,” is followed by Genesis 37:3, “and Joseph brought to his father their evil report.” In Genesis 47:27, “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen,” is followed by Genesis 47:29, “And the time drew near that Israel must die.” In 1 Kings 5:5, “And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree,” is followed by 1 Kings 11:14, “And the Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was the king’s seed in Edom.”[75]

A Midrash taught that God heals with the very thing with which God wounds. Thus, Israel sinned in Shittim (so called because of its many acacia trees), as Numbers 25:1 says, “And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab” (and also worshipped the Baal of Peor). But it was also through Shittim wood, or acacia-wood, that God healed the Israelites, for as Exodus 37:1 reports, “Bezalel made the Ark of acacia-wood.”[76]

Rabbi Judah taught that the words of Job 21:16, “The counsel of the wicked is far from me,” refer to the counsel of Balaam, the wicked, who advised Midian, resulting in the death of 24,000 Israelite men. Rabbi Judah recounted that Balaam advised the Midianites that they would not be able to prevail over the Israelites unless the Israelites had sinned before God. So the Midianites made booths outside the Israelite camp and sold all kinds of merchandise. The young Israelite men went beyond the Israelite camp and saw the young Midianite women, who had painted their eyes like harlots, and they took wives from among them, and went astray after them, as Numbers 25:1 says, “And the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.”[77]

Rabbah bar bar Hana said in Rabbi Johanan's name that had Zimri withdrawn from Cozbi and Phinehas still killed him, Phinehas would have been liable to execution for murder, and had Zimri killed Phinehas in self-defense, he would not have been liable to execution for murder, as Phinehas was a pursuer seeking to take Zimri’s life.[78]

The Gemara related what took place after, as Numbers 25:5 reports, “Moses said to the judges of Israel: ‘Slay everyone his men who have joined themselves to the Baal of Peor.’” The tribe of Simeon went to Zimri complaining that capital punishment was being meted out while he sat silently. So Zimri assembled 24,000 Israelites and went to Cozbi and demanded that she surrender herself to him. She replied that she was a king’s daughter and her father had instructed her not to submit to any but to the greatest of men. Zimri replied that he was the prince of a tribe and that his tribe was greater than that of Moses, for Simeon was second in birth, while Levi was third. Zimri then seized Cozbi by her hair and brought her before Moses. Zimri demanded that Moses rule whether Cozbi was forbidden or permitted to Zimri. Zimri continued that if Moses were to say that Cozbi was forbidden to Zimri, then who permitted Moses to marry the Midianite woman Zipporah? At that moment, Moses forgot the law governing intimacy with an idolatrous woman, and all the people burst into tears, as Numbers 25:6 reports when it says, “they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting.”[79]

Interpreting the words, “And Phineas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it,” in Numbers 25:6, the Gemara asked what Phineas saw. Rav said that Phineas saw what was happening and remembered the law governing intimacy with an idolatrous woman, and asked Moses whether he had not taught that zealots may punish one who cohabits with an idolatrous woman. Moses replied that he who reads the letter should be the agent to carry out its instructions. Alternatively, Samuel said that Phineas saw that (in the words of Proverbs 21:30) “There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord,” which he interpreted to mean that whenever the Divine Name is being profaned, one may relax the general principle that one must defer to one's teacher — the giver of wisdom — and go ahead to make a legal decision in the presence of one’s teacher. Rabbi Isaac said in Rabbi Eleazar's name that Phineas saw the Angel of Death wreaking destruction among the people, and (in the words of Numbers 25:6) “he rose up out of the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand.” Thus, Phineas must not have had his spear when he sat among the congregation, and from this we learn that one may not enter a house of learning with weapons.[80]

The Gemara taught that Phineas then removed the point of the spear and hid it in his clothes, and went along leaning upon the shaft of the spear as a walking stick. When he reached the tribe of Simeon, he asked why the tribe of Levi should not have the moral standards of the tribe of Simeon. Thereupon the Simeonites allowed him to pass through, saying that he had come to satisfy his lust. The Simeonites concluded that even the abstainers had then declared cohabiting wit Midianite women permissible.[81]

Rabbi Johanan taught that Phinehas was able to accomplish his act of zealotry only because God performed six miracles: First, upon hearing Phinehas’s warning, Zimri should have withdrawn from Cozbi and ended his transgression, but he did not. Second, Zimri should have cried out for help from his fellow Simeonites, but he did not. Third, Phinheas was able to drive his spear exactly through the sexual organs of Zimri and Cozbi as they were engaged in the act. Fourth, Zimri and Cozbi did not slip off the spear, but remained fixed so that others could witness their transgression. Fifth, an angel came and lifted up the lintel so that Phinheas could exit holding the spear. And sixth, an angel came and sowed destruction among the people, distracting the Simeonites from killing Phinheas.[82]

The interpreters of Scripture by symbol taught that the deeds of Phinehas explained why Deuteronomy 18:3 directed that the priests were to receive the foreleg, cheeks, and stomach of sacrifices. The foreleg represented the hand of Phinehas, as Numbers 25:7 reports that Phinehas “took a spear in his hand.” The cheeks’ represent the prayer of Phinehas, as Psalm 106:30 reports, “Then Phinehas stood up and prayed, and so the plague was stayed.” The stomach was to be taken in its literal sense, for Numbers 25:8 reports that Phinehas “thrust . . . the woman through her belly.”[83]

Based on Numbers 25:8 and 11, the Mishnah listed the case of a man who had sexual relations with an Aramaean woman as one of three cases for which it was permissible for zealots to punish the offender on the spot.[84]

The Gemara asked whether the words in Exodus 6:25, “And Eleazar Aaron’s son took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife” did not convey that Eleazar’s son Phinehas descended from Jethro, who fattened (piteim) calves for idol worship. The Gemara then provided an alternative explanation: Exodus 6:25 could mean that Phinehas descended from Joseph, who conquered (pitpeit) his passions (resisting Potiphar’s wife, as reported in Genesis 39). But the Gemara asked, did not the tribes sneer at Phinehas and question how a youth (Phinehas) whose mother’s father crammed calves for idol-worship could kill the head of a tribe in Israel — Zimri, Prince of Simeon — as reported in Numbers 25:14.[85] The Gemara explained that the real explanation was that Phinehas descended from both Joseph and Jethro. If Phinehas’s mother’s father descended from Joseph, then Phinehas’s mother’s mother descended from Jethro. And if Phinehas’s mother’s father descended from Jethro, then Phinehas’s mother’s mother descended from Joseph. The Gemara explained that Exodus 6:25 implies this dual explanation of “Putiel” when it says, “of the daughters of Putiel,” because the plural “daughters” implies two lines of ancestry (from both Joseph and Jethro).[86]

In medieval rabbinic interpretation[edit]

The parashah is discussed in these medieval rabbinic sources:

Numbers chapter 22[edit]

Noting that Numbers 22:23 reports that “the she-donkey saw” but Balaam did not see, Rashi explained that God permitted the animal to perceive more than the person, as a person possesses intelligence and would be driven insane by the sight of a harmful spirit.[87]

In the word “even” (גַּם, gam) in Numbers 22:33 (implying that the angel would also have killed Balaam), Ibn Ezra found evidence for the proposition that the donkey died after she spoke.[88]

Commandments[edit]

According to Maimonides and Sefer ha-Chinuch, there are no commandments in the parashah.[89]

Micah (watercolor circa 1896–1902 by James Tissot)

Haftarah[edit]

The haftarah for the parashah is Micah 5:6–6:8. When parashah Balak is combined with parashah Chukat, the haftarah remains the haftarah for Balak.

Connection between the haftarah and the parashah[edit]

In the haftarah in Micah 6:5, Micah quotes God’s admonition to the Israelites to recall the events of the parashah, to “remember now what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him.” The verb that the haftarah uses for “answer” (עָנָה, ‘anah) in Micah 6:5 is a variation of the same verb that the parashah uses to describe Balaam’s “answer” (וַיַּעַן, vaya‘an) to Balaak in the parashah in Numbers 22:18 and 23:12. And the first words of Balaam’s blessing of Israel in Numbers 24:5, “how goodly” (מַה-טֹּבוּ, ma tovu), are echoed in the haftarah’s admonition in Micah 6:8 of “what is good” (מַה-טּוֹב, ma tov) in God’s sight, namely “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah (18th century Russian Orthodox icon in the Kizhi monastery, in Karelia, Russia)

The haftarah in classical rabbinic interpretation[edit]

The Gemara read the closing admonition of the haftarah, ““to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God,” as one of several distillations of the principles underlying the Torah. Rabbi Simlai taught that God communicated 613 precepts to Moses. David reduced them to eleven principles, as Psalm 15 says, “Lord, who shall sojourn in Your Tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Your holy mountain? — He who [1] walks uprightly, and [2] works righteousness, and [3] speaks truth in his heart; who [4] has no slander upon his tongue, [5] nor does evil to his fellow, [6] nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor, [7] in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but [8] he honors them who fear the Lord, [9] he swears to his own hurt and changes not, [10] he puts not out his money on interest, [11] nor takes a bribe against the innocent.” Isaiah reduced them to six principles, as Isaiah 33:15–16 says, “He who [1] walks righteously, and [2] speaks uprightly, [3] he who despises the gain of oppressions, [4] who shakes his hand from holding of bribes, [5] who stops his ear from hearing of blood, [6] and shuts his eyes from looking upon evil; he shall dwell on high.” Micah reduced them to three principles, as Micah 6:8 says, “It has been told you, o man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: only [1] to do justly, and [2] to love mercy, and [3] to walk humbly before your God.” The Gemara interpreted “to do justly” to mean maintaining justice; “to love mercy” to mean rendering every kind office, and “walking humbly before your God” to mean walking in funeral and bridal processions. And the Gemara concluded that if the Torah enjoins “walking humbly” in public matters, it is ever so much more requisite in matters that usually call for modesty. Returning to the commandments of the Torah, Isaiah reduced them to two principles, as Isaiah 56:1 says, “Thus says the Lord, [1] Keep justice and [2] do righteousness.” Amos reduced them to one principle, as Amos 5:4 says, “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel, ‘Seek Me and live.’” To this Rav Nahman bar Isaac demurred, saying that this might be taken as: Seek Me by observing the whole Torah and live. The Gemara concluded that Habakkuk based all the Torah’s commandments on one principle, as Habakkuk 2:4 says, “But the righteous shall live by his faith.”[90]

In the liturgy[edit]

A page from a 14th-century German Haggadah

Some Jews read about how the donkey opened its mouth to speak to Balaam in Numbers 22:28 and Balaam's three traits as they study Pirkei Avot chapter 5 on a Sabbath between Passover and Rosh Hashanah.[91]

The Passover Haggadah, in the concluding nirtzah section of the Seder, quotes the words “who can count them” from Numbers 23:10 to invoke blessing on the Jewish people.[92]

Balaam’s blessing of Israel in Numbers 24:5 constitutes the first line of the Ma Tovu prayer often said upon entering a synagogue or at the beginning of morning services. These words are the only prayer in the siddur attributed to a non-Jew.[93]

The Weekly Maqam[edit]

In the Weekly Maqam, Sephardi Jews each week base the songs of the services on the content of that week's parashah. For parashah Balak, Sephardi Jews apply Maqam Mahour, the maqam that portrays emotional instability and anger. This maqam is similar to Maqam Rast in tune, except that it is higher in key. It is appropriate, because in this parashah, Balak became angered as the curses of Balaam were turning into blessings.

Further reading[edit]

The parashah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:

Ancient[edit]

  • Gildas Hamel, The Deir 'Alla Inscription. See also Jo Ann Hackett, Balaam Text from Deir 'Alla. Chico, California: Scholars Press, 1984. And see also J. Hoftijzer and G. van der Kooij, The Balaam Text from Deir `Alla Re-evaluated: Proceedings of the International Symposium Held at Leiden, 21–24 August 1989. New York: E.J. Brill, 1991.

Biblical[edit]

  • Genesis 3:1–14 (talking animal); 22:3 (rose early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him).
  • Exodus 32:1–35 (sacrifices to another god; zealots kill apostates; zealots rewarded with priestly standing; plague as punishment; leader makes atonement); 34:15–16 (foreign women and apostasy).
  • Numbers 31:6–18 (Balaam; Phinehas, war with Midian).
Jeremiah

Early nonrabbinic[edit]

Josephus

Classical rabbinic[edit]

  • Mishnah: Sanhedrin 9:6; 10:2; Avot 5:6, 19. Land of Israel, circa 200 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 604, 686, 689. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4.
  • Tosefta Shabbat 8:23. Land of Israel, circa 300 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Tosefta: Translated from the Hebrew, with a New Introduction. Translated by Jacob Neusner, volume 1, pages 384–85. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1-56563-642-2.
Talmud

Medieval[edit]

Rashi
  • Solomon ibn Gabirol. A Crown for the King, 36:493. Spain, 11th century. Translated by David R. Slavitt, pages 66–67. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-511962-2.
  • Rashi. Commentary. Numbers 22–25. Troyes, France, late 11th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, volume 4, pages 269–317. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-029-3.
  • Rashbam. Commentary on the Torah. Troyes, early 12th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashbam’s Commentary on Leviticus and Numbers: An Annotated Translation. Edited and translated by Martin I. Lockshin, pages 263–84. Providence: Brown Judaic Studies, 2001. ISBN 1-930675-07-0.
Judah Halevi
Maimonides
Nachmanides
  • Nachmanides. Commentary on the Torah. Jerusalem, circa 1270. Reprinted in, e.g., Ramban (Nachmanides): Commentary on the Torah: Numbers. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, volume 4, pages 245–95. New York: Shilo Publishing House, 1975. ISBN 0-88328-009-4.
  • Zohar, part 3, pages 184b–212b. Spain, late 13th century. Reprinted in, e.g., The Zohar. Translated by Harry Sperling and Maurice Simon. 5 volumes. London: Soncino Press, 1934.
  • Jacob ben Asher (Baal Ha-Turim). Rimze Ba'al ha-Turim. Early 14th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Baal Haturim Chumash: Bamidbar/Numbers. Translated by Eliyahu Touger; edited and annotated by Avie Gold, volume 4, pages 1619–65. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-57819-131-9.
  • Jacob ben Asher. Perush Al ha-Torah. Early 14th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Yaakov ben Asher. Tur on the Torah. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 3, pages 1152–79. Jerusalem: Lambda Publishers, 2005. ISBN 978-9657108765.
  • Isaac ben Moses Arama. Akedat Yizhak (The Binding of Isaac). Late 15th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Yitzchak Arama. Akeydat Yitzchak: Commentary of Rabbi Yitzchak Arama on the Torah. Translated and condensed by Eliyahu Munk, volume 2, pages 762–77. New York, Lambda Publishers, 2001. ISBN 965-7108-30-6.

Modern[edit]

  • Obadiah ben Jacob Sforno. Commentary on the Torah. Venice, 1567. Reprinted in, e.g., Sforno: Commentary on the Torah. Translation and explanatory notes by Raphael Pelcovitz, pages 764–83. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-89906-268-7.
  • Moshe Alshich. Commentary on the Torah. Safed, circa 1593. Reprinted in, e.g., Moshe Alshich. Midrash of Rabbi Moshe Alshich on the Torah. Translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 3, pages 891–910. New York, Lambda Publishers, 2000. ISBN 965-7108-13-6.
  • Israel ben Banjamin of Bełżyce. “Sermon on Balaq.” Bełżyce, 1648. In Marc Saperstein. Jewish Preaching, 1200–1800: An Anthology, pages 286–300. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. ISBN 0-300-04355-4.
  • Avraham Yehoshua Heschel. Commentaries on the Torah. Cracow, Poland, mid 17th century. Compiled as Chanukat HaTorah. Edited by Chanoch Henoch Erzohn. Piotrkow, Poland, 1900. Reprinted in Avraham Yehoshua Heschel. Chanukas HaTorah: Mystical Insights of Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel on Chumash. Translated by Avraham Peretz Friedman, pages 272–77. Southfield, Michigan: Targum Press/Feldheim Publishers, 2004. ISBN 1-56871-303-7.
Hobbes
Burns
  • Chaim ibn Attar. Ohr ha-Chaim. Venice, 1742. Reprinted in Chayim ben Attar. Or Hachayim: Commentary on the Torah. Translated by Eliyahu Munk, volume 4, pages 1568–636. Brooklyn: Lambda Publishers, 1999. ISBN 965-7108-12-8.
  • Robert Burns. I Murder Hate. Scotland, 1790. Reprinted in, e.g., The Complete Poetical Works of Robert Burns: Arranged in the Order of their Earliest Publication: Volume Second: Pieces Published Posthumously. Edited by William Scott Douglas, page 428. Kilmarnock, Scotland: M’kie and Drennan, 1876. Reprinted by Nabu Press, 2010. ISBN 1148659544. ("I would not die like Socrates, / For all the fuss of Plato; / Nor would I with Leonidas, / Nor yet would I with Cato: / The zealots of the church and state / Shall ne'er my mortal foe be; / But let me have bold Zimri's fate, / Within the arms of Cozbi!")
Luzzatto
Kook
  • Abraham Isaac Kook. The Lights of Penitence, 15:11. 1925. Reprinted in Abraham Isaac Kook: the Lights of Penitence, the Moral Principles, Lights of Holiness, Essays, Letters, and Poems. Translated by Ben Zion Bokser, page 118. Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press 1978. ISBN 0-8091-2159-X.
  • Adin Steinsaltz. The Thirteen Petalled Rose: A Discourse on the Essence of Jewish Existence And Belief. Translated by Yehuda Hanegbi, pages 12–13. New York: Basic Books, 1980. ISBN 0-465-08560-1.
  • Ira Clark. “Balaam’s Ass: Suture or Structure.” In Literary Interpretations of Biblical Narratives: Volume II. Edited by Kenneth R.R. Gros Louis, with James S. Ackerman, pages 137–44. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1982. ISBN 0-687-22132-3.
  • André Lemaire. “Fragments from the Book of Balaam Found at Deir Alla: Text foretells cosmic disaster.” Biblical Archaeology Review, volume 11 (number 5) (September/October 1985).
  • Jacob Milgrom. The JPS Torah Commentary: Numbers: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation, pages 185–215, 467–80. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1990. ISBN 0-8276-0329-0.
  • Mary Douglas. In the Wilderness: The Doctrine of Defilement in the Book of Numbers, pages xix, 86–87, 100, 121, 123, 136, 188, 191, 200–01, 211, 214, 216–18, 220–24. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. Reprinted 2004. ISBN 0-19-924541-X.
  • Aaron Wildavsky. Assimilation versus Separation: Joseph the Administrator and the Politics of Religion in Biblical Israel, page 31. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1993. ISBN 1-56000-081-3.
  • Judith S. Antonelli. “Kazbi: Midianite Princess.” In In the Image of God: A Feminist Commentary on the Torah, pages 368–76. Northvale, New Jersey: Jason Aronson, 1995. ISBN 1-56821-438-3.
  • Ellen Frankel. The Five Books of Miriam: A Woman’s Commentary on the Torah, pages 228–33. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1996. ISBN 0-399-14195-2.
  • Sorel Goldberg Loeb and Barbara Binder Kadden. Teaching Torah: A Treasury of Insights and Activities, pages 266–71. Denver: A.R.E. Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-86705-041-1.
  • Diane Aronson Cohen. “The End of Abuse.” In The Women's Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions. Edited by Elyse Goldstein, pages 301–06. Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-58023-076-8.
  • Baruch A. Levine. Numbers 21–36, volume 4A, pages 135–303. New York: Anchor Bible, 2000. ISBN 0-385-41256-8.
  • Nili S. Fox. “Numbers.” In The Jewish Study Bible. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, pages 328–35. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-529751-2.
  • Aaron Wildavsky. Moses as Political Leader, pages 50–55. Jerusalem: Shalem Press, 2005. ISBN 965-7052-31-9.
Plaut

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Old book bindings.jpg

Texts[edit]

Commentaries[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Torah Stats — Bemidbar". Akhlah Inc. Retrieved July 7, 2013. 
  2. ^ Numbers 22:1–5.
  3. ^ Numbers 22:21–35.
  4. ^ Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon, pages 118–19. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979. ISBN 0-913573-20-5.
  5. ^ NOBS Study Bible Name List.
  6. ^ Alfred Jones. Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names. Kregel Academic and Professional, 1990. ISBN 0825429617.
  7. ^ See Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs. The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon, page 118. Isaiah 24:1–3. Jeremiah 51:2.
  8. ^ See, e.g., The Schottenstein Edition Interlinear Chumash: Bamidbar/Numbers. Edited by Menachem Davis, pages 154–76. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2007. ISBN 1-4226-0208-7.
  9. ^ Numbers 22:2–4.
  10. ^ Numbers 22:4–7.
  11. ^ Numbers 22:8.
  12. ^ Numbers 22:9–12.
  13. ^ Numbers 22:13–14.
  14. ^ Numbers 22:15–17.
  15. ^ Numbers 22:18.
  16. ^ Numbers 22:19–20.
  17. ^ Numbers 22:21–22.
  18. ^ Numbers 22:23.
  19. ^ Numbers 22:24.
  20. ^ Numbers 22:25.
  21. ^ Numbers 22:26–27.
  22. ^ Numbers 22:28–30.
  23. ^ Numbers 22:31.
  24. ^ Numbers 22:32–33.
  25. ^ Numbers 22:34.
  26. ^ Numbers 22:35.
  27. ^ Numbers 22:36–37.
  28. ^ Numbers 22:38.
  29. ^ Numbers 22:39–40.
  30. ^ Numbers 22:41.
  31. ^ Numbers 23:1–2.
  32. ^ Numbers 23:3.
  33. ^ Numbers 23:4–5.
  34. ^ Numbers 23:6–10.
  35. ^ Numbers 23:11.
  36. ^ Numbers 23:12.
  37. ^ Numbers 23:13–16.
  38. ^ Numbers 23:17–21.
  39. ^ Numbers 23:25–26.
  40. ^ Numbers 23:27–30.
  41. ^ Numbers 24:1–9.
  42. ^ Numbers 24:10–12.
  43. ^ Numbers 24:14–24.
  44. ^ Numbers 24:25.
  45. ^ Numbers 25:1–3.
  46. ^ Numbers 25:4–5.
  47. ^ Numbers 25:6–8.
  48. ^ Numbers 25:8–9.
  49. ^ See, e.g., "A Complete Triennial Cycle for Reading the Torah". The Jewish Theological Seminary. Retrieved June 16, 2014. 
  50. ^ For more on inner-Biblical interpretation, see, e.g., Benjamin D. Sommer. “Inner-biblical Interpretation.” In The Jewish Study Bible. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler, pages 1829–35. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0-19-529751-2.
  51. ^ Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra14b. Babylonia, 6th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Yosef Asher Weiss; edited by Hersh Goldwurm, volume 44, page 14b3. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1992. ISBN 1-57819-644-2.
  52. ^ Babylonian Talmud Bava Kamma 38a–b. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Avrohom Neuberger, Reuvein Dowek, Eliezer Herzka, Asher Dicker, Mendy Wachsman, Nasanel Kasnett; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 39, pages 38a4–b1. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2001. ISBN 1-57819-635-3.
  53. ^ Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:2. Land of Israel, circa 200 CE. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 604. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-300-05022-4. Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 90a. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Asher Dicker, Joseph Elias, and Dovid Katz; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 49, page 90a7. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1995. ISBN 1-57819-629-0.
  54. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105a.
  55. ^ Mishnah Avot 5:19. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, pages 608–09.
  56. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 106a. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Elucidated by Asher Dicker, Joseph Elias, and Dovid Katz; edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 49, page 106a4.
  57. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105a.
  58. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105a.
  59. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105a.
  60. ^ Genesis Rabbah 52:5. Land of Israel, 5th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, volume 1, page 453. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
  61. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105b.
  62. ^ Numbers Rabbah 20:14.
  63. ^ Mishnah Avot 5:6. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 686.
  64. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105b.
  65. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105a.
  66. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105b.
  67. ^ Numbers Rabbah 20:20.
  68. ^ Deuteronomy Rabbah 3:4.
  69. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105b. See also Babylonian Talmud Berakhot 7a (attributing the interpretation of Micah 6:5 to Rabbi Eleazar.)
  70. ^ Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 28. Early 9th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer. Translated and annotated by Gerald Friedlander, page 212. London, 1916. Reprinted New York: Hermon Press, 1970. ISBN 0-87203-183-7.
  71. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105a.
  72. ^ Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 60a.
  73. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 105a.
  74. ^ Babylonian Talmud Niddah 31a.
  75. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 106a.
  76. ^ Exodus Rabbah 50:3.
  77. ^ Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, chapter 47. Reprinted in, e.g., Pirke de Rabbi Eliezer. Translated and annotated by Gerald Friedlander, page 369.
  78. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 82a.
  79. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 82a.
  80. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 82a.
  81. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 82a–b.
  82. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 82b.
  83. ^ Babylonian Talmud Chullin 134b.
  84. ^ Mishnah Sanhedrin 9:6. Reprinted in, e.g., The Mishnah: A New Translation. Translated by Jacob Neusner, page 604. Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 81b.
  85. ^ See Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 82b and Sotah 43a.
  86. ^ Babylonian Talmud Bava Batra 109b–10a. See also Exodus Rabbah 7:5.
  87. ^ Rashi. Commentary on Numbers 22:23. Troyes, France, late 11th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, volume 4, pages 279–80. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1994. ISBN 0-89906-029-3.
  88. ^ Abraham ibn Ezra. Commentary on Numbers 22:33. Mid-12th century. Reprinted in, e.g., Ibn Ezra's Commentary on the Pentateuch: Numbers (Ba-Midbar). Translated and annotated by H. Norman Strickman and Arthur M. Silver, page 189. New York: Menorah Publishing Company, 1999. ISBN 0-932232-09-4.
  89. ^ Maimonides. Mishneh Torah. Cairo, Egypt, 1170–1180. Reprinted in Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 2 volumes. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, volume 4, page 171. Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers, 1988. ISBN 0-87306-457-7.
  90. ^ Babylonian Talmud Makkot 23b–24a. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz, volume 50, pages 23b5–24a5. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, revised and enlarged edition, 2001. ISBN 1-57819-649-3.
  91. ^ The Schottenstein Edition Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals with an Interlinear Translation. Edited by Menachem Davis, pages 571, 578–79. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-57819-697-3.
  92. ^ The Interlinear Haggadah: The Passover Haggadah, with an Interlinear Translation, Instructions and Comments. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 107. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-57819-064-9.
  93. ^ Reuven Hammer. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, page 61. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003. ISBN 0-916219-20-8. See also Siddur for the Sabbath and Festivals. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 192. The Schottenstein Edition Siddur for Weekdays with an Interlinear Translation. Edited by Menachem Davis, page 14. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2002. ISBN 1-57819-686-8.