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Balaam

Balaam the Seer Is Recast as a Villain

The oldest biblical sources see Balaam as a great seer, but as time goes on, biblical texts portray him in an increasingly negative light. The key to this shift lies in Deuteronomy’s attitude to Israel and gentiles.

Prof.

Alexander Rofé

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The Account of Balaam’s Donkey: A Late Polemical Burlesque

Already in 1877, Marcus Kalisch, one of the first Jewish scholars to engage in the critical study of the Bible, noted that the story of Balaam’s donkey is a late insertion which contradicts the rest of the story, both narratively and ideologically. Indeed, in the main story, Balaam is a prophetic character to be respected, while the supplement lampoons him.

Prof.

Alexander Rofé

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Balaam the Seducer of Jews and an Early Christian Polemic

Ancient Jewish interpreters imagined Balaam as the prototypical Gentile seducer. This trope was used by John of Patmos, the author of the book of Revelation and himself a Jew, to polemicize against his rivals among the early Christians.

Prof. Rabbi

Joshua Garroway

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Who Was Balaam's God: YHWH El? Or Bull El?

Dr. Rabbi

Robert Harris

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Balaam the Seer: From the Bible to the Deir ʿAlla Inscription

What we know about where he lived, the language he spoke, and the gods he worshiped.

Prof.

Carl S. Ehrlich

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The Prehistory of the Balaam Story

When Balaam and Balak were Independent Characters

Dr. Rabbi

David Frankel

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Do Animals Feel Pain? Balaam’s Donkey vs. Descartes

In contrast to Descartes’ theory of animals as automatons, the Torah and rabbinic text express deep concern for animal suffering. One vivid example is the donkey’s rebuke of Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me?” (Num 22:28).

Prof.

Yael Shemesh

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Balaam and the Problem of Other People’s Revelation

A Pagan “Prophet Like Moses”

Dr.

Seth Sanders

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Sensing Balaam's Divine Moment: Prophecy as Poetry

Prof.

Everett Fox

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