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July 18, 2016 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Balak

This is one of these “I don’t see what Arama is getting at” posts.

After the king of Moab asks him to come over and curse Israel, Balaam tells some Moabite visitors to stay overnight while he waits for God to speak to him (Num. 22:19).

Arama writes: “Our sages teach that the difference between the real prophet and the charlatan, the pretender lies in the former’s ability to communicate the word of God at any time, whereas the pretender must wait for certain horoscopic constellations to appear in the correct correlation to each other.  The ability of Balaam to respond immediately, would indicate that his response was genuine, the word of God.  As soon as Balaam asked the messengers to stay overnight till he could consult God, [some of them]*realized that the undertaking did not meet with God’s approval.”

Here’s the problem: let us assume that the Talmudic sages knew that a real prophet doesn’t have to wait overnight for God’s word.  Even if this is so, there is no reason why pagans who lived 1700 years before the Talmud knew this, since presumably (a) time travel did not exist and (b) pagans generally are not familiar with Jewish texts.

 

*Or more precisely, some of them.  Because the Torah mentions that Balaam went with Moabite dignarities (22:21), Arama infers that their Midianite allies decided that Balaam was a charlatan and bailed out.

 

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