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A heathen soothsayer who makes contradictory impressions in Scripture. Invited urgently by Balak, King of Moab, to come into the Jordan Valley and curse the invading Israelites, Balaam showed a surprising willingness to obey Yahweh, despite the fact that he was not a believer. all of Balak's pleas and bribes were futile; instead of cursing the Israelites, Balaam repeatedly blessed them (Numbers 22-24). Later, however, Moses became aware that Balaam had betrayed his people by inducing them to sin grievously by eating food sacrificed to idols. He ordered Balaam's death (Numbers 31:8-16). Even in the New Testament reference is made to Balaam's iniquity. Jude classifies him with the rebellious Cain and Korah (Jude 11), and John denounces certain evildoers as "followers of Balaam" (Revelation 2:14).
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.