Going Your Own Way
Parashat Balak

Dena Weiss

God is not pleased with the prophet Bil’am. When Bil’am plans to curse the Jewish people at the behest of Moav and Midian, God initially states unequivocally that He will not allow it. But Balak, the king of Moav, isn’t content with this answer. He exerts pressure on Bil’am and tempts him with the possibility of receiving even more wealth and honor. So Bil’am goes back to God and asks again. This time, Bil’am receives a different reply, "God came to Bil’am at night and said to him, "If these people have come to summon you, get up and go with them, but you may only do what I tell you to" (BeMidbar 22:20). Why does God change His response here? If God does not want Bil’am to curse the people, then why does He not repeat His earlier response of a clear “no?” And if God is willing to let Bil’am try his hand at achieving his aim, then why does God later try to stop Bil’am on the way by sending an angel to block his path?

 
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