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Balak ( Ḇālāq, "devastator") was a king of Moab described in the Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible, where his dealings with the prophet Balaam are recounted. Balak tried to engage Balaam for the purpose of cursing the migrating Israelite community (Numbers 22:1-5). A famous but enigmatic scene when Balaam talk with a speaking donkey ensues (Numbers 22:21-35). According to Numbers 22:2, and Joshua 24:9, Balak was the son of Zippor.

In the preceding chapter of Numbers, the Israelites, seeking the Promised Land following their Exodus from Egypt, had defeated the Canaanites at a place named Hormah, the Amorites and the people of Bashan, and next approached Moab. The biblical narrative stresses the fears of the people of Moab, who were 'exceedingly afraid' and 'sick with dread' (NKJV) or 'terrified (GNT) (Numbers 22:3). Their fears appear to relate to the size of the Israelite population and the consequent resource depletion which could be expected if they were permitted to occupy Moabite land.

Balak initially conferred with his Midianite allies in order to block Israelite settlement, before sending his elders to seek Balaam's curse on them. The Midianites appear to have been co-located with the Moabites - according to the Targum of Jonathan, they were one alliance of people at this time and therefore had a common interest in preventing Israelite settlement of the area.

After his mission with Balaam to curse Israelites was vain, Balak decided to ally with Midianite to gather their maid in order to lead Israelites men astray in adultery.

Other sources detailing the story of Balak:

  • - This is the only time in the Bible that Balak is not mentioned in direct conjunction with Balaam.

According to the Pulpit Commentary, Balak seems to be mentioned by name on a papyrus in the British Museum.

Balak (parsha)

Balak ( — Hebrew for "Balak," a name, the second word, and the first distinctive word, in the parashah) is the 40th weekly Torah portion (, parashah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the seventh in the Book of Numbers. It constitutes 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 (, Sefer Torah).

Jews generally read it in late June or July. In most years (for example, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, 2024, 2025 and 2028), parashah Balak is read separately. In some years (for example, 2020, 2023, 2026, and 2027) 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).

In the parashah, Balak son of Zippor, king of Moab, tries to hire Balaam to curse Israel, Balaam's donkey speaks to Balaam, and Balaam blesses Israel instead.

The name "Balak" means "devastator", "empty", or "wasting". The name apparently derives from the sparsely used Hebrew verb (balak), "waste or lay waste." There are no derivations of this verb besides this name.

Balak (disambiguation)

Balak was a Biblical king of Moab.

Balak may also refer to: