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    Was Bilam really a prophet? – Balak

    The angel meets Balaam, Foster Bible Pictures, 1897

    The angel meets Balaam, Foster Bible Pictures, 1897

    There are famous rabbinic debates which resound through the ages. The rabbis debate about No’ach, about Job… and about whether Bilam was a prophet.

    Some say that Bilam even reached prophetic par with Moses, the “father of the prophets” (Sifrei). Others point to his spiritual drawbacks and moral vagaries.

    In favour of his possessing prophetic status, we find the Torah calling him “one who hears the words of God and knows the knowledge of the Most High” (Num. 24:16).

    Without deciding one way or other in the debate, the Torah’s words are a useful definition of a prophet, who “hears (and conveys) the words of God and knows the knowledge of the Most High”.

    Note that the prophet is in no way independent of God. He is the Divine messenger, no more – but also no less.

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