Parshas Balak

Words in bold represent changes to the traditional translation based on the Aramaic translation/commentary attributed to Onkelos the Ger.

Parshas Balak


2. Balak son of Tzipor saw all that Israel had done to the Emorites.

3. The Moabite[1] was greatly afraid before the people because it was numerous. The Moabite was distressed from before the children of Israel.

4. The Moabite said to the elders of Midian, “Now this community will destroy all that is around us like an ox licks up the vegetables of the field.” And Balak son of Tzipor was king to Moav at that time.

5. He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor in Pesor (of) Aram, which is on the Euphrates (in) the land of his countrymen, to invite him, saying, “Behold, a people came out from Egypt. Behold, it conceals the eye of the sun (on) the land and it camps next to me.

6. Now come now, curse this people for me, since it is too strong for me. Perhaps I can battle against it and drive it from the land because I know that whom you bless is blessed and whom you curse is cursed.”

7. The elders of Moav and the elders of Midian went, and talismans in their hands. They came to Balaam and they spoke Balak’s words with him.

8. He said to them, “Stay here at night[2] and I’ll return word to you as Hashem will tell me.” The officers of Moav stayed with Balaam.

9. A word came to Balaam from before Hashem and said, “Who are these men who are with you?”

10. Balaam said before Hashem, “Balak son of Tzipor, king of Moav, sent (a message) to me:

11. Behold the people that came out from Egypt and conceals eye of the sun (on) the land. Now come and curse it for me. Maybe I can battle it and drive it away.”

12. Hashem said to Balaam, “Do not go with them. You shall not curse that people because they are blessed.”


13. Balaam got up in the morning; he said to Balak’s officers, “Go to your land because there isn’t desire before Hashem to permit me to go with you.”

14. The Moabite dignitaries arose. They came to Balak and they said, “Balaam refused to go with us.”

15. Balak continued to send further officers, more (numerous) and honored than the these.

16. They came to Balaam and they said to him, “Thus says Balak son of Tzipor: now don’t refuse to come to me.

17. I will honor you greatly, and all that you say to me I will do. Now come curse this people for me.”

18. Balaam answered and he said to Balak’s servants, “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I wouldn’t have permission to violate the decree of the word[3] of Hashem my God to do (anything) small or large.

19. Now also you now stay here at night, and I will know what Hashem will add to speak with me.”

20. A word from before Hashem came to Balaam by night and said to him, “If the men have come to invite you, get up (and) go with them, but only the matter that I will speak with you, that you shall do.”


21. Balaam got up in the morning. He saddled his donkey[4] and he went with the officers of Moav.

22. Hashem’s anger intensified because he went. An angel of Hashem stood in the road as an adversary to him. He was riding on his donkey and his two youths with him.

23. The donkey saw the angel of Hashem standing in the way and his sword drawn in his hand. The donkey swerved from the road and went in the field; Balaam beat the donkey to turn her to the road.

24. The angel of Hashem then stood in a path of the vineyards – a place of a fence on this (side) and a fence on this (side).

25 The donkey saw the angel of Hashem. She pressed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s leg against the wall. He continued to beat her.

26. The angel of Hashem continued to pass; he stood in a narrow place that had no way to swerve to the right or to the left.

27. The donkey saw the angel of Hashem; she lay down under Balaam. Balaam’s anger intensified; he beat the donkey with the staff.

28. Hashem opened the donkey’s mouth. She said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have beaten me these three times?”

29. Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a mockery of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I’d kill you now.”

30. The donkey said to Balaam, “Aren’t I your donkey that you ridden on me from your beginning until this day? Have I been in the habit to do such to you?” He said, “No.”

31. Hashem uncovered Balaam’s eyes and he saw the angel of Hashem standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand. He kneeled and prostrated on his face.

32. The angel of Hashem said to him, “For what have you beaten your donkey these three times? Behold, I came out to be an adversary because it is revealed before Me that you wish to travel a path opposite me.

33. The donkey saw me; she turned from before me those three times. If she hadn’t turned from before me, I would now also have killed you and kept her alive.”

34. Balaam said to the angel of Hashem, “I sinned because I didn’t know that you stood before me in the road. And now, if it’s evil in your eyes, I will return myself.”

35. The angel of Hashem said to Balaam, “Go with the men and say nothing except the word that I will speak with you – that you shall say.” Balaam went with Balak’s officers.

36. Balak heard that Balaam had come; he went out to meet him at Ir-Moav, which is on the Arnon border, which is on the side of the border.

37. Balak said to Balaam, “Didn’t I send to you to invite you? Why didn’t you come to me? Did you truly say I am unable to honor you?”

38. Balaam said to Balak, “Behold, I have come to you now. Am I able to speak anything? The word that Hashem puts in my mouth – that I will speak.”


39. Balaam went with Balak and they came to his city of markets.

40. Balak slaughtered cattle and sheep; he sent (them) to Balaam and to the officers who were with him.

41. It happened in the morning (that) Balak took Balaam; they ascended the height of (the object of) his fear.[5] From there he saw some of the people.

Chapter 23

1. Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here[6] seven altars and prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.”

2. Balak did as Balaam said. Balak and Balaam offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

3. Balaam said to Balak, “Stand by[7] your burnt offerings and I will go. Perhaps a word from before Hashem will occur to meet me, and the thing that He will show me I will tell you.” He went alone.

4. A word from before God occurred to Balaam. He (Balaam) said before Him, “I have arranged seven altars and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.”

5. Hashem put a word in Balaam’s mouth. He said, “Return to Balak and so you shall speak.”

6. He returned to him and behold, he stood by his burnt offerings – he and all the officers of Moav.

7. He took up his parable; he said, “From Aram Balak king of Moav led me, from the hills of the East. Come, curse Yaakov for me! Come, dispatch Israel for me!

8. How can I curse whom God has not cursed, and how can I dispatch whom Hashem has not dispatched?

9. Because I see it from the mountain tops; I gaze upon it from the hills. Behold, it is a people that will inherit the world by themselves, and among the nations they are not judged for extermination.

10. Who can count the young of the house of Yaakov, of whom it was said they would be as many as the dust of the land? Or one of the four camps of Israel? May my soul die the death of its upright – may my end be like theirs!”[8]

11. Balak said to Balaam, “What have you done to me? I took you to curse my enemy and behold, you have surely blessed them!”

12. He answered and said, “Isn’t that which Hashem will put in my mouth that (which) I will be careful to speak?”


13. Balak said to him, “Now come with me to another place from which you can see it. You will see some of it – you won’t see all of it – and you shall curse it for me from there.”

14. He took him to the plain of the outpost on the top of the summit. He built seven altars and offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

15. He said to Balak, “Stand here by your burnt offerings and I will reach until there.”[9]

16. A word from before Hashem occurred to Balaam. He put a word in his mouth and He said, “Return to Balak and so shall you speak.”

17. He came to him and[10] he was standing by his burnt offering, and the officers of Moav with him. Balak said to him, “What did Hashem say?”

18. He took up his parable and said: Arise, Balak, and hear; heed my word, son of Tzipor!

19. The word of God is not like the words of humans; humans speak and are deceitful. And also not like the deeds of flesh, who decree to do then turn back and regret, because He says and does; each of His words is upheld.

20. Behold, I received blessings; I will bless Israel and I won’t retract blessing from it.

21. I have seen there are none who serve idols in the house of Jacob, and also there are none who labor for falsehood in Israel. The word of Hashem their God aids them, and the presence of their King is among them.[11]

22. God, Who brought them out from Egypt – strength and majesty are His.

23. Because the sorcerers don’t want it to be well for the house of Jacob, and magicians don’t want the greatness of the house of Israel. Now, it will be told to Jacob and to Israel what God has done.

24. Behold, a people that camps like a lion, and rises up like a mature lion. It will not camp in its land until it has killed prey and inherits the property of the nations.[12]

25. Balak said to Balaam, “Don’t curse them and don’t bless them!”[13]

26. Balaam answered; he said to Balak, “Didn’t I speak with you, saying, all that Hashem will say, that I will do?”


27. Balak said to Balaam, “Come now. I will take you to a different place. Perhaps there will be desire before Hashem and you will curse it for me from there.”

28. Balak took Balaam to the top of the summit,[14] which overlooks the face of the wasteland place.[15]

29. Balaam said to Balak, “Build for me here seven altars. Prepare for me here seven bulls and seven rams.”

30. Balak did as Balaam said. He offered up a bull and a ram on each altar.

Chapter 24

1. Balaam saw that it was appropriate before Hashem to bless Israel and he didn’t go, as on previous times, but to greet omens. He turned his face to receive the calf Israel made in the wilderness.

2. Balaam raised his eyes and saw Israel camped by its Tribes, and a spirit of prophecy from before Hashem settled on him.

3. He took up his parable and said, “Thus says Balaam son of Beor, and thus says the man who sees well;[16]

4. thus says one who hears a word from before God, who sees a vision from before the Almighty; he lies down and it is revealed to him.

5. How good is your land, Jacob, the place of your camp, Israel!

6. Like streams that are led, like an irrigated garden by the Euphrates, like spices that Hashem planted, like cedars that are planted beside the water;

7. The king who will be elevated from its sons will thrive, and he will reign over many peoples. Its king will conquer Agag and its sovereignty will be exalted.

8. God, Who brought them from Egypt, strength and majesty are His. The children of Israel will devour the property of the nations, their enemies. They will delight in the spoils of their kings and they will inherit their lands.

9. It will rest. It will dwell with strength like a lion and like a mighty lion; no one would rouse it. Those whom you bless are blessed and those whom you curse are cursed![17]

10. Balak’s anger intensified against Balaam. He struck his palms and Balak said to Balaam, “I called you to curse my enemies and behold, you have surely blessed them these three times!

11. And now, go to your place! I said I would surely honor you, and behold Hashem has withheld the honor from you.”

12. Balaam said to Balak, “Didn’t I also tell your messengers whom you sent to me, saying,

13. ‘(Even) if Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I would lack permission to violate the decree of God’s word[18] to do good or bad from my desire.[19] That which Hashem will say is what I will say.’


14. And now behold, I go to my people. Come, I will advise you what you should do, and I will tell you what this people will do to your people in the end of days.”

15. He took up his parable and said: Thus says Balaam son of Beor, and thus says the man who sees well.

16. Thus says the one who hears a word from before God, and knows knowledge from before the Most High, who beholds a vision from before the Almighty; he lies down and it is revealed to him.

17. I saw it and not now; I beheld it and not soon. When a king arises from Jacob, and moshiach ascends from Israel, it will kill the officers of Moav and rule over all the children of mankind.[20]

18. Edom will be an inheritance, and Seir will be an inheritance of its enemies, and Israel will be successful in property.

19. One from the house of Jacob will go down and destroy the remnant of the city of the nations.”[21]

20. He saw the Amalekite and took up his parable. He said, “The first attack against Israel was the Amalekite, and its end is to be destroyed forever.”

21. He saw the Shalmaite[22] and took up his parable. He said, “Your dwelling place is strong and your abode is set in a powerful city,

22. but if the Shalmaite is (consigned) for destruction, until when[23] will the Assyrian take you captive?”

23. He took up his parable and said, “Woe to the guilty who are alive when God does these (things)!”

24. Battalions will assemble from the Romans, and they will oppress Assyria and dominate the other side of the Euphrates, and even they will also be destroyed forever.

25. Balaam arose and left. He returned to his place, and Balak also went on his way.

Chapter 25

1. Israel dwelled in Shittin,[24] and the people started to stray[25] after the daughters of Moav.

2. They called the people to the sacrifices of their errors.[26] The people ate and prostrated to their errors.

3. Israel attached to Baal-Peor and Hashem’s anger intensified against Israel.

4. Hashem said to Moshe, “Take all the heads of the people; judge and execute who is liable to death before Hashem opposite the sun, and Hashem’s strong wrath will turn away from Israel.”

5. Moshe said to the judges of Israel, “Each man kill his men who were attached to Baal-Peor.”

6. And behold, a man from the children of Israel came and drew a Midianite woman near to his brethren in the eyes of Moshe and in the eyes of the entire congregation of the children of Israel, and they were crying at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.

7. Pinchas, son of Elazar son of Aharon the priest, saw. He arose from among the congregation and he took a spear in his hand.

8. He came after the Israelite man into the chamber; he stabbed both of them – the Israelite man and the woman – in her intestines.[27] The plague was stopped from upon the children of Israel.

9. Those who died in the plague were 24,000.

[1] Rather than “Moav.”

[2] As opposed to “tonight.”

[3] Chumash: “literally, mouth.”

[4] Specifically a female donkey.

[5] i.e., his “god.”

[6] Rather than “in this (place.”

[7] Literally, “on.”

[8] Rather than “its.”

[9] Indicating a different location.

[10] Onkelos omits the Chumash’s “Behold!”

[11] Rather than “the King’s (shofar) blast is in it.”

[12] Rather than “drunk the blood of the slain.”

[13] Literally, “Also don’t curse them, also don’t bless them!”

[14] Chumash: “Peor,” the name of an idol.

[15] Onkelos treats the Hebrew “Y’shimon” (wasteland) as a proper noun.

[16] Rather than “the man of the open eye.”

[17] As opposed to “Those who bless you are blessed and those who curse you are cursed.”

[18] Chumash: “God’s mouth.”

[19] Chumash: “from my heart.”

[20] Rather than “of Seth,” i.e., Adam’s third son, from whom all makind is descended.

[21] Rashi understands this to refer to Rome.

[22] Chumash “the Kenite.”

[23] Literally, “until what.”

[24] Chumash: “Shittim.”

[25] i.e., promiscuously.

[26] A euphemism for idols.

[27] Rather than “stomach.”

© Copyright 2022 Rabbi Jack Abramowitz