"And Balak said to Balaam, "Come now, I will take you to another place; perhaps it will please God that you may curse them for me from there." So Balak took Balaam to the top of Peor, that overlooks the desert." (Numbers 23:27-28 RSV)

Peor, meaning opening, or gap, was a mountain, or highland, somewhere east of the Jordan River, in Moab. The only mention of it in Bible History (see also Bible Places), specifically by name, is in the verses above when King Balak of Moab tried to get Balaam, a sorcerer from Mesopotamia, to get God to pronounce a curse upon Israel. It of course didn't work because God was with Israel, actually leading and defending the Israelites, who were on the last leg of their journey, through Moab, after the Exodus to their promised land.

Balak and Balaam

Balaam, the son of Beor, was from Pethor in Mesopotamia (Deuteronomy 23:4). He was a very influential sorcerer who, although aware of the true God, made his services available on a freelance basis. Near the end of their Wilderness Journey, as the Israelites under Moses (Aaron had died shortly before, Numbers 20:22-29) were advancing north into Moab just prior to their turning west to cross The Jordan River, King Balak of Moab hired Balaam to perform the impossible task of stopping them (Numbers chapters 22-24).

With the Israelites approaching, King Balak sent messengers to Balaam to get him to put a curse on the Israelites (Numbers 22:5-7). The Lord (see Rock Of Ages) however appeared to Balaam and warned him not to do it (Numbers 22:12).

King Balak then sent other messengers to Balaam with an offer of great riches if he would curse the Israelites (Numbers 22:15-17). This time The Lord allowed Balaam to go with them to Moab, but on the condition that he do only what The Lord told him (Numbers 22:20).

Then came the famous incident with Balaam's talking donkey on the journey to Moab (Numbers 22:21-35). Centuries later, Peter referred to the incident (2 Peter 2:15-16).

When Balaam arrived in Moab, King Balak greeted him, but Balaam warned the king that he could only say what God allowed him (Numbers 22:36-38). King Balak's strategy was about to backfire.

Balaam's oracles then followed, all of which blessed the Israelites instead of cursing them (Numbers 23:1-29). By the time that he was done, the Holy Spirit had caused Balaam to speak a rich blessing upon Israel:

Despite that he should by then have known better, although he could not directly curse the Israelites, Balaam still advised King Balak how to tempt the Israelites into disobeying God:

Balaam was killed in a later battle between Israel and the Midianites (Numbers 31:8).

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This Day In History, August 25

325: The Council Of Nicaea ended with the adoption of the Nicene Creed, establishing the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Trinity.

1560: Protestantism was formally adopted at the First General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. The Scottish Parliament had already instituted a Calvinist confession of faith, declaring that the pope no longer had jurisdiction over Scotland.

1580: Spanish forces under the Duke of Alva fought the Portuguese at the Battle of Alcantara.

1609: Galileo demonstrated his newly-invented telescope to the Roman church authorities. His discoveries nearly got him condemned for heresy.

1635: A hurricane hit Plymouth colony.

1718: The city of New Orleans, Louisiana, was founded and named in honor of the Duke of Orleans of France.

1758: The Prussian army defeated the invading Russians at the Battle of Zorndorf.

1825: Uruguay declared its independence from Spain.

1830: A revolt broke out in the French-speaking provinces of the Netherlands, against union into Belgium.

1943: During the Second World War, Louis Mountbatten of Britain was appointed Supreme Allied Commander in Southeast Asia.

1944: Paris was liberated from German occupation by Free French Forces under General Jacques LeClerc.

1978: The Shroud of Turin, (incorrectly) believed by some to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, went on public display for the first time in over 40 years.

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