The Portion of Balak

The Portion of Balak

This week’s portion demonstrates the scope of the Israelites’ reputation during their desert travels. Balak, the king of Moab, hears what befell the Amorites when they stood up to God’s people and decides he does not want to meet a similar fate. He opts to hire...

Sin at Shittim

While the Israelites are encamped at Shittim, they begin to sin with the daughters of Moab, joining in their idolatrous practices. God instructs Moses to take the tribal leaders and mete out justice against the sinners.   As Moses instructs the judges to slay...

Curses and Blessings

Three times Balaam sets out to curse the Children of Israel on behalf of Balak and three times he fails. Each time, Balak takes him to a different vantage point from which he can see less and less of the Israelites. Balaam has Balak set up seven altars, upon which he...

Hiring a Sorcerer

Balak, king of Moab, is determined to protect his people from the nation camped in the plains of Moab. He sends messengers to known sorcerer Balaam, asking him to come curse the Israelites. Balaam insists he can only do what God allows him and consults with God in a...
The Portion of Balak

The Portion of Chukat

This action-packed portion begins with the laws of the red heifer, an unusual ritual which causes the participant to become pure, but those involved in the preparation to become impure. From there, the narrative picks up again with the death of Moses’s sister, Miriam,...