Balak (wearing a crown) with Balaam
|Title||King of Moab|
|Birth place||Kingdom of Moab|
|Death place||Kingdom of Moab|
Balak (Hebrew: בָּלָק Bālāq) 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.On his journey to meet the princes of Moab, Balaam is stopped by an angel of the lord after beating his donkey. He tells the angel he will return home: "I have sinned. Yet I did not know that you took up a position to oppose my journey". The angel instructs Balaam to attend the meeting with the princes of Moab but to "say only what I tell you". 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, as well as 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) . 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.
Other sources detailing the story of Balak:
- Numbers 22–24
- Judges 11:25 - This is the only time in the Bible that Balak is not mentioned in direct conjunction with Balaam.
- Micah 6:5