"A nation that dwells alone"
We are all familiar with the story of Bilaam, (Numbers 22:2-25:9) the heathen prophet hired by Balak, king of Moav, to place a curse upon the nation of Israel. In fact, even if we never heard or read the Biblical account, the major lines of the story would seem tantalizingly familiar: The delegation of notables sent by Balak to lobby Bilaam, the money being offered in exchange for Bilaam's "diplomatic" services, the fact that these two historically antagonistic nations banded together to engage in open "wordfare," (delegitimization), against Israel, and the theatrical, media savvy way in which Bilaam presented his curses, (reminiscent, perhaps of CNN or Al Jazeera), all could have been lifted from our morning newspaper. Not much has really changed over the millennia.
But the way in which we, the readers, understand the story of Bilaam, and the manner in which Israel understood what was transpiring in real time, are not quite the same. We are clued in from the start that Bilaam was hired to curse Israel, and that G-d compelled his lips to form blessings and not curses. But despite the above comparison with the machinations of our current batch of world leaders in collaboration with the modern media giants, the nation of Israel, at that time, wasn't able to hear the words emerging from Bilaam's mouth. To the best of their knowledge, he was, in fact, cursing Israel, precisely as he had been contracted to do. To the nation's credit they did not wilt or disintegrate in the face of Bilaam's alleged curses. This was their strength. Despite the fact that the most powerful nations all around her were actively engaging in Israel's demise. she remained resilient and stable. Israel was impervious to the world's opprobrium.
But what if Israel did hear Bilaam's words? What if Israel was exposed to the honey-tongued blessings rolling off of Bilaam's prophetic lips? Could she have withstood the sudden barrage of praise and admiration so successfully as she bore up to what she had assumed to be a flotilla of lies and castigations? Would a charm offensive have worked where the hate-fest failed? We can look to modern day Israel for the answer. Nearly twenty years ago an internationally sponsored "peace process" began. The outwardly stated object was to fulfill the Biblical prophecies of peace on earth and of the lion sleeping alongside the lamb. But the barely veiled goal was to divest Israel of its heartland, of its holiest sites and of its ability to defend itself. The idea was to insert a sinister terror entity within Israel's midst. If all went well, Israel would tear itself up from within and disappear of its own accord. If that rosy option failed, then the terrorist entity could be upgraded to a terrorist state and they could do the required work. A little messy, but what the heck.
Now all of these evil intentions were wrapped up in the double-speak of peace and virtue, of justice and respect, of brotherly love and accommodation. Warm embraces, pats on the back and well documented handshakes were just the backdrop for the soaring words of praise the leaders of the free world showered upon Israel, a brave and forgiving people indeed! Nobel prizes and international accolades were not spared. The most important people on the face of the earth all came to visit little Israel, practically tripping over one another, in order to praise Israel, and to prod her a little further along the trail of destruction. And how did Israel weather this cynical love storm? Her "goodly tents" (Numbers 23:5) indeed were violently shaken. Her "dwelling places" (ibid) indeed were under constant attack. But Israel did, once again, survive the sanctimonious blessings of her many courters, and, in time, the mask of love and admiration was, once and for all, removed. Indignant that Israel wouldn't rollover and die, the nations abandoned the deceitful love-offensive and began speaking candidly with revulsion and antipathy toward Israel. Israel's "peace partner," the Palestinians, had never desisted from expressing their genocidal intentions, and now they have been joined by the European nations, bristling with renewed and rampant loathing for Israel and the Jews. Even a small number of Americans, accompanied by much press coverage took part in the latest (unsuccessful) flotilla poisoned propaganda attack on Israel. And the man who leads the free world, President Barack H. Obama, a brilliant, Bilaam-like speaker in his own right, is having an increasingly difficult time hiding his true intentions toward Israel. Whatever withering criticism he doesn't voice outright, he delegates to the tyrants who run the UN, or to his cronies and sycophants in the US press to do for him.
Nearly four thousand years ago Israel's enemies tried to curse her into oblivion, and G-d replaced their invective with loving praise. In our generation we have witnessed Israel's enemies attempting to praise and lovingly coax her into self immolation, and. lo, G-d had ripped off the sugary veneer from their words of affection, revealing for all to hear and to see, their hateful, blasphemous intentions toward Israel. G-d said it before and He'll say it again, "You shall not curse the people [of Israel] because they are blessed." (ibid 22:12)
The Hebrew meaning of the name Bilaam can be understood to mean a "great glutton - a swallower (destroyer) of nations." (What our friends on the far left might coin today an "imperialist" or "colonialist.") G-d turned his words around way back then and He has turned the words of his successors today, as well. So it might be enlightening to turn Bilaam's own name around, and examine what that means. Bilaam reversed is "Ma'aliv." In Hebrew, ma'aliv means to insult, to humiliate. And this is what Bilaam's army today is attempting to do today to Israel, by land or by sea, by air and by tunneling under the ground: to humiliate and morally crush Israel into submission. We've got new for Bilaam: Not going to happen!
"He does not look at iniquity in Ya'akov, and has seen no perversity in Israel; HaShem, his G-d, is with him, and the shouting for the King is among them." (ibid 23:21)
Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK, as Yitzchak Reuven and special guest host Tzvi Richman examine Bilaam and Balak and the flotilla of hatred, and how our concerned "friends" around the world are delegitimizing Israel via sweet words of blessing, human rights & the politically correct.
Using every angle under the sun, Balak and the heathen mercenary prophet Bilaam pulled out all the stops trying to curse the nation of Israel. Seeing that they couldn't militarily overcome Israel this was their desperate attempt to keep Israel from possessing the land G-d chose for her. Sound familiar? As president Barack H. Obama said, the "international community [has] expectations [that] have gone unmet." No doubt Balak was thinking the same thing when he called in the world's top-gun PR spin-master, G-d googling DJ Bilaam to try to find the right combination of words to crack the G-d Israel connection.