New Catholic Dictionary – Balaam

detail of the painting 'Balaam and the angel' by Gustav Jaeger, 1836Article

A prophet in Old Testament history. As he was a sorcerer of wide repute, the help of his curses was invoked by King Balac of Moab against the hosts of Israel who were massing on the Dead Sea and the Jordan. On the road to Balac, Balaam beat the ass he rode for starting in fear from the roadway. The ass startled him by rebuking him for his cruelty. He then suddenly became aware of the presence of an angel who warned him not to disobey God. All his efforts at enchantment against Israel only ended in multiplied benedictions on the Hebrews. His seer’s vision showed him a glorious star and a mighty scepter to rise out of Jacob. By his advice, however, women were used to seduce the Hebrews into idolatry, not without success. In the resulting war many of the chosen people as well as many of the Madianites, with Balac and Balaam, lost their lives (Numbers 22-24 and 31).

MLA Citation

  • “Balaam”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 6 August 2018. Web. 28 September 2020. <>