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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu> Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 07:58:29 -0400 (EDT) Subject: RE: Is Bilam a Rasha? David (v28n83) asks for a defense that Bilam was wicked. This topic by the way was recently discussed in the email group, Torah-Forum where a variety of opinions (similar to those in our mail-jewish group) appeared. While it is certainly interesting to cite various Biblical commentators I think it would be helpful if we started the discussion with a direct citation of Biblical verses. There are two main sets of verses explicitly indicating Bilam was an evil person. 1) Jos 24:8-9---"BALAK asked Bilam to curse the Jews..and I (God) refused to listen to BILAM"(So he wanted to curse us). (cf Dt 23:6 which also places blame on Bilam although the major emphasis of the Dt 23:5-6 verses is against Amon and Moav-- finally compare Neh 13-2 "Bilam was hired to curse us but God changed the curse to a blessing"--so apparently he did curse us). 2) Nu 31:14-16---"These women were against the Jews AT THE ADVISE of Bilam...." (or at the WORD of BILAM--at any rate this verse makes it clear that Bilam helped instigate the women against the Jews a sin which caused a plague of 24000). With regard to this last verse (Nu 31:14-16), it is this verse that explains why we judge the juxtaposition of the Nu 25 (Sinning with the Midianite women) and Nu 24 (Bilams prophecies) as indicating causality. For we do NOT learn that Bilam gave advise from the juxtaposition. Rather we learn it from the explicit verse Nu 31:14-16) AFTER having learned that he gave advice to the Midianite women we can then see the juxtaposition as SUPPORTIVE evidence. In my email group, Rashi Is Simple I call this the principle of OTHER VERSES--in other words Rashi is not learning something from some minor nuance in the verse being studied but rather he is learning it from an EXPLICIT statement in another verse. I should also point out that once we establish that Bilam was wicked and involved in sexual sins we have the right to interpret other Biblical verses that way: For example, Nu 22:30 is interpreted to mean that Bilam committed Bestiality--again: The derivation is not from the verse itself but from the OTHER verses which depict Bilam as an evil person. Russell Hendel;Phd ASA;Rashi Is Simple;http://www.shamash.org/rashi/