3 Actually, everyone in Moab was terrified of the Israelites. And Moab hated the Israelites, because there were so many of them!
Now we overhear this very unusual dialogue between the Moabite leader Balak and the respected prophet Balaam. While Balaam is not an Israelite, he has a healthy respect for the God of the Israelites. No matter how Balak tempts Balaam to curse the people of the Lord, God continues speaking to Balaam and frustrating Balak’s plans. Eventually it comes down to a not-so-dumb donkey instructing the great prophet. Both Balaam and Balak learn that God is not one to be toyed with. He can frustrate the plans of even the greatest kings and prophets.
Interestingly, a discovery was made in Jordan of an inscription containing prophecies of Balaam. He specialized in animal divination, slaughtering animals for his prophetic purposes. So Balaam was used to hearing God “speak” through animals, if not always so directly.
Moabites (to elders in the neighboring Midianite community): 4 This voracious horde, these Israelites, will wipe us out without so much as a second thought. They’ll devour us and move through our land as a herd of hungry cows mows a field.
Balak (Zippor’s son), you’ll remember, was then the king of Moab. 5 In the face of this threat, he sent messengers to the famous prophet Balaam (Beor’s son), who lived in a town that belonged to his country on the Euphrates River called Pethor. Balak wanted the prophet to come to Moab.
Since the victories over Sihon and Og, the Israelites have gained a reputation of taking over. Their size and strength frighten the local inhabitants.
Moab’s Message (to Balaam): There is a group of people who came from Egypt and who have settled right near me. They cover the land with their numbers.