The prophet Bilam (Balaam) is not an isolated individual, an anomaly in Scripture. He was not the first or last emissary to the Gentiles. God did not leave them without guidance. Bilam is a foreshadowing of the ministry of Saul of Tarsus, aka the apostle Paul, whose experience on the road to Damascus echoes the account in the Torah reading בָּלָק Balak of Bilam’s experience with a “recalcitrant” she-donkey.
In 1st Kings 9 and its parallel in 2nd Chronicles 8 read like reports on building projects, yet God is communicating something extremely important that would ring true over thousands of years to our day: Something that is a great blessing — Israel and the Temple — could become a curse, yet something cursed can become a blessing.
At first, it’s puzzling why Noach cursed Cana’an for something his father, Ham, did. Is this a generational curse, with the sins of the father being meted out to future generations? Is something else going on here? The answer seems to be in the meaning of the Hebrew words for curse and Cana’an.
What kind of woman was Eve? She was just as smart as Adam. God says through Paul that Adam was the one who sinned, but it was Eve who was deceived. She was created to be Adam’s opposite. She was created intelligent and hard-working.
Adam and Eve made a terrible mistake. Was Eve’s mistake greater than Adam’s? No, Adam’s mistake was greater than hers. For those who have more knowledge, when they sin, they will be “beaten with many stripes.” When someone with less knowledge sins, they are “beaten with few stripes.” (Luke 12:47–48)
These two chapters are very heavy and they record far more curses than blessings. The previous chapters we covered tell us how God expects to treat one another and today’s chapters show us how God will either reward or punish the people depending on how well they put His words into practice.
In chapter 10, use of two silver trumpets is explained, such as calling together the people to celebrate the New Moon and other appointed times (מועדים mo’edim). In chapter 11, the people of Israel call out for more than meat and manna, and God curses the cravers with copious quail followed by a plague.
This is the second part of a study of a special type of sin offering. [See part 2.] The church has taught most of us that all sins are created equal but the Torah shows us otherwise. God not only looks at the sin but at the motive of the heart of the person committing the sin and the extent of their influence in the community at large. God provided different rules and consequences for different kinds of sins based on the severity of the sin and the intent (or lack thereof) of the sinner. This chapter tells us how God wanted the people, the priests and the rulers to make atonement for their unintended wrongdoings against Him.