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Torah Commentary Blog

Parashat Balak (July 4, 2015)
by Rabbi David M. Posner

OUR SIDRAH THIS WEEK, Balak, gives us a very unusual example of the prophetic function, as understood in the ancient Middle East. Balaam is a prophet from Pethor, on the river, in the land of Amo. The words “Pethor” and “Amo” are known from Akkadian cuneiform texts. Coming from a city on the Euphrates River, Balaam lived in an environment that was just perfect for prophecy and ripe with soothsayers. In fact, there exists one particular letter, written in Akkadian, from the Babylonian city Mari on the Euphrates, which specifically mentions seers who were sent along with troops into battle. Balaam was just such a seer.

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Comments
Rabbi Posner's commentary
How right you are! Just being what my mother called "book bright"
is no guarantee of true wisdom. I once  joined Mensa, that organization of
so-called geniuses, and found among the membership many who relied on their
ability to pass "intelligence tests" as evidence of their wisdom.
I finally got so disgusted that I became what a friend called "the
first Mensa dropout" that she had known.

bjeis - June 29th


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