COVETOUSNESS: Lesson 9 – Balaam


Lesson 9—Balaam

Balaam loved the wages of unrighteousness (2 Pet. 2:15). You will find the account of Balaam’s wicked betrayal of Israel in Numbers, chapters 22 to 24. The reading is long, but well worth the time you will spend to understand this covetous man. Balaam has been described as a prophet, a magician and a soothsayer (Josh. 13:22). He was summoned by the Moabite king, Balak, to curse the Israelites before they entered Canaan (Num. 22:5-24:25; Deut. 23:4-5).

The New Testament mentions Balaam in three passages. Peter speaks of false teachers who “…have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15). Jude speaks of backsliders who “…ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward…” (Jude 11). Balaam’s error was greed or covetousness, and obviously he was well paid to bring a curse upon the people of Israel.

The nature of Balaam’s curse is made clear by John in the Book of Revelation. It refers to some members of the church in Pergamos who held “the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication” (Rev. 2:14).

Before leaving Balak, Balaam apparently told the Moabite leader how Israel could be defeated if its people were seduced to worship Baal, “…to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication” (Rev. 2:14). This was exactly what happened. Israel was strong while she remained faithful to Jehovah, but she incurred the curse which Balaam could not inflict, the moment that the men of Israel committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab (Num. 25:1, 6; 31:15-16). In condemning “the way of Balaam,” the New Testament condemns the greed of all who are well paid to tempt God’s people to compromise their moral standards.


1. What was Balak’s original offer to Balaam (Num. 22:16-17)?

2. Why did King Balak send more honorable men to Balaam the second time?

3. Whose idea was it to get money for cursing Israel (Num. 22:16-19)?

4. What was in Balaam’s mind from the beginning? (Num. 22:18)?

5. Was Balaam sincere in his desire to speak only what the Lord had put in his mouth (Num. 22:38; 23:12)?

6. Why did Balaam ask God the second time with the same question when he already knew God’s answer?

7. What did Balak offer to give to Balaam (Num. 22:16-17)?

8. Can we prove that Balaam got money from King Balak (Jude 11)?

9. Give the context and teaching about those who are like Balaam (Jude 11).

10. Think of as many kinds of people in the world today as you can who might be paid to seduce God’s people to do wrong.