Was Baalam a Magi?

balaam_donkey

I can hear you out there saying, “WHAT?”

But hear me out.  Baalam came from near the Euphrates in Babylon and practiced cursing and blessing.  He also was known to use enchantments.

BUT the real connection comes with his prophecy that is recorded in NUMBERS 24:15-19

“The utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,
And the utterance of the man whose eyes are opened;
16 The utterance of him who hears the words of God,
And has the knowledge of the Most High,
Who sees the vision of the Almighty,
Who falls down, with eyes wide open:

17 “I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,”

 

bethlehemstar

Many scholars believe that this is a prophecy of the star that the Magi followed to visit the Christ child shortly after his birth!  It may be that Baalam was a precursor to the Magi of Babylon or quite possibly a divotee of the Most High God, YAHWEH, much like Melchizedek, the priest who ministered to Abram.  Whichever it may be, he knew the name, Yahweh, which was the most sacred name for the Hebrew God.  He listened to Yahweh.  And, part of the time, did what God told him to do.

He not only knew the name of Yahweh, but he know morality which existed far beyond the ritual sacrifices that Israel would make all but useless in the coming centuries.  In fact, this outsider possibly performed a purer faith, at times, than the chosen children of God.

The story has amazing similarities to the Nativity story also.  Both have an evil king with fowl intentions attempting to use good men to do his bidding.  Baalam had two servants with him which brought his number to three; just like the Wisemen in Matthew.  The first century Jewish Philosopher, PHILO, actually calls Balaam a Magos aka a Magus like Matthew called the Wisemen, Magi.  Baalam was under the influence of God as he prophised, as I mentioned, the very star that the Magi in Matthew followed.  And both Balaam and the Magi go from simple pagan mystics to men endowed with knowledge and prophecy from God.

Balaam may not have been a Magi.  But there is a possibility that he had disciples who carried the above prophecy in their hearts and passed it down for over 1,300 years to be a part of the reason that the Magi watched the stars night after night, looking for this very sign!

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