The Error of Balaam

We’ve covered Cain’s path and Korah’s rebellion; now it is time to address Balaam’s error.

Frankly, I am perplexed as to what Balaam’s error actually was.  In reading his saga, I see a man who affirmed God as “my God,” heard God’s voice, and fully obeyed God’s instructions.  Indeed Balaam had a better track record them me.

God told Balaam to not go and he stayed.  Then God told him to go and he went — but God was angry because he did.  Based on this, it would not be a stretch to conclude that God was bipolar.

However, I will reject that diagnosis as being inconsistent with God’s character, instead seeking a different explanation.

Perhaps the first time that God said “no” should have been enough.  Balaam had no need to ask again — unless he didn’t like the first answer.  It might be like kids pestering their folks for something.

Eventually the parents relent, not because they changed their mind, but because they want to teach their offspring a lesson about making good choices or learning what happens when bad paths are selected.

Another consideration is the implication that Balaam was mixing his pursuit of God with divination, a practice strictly verboten.  This is a common practice today, where practitioners cherry pick the choice parts of various religions or philosophies, forming their own belief system.

Is there any expectation that their outcome will be different from Balaam’s, who was ultimately killed for his error?

[Numbers 22-24, Joshua 13:22]

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at