Balaam’s Messianic Prophecy and Moab’s “Plan B”By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
“I’m leaving,” Balaam continued, “but before I go, let me tell you what Israel is destined to do to your people in the end times. I see it – not now, but it’s coming! A “star” (i.e., the Moshiach, Messiah) will come from Israel, crushing your nation and ruling over the inhabitants of the world. Edom and Seir will be destroyed, while Israel will emerge victorious. The ruler will come from Israel; Amalek will be eradicated. Assyria won’t refrain from overrunning the Kenites. The Kittim will conquer the Assyrians and they will be destroyed in turn.”
And with that, Balaam left. (The Kittim may be the Romans. See Nach Yomi Companion vol. 2 on Daniel chapter 11.)
While Israel was camped in Shittim, the people began to sin with Moabite girls. (The girls were sent by Balak to tempt the Jews into sin so that they would lose their Divine protection.) The Jews partied with the girls and were literally seduced into serving the Moabite idols, particularly the one called Baal Peor. This angered G-d, Who sent a plague.
G-d told Moshe to have the leaders take their spears and run through the violators. If they failed to do so, the results of the plague would be far worse. Moshe informed the leaders, who wept at the order. While they were equivocating, a Jewish man brought out his Midianite lover in public view. Pinchas, son of Elazar, was filled with zeal on behalf of G-d and he impaled them both in a single thrust. This halted the plague, though 24,000 had already died.