Parshat Balak is the 7th in the Book of Numbers covering most of Chapters 22-25. It describes the sinister strategy of Balak, King of Moab, who feared Bnei Yisrael were about to take over his kingdom on their way to the Land of Canaan, just as had been done to Sihon and Og.
Balak attempted to thwart their efforts by luring the notorious Prophet Balaam to Moab with the promise of riches; and on 3 separate occasions, called on him to curse Bnei Yisrael but frustratingly, Balaam’s words instead came out as blessings. Balak dismissed him but not before Bnei Yisrael began committing the grievous sins of harlotry with the daughters of Moab and of worshipping the god Peor.
The crisis reached its climax when a prince of the tribe of Shimon, publicly covorted with a daughter of Midian in front of Moshe & Aharon. Their act was interrupted by the zealot Pinhas whose spear caught them in the act, putting a stop to a plague that had already taken 24,000 lives.
Parshat Balak contains some of the most esoteric poetry about Bnei Yisrael and about the future of their surrounding neighbours, describing the Jewish people and their destiny through the prophetic lens of an outsider.
Included are the famous words, ‘How Good are Your Tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places O Israel’ (Numbers 24:5), a phrase Jews recite daily during our morning prayers.