who comes from the tribe of Judah. “Moab is My washing pot”; this is referring to Gehazi, who was afflicted with leprosy over matters of washing, as he took money from Naaman, who he instructed to immerse in the Jordan River. “Over Edom I will cast My shoe”; this is referring to Doeg the Edomite. “Philistia, cry aloud [hitroa’i] because of Me”; this is referring to the fact that the ministering angels said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, if David, who killed the Philistine and bequeathed the city of Gath to your sons, will come and complain that You gave a share in the World-to-Come to his enemies Doeg and Ahithophel, what will You do concerning him? Will you accept his complaint? God said to the ministering angels: It is upon me to render David and his enemies friends [re’im] with each other, and even David will agree.
§ With regard to the verse: “Why is this people of Jerusalem slid back in perpetual backsliding?” (Jeremiah 8:5), Rav says: The congregation of Israel answered with a convincing response to the prophet. The prophet said to the Jewish people: Repent, as your ancestors sinned, and where are they? They said to the prophets: And your prophets who did not sin, where are they? They too died, as it is stated: “Your fathers, where are they, and the prophets; do they live forever?” (Zechariah 1:5). The prophet said to the Jewish people: Your ancestors reconsidered and conceded that the admonitions of the prophets were fulfilled, as it is stated: “By my words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? And they repented and said: As the Lord of hosts intended to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so has He dealt with us” (Zechariah 1:6).
Shmuel says that this was the convincing answer: Ten people came and sat before the prophet Ezekiel. He said to them: Repent. They said to Ezekiel: In the case of a slave sold by his owner to another master, or a woman divorced by her husband, does this person have any claim upon that person? Since God gave the Jewish people to other masters, the ties that existed between Him and us were severed. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the prophet: Go say to them: “Where is your mother’s scroll of severance, with which I sent her away? Or to which of My creditors have I sold you? For your iniquities you sold yourselves and for your transgressions was your mother sent away” (Isaiah 50:1). Learn from this that God did not sever His ties to the Jewish people.
And that is what Reish Lakish says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “David, My slave” (II Samuel 3:18), and: “Nebuchadnezzar, my slave” (Jeremiah 43:10)? How can the wicked Nebuchadnezzar be depicted as a slave of God in the same manner that David was depicted? Rather, it is revealed and known before the One Who spoke and the world came into being, that the Jewish people are destined to say that God sold them to the nations and they no longer have ties to Him. Therefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, preemptively called Nebuchadnezzar His slave. With regard to the halakha concerning a slave who acquires property, the slave belongs to whom and the property belongs to whom? They both belong to the master, in this case, the Holy One, Blessed be He.
With regard to the verse: “And what comes into your mind shall never come to be, that you say: We will be like the nations, like the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I rule over you” (Ezekiel 20:32–33), Rav Naḥman says: Let the Merciful One become wrathful at us with all that wrath, and redeem us.
With regard to the verse: “And chastise in judgment; his God will instruct him” (Isaiah 28:26), Rabba bar bar Ḥana says that the prophet said to the Jewish people: Repent. They said to him: We cannot, since the evil inclination dominates us. He said to them: Chastise your inclinations. They said to him: “His God will instruct him,” i.e., God should instruct the evil inclination to allow us to overcome him, as we are incapable of doing so on our own.
§ The mishna teaches that four prominent commoners, Balaam, Doeg, Ahithophel, and Gehazi, have no share in the World-to-Come. The Gemara elaborates: The name Balaam is interpreted as a contraction of: Without a nation [belo am], or one who has no share in the World-to-Come with the Jewish nation. Alternatively, the name Balaam is interpreted as one who wore down the Jewish people [bila am]. He is the son of Beor, one who engaged in bestiality [be’ir].
It was taught in a baraita: He is Beor, father of Balaam, he is Cushan-Rishathaim, he is Laban the Aramean. He was called Beor because he engaged in bestiality. He was called Cushan-Rishathaim because he performed two evil deeds [rishiyyot] to the Jewish people, one during the time of Jacob, when he pursued him intending to kill him, and one during the time when the judges judged. And what was his actual name? His name was Laban the Aramean.
It is written: “Son of Beor” (Numbers 22:5), and it is written elsewhere: “His son Beor” (Numbers 24:3). Rabbi Yoḥanan says in resolving the apparent contradiction: Balaam’s father was his son in terms of prophecy, as Balaam was a much greater prophet.
The Gemara infers from the mishna: Balaam is the one who does not come into the World-to-Come; but other gentiles come into the World-to-Come. Whose opinion is expressed in the mishna?
It is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer says: It is written: “The wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld, all that nations that forget God” (Psalms 9:18). “The wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld”; these are the sinners of the Jewish people, as only the sinners are sentenced to the netherworld. “All the gentiles that forget God”; these are the sinners of the gentiles. From the fact that it is written: “All the gentiles,” it is apparent that none of the gentiles have a share in the World-to-Come. This is the statement of Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: But is it stated in the verse that the sinners of the Jewish people will be like all of the gentiles? It is stated only: “All the gentiles that forget God.” Rather, the wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld, and who are they? They are all the gentiles that forget God. Gentiles who fear God do have a share in the World-to-Come.
And that wicked person, Balaam, also provided a sign with regard to himself. He said: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his” (Numbers 23:10). If I die the death of the righteous, by natural causes, my end will be like his, i.e., I will receive a share in the World-to-Come like the Jewish people. And if I do not die by natural causes: “I will go to my people” (Numbers 24:14), i.e., my fate will be that of the rest of the wicked people in my generation, who have no share in the World-to-Come.
With regard to the verse: “And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian set out with their divinations in their hands, and they came to Balaam” (Numbers 22:7), it was taught in a baraita: Midian and Moab had previously never had peace between them, and they were always at war with each other. What led them to make peace at that time? There is a parable of two dogs that were with the flock, and they were hostile to one another. A wolf came and attacked one. The other one said: If I do not help him, today he kills him and tomorrow he comes to attack me. They both went and killed the wolf. Moab and Midian joined together to face the potential common threat, the Jewish people. Rav Pappa says that this is in accordance with the adage that people say: A weasel [karkushta] and a cat made a wedding from the fat of the luckless. Despite their hatred of one another, they join together for their mutual benefit at the expense of a third party.
It is written: “And the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam” (Numbers 22:8). The Gemara asks: And to where did the princes of Midian who accompanied the princes of Moab go? The Gemara answers: Once Balaam said to them: “Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word when the Lord speaks to me” (Numbers 22:8), the elders of Midian said: If he seeks permission from the Lord, he will not join us, as is there any father who hates his son? Certainly the Lord will help the Jewish people.
Rav Naḥman says: Impudence is effective even toward Heaven. How so? Initially, it is written that God said to Balaam: “You shall not go with them” (Numbers 22:12), and ultimately after Balaam persisted and asked, it is written: “Rise up and go with them” (Numbers 22:20). Rav Sheshet says: Impudence is monarchy without a crown, as it is an assertion of leadership and lacks only the official coronation as king, as it is written: “And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me” (II Samuel 3:39). The sons of Zeruiah, due to their impudence, were as formidable as David himself.
Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Balaam was disabled in one of his legs, as it is stated concerning him: “And he went limping [shefi]” (Numbers 23:3). Samson was disabled in both his legs, as it is stated with regard to Samson, who was from the tribe of Dan, in the prophetic blessing of Jacob: “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder [shefifon] in the path that bites the horse’s heels” (Genesis 49:17). Rabbi Yoḥanan interprets shefifon as the plural of shefi, indicating disability in both legs. Balaam was blind in one of his eyes, as it is stated: “Whose eye is open” (Numbers 24:3), indicating that one eye was open and the other was blind.
The Gemara relates: Balaam was a diviner by using his penis. It is written here: “Fallen, yet with opened eyes” (Numbers 24:4), and it is written there: “And Haman was fallen upon the divan whereupon Esther was” (Esther 7:8), indicating that the verb fallen has sexual connotations. It was stated that there is an amoraic dispute with regard to this matter. Mar Zutra says: Balaam was a diviner by using his penis. Mar, son of Ravina, says: He engaged in bestiality with his donkey. The one who says that he was a diviner by using his penis derives it as we stated. And the one who says that he engaged in bestiality with his donkey derives it as follows: It is written here: “He crouched, he lay down” (Numbers 24:9), and it is written there: “Between her legs