He sent messengers therefore unto Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the river of the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying, Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt: behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over opposite me:
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Caesarius of Arles
This Balaam was exceedingly famous for his magical art and very powerful with his harmful verses. He did not possess the power or skill of words in blessing but only in cursing, for the demons are invited to curse but not to bless. As he was experienced in such matters, for this reason he was esteemed by all men in the Orient. Indeed, abundant proofs of it had happened before when he had frequently turned back an armed enemy with his curses. Otherwise the king surely would not have presumed that what could not be accomplished by iron and the sword could be done by words. Therefore Balak was sure of it and had frequently tried it, for he put aside all instruments and aids of war and sent ambassadors to him saying, “A people has come here from Egypt, who now cover the face of the earth and are settling down opposite us.” ...
Beor. St. Peter (ii. 11, 15) reads Bosor.
A soothsayer, or magician, (ariolum) as this word always indicates, Josue xiii. 22. The Hebrews believe he was once a true prophet, a descendant of Buz, the son of Melcha, and the same as Eliu, the friend of Job. (St. Jerome, q. 3. Hebrew in Genesis) He certainly foretold the Messias, or star of Jacob, by divine inspiration, chap. xxiv. 17. (Haydock)
He consults and acknowledges the true God, ver. 8, 18, 20. Origen (hom. 13,) believes that he left a book of his prophecies, which was known to the wise men, and discovered to them the birth of the Messias; and some Rabbins think that Moses has here inserted from that work what relates to Balaam. St. Augustine (q. 48,) shows that he was a wicked man, of whom nevertheless God made use to convey important instructions; and that he is one of those reprobates who will say, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? He is placed with Cain and Core, St. Jude 11. St. Ambrose (ep. 50,) observes, that he m...