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Balaam

Balaam a non-Israelite prophet whose story is related in the biblical book of Numbers. In allusive use he is often taken as an example of an evil diviner who would sell his prophetic powers to the highest bidder, although his powers are questionable: although supposedly a seer, he is repeatedly unable to see the divine messenger that is visible even to his donkey. The animal is finally granted the power of speech by God to address her master, and it has been suggested that this is the origin of the (archaic) journalist's slang usage Balaam to mean ‘superfluous or trivial material used to fill up a column’. (The term Balaam basket was used for an editor's container for unwanted material.)

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Balaam

Balaam (bā´ləm), the central character in an amalgam of Israelite traditions found in the Book of Numbers. Hired by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the Hebrews encamped in the Jordan valley, Balaam could only bless them. Later, Balaam seduced the Israelites to commit evil, an act for which he was killed.

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Balaam

Balaam. A biblical character. He was instructed by Balak, king of Moab, to curse Israel, but after a vision of an angel he blessed the Israelites instead: see Numbers 22. 1–24. 25.

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