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    Attack the other side – Balak

    Bilam blessing the Israelites, from the 1728 Figures de la Bible

    Bilam was a talented man whose services were recruited by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the people of Israel.

    From the way Bilam so lyrically praised Israel’s encampment – “How goodly are your tents, O Israel” (Num. 24:5) – we can see that he was not only good at cursing but also at blessing.

    We wonder, then, why Balak, who was no fool, paid him to curse Israel and not to bless Moab. Could the king not have said, “Give my people a message of courage and self-confidence”?

    Could he not have said, “Ignore little Israel… they have no hope of ever defeating us! Be positive, please, towards Moab. Get Moab to feel good about itself!”

    Balak knew there are two ways of handling a struggle between nations – build up your own resources, or denigrate the others.

    Working on your own resources takes time, patience, and constant effort. It certainly cannot be done by mere rhetoric. Attacking the enemy, on the other hand, is cheap, quick, and easy – all it takes is rhetoric and demagoguery.

    It deflects attention from your own internal problems, it fires up your people – but in the long run it brings your own nation down.

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