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In Parshas Matos (Bamidbar 31:8) it says וְאֵת בִּלְעָם בֶּן-בְּעוֹר הָרְגוּ בֶּחָרֶב.

Did Bilam do anything to avoid getting killed? What did he do? And who actually killed him?

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Please explain your question.. what exactly are you asking? What are you trying to understand? –  avi Jul 22 '11 at 13:36
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Are you asking about the the verse before this verse says? Are you asking about a midrash? Are you asking for historical data? Do you have reason to believe that Bilam did not try to avoid getting killed? –  avi Jul 22 '11 at 13:42
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Gershon, there's no need to take it as personal rejection, and certainly not on the part of the whole community, when one person challenges your question. Please, let's try to avoid getting into a flame war. (I know this thread is still far from that now, but I'd like to nip any potential for one in the bud.) –  Isaac Moses Jul 22 '11 at 14:34
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@msh210: it might be, then, that it would have garnered less (or no) objection had the question been worded something like this: "The Torah says that [citation of the pasuk]. Do we know any other details about how this occurred?" –  Alex Jul 22 '11 at 16:56
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Gershon, the Gemara (and even more so the Mishna and Torah before it) required a great deal of picking apart partly because it was written so tersely. The more detail you include in your questions in the first place, the fewer questions people will have in their minds when they encounter them, and the less you'll be asked to explain after the fact. –  Isaac Moses Jul 22 '11 at 17:50
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1 Answer

Rashi (to Num. 31:6) quotes a Midrash that Bil'am used magic to lift himself and the Midianite kings into the air, but that Pinchas counteracted that by displaying the tzitz, causing them to all fall down - literally על חלליהם, "on the corpses" (of the other Midianites) as in v. 8.

Radak (to Josh. 13:22) cites this as well, and adds that Pinchas actually killed Bil'am.

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Alex, do you know how Rashi explains the fact that the Torah specifically says they were killed by the sword? I'm guessing that the midrash that Rashi and Radak are quoting explains that bit. –  avi Jul 22 '11 at 14:42
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@avi: he doesn't say, and neither does the Midrash he's citing (Bamidbar Rabbah 20:20 and 22:5) - it just says that they fell. Presumably, though, the fall didn't kill them, and the Jews - or, in the case of Bil'am, specifically Pinchas - finished them off by the sword. (Actually, the Gemara (Sanhedrin 106b, top) says that they carried out all four modes of judicial execution on Bil'am - which could mean that they first killed him by the sword and then did the other three things to his corpse, or that they did something like what Yakim Ish Tzroros did to himself (Bereishis Rabbah 65:22).) –  Alex Jul 22 '11 at 17:03
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