I heard an interpretation of the nationality of Bilaam. Rabbi Zitron said he was an African prince. Is there any source for this? If it is what is the name of the king?
This comment is taken from Sefer HaYashar, but Rabbi Zitrom is reading it or recalling it incorrectly. The actual text in Hebrew reads:
ויערוך אנגיאס אל כל עמו עם רב כחול אשר על שפת הים, וישם פניו ללכת מצרימה למלחמה. ושם היה נער אחד מעבדי אנגיאס בן חמש עשרה שנה בלעם בן בעור שמו, והנער חכם מאוד ומבין בחכמת הקסם. ויאמר אנגיאס אל בלעם, קסום לנו בקסם ונדעה מי יגבר במלחמה הזאת אשר אנחנו הולכים עליה. ויצו בלעם ויביאו לו דוגג ויעש ממנו תמונת רכב ופרשים, תבנית חיל אנגיאס וחיל מצרים. וישימם במים המחוכמים אשר איתו על ככה, ויאחזו בידו כפות תמרים ויתחכם ויקסום בהם על המים. ויראו אליו במים תמונת צלמי חיילות אנגיאס נופלים לפני תמונת צלמי מצרים ובני יעקב. ויגד בלעם את הדבר הזה אל אנגיאס, ויתייאש אנגיאס ולא התאזר לרדת מצרימה למלחמה וישב בעירו.
Bilaam was at the time a fifteen year old servant to King Angaius.
Bilaam had been born in the area mentioned in other midrashic sources as the Black Mountains which was most likely referring to the Alborz Mountains in northern Iran. It was in these mountains that Bilaam learned and mastered his Black Arts under the tutelage of the Angel, Azazel, the same angel named in connection with the service of Yom Kippur and the scapegoat in VaYikra 16:1-22.
This area has been settled for thousands of years and gave rise to a society of Assassins who were probably, originally, Zoroastrian. The Black Mountains were also highly important to the Zoroastrian religion, mentioned in their Avesta and said to be the location of Hara Berezaiti (which sounds linguistically similar to the Mountain of Bereshit),
the source of all mountains of the world, that is, all other mountains and ranges are but lateral projections that originate at High Hara.
In Avestan cosmogony, High Harā is the geographic center of the universe, immediately surrounded by the steppes of the Airyanem Vaejah, the first of the seven lands created by Ahura Mazda. It is a polar mountain around which the stars revolve; it is also the mountain behind which the sun hides at night.
It is also worth noting that in the link above to the angel Azazel, in the citation from the 4th volume of Beit HaMidrash, it connects these angels with a woman named Ishtar. Ishtar is a variant name for another deity from Zoroastrianism, Anahita.
As to the identity of King Angaius, according to the midrash, Sefer HaYashar, it places him in north Africa. Phoenetically, his name seems to be linked to ancient Minoan names. Historically, this would make sense and connect him to the seafaring race which dominated the Mediterranean Sea around the time of Avraham and before.
Can you cite anything from your paragraph beginning “Bilaam had been born” to the end of the post? I’m not seeing any of that in your quote.– DonielFMar 26, 2019 at 14:42
@DonielF I'll have to dig for it. As memory serves, it might have been in Midrash Konen. The context was how Azazel was chained with iron chains in a cave underneath a mountain after his rebellion against G-d with the other angel, Shemchazi at the beginning of creation. It mentioned how Azazel infects the minds of people, initially through their dreams. Mar 26, 2019 at 14:54
@DonielF This link will help. It also references Midrash Avkir. sefaria.org/… Mar 26, 2019 at 15:06
Anahita is an Iranian goddess, but is not related to Zoroastrianism at all. Zoroastrians believe in one god, called Ahura Mazda.– ezraMar 28, 2019 at 5:22
@ezra I don't claim to be a follower or to be expert in the Zoroastrian belief system. I was merely quoting the association, as mentioned in the Anahita link in my answer at footnote 3 from William Malandra. It is important to keep in mind with all this comparative religion concept that the Torah belief as stated by Rambam and others (like Sefer Brit Menucha) is that all the numerous religions of the nations spring from a common source, the mistakes of the generation of Enosh. It relates to worship angels, but started from the true faith which was given to Adam HaRishon. Mar 28, 2019 at 13:30