As recounted by Rashi to Numbers 25:1 and Sanhedrin 106a- after Bilaam's "cursing" of Klal Yisrael was unsuccessful, he advised Balak that the way to take down Klal Yisrael was to entice them with illicit relations, stating:

"אלהיהם של אלו שונא זימה"

"Their God despises licentiousness"

(refer to Why does God hate sexual immorality? for reasons why)

How was Bilaam aware of this information?

  • 1
    Maybe from the Mabul?
    – Joel K
    Jul 18, 2019 at 7:53
  • 2
    He is a prophet, so we can assume he knows some things about the ways of God. @JoelK, The Mabul, according to the Psukim (Not midrashim), is for theft and robbery, not licentiousness. Jul 18, 2019 at 7:58
  • 1
    @JoelK If you talking about the "sons of God" (angels/nobles) taking the "daughters of men", the Mabul is not a direct outcome of this. The Mabul is outcome of "כי השחית כל בשר ... בא לפני כי מלאה הארץ חמס.." So חמס is theft. שחיתות is a general word. I think that the best translation would "Corruption" Jul 18, 2019 at 11:18
  • 1
    From what I've read of what Bilam actually suggested, as cited in Avot DeRav Natan, I think it's a bit more involved than this. IY"H, I'll try to locate it and post later.
    – DanF
    Jul 18, 2019 at 14:12
  • 1
    Haman also new that Hashem hates promiscuity and got Achashveirosh to make the Jews come to the feast where there would be Harltots to make them stumble and get punished ester raba 7,13 sefaria.org/…
    – user15464
    Jul 26, 2019 at 13:10

1 Answer 1


The Ramban Vayikra 18,9 says

הכריתות שבתורה הם שלשים ושש (כריתות ב) ומהם רבים באיסורי הערוה רצוני לומר על בעילה האסורה וכן מיתות בית דין בענין הבעילה שש עשרה ואין באיסור המאכלים מיתה כלל והטעם בהיות העונשין הגדולים כמיתת בית דין והכרת בעניני הבעילה מפני שגילוי העריות דבר נמאס מאד אצל התורה כנזכר בזאת הפרשה ובמקומות רבים בכתוב וחכמים מזכירין לעולם (סנהדרין עד ועוד) עבודה זרה וגלוי עריות ושפיכות דמים יזכירו אותה אחר עבודה זרה וקודם שפיכות דמים וכמו שאמרו (סנהדרין קו) אלהיהם של אלו שונא זמה הוא. והרב אמר במורה הנבוכים (ג מא) בעבור היות יצר האדם גדול בענין המשגל והתאוה בו רבה והדברים שהם רבי המכשולות צריכים עונש גדול ליסר אותם וגם זה אמת
There are 36 kareis punishments (premature death before 60) in the Torah of which many of them are regading forbidden ilicit relationships.
Also there are 16 death penalties for ilicit relationships, yet none of the death penaly punishments are regarding eating not kosher food!
The reason for this is because ilicit relationships are the most disgusting in the point of view of the Torah and is one of the 3 cardinal sins mentioned alongside worshipping foreign deities and killing humans, and is more dispicable in G-ds eyes than murder, as it is usually mentioned before Murder (though it is mentioned after worshipping foreign deities) the reason being as is evident in the many Mitzvos enumerated regarding ilicit relations: " Their G-d hates promiscuity"
The Rambam explains in More Nevuchim that because the desire for ilicit relations is so great the punishment has to be set very severe to outweigh the pleasure and these are true words.

Considering at Mattan Torah Hashem went round all the nations showing them the Torah and the its contents asking them if they wanted the Torah and they had refused , Avoda Zara 2b:

(דברים לג, ב) ויאמר ה' מסיני בא וזרח משעיר למו וכתיב (חבקוק ג, ג) אלוה מתימן יבוא וגו' מאי בעי בשעיר ומאי בעי בפארן א"ר יוחנן מלמד שהחזירה הקב"ה על כל אומה ולשון ולא קבלוה עד שבא אצל ישראל וקבלוה

Even without being a Prophet, Bilaam could have deduced from the severe punishments for ilicit Relations that Hashem hates promiscuity and will destroy those who dare transgress.

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