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The Otherized Moabite Balaam

Yoon Kyung Lee 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper begins with a question why the tradition of Balaam hasbeen transitioned from positive or, at least, neutral to negative within theBible. Numbers 22-24, reporting Balaam in a positive or neutral fashion,is dated to the period of the Omri-Ahab dynasty in which the worshipof El, Shaddayin, Shagar, and/or Ashera was permissible and prevalentand also in which Moab was colonized. Afterward, Deuteronomist (e.g. Deut. 23) and Deuteronomistic Historian (e.g. Joshua 24), after Moabwas independent of Israel, were written in both a political and theologicalcontext in which Balaam’s worship of goddess and poly-gods was not to betolerated. Finally, in Numbers 31, a Priestly document, Balaam is depictedas one of the slaughtered along with the Midianite kings. The Post-exilicYehud, of which period was under the Persian Empire, made great effortsto establish an ethnic identity and religious distinction with the centrality ofthe Temple. Over time, in accordance with external issues such as politicaland religious relationship with Moab, the Balaam narrative, tangled withethnicity and religiosity of Moab, had continued to be shifted in terms ofits interpretation. Thus, the Moabite Balaam grew to be gradually rejectedand being Otherized over time throughout the Bible.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.

This paper was written with support from the National Research Foundation of Korea.