1 And [Yisroel] abode in Shittim [was staying in Sheetim], and the people [HaAm] began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab [Banot Moav].
Separate and sanctified, the children of Israel were corrupted. This was consequent upon Balaam's counsel Num 31:16.
Seeing he could not reverse Yahweh's blessing upon His people, and knowing that His favour is consequent on keeping His commandments, he counselled Balak to cast a stumbling block before them, causing them to sin.
Instead, therefore, of advising him to war, he suggested the policy of seducing them from their allegiance to Yahweh and his law, by sending in the daughters of Moab among them, and enticing them, to impurity and idolatry. Balak followed his advice, and by the means proposed, caused Israel to be joined to Baalpeor, which caused the anger of Yahweh to smoke against them.
Such, in brief, is the history of the prophet who caused a wasting of the people; for Yahweh commanded their chiefs to be hung, and all who had offended to be slain to the number of twenty-four thousand.
The points of his character were covetousness, perverseness, presumptuousness, unrighteousness, beguiler of unstable Israelites, apostasy from the right way. Where such attributes of character meet in a class of persons, they are said in the New Testament to be
"following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor;"
and Balaam becomes the representative of the class.