The important names in the Bible were not given in random order. As the story concerning each character unfolds, we learn how closely connected is the HEBREW name to the narrative. It demonstrates how: 1. The Biblical name foreshadows the life events of each personality, 2. The Hebrew name both mirrors and substantiates the truthfulness of biblical events and prophecies.
Although reading the bible in English is also perceived by believers as reading truth, the immediate sense of substantiation, as reflected in the mere Hebrew name, is missing from the non-Hebrew reading experience. This is just one reason why it is so important for every Bible follower to obtain some knowledge of Hebrew.
Balaam is, with no doubt, one of the best examples of the biblical name-fate connection. This connection is revealed only through the Hebrew language, and it adds a deeper layer that is comprehensive, all-embracing and gives an overarching dimension to the biblical story. When you get familiar with today’s example, the name Balaam, you too will witness a kind of additional dimension to the biblical narrative.
Needless to say, the name Balaam is not haphazard. A quick reminder – Balaam was a reputable wizard who was hired by Balak, the son of Zippor, king of Moab, to curse the nation of Israel in a crucial moment of its history – just upon entering the Promised Land. Balaam, Bilam, after many failing attempts to curse Israel is placed in the most perfect location to cast down his curse. He is taken to the top of mount Peor, which looks toward Jeshimon. Just below him he saw “Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes.” From this perfect location, poised right above the entire nation of Israel, Balaam switches his intended curse into a great blessing upon Israel.
A great story in its own right, but not complete before you know what Bilan, Balaam means. The name Bilam is spelled with Bet, Lamed, Ayin and Mem. This name is made up of two words: ‘bela’ and ‘am.’ Bela means ‘cursing’ and ‘am’ means ‘a nation’. The destiny of this man was installed in his name at the moment of his birth – ‘cursing a nation.’ He walked about with this ‘cursing-a-nation’ name just to meet his destiny in front of the nation of Israel in their crucial moment of entering the eternal land — just to have his destiny reversed by a hidden awe of God that caused him to emit the words: “How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!” This prayer is recited every day by every Jew upon entering the synagogue.