276. King David said, "For, lo, the wicked bend the bow, they make ready their arrow..." (Tehilim 11:2). Although we already explained that this verse is about Shevna and Yoach, the chief ministers of Hezekiah, it is also said, referring to Samael and his retinue, that all his counsels and advice were against Yisrael. Balak and Bilaam tread exactly the same path, THAT OF SAMAEL AND HIS RETINUE and we learned that they formed an evil partnership. They said, Amalek IS SPELLED am lak, meaning a nation (Heb. am) that smote (Heb. lakah) them, like a snake that strikes with his tail. They figured that we are more THAN THEY ARE, because Balak IS SPELLED ba lak, meaning came (Heb. ba), he who smote (Heb. lakah) them as he wishes. Bilaam CONSISTS OF THE LETTERS bal am, meaning there are no (Heb. bal) people (Heb. am) and no shepherd. Our name will cause their destruction and uprooting from the world.
287. "And said, 'What men are these with you'" (Bemidbar 22:9): That was his own level of the left side that needed to ask, BECAUSE IT DIDN'T KNOW. Although the friends remarked on this differently, they indicated that the Holy One, blessed be He, was testing him with His words, because there were three WHO ELOHIM PUT TO A TEST. One was Hezekiah, one was Ezekiel and one was Bilaam. Two of them did not stand up to the test properly and one did. Who was it? That was Ezekiel, as it is written THAT THE HOLY ONE, BLESSED BE HE, ASKED HIM, "Can these bones live?" (Yechezkel 37:3). And he answered, "And I answered, Hashem, Elohim You know" (Ibid.) Hezekiah said: "They are come from a far country, from Babylon" (II Melachim 20:14). Bilaam said, "Balak the son of Tzipor, king of Moab, has sent to me" (Bemidbar 22:10) TO SHOW THAT he is important in the eyes of rulers and kings. HOWEVER, the Holy One, blessed be He, simply asked him in order to mislead him and allow him to err, as it is written: "He makes nations great and destroys them" (Iyov 12:23). And this has been explained.