2. "The son of Tzipor" is as they said, THAT HE WAS A DESCENDANT OF JETHRO WHO WAS ALSO CALLED 'TZIPOR.' However, he was literally "the son of Tzipor (lit. 'bird')," MEANING THAT ALL HIS DEALINGS WERE WITH BIRDS, since his witchcraft dealt with different kinds of that bird. He took a bird, struck about with grass, and let it fly in the air. He performed acts and whispered incantations, and the bird would return with the grass in its mouth, chirping at him. He would then put her into a cage and burn incense before her, and she would inform him certain things. He would then perform witchcraft and that fowl, MEANING THE BIRD, chirped and flew swiftly to the one whose eyes were open, who gave her his message, and she would return. All his words came through that bird.
60. One day, the friends were sitting and contending with each other, MEANING THEY WERE HAVING A DISCUSSION AMONG THEMSELVES. Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Aba, Rabbi Chiya, Rabbi Yosi and the rest of the friends were present. They said that it is written: "Do not harass Moab, nor contend with them in battle..." (Devarim 2:9). That was for the sake of Ruth and Naamah, who were destined to come from their midst. AND IF SO, Tziporah, the wife of Moses who came from Midian, and Jethro and his offspring, who came out of Midian, who were all truly just, most certainly SHOULD HAVE PROTECTED MIDIAN. Furthermore, Moses grew up in Midian and still, the Holy One, blessed be He, told him, "Execute the vengeance of the children of Yisrael on the Midianites" (Bemidbar 31:2), YET MOSES' MERIT DID NOT PROTECT THEM. Therefore, there is an inappropriate bias in this matter, since Midian appeared worthier to be saved than Moab.
221. Rabbi Elazar spoke again saying, "Even the sparrow has found a home" refers to Jethro. "And the swallow (Heb. dror) a nest for herself:" That is his sons, who were in Cell of Gazith studying Torah, and decree Torah laws with their lips. "Find a home:" What is the meaning of that? HE RESPONDS: It is because they journeyed and camped in the desert at first, then traveled from the pleasures of Midian and from their sweet life there and camped in the desert. When the Holy One, blessed be He, noticed their desire for Torah, He drew them from there and gave them a place in the Cell of Gazith. "And the swallow a nest for herself" is all one and the same, because a sparrow and swallow are both one and the same bird. AND NEST (HEB. KEN) IS LIKE: "Heber the Kenite" (Shoftim 4:17), and: "And Saul said to the Kenites" (I Shmuel 15:6).
222. Come and see what is written: "And Balak the son of Tzipor saw." Why the difference that his father's name is mentioned rather than the rest of the other kings OF MIDIAN WHO DID NOT HAVE THEIR FATHER'S NAMES MENTIONED? HE RESPONDS: It is only because Jethro drew himself away and was removed from idol worship, and he together with his children approached Yisrael to join with them. The whole world excommunicated him and persecuted him.
223. Balak was from the descendants OF JETHRO and deviated from the ways of his father. When the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian, who were friends in their idol worship, saw that Jethro and his descendants adhered to the Shechinah, this one distanced himself from them. They came and crowned him king over them at that time, as it is written: "And Balak the son of Tzipor was king of Moab at that time." At that time, he was the king, something that he was not before then. Therefore, it is written: "the son of Tzipor" THAT ALLUDES TO JETHRO WHO WAS CALLED 'TZIPOR' TO INDICATE that it was not proper to do so, BECAUSE HE WAS FROM THE DESCENDANTS OF JETHRO CALLED 'TZIPOR.' HE INQUIRES: It says, "And Balak...saw," but it should have said 'heard.' What is the meaning here of: "saw?" HE RESPONDS: He saw a vision and he knew that he will fall into the hands of Yisrael. Yisrael will first fall into his hands and only afterward would he fall into Yisrael's hands. That is the reason it says: "And Balak the son of Tzipor saw."