Saturday, March 31, 2007
THE BALAAM ENTRY IN THE JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA
also makes a reference to the name being used as a euphemism for Jesus:
Henceforth he became the type of false prophets seducing men to lewdness and obscene idolatrous practises (Rev. ii. 14; II Peter ii. 15; Jude 11; Abot v.19). The name "Nicolaitanes," given to the Christian heretics "holding the doctrine of Balaam" (Rev. ii. 6, 15), is probably derived from the Grecized form of Balaam, = Nικο-γάος, and hence also the pseudonym "Balaam," given to Jesus in Sanh. 106b and Giṭ. 57a. See Geiger, "Bileam and Jesus," in "Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Jüdische Theologie," vi. 31-37).
The life of this sorcerer was further detailed in the "Sefer ha-Yashar" legends and by the later cabalists (Yalḳ., Reubeni to Balak). Balaam's ass formed an especial object of haggadic interpretation and embellishment. "The speaking mouth of the ass" was declared to be one of the ten miraculous things that God had created in the twilight of the sixth day (Abot v. 6). Targ. Yer. to Num. xxii. 30 gives a long monition which the ass offers to her foolish master.
That passage appears at the bottom of the entry.