140. Because thou hast there them, that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel. That this signifies those whose understanding is enlightened, and who teach truths, but still love to destroy by guile those who belong to the church is evident from the historical parts of the Word which treat of Balaam and Balak, understood according to the spiritual sense, which shall therefore here be first treated of.  Balaam was a soothsayer from Pethor of Mesopotamia, and was therefore called by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the people of Israel; but Jehovah prevented this, and caused him to speak prophetically; notwithstanding, he afterwards consulted with Balak how he might destroy that people by guile, by withdrawing them from the worship of Jehovah to the worship of Baal-peor. By Balaam, therefore, are meant those whose understanding is enlightened and who teach truths, but still love to destroy by guile those who belong to the church.
That Balaam was a soothsayer is evident from these words in Moses:
The elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the rewards of divination in their hand, and they came unto Balaam" (Numb. xxii. 7).
"When Balaam saw that it was good in the eyes of Jehovah to bless Israel, he went not as at other times to seek for divinations" (Numb. xxiv. 1).
And in Joshua:
"Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, did the sons of Israel slay with the sword upon their slain" (xiii. 22).
That he was called by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the people of Israel, may be seen, Numb. xxii. 5, 6, 16, 17; Deut. xxiii. 3, 4; but that Jehovah prevented this, and caused him to speak prophetically, Numb. xxii. 9, 10, 12, 20; xxiii. 5, 16. The prophecies which he uttered may be seen Numb. xxiii. 7-10, 18- 24; xxiv. 5-9, 15-19, 20-24; all of which things are truths, because it is said, that:
"Jehovah put a word into his mouth" (Numb. xxiii. 5, 12, 16).
That afterwards he consulted with Balak how he might destroy the people of Israel by guile, by withdrawing them from the worship of Jehovah to the worship of Baal-peor, is clear from these words in Moses:
"In Shittim the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods; and the people did eat and bowed down to their gods. And especially did he join himself unto Baal-peor. Therefore twenty and four thousand were slain of Israel" (Numb. xxv. 1-3, 9).
They slew Balaam amongst the Midianites: and the sons of Israel led captive all the women of the Midianites, which thing was "agreeable to the counsel of Balaam to deliver them to iniquity against Jehovah, in the matter of Peor" (Numb. xxxi. 8, 16).
That by Balaam are meant those whose understanding is enlightened and who teach truths follows from what is said in the above passages; for he spoke truth prophetically concerning, Israel, and also concerning the Lord; that he spoke also concerning the Lord may be seen in his prophecy (Numb. xxiv. 17). To speak prophetically concerning Israel, is not to speak concerning the people of Israel, but concerning the Lord's church, which is signified by Israel. The enlightenment of his understanding he himself also describes in these words:
"The saying of Balaam, the son of Beor, of the man whose eyes are opened, who heareth the words of God, falls prostrate, and has his eyes uncovered" (Numb. xxiv, 3, 4, 15, 16).
To have the eyes opened, or to have them uncovered, is to have the understanding enlightened; for eyes in the Word signify the understanding (as may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 2701, 4410-4421, 4523-4534, 9051, 10,569).  That by Balaam are also meant those who love to destroy by guile those who belong to the church is also evident from what has been shown above; and moreover, that when he rode upon the ass, he continually meditated the use of divinations, to destroy the sons of Israel. When he could not accomplish this by curses, he consulted with Balak to destroy them by calling them to the sacrifices of his gods, and to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab; by the sons of Israel whom he wished to destroy, is signified the church, because the church was instituted amongst them (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 6426, 8805, 9340).
 The arcanum concerning the ass upon which Balaam rode, which turned three times out of the way on seeing an angel with a sword drawn, and the fact of its speaking to Balaam, shall be here briefly explained. Balaam, when he rode upon the ass, continually meditated divinations against the sons of Israel; the gain with which he should be honoured was in his mind, as is clear from these words concerning him,
"He went not as at other times to seek for divinations (Numb. xxiv. 1).
He was also a soothsayer in heart, therefore he thought of nothing else, when he thought in himself. By the ass upon which he rode is signified, in the spiritual sense of the Word, an enlightened Intellectual; therefore to ride upon an ass or mule was amongst the distinctions of a chief judge and of king (as may be seen above, n. 31; and in Arcana Coelestia, n. 2781, 5741, 9212). The angel with the sword drawn signifies Divine truth enlightening and fighting against falsity (as may be seen above, n. 131); hence, the ass turning three times out of the way signifies that the enlightened understanding did not agree with the thought of the soothsayer, which also is meant by what the angel said to Balaam:
"Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is evil before me" (Numb. xxii. 32).
By way, in the spiritual sense of the Word, is signified that which a man thinks from intention (as may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 479, 534, 590, and in the small work, The Last Judgment, n. 48). That he was withheld from the thought and intention of using divinations by the fear of death, is clear from what the angel said to him:
"Unless the ass had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee" (Numb. xxii. 33).
 It sounded in the ears of Balaam as if the ass spoke to him, although she did not speak, but the speech was heard as if proceeding from her. That this is the ease, has often been shown me by actual experience. It has been granted me to hear horses, as it were, speaking, although the speech was not from them, but as it were from them. This was actually the case with Balaam, to the intent that this history might be described in the Word for the sake of the internal sense in detail. In the internal sense is described how the Lord defends those who are in truths and goods, lest they should be hurt by those who speak as from enlightenment, and yet have the disposition and intention to lead astray. He who believes that Balaam could do injury to the sons of Israel by divinations is much deceived; for these could avail nothing, against them; this Balaam also confessed when he said:
"Divination avails not against Jacob, nor soothsayings against Israel" (Numb. xxiii. 23).
The reason why Balaam could lead that people astray by guile was because they were such in heart that they worshipped Jehovah with the mouth only, but Baal-peor with the heart; and because they were of such a nature, this was permitted.  Moreover it is to be noted that man's understanding can be enlightened, although his will is in evil; for the intellectual faculty is separated from the voluntary faculty in the case of all those who are not regenerated; but these two faculties act as one only in those who are regenerated; for it is the office of the understanding to know, to think, and to speak truths, but that of the will, to will the things that are understood, and from the will or love to do them. The disagreement between these faculties is quite manifest with evil spirits; for when such are turned towards good spirits they even understand truths, and also acknowledge them, almost as if they were enlightened; but as soon as they turn themselves from them, they return to the love of their will, and see nothing of truth; indeed, they even deny the things that they had heard (as may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 153, 424, 455).  The possibility of having his understanding enlightened has been granted to man for the sake of reformation. For in man's will dwells every kind of evil, both that into which he is born, and that into which he comes of himself; and the will cannot be amended unless man knows, and by the under standing acknowledges, truths and goods, and also evils and falsities, otherwise he cannot turn away from the latter and love the former. (More may be seen concerning the will and the understanding in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 28-35.)