We have a very strange situation in Parshat Balak. Balak sends messengers to persuade Bil’am to assist him in bringing about the downfall of the Hews, via a terrible curse Bil’am would place upon the Jews using his calculations to figure out the moment God gets angry at the Jews. He would take advantage of the moment and curse the jews and in His great anger, He would allow Bil’ams curse to have the desired affect.
Yet Bil’am rejects the request a couple of times, saying he would not do it. Finally he is persuaded to attempt on the condition that Balak be aware that he provides no guarantees (and no money back guarantee) to being able to curse the Jews. He says very clearly that what he accomplishes regarding the Jews would be completely dependant on what Hashem wants to happen.
Balak accepts the pre-condition and they head out to try to curse the Jews. Bil’am tried once and it comes out as a blessing. When confronted by Balak, he responds that is what Hashem wanted and tough noogies, I told you inadvance it would happen.. Balak persuaded him to try again and he does. Again, it comes out as a blessing with some added stinging rebuke to Balak for even bothering to try.
This happens over and over again in the parsha with Balak attempting to curse and Bil’am giving a blessing.
Balak had a one track mind. He had to curse the Jews. He had to destroy the Jews. By hook or by crook. He did not care about anything else. He was extremely stubborn and ignored everything that was happening.
The passuk in 23:17 even tells us “The ministers of Moab were with him” and Rashi explains that earlier it had said “all the ministers of Moab” which indicates that some had left because they could tell it was a waste of time and there was no chance of success. I would venture to say that the ministers that remained with Balak did so out of respect to Balak’s position (and probably fear for their lives) rather than because they wanted to be there for the curse.
Only Balak could not see what was going on. He was so stubborn that he was blinded and could not see the reality of the situation.
It is worth taking a deep breath and reassessing a situation that is not working out rather than just driving on blindly. Don’t let your stubbornness lead you to the abyss.