This Shabbat we read about the wicked sorcerer, Bilaam. In addition to his appearance in the Torah, Bilaam is one of the characters in my novel, “Fallen Angel.” Remember Harry, the conman Casanova whom the angel is sent down to Earth to warn about his whoring ways? In one of his many infamous reincarnations, he was Bilaam. Here’s where we left off, back at Harry’s apartment after the angel’s unforgettable debut on coast-to-coast TV.
Harry instructed his answering service to tell callers that the whereabouts of the angel was unknown and not to call back. Then he changed into some casual clothes and returned to the living room to watch the movie of his past, which I projected on the large plasma screen on the wall.
The film had all the Technicolor, wide-screen impact of the Bible movies of old, with the additional attraction of 3-D IMAX effects, without the need of special glasses. Harry’s next appearance on Earth was as Bilaam, the sorcerer. To catch up on our Biblical narrative, a famine in the Land of Israel forced the Jews to descend to Egypt, where they became slaves to the wicked Pharaoh. Then, with miracles and great wonders, God sent Moses to lead the Jews out of bondage. Harry kept his eyes on the screen as I tried to make the narrative as lively as possible. Devastating the empire of Egypt with ten Divine plagues, God drowned Egypt’s army in the Red Sea as He brought the Jews through the parted waters to freedom. When the sea split apart, the IMAX effect was so realistic, both Harry and I flinched back in our seats as the thundering waves seemed to jumped out from the wall into the living room.
“Wow!” he exclaimed. “That’s a lot more convincing than Charlton Heston.”
“Being there was even greater,” I told him.
“You mean it really happened, the parting of the sea. It isn’t just some Jewish fairytale?”
“As real as me sitting here in your apartment talking to you now,” I replied.
“Where do I appear?” he wanted to know.
As the Exodus unfolded up on the screen, I introduced him to his next reincarnation as Bilaam. Fearing that the Jews marching back to the Land of Israel would conquer his country on the way, Balak, the King of Moab, sent for the evil sorcerer, Bilaam, to come to his aid. Knowing that his military forces could not overcome the Heaven-helped Jews on the battlefield, he hoped that the magician’s famed curses would stop them in their tracks.
“I read about Bilaam when I was doing research on my voodoo book,” Harry related.
“Did you know that after performing bestial acts with his donkey, Bilaam would draw down an evil spirit of impurity upon himself and engage in supernatural arts,” I asked.
“Can’t say that I did,” Harry confessed.
“He learned these occult practices in the mountains of the east from the fallen angels, Uzza and Azael. Possessed by evil spirits, Bilaam was a master of all divinations and enchantments, and he could even fly. But God turned his curses against the Children of Israel into blessings, and so the Jewish people remained unscathed by his nefarious machinations and evil eye.”
“He does look a little like me,” Harry admitted, staring up at what could have been his double.
“Humiliated by his failure to weaken the Jews, Bilaam returned to his home. But, unwilling to give up so easily, the wicked soothsayer advised Balak to adopt another strategy - to send thousands of immodestly dressed Midianite and Moabite women into the encampment of the Israelites in the wilderness, to lure them into temptation and seduce them into worshipping their idols. Sure enough, when the Jews took the foreign women into their tents, provoking the wrath of Heaven, a plague broke out and twenty-four thousand Jews were slain. Then, in view of all the nation, the head of the tribe of Shimon took a Midianite woman into the Tabernacle of the Lord and brazenly conducted relations with her in the holy Sanctuary. Pinchus, grandson of Aaron the High Priest, rose zealously up from the congregation, took a javelin in his hand, and hurried into the holy chamber. Running forward like an Olympic champion, he thrust both of them through with his spear in their loins, and the Divine anger was stayed from the Children of Israel.”
On the screen, like a skewer of shish kebab, the spear pierced through the groins of the fornicators with a loud, Dolby SPLAAAAAAAAAT!! Harry shivered.
“Hearing that Bilaam had gone to Midian to collect his reward for the twenty-four thousands Jew who had died in the plague, Moses sent Pinchus to assassinate him. Catching site of the zealous Israelite in pursuit, Bilaam used his magical arts to fly off into the air. But Pinchus was ready, armed by Moses with the holy forehead plate worn by the High Priest, and engraved with the secret Name of God. Using it to fly, Pinchus sped into the air after Bilaam.”
The special effects up on the living-room screen were equal to “Star Wars.” Even better. Instead of mere 3-D animation, the fantastic flying scenes were absolutely real. To enhance the excitement, I caused Harry’s seat to rock back and forth as if he were flying through the air with them.
He flies through the sky in a swooping backward circle, grabs a hold of Bilaam, and hurls him back down to the earth.
He crashes down on the ground in a cloud of dust.
Pincus lands beside Bilaam, raises his laser-like sword, and slices the sorcerer into pieces. WAP! WAP! WAP!
They spring to life out of Bilaam’s amputated limbs.
“Because Bilaam lured the Jews to engage in sexual sin and squander the holy fluid of life, he was sentenced to spend his afterlife in unending purgatory, immersed in a vat of boiling semen.”
“In a vat of boiling semen?” Harry asked sheepishly. “That was his punishment?”
“Measure for measure, that’s how it works,” I replied.
You would think that Bilaam’s unpleasant fate would have caused Harry to think twice about continuing in his whoring ways.
But it didn’t.
“Fallen Angel” can be ordered online at: www.createspace.com/3629602