I had never heard of this 1967 find, and it is fascinating:
It is probably one of the greatest finds of all time and, by the bizarre rules of biblical archeology, it’s also one of the least reported. Basically, in 1967, in Deir Alla, Jordan, Dutch archeologists discovered some kind of pagan house of worship or seminary. On its walls, there was a 2,800-year-old inscription in black ink. Key phrases are highlighted in red ink and the whole writing is framed in red.
First of all, this is the oldest Aramaic inscription ever found. But if that’s not enough to make it a world-headline, the inscription is 600-800 years older than the Dead-Sea Scrolls. And if that’s not enough to merit international attention, the inscription mentions a prophet, or “seer”, named “Balaam son of Beor”. This is the exact name mentioned in the Torah/Bible (Numbers 22:2–24:25). This is the only instance where a specific individual mentioned in the story of the biblical Exodus can be pointed to in archeology. So who is Balaam, and where is this inscription now?
Balaam is the bad guy of the Torah. He is the Darth Vader of the biblical Exodus. According to the Talmud, Balaam had the potential to be Moses, but he turned to the dark side (Av. Zar. 4a–b; Sanh. 105b; Avot 5:19). In a famous incident, as the Israelites are about to enter the promised land, Balak King of Moab asks Balaam to curse the children of Israel. Balaam is unable to do so. The Talmud explains that he looked at the Israelite tents and saw an amazing thing. The tents were rotated so that people could not see into each other’s bedrooms, so to speak. At that point, Balaam realized that the only way to weaken Israel was to corrupt them through s*x.
According to the biblical narrative, Balaam was in charge of s*x priestesses made up of Moabite and Midianite women. These women successfully seduced the Israelites in an orgy of s*x and idolatry (Numbers 31:8, 16). 24,000 Israelite men were punished by God with death. At one point, the Israelite prince, Zimri son of Salu, publically fornicated with a Midianite princess named Cozbi, daughter of Zur, in the name of some kind of fertility rite. Apparently, these rituals were drawing big crowds until Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the High Priest (brother of Moses), picked up a spear and killed Zimri and Cozbi with one thrust while they were, so to speak, thrusting. This act ended Balaam’s attempt to subvert Israel through pagan s*x (Numbers 25; 6-15). According to the book of Joshua, Joshua took revenge by killing Balaam during the Israelite conquest of Canaan (Joshua, 13:22).