The Torah portion for this week’s Shabbat is Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9). It tells the story of how Balak, king of Moab, asks the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites, but Balaam at God’s direction blesses them instead.
The Haftarah is Micah 5:6-6:8. The prophet gives a series of short prophecies directed at the Israelites in exile, whom he refers to as the “remnant of Jacob.” He predicts that they will go from being very weak to very strong. Micah also speaks on God’s behalf and invites mountains, hills, and the firm foundation of the world to bear witness as God recounts how poorly His own nation has treated Him. God reminds His people about the prophecy of Balaam (an explicit reference to this week’s Torah portion). Finally, Micah gives a famous summation of what God wants from His people: “He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice, and to love goodness, and to walk modestly with God” (6:8).
The illustration here by James Tissot (1836-1902) shows Balaam blessing the Israelites as described in this week’s Torah portion.