hebrew
1)

Why did Hashem ask Bil'am the identity of his visitors?

1.

Rashi #1: To trick Bil'am into believing that Hashem does not know everything, thereby giving him the opportunity to try and curse Yisrael when Hashem 'was not looking' (Kevayachol). 1

2.

Rashi #2 (in Bereishis, 3:9): It was a polite way of entering into a conversation with him. 2

3.

Seforno: He asked him for the purpose of their visit; 3 whether they came to request a prophecy 4 or in order to curse 5


1

Rashi: Which is precisely what Bil'am did.

2

Refer to Bereishis 3:9:1:1.

3

Seforno: Which prompted him to prepare himself for prophesy.

4

Seforno: Which he was now asking from Him.

5

Seforno: And he was asking for permission to carry it out.

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