Was Balaam a prophet?


“Spend the night here,” Balaam said to them, “and I will report back to you with the answer the Lord gives me.” So the Moabite officials stayed with him.  Numbers 22:8
            Balaam definitely spoke to God and heard from him.  He carried out what God told him to do.  In fact, Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:17 probably inspired the wise men to follow the star and find Jesus:
“I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
    a scepter will rise out of Israel.  Numbers 22:8
            However, through the Bible, Balaam’s name is despised.  He wasn’t a false prophet, pretending to hear from God.  He heard from God but he was wicked.  The incident with the donkey showed that his intentions weren’t always correct, so even a donkey had to chastise him.
            Balaam made a suggestion to King Balak (apparently for financial gain) and found a way to destroy the Israelites without a curse or going into battle.  He suggested idolatry and sexual temptation to bring the Israelites down.
            Later in Numbers 31, Moses said:
“Have you allowed all the women to live?” he asked them. “They were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the Lord in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people.”  Numbers 31:15-16
            Balaam’s suggestion caused the Israelites to sin.  In that sense, he cursed them.  Prophets could be good or wicked.  Balaam was definitely a prophet, but used his power for selfish reasons.