0 Balaam's talking donkey (Num 22)

Episode 64: Balaam's talking donkey

(Numbers 22)

Balak sends for Balaam

22 1 The Israelites pitched their tents in the plains of Moab. 2 Balak, the king of Moab, saw what the Israelites did to the Amorites, and he feared that they'd do the same to him and his people.

5 He sent messengers to Balaam, saying,

The Israelites are coming. 6 Come and curse them, so I can smite them. They are too mighty for me.

7 The messengers delivered Balak's message.

8 Balaam said to them, "Sleep here tonight and I'll tell you what God says to me."

And they stayed there with Balaam.

God tells Balaam not to curse the Israelites

9 God came to Balaam and said to him, "Who are these men with you?"

10 Balaam said,

Balak sent these men to say to me: 11 "There are people who came out of Egypt and now cover the face of the earth. Come to Moab and curse them, so I can drive them out.”

12 God said to Balaam,

Don't go with them and don't curse the people. Because they are blessed.

13 Balaam said to the messengers, "Go back to Balak. God said I can't go with you."

14 The messengers returned to Balak and said, "Balaam refused to come with us."

15 Balak sent another set of messengers, more honorable than the first, 16who said to Balaam,

This is what Balak says, 17 "Come and curse these people."

18 Balaam said to them,

I won't go to Balak even if he gives me his house filled with silver and gold. God said I can't go and that's that. 19 But stay here tonight. Maybe God will change his mind.

God tells Balaam to go with the men of Moab

20 God came to Balaam at night and said to him,

If the men ask you to go with them, go with them. But only do what I tell you to do.

Balaam's donkey

21 So Balaam got up the next morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab.

22 God was angry with Balaam because he went with them, so he sent an angel as an adversary who stood in their way.

23 The donkey saw the angel standing in front of them with a sword in his hand, so she turned to go around him. And Balaam hit her to turn her the other way.

24-25 The angel was still in the way, so the donkey went close to the wall to avoid the angel, smashing Balaam's foot against the wall. So Balaam hit the donkey again.

26 This time the angel left no room to go around him. So the donkey gave up and fell down.

27 Balaam was so angry that hit the donkey again with his staff.

Balaam and his donkey have a conversation

28 God opened the donkey's mouth and she said,

What did I do to you to make you hit me three times?

29 Balaam said to his donkey,

You mocked me. I wish I had a sword and I'd kill you.

30 The donkey said to Balaam,

Aren't I your donkey? Have I ever mistreated you?

Balaam answered, “No.”

Balaam goes to Moab

31 Then God opened Balaam's eyes so he could see the angel, and he fell on his face.

32 The angel said to Balaam,

Why did you smite your donkey three times?

33 If she hadn't seen me and turned away, I would have killed you, and kept her alive.

34 Balaam said to the angel,

I have sinned because I didn't know you were standing in the way.

If you don't want me to go with them, I'll go home.

35 The angel said to Balaam,

No, go with them, but do only the things that I tell you to do.

Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

A few more words about this episode

Balak, the king of Moab, saw what the Israelites did to the Amorites
See Num 21:21-35 and Episode 59
He sent an angel as an adversary (22:22)
The Hebrew word for adversary is "Satan" - making this the first appearance of the word "Satan" in the Bible. It should probably be translated as "a satan" since it seems to be referring to a class of angel, rather than a specific being.

This episode reminds me of one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid.

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