The Talking Donkey
Let’s talk about good old Balaam and his very odd experience with a donkey.
Balaam was another prophet of God, but unlike Elisha, he wanted to curse everybody rather than just a bunch of kids who made fun of him. When King Balak—an enemy of the Israelites—offered him a bunch of money to use his prophet-powers to curse Israel, he accepted, and tried to get God to do it. In all, Balaam was a pretty bad guy.
Of course, God wasn’t really into this, but when Balaam kept pestering Him, He finally just said “Go with them, [Balak’s men] but do only what I tell you.
It’s a good thing God used a Disney moment to scare him straight in Numbers 22: 21-39.
The morning after this conversation with God, Balaam saddled his donkey and left for Moab. But unbeknownst to Balaam, there was an angel waiting for him in the road, ready to kill him when he passed. Luckily, though, even though Balaam couldn’t see this angel, his donkey sure could, and it ran him off the road and into a field.
Of course, Balaam beat his donkey until it took him back to the road. But again, it ran, this time crushing Balaam’s foot against a wall in its panic. Eventually, it just laid down and wouldn’t move at all.
And then this happened.
“Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’
Balaam answered the donkey, ‘You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.’
The donkey said to Balaam, ‘Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?’
‘No,’ he said.
Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown."
So after a disturbingly casual conversation with his donkey, Balaam lived happily ever after. Kind of.