Angels on Earth
Balaams Donkey Image Credit: Angels on Earth
Balaams Donkey Image Credit: Angels on Earth

Balaam's Donkey

There are only two talking animals in the Bible, and this one saw something divine.

Rick Hamlin

When it comes to dealing with power, it can seem easier try to accommodate it rather than make the harder choice to do what is right. Until a higher power spreads its angel wings and draws its sword. At least that seems to be the message behind a story that has enchanted Bible readers for millenniums.

Go back a couple thousand years to the biblical days when the Israelites had escaped from Egypt. They wandered through the desert for 40 years and were now ready to settle in the Promised Land, but there was a certain king named Balak, who ruled over the Moabites above the Jordan River, and the Moabites greatly feared the Israelites. Balak wanted someone to level a curse on them.

So he sent a message to Balaam. “A people have come out of Egypt,” King Balak said, “and they have settled next to me. Now please come and curse this people for me because they are stronger than I am.” Balaam apparently had known gifts, because Balak said of him: “I know that whomever you bless is blessed and whomever you curse is cursed.”

Balaam got the king’s message, but before he set off he consulted God—a smart move for someone who is supposed to level a curse. God said to Balaam: “Don’t go. And don’t curse the people because they are blessed.” So Balaam didn’t go.

King Balak sent more officials to Balaam, making vague promises of rewards if Balaam did his beckoning. B


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