Then the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” (Numbers 22:28)

Balaam is a prophet. He’s greedy and rather stupid. But he does have a good ass. It’s a smart ass too; it knows enough not to mess with a homicidal angel when it sees one. Balaam doesn’t know jack about homicidal angels. Without his ass he just about gets his ass kicked, but God teaches his ass to speak. It’s a kind of blitzkrieg Berlitz for hoofed animals, sort of an inverse Dr. Doolittle event. Now Balaam has a talking ass. In any other situation this would be a money-making opportunity. People would shuck out some shekels to hear an ass talk. But Balaam doesn’t see the potential for that either. He’s not what you’d call your sharp tack.

Let’s recount the high points of the Balaam incident:

1. Some guys come to Balaam and want to pay him to go with them to do some prophesying against Israel.

2. God tells Balaam no.

3. Balaam tells the guys no.

4. God tells Balaam to go.

5. Balaam goes.

6. God is pissed that Balaam goes.

7. God sends the homicidal God angel to kill Balaam.

8. Balaam’s ass sees the angel and freaks.

9. Balaam whips his ass.

10. God teaches the ass to talk.

11. Balaam talks to his ass.

12. The God angel tells Balaam that the ass saved his ass.

13. Balaam says he’s sorry and offers to go back home.

14. The God angel tells Balaam to continue where he was going.

15. Balaam takes his ass the rest of the way.

The main thing we learn from this Biblical account is that the only one with his act together is the ass. God can’t figure out what in the hell he wants Balaam to do. (Stay. Go. Stay. Go.) Sheesh. No wonder Balaam is a bit confused. Balaam is a greedy dupe, but you have to cut him some slack for dealing with a vacillating deity. God may be three-personed, but he’s definitely double-minded on this one.

To be honest, the only character I like in this story is the talking ass.


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