Did Balaam’s Donkey Really Talk
The word of God is true, and the account of Balaam and the Moabites is historical record. Obviously we werent there to witness, but we know from Scripture that God can use anything he wants, to speak to us.
In this account, the voice of God comes through a donkey to convict Balaam of how his desire for prize money was blinding him, and separating him from the work God had called him toward.
Just as we believe the angel spoke to Mary about her immaculate conception, because Jesus was real in the flesh and rose from the dead, we can believe that Balaams donkey actually spoke.
Way To Introduce The Story:
Draw a very simple donkey outline on large paper . Provide tails and a piece of blue tac for each child. Blindfold the children one at a time and let them tac the tail on the donkey. See who gets the closest. In todays story we are going to learn about a man who had a donkey. Who knows what sound a donkey makes? The donkey was able to do something no other donkey has ever done.top
The Most Bizarre Stories From The Bible
From a talking donkey to a man being eaten by a giant fish, the Bible has no shortage of strange stories. In her new book “A Most Peculiar Book: The Inherent Strangeness of the Bible” , Kristin Swenson, an associate professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University, delves into these stories and many others. Here’s a look at 20 of the more bizarre biblical stories that Swenson discusses in the book. Some, such as Jonah being eaten by a giant fish, refer to important archaeological sites, like Nineveh, an ancient Assyrian city in modern-day northern Iraq. Others, such as that of a literal scapegoat, explain how phrases that are commonly used in modern times came into existence.
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Talking Animals In The Bible: The Donkey
It would be good to read the entire story, but here is the part related to our talking donkey.
But God was angry that he was going, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the road as an adversary against him.
Now he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn in his hand, the donkey turned off from the road and went into the field and Balaam struck the donkey to guide her back onto the road.
Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, with a stone wall on this side and on that side. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pressed herself against the wall and pressed Balaams foot against the wall, so he struck her again.
Then the angel of the Lord went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she lay down under Balaam so Balaam was angry and struck the donkey with his staff.
Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?
And Balaam said to the donkey, It is because you have made a mockery of me! If only there had been a sword in my hand! For I would have killed you by now!
But the donkey said to Balaam, Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been in the habit of doing such a thing to you?
Who Were Balaam And King Balak
Before we dive into the personhood of Balaam, we have to set up the historical context. The Moabites, descendants of an incestuous offspring of Lot didnt like that the Israelites were lurking a little too close to their lands during the Exodus.
Balak, their king, knew how Israel had handled another one of their enemies, the Amoritesdescendants of Canaan and fierce warriors.
Fearing for his kingdom, Balak summons a Balaam, a prophet, to come and curse the Israelites people.
Balaam apparently cant curse the Israelites without receiving the Lords permission first. Whether this is reminiscent of Satan having to receive Gods permission before he can afflict Job or for some other reason, he needs the go-ahead from God first.
Not surprisingly, God does not allow him to curse the people He has blessed.
Despite all of this, the Moabite king sends more officials who claim Balaam will earn prizes of silver if they accompany him to the king to curse Israel. Balaam saddles his donkey and heads to Moab because God told him, go with them, but do only what I tell you (Numbers 22:20.
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Who Were Balaam And His Talking Donkey In The Bible
One of the weirdest passages in the Old Testament takes place between the chapters of Number 22-24.
Balaam, a wicked prophet, encounters a strange phenomenon on his way to speak with the Moabite officials. In this article well discuss who Balaam was, what strange thing happened on the road to Moab with his donkey, and why it matters for us today.
Balaam In Rabbinic Literature
In rabbinic literature Balaam is represented as one of seven gentileprophets the other six being Beor , Job, and Job’s four friends . In this literature, Balaam gradually acquired a position among the non-Jews, which was exalted as much as that of Moses among the Jews at first being a mere interpreter of dreams, but later becoming a magician, until finally the spirit of prophecy descended upon him .
According to a negative view of Balaam in the Talmud, Balaam possessed the gift of being able to ascertain the exact moment during which God is wroth a gift bestowed upon no other creature. Balaam’s intention was to curse the Israelites at this moment of wrath, and thus cause God himself to destroy them but God purposely restrained His anger in order to baffle the wicked prophet and to save the nation from extermination . The Talmud also recounts a more positive view of Balaam, stating that when the Law was given to Israel, a mighty voice shook the foundations of the earth, so much so that all kings trembled, and in their consternation turned to Balaam, inquiring whether this upheaval of nature portended a second deluge the prophet assured them that what they heard was the voice of God, giving the sacred law to the Israelites .
- an avaricious spirit
In and Balaam may be likened to Jesus. Some have theorized that Balaam became used as a pseudonym for Jesus in Jewish literature. Balaam’s father Beor was a son of Laban. The Book of Jasher reports Balaam’s sons were
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Balaam In The New Testament Josephus And Philo
In the New Testament, Balaam is cited as a type of avarice for example in Book of Revelation 2:14 we read of false teachers at Pergamum who held the “teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.” Balaam has attracted much interest, alike from Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Josephus paraphrases the story more so, and speaks of Balaam as the best prophet of his time, but with a disposition ill-adapted to resist temptation.Philo describes him as a great magician in the Life of Moses elsewhere he speaks of “the sophist Balaam, being,” i.e. symbolizing “a vain crowd of contrary and warring opinions” and again as “a vain people” both phrases being based on a mistaken etymology of the name Balaam.
Balaam And The Deir Alla Inscription
In 1967, at Deir Alla, Jordan, archaeologists found an inscription with a story relating visions of the seer of the gods Bala’am, son of Be’or, who may be the same Bala’am mentioned in Numbers 2224 and in other passages of the Bible. Bala’am is not specifically mentioned as a prophet of Yahweh in the Bible, but is called upon by Balak, a Moabite ruler, to curse the Israelites . Although Balaam evidently heard from Yahweh in the Biblical account, Balaam is associated with Ashtar, a god named Shgr, and Shadday gods and goddesses. Balaam is blamed for teaching Balak how to remove Yahweh’s covering from the Israelites through forbidden sexual relationships .
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Bible Verses About Donkeys
He sends forth springs in the valleys They flow between the mountains They give drink to every beast of the field The wild donkeys quench their thirst.
And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?Then Balaam said to the donkey, Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now.The donkey said to Balaam, Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you? And he said, No.read more.Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way with his drawn sword in his hand and he bowed all the way to the ground.
The Lessons Of Balaam
The prophet who rode a talking donkey wasnt so bad when we first met him. You might even like him in the beginning, but it didnt take long for him to show his true hand. His heart wasnt right with God. His way was greed, his error was compromise, and his doctrine was betrayal and corruption.
These are the lessons of Balaam, and theyre still infiltrating the church and individual lives thousands of years later.
And by the way, dont beat a donkey that decides to talk to you. It may well be God getting your attention.
Balaams way was greed, his error was compromise, and his doctrine was betrayal and corruption.
If you enjoyed reading about a talking donkey and a pagan king, Id be thankful if you shared this post with your friends!
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Who Was Balaam In The Bible
The Bible tells us that Balaam was the son of Beor , living in Pethor near the Euphrates River. Balaam was highly regarded by the Moabites and Midianites as a soothsayer and prophet who could bless or curse with his words. His brother, Bela, was a king of Edom.
Although Balaam lived among idolaters, he professed great knowledge of God. So, when the Israelites encroached on the plains of Moab, the king of the Moabites, Balak, summoned Balaam. He feared the Israelites would attack, and he wanted Balaam to put a curse on them.
Balaam is known as a powerful diviner, so Balak asks him:
A people has come out of Egypt they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.
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Balaam And The Talking Donkey
Adapted from Scripture Stories
When the children of Israel neared the promised land, the Lord commanded them to conquer several kingdoms. As a result, the people living in the promised land greatly feared the Israelites, especially the Moabites. Balak, the Moabite king, knew that a man named Balaam was a prophet, and the king hoped that Balaam might use his power to curse the Israelites.
Balak sent his elders and princes to Balaam with gifts and treasures to pay for the cursing of Israel. The gifts were enticing, and Balaam wanted them, but he knew that he must pray for Heavenly Fatherâs guidance.
In answer to Balaamâs prayer the Lord said, âThou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed.â
The next morning Balaam refused to curse Israel and sent the Moabites away. But King Balak would not give up. He sent more princes to Balaam. This time he promised Balaam more than just riches: âLet nothing, I pray thee, hinder thee from coming unto me:
âFor I will promote thee unto very great honour, and I will do whatsoever thou sayest unto me.â
But Balaam refused again, saying, âIf Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I not go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more.â
However, Balaam did invite the Moabites to stay with him that night. Excited by the promise of riches and power, Balaam secretly hoped the Lord would change His mind and permit him to go to Balak.
âNay,â Balaam replied.
The Biblical Tale Of Balaam And The Donkey
- M.A., English Composition, Illinois State University
- B.S., English Literature, Illinois State University
Balaam, a sorcerer, was summoned by King Balak of the Moabites to curse the Israelites as Moses was leading them toward Canaan. Balak promised to pay Balaam handsomely for bringing evil upon the Hebrews, whom he feared. In the night God came to Balaam, telling him not to curse the Israelites. Balaam sent the king’s messengers away. Balaam did, however, go with the second set of Balak’s messengers after being warned by God to “only do what I tell you.”
On the way, Balaam’s donkey saw the angel of God standing in their path, brandishing a sword. The donkey turned, drawing a beating from Balaam. The second time the animal saw the angel, she pressed against a wall, crushing Balaam’s foot. Again he beat the donkey. The third time the donkey saw the angel, she lay down under Balaam, who beat her severely with his staff. At that, 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?”
After Balaam argued with the beast, the Lord opened the sorcerer’s eyes so he too could see the angel. The angel scolded Balaam and ordered him to go to Balak but to speak only what God told him.
Balak sent Balaam home, angry that he had blessed rather than cursed the Jews. Later, the Jews warred against Midian, killing their five kings. They put Balaam to death by the sword.
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Takeaways From The Story Of Balaam And The Donkey
Balaam knew God and carried out his commands, but he was an evil man, driven by money rather than love for God. His inability to see the angel of the Lord revealed his spiritual blindness. Moreover, he saw no significance in the donkey’s odd behavior. As a seer, he should have been keenly aware that God was sending him a message.
The angel threatened Balaam because Balaam was obeying God in his actions, but in his heart, he was rebelling, thinking only of the bribe.
The “oracles” of Balaam in Numbers correspond to the blessings God promised to Abraham: Israel will be as numerous as the dust of the earth the Lord is with Israel Israel will inherit the promised land Israel will crush Moab, and from the Jews will come a Messiah.
Numbers 31:16 reveals that Balaam enticed the Israelites to turn from God and worship idols.
The fact that the angel asked Balaam the same question as the donkey indicates that the Lord was speaking through the donkey.
The Error Of Balaam: Lesson 2
Dont miss this. How many times, like Balaam against Israel, does Satan bring accusations against you and I? Just like Israel, God has dealt with your sin if you have received Christ as your savior. Your sin is judged in Christ on the cross when you place your faith in Him. The sin of a Christ follower is between them and God. Theres no third party access.
Who will bring charges against Gods elect? God is the one who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ is the one who died, and more than that, who was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
The error of Balaam is twofold. First, he didnt understand Gods righteousness and how He imparts that to those who put their faith in Him.
Second, his error was compromising his own morality in order to appease a pagan king.
Like Balaam, Christians are full of compromise today.
If you think that sounds familiar, it should. Christians today are full of compromise. We compromise by the kind of words we allow to come out of our mouths. We compromise by what movies and shows we watch, by the books we read, the music we listen to, and by who we hang out with and what we do while were hanging out.
Some even compromise by what verses in the Bible they choose to overlook so as not to be socially offensive.
Woe to them! For they have traveled in the way of Cain, and have given themselves up to the error of Balaam for gain, and have perished in the rebellion of Korah.