Welcome to our 2nd Interview with Talking Animals from Literature! Today, Balaam’s Donkey has joined me. She comes to us from the Bible, in the Old Testament book of Numbers–a story in Numbers 22-24, to be exact.
Sonja: Hee haw, hello! Thank you for being here today, um, Mrs. Donkey? What would you like me to call you? I don’t know your real name.
Balaam’s Donkey: Just call me Donkey–all I’ve ever been called. [Her ears twitched, her eyes crinkled at the corners] But, ‘Hee haw?’ Seriously?
Sonja [turning red]: That’s donkey talk, no? No. Okay! So, turning to the day God gave you a voice that your master, Balaam, could understand, was it an unusual day?
Donkey: Not too strange. There had been some kind of delay, but in the morning two servants saddled me up –blankets, food, water, the usual. A group of us made up of Balaam and Moabite messengers (he called them princes) who had come with an urgent request from their king, Balak, the two servants and I were preparing to travel to Moab. Balaam and I traveled to many countries together. He was quite famous!
Sonja: Why? What did Balaam do for a living?
Donkey: People called him by many names: Eastern soothsayer, magician, sorcerer, pagan diviner, even prophet. People hired him to help them with big problems. Usually, it meant that Balaam would require them to make sacrifices to God on altars–bulls and rams, for example; after that, he would speak to God and then speak an oracle, a message.
Sonja: What kind of help did Balak need?
Donkey: He was in a panic! I heard the messengers tell Balaam that ‘A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me.’ They had wiped out the Amorites ‘like an ox licks up the grass of the field’, and Balak was afraid they were planning to do the same to his people in Moab. No, he wasn’t just afraid–he was terrified. He wanted Balaam to curse them.
Sonja: Curse them?
Donkey: Right–the message from Balak said, ‘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 country. For I know that those you bless are blessed, and those you curse are cursed.’
Sonja: Did Balaam really have that kind of power?
Donkey: All I know is that he had a way of making things happen. Everywhere we went, people believed it.
Sonja: So what happened on this particular day?
Donkey: There we were on the road, not too far from home, when suddenly an angel of the LORD stood in the road! I don’t know if you’ve ever seen an angel, but if you did, you’d understand why the first thing they always tell people is ‘Do not be afraid.’ Fearsome creatures to behold! Sword drawn, looking ready for battle! I had no choice but to turn off the road into a field.
Sonja: What happened then?
Donkey: Balaam beat me! He couldn’t see the angel at all! This important man who could talk to the gods couldn’t see this vision from God that I could see! I had to get back on the road and keep going, but I can tell you that it was the last thing I wanted to do.
Sonja: Did you see the angel again?
Image Credit: Artist unknown, found on Bing Images.
Frequent readers will notice a change today! I have inserted a “Read More” line, so that you will be directed to the actual blog site to continue reading. I did that today because I’m having trouble with my email and some people aren’t receiving my new blog posts. By directing you to the website, I’ll be able to tell how big of a problem this is.
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For friends new to this blog, I post an article on Sundays on themes in my writing: faith, friendship, diversity, etc.”Wednesday’s Word” is a weekly Bible audio clip that rotates between Genesis, Luke and Psalms. Occasionally, I post “Wednesday’s Word to the Free,” a short Bible passage on what it means to be free. Freedom is a very big concern to Timley Mouse, the tiniest character in my novel, Sophie’s Quest.
Notice: Wednesday’s Word is taking a hiatus for the summer. See you in the fall! The Sunday posts will continue on their regular schedule as long as I am able!