Thank you for rejoining this interview in progress! Sonja had just asked Balaam’s Donkey if she had seen the angel for a second time while she and her traveling party were on their way to Moab to curse the Israelites for King Balak, who was terrified that this enormous group would crush him and his people.
Donkey: Yes! And this time, there was no field on the side! We were on a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on each side. And there was that angel, flashing his mighty sword. I pressed so close to one wall to get by him that Balaam’s foot was crushed against it. I didn’t mean to do that, but what choice did I have? Balaam beat me again, of course.
Sonja: That sounds awful!
Donkey: When the angel appeared to me the third time, the road was so narrow that I couldn’t turn at all in any direction, so I just laid down on the road with Balaam sitting on my back. He beat me again with that staff of his, and that’s when it happened! I could speak! I’m not even sure how I knew I could do it, but I just looked up at Balaam and said, ‘What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?’
Sonja: Amazing! Were you angry? Your eyes as you were speaking just now looked more sad than angry. But, wait–what’s so funny?
Donkey [shaking his head and chuckling softly]: Balaam was sitting there on the ground wishing out loud for a sword to kill me, and there was a sword right there in front of him that he couldn’t see! He thought I had made him look foolish in front of the others, you see. So, I was sad–After all our trips together, something was obviously terribly wrong, and yet all he could think of was how he wanted to kill me!
Sonja: Did you tell him about the angel?
Donkey: No, I just tried to make him see reason. I said, ‘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?’ When he had calmed down and said that no, I hadn’t done this before, his eyes were opened and he could see the angel, too!
Donkey [looking proud]: Finally, right? And that angel defended me to my master, and told Balaam that I had saved his life by stopping and turning to the side. The angel would have killed him.
Sonja: Did Balaam turn around and go back home then?
Donkey: That’s another funny part! God of this angel must know what is in the heart, because Balaam had been given permission by God to go to Balak, then the angel of the LORD tried to stop him, and then the angel let him continue on to Moab! I think that God knew that Balaam had only said he would speak what God told him to speak and nothing else, but in his heart he thought he could do what he always did–manipulate the gods to do what he wanted them to do, cursing the Israelites just like Balak wanted.
Sonja: Yes, I suppose it wasn’t so easy to disobey the true God after this encounter with the angel! Did Balaam change and worship the Israelites’ God after this, when it became clear that this was no ordinary god? I mean, you, a donkey, were even speaking to your master!
Donkey [shaking her head with a tear dripping down her long nose]: I’m sorry to say that the story has a sad ending. Balaam wanted a sword, and he got one–right through his body, compliments of the very Israelites he couldn’t curse. Balaam, you see, had found another way to cause trouble. Moabite women, following Balaam’s advice, enticed the Israelite men to eat food sacrificed to the idols and to even join in on their rituals to Baal, the Canaanite fertility god. I don’t think the Israelite God liked that very much.
Sonja [stroking Donkey’s head]: Just one last question, okay? Out of all the prophecies you heard your master make, does any one prophecy stand out to you?
Donkey [brightening]: Yes! This one, which I will never forget. Balaam said, ‘A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.’ Sounds remarkably similar to what Jesus says at the very end of the Bible, don’t you think? Jesus says in Revelation 22:16, ‘I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright morning Star.’
David, of course, was a scepter-using king of Israel, out of the family of Jacob!
Sonja: Well, for a ‘dumb’ animal, Donkey, I’d say you are mighty smart and have a lot to say! Thank you again for being here today.
Image credit: http://www.mrbiblehead.blogspot.com
NEXT UP: Wilbur, from Charlotte’s Web.