Numbers 22: Balaam and the Angels


Balak, son of Zippor, and current king of the Moabites was scared of the army that was the Israelites and the fact they had decimated his neighbors. So Balak sent his elders to Balaam to get a blessing. Balaam consulting with God and said – he can’t go with you. So Balak sent princes, who asked him to come. Balaam again consults God who tells him to go with the princes. But as Balaam is riding his ass, an angel stands in the way to prevent him from going, but Balaam doesn’t see this. The ass turns aside 3 times and 3 times Balaam beats the ass. The ass finally speaks and asks him why he is beating him as he is a loyal ass. At this point the angel reveals itself to Balaam and Balaam apologizes to his donkey. He continues on to meet Balak. Balak asks Balaam to prophesy so they go to Kerjathhuzoth to prepare the sacrifice.

In other words:

King Balak of Moab wants the help of Balaam to defeat the Israelites, but Balaam is told not to help Balak by a group of angels.

What’s confusing:

First Balaam is told not to go. Then he is told to go. But then the angels are mad at him because he is going despite being told not to. When he apologizes, they tell him to carry on and go. It seems like it would be much clearer if the message Balaam was receiving was consistent.

What I think really happened: 

Balaam was a seer and had dreams and visions and they weren’t always consistent.

Favorite bit:

(Numbers 22: 21-34) Balaam has trouble with his ass – because he doesn’t see the angel. It’s a really colorful sequence and fun to read.

Least favorite bit:

(Numbers 22:22) God’s anger was kindled against Balaam because he is heading for Moab despite being told not to – even though God himself told him the night before to go. God just needs to make up his mind and stop blaming his emissaries.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Don’t trust your dreams (Numbers 22)