The Angel And The Donkey

We’re continuing our look at Trinitarian passages in the Old Testament and that includes a study on the Angel of the Lord. We’re now going to be going to the book of Numbers where we find a seer (Which archaeology has found evidence of his existence) named Balaam who the king of Moab is wanting to hire to curse Israel so that they can be defeated. For more information on Balaam in archaeology, click the following:

The text will be Numbers 22 focusing on the passage starting at verse 22.

Balaam sounds good for awhile saying he won’t go unless the Lord commands, but the insistence of the offers seems and Balaam’s asking again after more money is offered him seems to indicate that he might be in it for some gain. (Considering later biblical history doesn’t praise him including Numbers 31, we have a good precedent for this.)

However, while on the journey, God is angry with him and the Angel of the Lord appears. However, the Angel of the Lord in this “appearance” is actually invisible. Balaam is traveling on his donkey and suddenly, the donkey turns and goes into a field.

What Balaam doesn’t know is that the Angel of the Lord is standing there and he has his sword drawn. The donkey can see this and Balaam and Balaam, naturally thinking his donkey is being obedient, strikes her to get her back on course.

Then, Balaam and the donkey are traveling in a narrow path with walls on both sides and the Angel of the Lord is there again and once again, the donkey is the only one who sees him. This time, the donkey presses herself to the wall along with Balaam’s foot, so he strikes her again.

The Angel of the Lord goes further now and there is another path where there’s no way to turn right or left. When the donkey, who is again the only one able to see the angel, sees the Angel of the Lord there, she lies down and Balaam strikes her once again.

Now a miracle occurs as the Lord opens the mouth of the donkey and she asks Balaam why he’s hitting her. Balaam’s reply is that the donkey has embarrassed him and had he had a sword, he would have killed the donkey. 

The donkey reminds Balaam that she has been faithful to him all her life. Has she ever acted like this? Balaam replies that she hasn’t. At this point, Balaam’s eyes are opened and he sees that while he might have drawn a sword to kill his donkey, someone else has drawn a sword who could have killed him.

The Angel of the Lord asks Balaam why he struck his donkey those three times and tells him that if he had kept going, he would have killed Balaam and let the donkey live. (Kind of makes you think our friends in PETA would be pleased with this passage.)

The commands are then that Balaam is to go but to be sure, he is only to speak the words that the Angel of the Lord tells him. Does Balaam understand this figure then to be the one that he had prayed to earlier? I don’t think this passage can tell us in isolation, but it is one we need to keep in mind.

Especially since we’ll see an angel with sword drawn later.

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