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Old Testament Notes

Balaam

            Balaam was a famous non-Israelite prophet, whom king Balak of Moab summoned to curse the Israelite invaders (Numbers 22:5). Balaam, advised by God “only what I bid you, that shall you do” (Num 22:20), hurried to Balak. God sent an angel with a sword to block Balaam’s way, but only his donkey could see the divine messenger. When Balaam started to beat the animal, God allowed the donkey to speak in protest and finally let Balaam see and talk to the angel, who sent him on, warning him to speak only ‘the word which I bid you’ (Num 22:35). When Balaam came at last to Balak he blessed Israel and foretold Israel’s eventual triumph over its enemies, including Moab.
See: Rembrandt. The Ass of Balaam Talking before the Angel.
 

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