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Old Testament Notes
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.