Balak – Masks of thespians

21 Balaam awoke in the morning and saddled his donkey to go out with the chieftains of Moab. 22 God was furious that he was going, so a messenger from YHWH appeared on the path as his opponent as he rode his donkey and had 2 servant boys with him. 23 The donkey saw the messenger from YHWH appearing on the way and his sword was drawn in his hand; the donkey turned from the path, she went to the field; Balaam struck the donkey turn towards from the path.

Numbers 22

Suspend all disbelief:

A prophet, Balaam [1]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balaam, and his talking donkey sidekick set out on the road to curse the children of Israel at the command of Balak, king of Moab [2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balak. And soon the donkey will speak to Balaam , and won’t he really be surprised, right!

Who thought of this and why does a donkey see the angel before Balaam?

No time to waste – popcorn and sodas ready? Roll the ancient cartoon of a talking donkey and his insensitive master…

Too bad that donkey couldn’t morph into a superhero back then, because he should have been able to fly and dip and dodge that sword-bearing angel.

SWOOSH! Up around and over the angel, getting away for the moment. Enlightened donkey then turned to his baffled master:

30 The donkey spoke to Balaam: I am your donkey, the one that you have ridden on from before until this very day; have I ever endangered you that you should do so? He said: No…

Numbers 22

 Well said donkey!! However your master is confused and scratching his head.  What a reply to such a fantastic statement…

31 YHWH opened Balaam’s eyes so he could see the messenger of YHWH appearing on the path, with his sword was drawn in his hand; he bowed his face down to the ground.

Numbers 22

Then it became a bit more serious, shifting the scene into a darker side because suddenly Balaam saw the angel. Certainly people see a lot of things all of the time, but usually their donkeys don’t get involved.

What should we learn from this story?

Next time you are under pressure and stressed out, try not to beat that faithful donkey of yours!

Or should we be more aware of the importance of words, blessings or curses, whether spoken or written. Once spoken, they cannot be retracted. Even the written word is hard to obliterate entirely.

5 How pleasant your tents are Jacob, your dwellings Israel: 6 Spreading out like groves, like gardens by a river, like aloes planted by YHWH, like cedars along the water.

Numbers 24 [3]Part of the blessing Balaam gave to the camp of the children of Israel. https://www.sefaria.org/Numbers.24?lang=bi&aliyot=0

Midrash Harabah and English translations by Rabbi Gail Shuster-Bouskila ©2021

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