Add parallel Print Page Options

The Talking Donkey. 22 But now God’s anger flared up[a] at him for going, and the angel of the Lord took up a position on the road as his adversary. As Balaam was riding along on his donkey, accompanied by two of his servants, 23 the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with sword drawn. The donkey turned off the road and went into the field, and Balaam beat the donkey to bring her back on the road. 24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow lane between vineyards with a stone wall on each side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord there, she pressed against the wall; and since she squeezed Balaam’s leg against the wall, he beat her again. 26 Then the angel of the Lord again went ahead, and stood next in a passage so narrow that there was no room to move either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord there, she lay down under Balaam. Balaam’s anger flared up and he beat the donkey with his stick.

28 (A)Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she asked Balaam, “What have I done to you that you beat me these three times?” 29 “You have acted so willfully against me,” said Balaam to the donkey, “that if I only had a sword at hand, I would kill you here and now.” 30 But the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey, on which you have always ridden until now? Have I been in the habit of treating you this way before?” “No,” he replied.

31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, so that he saw the angel of the Lord standing on the road with sword drawn; and he knelt and bowed down to the ground. 32 But the angel of the Lord said to him: “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come as an adversary because this rash journey of yours is against my will. 33 When the donkey saw me, she turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away from me, you are the one I would have killed, though I would have spared her.” 34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. Yet I did not know that you took up a position to oppose my journey. Since it has displeased you, I will go back home.” 35 But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam: “Go with the men; but you may say only what I tell you.” So Balaam went on with the princes of Balak.

Read full chapter


  1. 22:22 God’s anger flared up: God’s apparent change of mind became a source of much speculation in the tradition. So, for example, God was angry, not merely because Balaam was going to Balak, for he had God’s permission for the journey (v. 20), but perhaps because he was tempted by greed to curse Israel against God’s command (cf. 2 Pt 2:15; Jude 11; compare Nm 22:32). Adversary: Heb. satan; see also v. 32; cf. 1 Sm 29:4; 2 Sm 19:22; 1 Kgs 11; Jb 1–2; Ps 109:6; Zec 3:1–2; 1 Chr 21:1.