This chapter will forever be on my list of questions to ask Jesus. My first question about it will be, “Who is Balaam?” All we really know is that he is the son of Beor (big deal?), he lived in Pethor, and he not only believed in God, but he was so close to God that he and God had intimate convos, just like God and Moses. So, while we can’t answer some questions, we can answer a few. First, we can answer my question of, where is Pethor? Well, it’s by the Euphrates (v. 5), and that, folks, is a long way away from Moab! I had to Google, but the Euphrates runs through present-day Iraq, Syria and Turkey. You should have a Google, too, so you can know how long the journey was to get a hold of Balaam. The king was desperate!
Then there’s the donkey. This chapter is definitely known for the donkey analogy, which I’d like to explain here, but I can’t. I’ve never been able to explain the donkey analogy because I’ve never fully understood it. My best “translation” of sorts is that God saw something in Balaam’s heart and attitude that we couldn’t see from the text. You gotta read between the lines here. God told Balaam to go to Balak, and then when he got up to go, God got angry. Why? I have to think that God had the inside scoop on this one. Maybe he knew Balaam was being a bit prideful in his mission and not exactly looking to God for direction, and that’s why he couldn’t see the angel. It’s a good lesson in trust, for sure, and the poor donkey … oh gosh, we can all relate, can’t we????? “I am the same donkey you have ridden all your life.” Crushed me!
Writing prompt: mystery man or donkey
Take your pick of writing today about who you think Balaam might be or what the donkey story means to you.