A talking donkey may seem like fodder for a cartoon, but this passage — בָּלָק Balak, Num. 22:2-25:9 — contains a very real message for Israel about its future and the Messiah. Often, the Creator uses what we don’t expect — an animal, a prophet not of Israel — to shake up the complacent and underscore the gravity of the situation.
The traditional companion reading (haftarah) for Parashat Balak is Mic. 5:6–6:8.
Listen to recorded discussions and read notes from studies by Hallel Fellowship teacher Richard.
Parashah: Num. 22:2-25:9
Skeptics like to poke fun at this story because of the talking donkey. Yet sometimes, our way is so set upon evil that a talking donkey doesn’t even phase us and give us pause to turn away from our direction. Balaam wasn’t ignorant of the identity of the Creator God. He knew YHWH by name, and Balak, the king of Moab, knew of Him too.
If Balaam knew that, then he knew that God had the power to make a donkey talk. Balaam didn’t fully understand the error of his way until one of the most powerful messengers in God’s hosts, the Angel of YHWH, confronts him with a sword in his hand.
Bilam (Balaam) is not a member of God’s covenant and was a foreigner to them, although he was from the land of Aram, the ancestral homeland of Abraham. Yet, God saw fit to give him His words, His visions and to Bilam and use Bilam as God’s instrument among the people.
Though he was reluctant to pass it along, Balaam’s prophecy would stretch long into the future of Israel and foretell actions of the Messiah.
The cryptic lines of Balaam’s reluctant blessing of Israel contains pictures of what Israel should expect in its Messiah.
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