The prophet Bilam (Balaam) is not an isolated individual, an anomaly in Scripture. He was not the first or last emissary to the Gentiles. God did not leave them without guidance. Bilam is a foreshadowing of the ministry of Saul of Tarsus, aka the apostle Paul, whose experience on the road to Damascus echoes the account in the Torah reading בָּלָק Balak of Bilam’s experience with a “recalcitrant” she-donkey.
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.
There is so much emphasis in Luke 19:29-40 (cf. Matt. 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; John 12:1-19) about Yeshua’s riding into Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) on a donkey that had never carried a burden and about the proclamation, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.” That donkey’s first burden was a profound burden, and we see throughout Scripture a number of donkeys carrying important burdens that prophetically point toward that triumphal entry.