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.
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.
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 he 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 angels in God’s hosts, the Angel of the Lord, confronts him with a sword in his hand.