Balaam’s Donkey. Numbers 22:18-22

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Scrobulous

Active member
Sep 17, 2018
285
72
28
#1
Hi folks,
I have always loved this story and of all the possible things to cause a reader problems, I am puzzled by the content of these 5 verses. In verse 18 Balaam makes a declaration that could only be pleasing to God. In verse 19 he asks Balak’s ambassadors to wait, while he enquires of the Lord. In verse 20 God instructs Balaam to go with the men and do only as God tells him. In verse 21 Balaam does exactly as God has instructed and goes with the men. In verse 22 we find that God is very angry with Balaam ‘when he went’ and the Lord sends his angel to kill Balaam.
I don’t understand this at all. How are we to make sense of it?
Any views on this would be much appreciated.
 

Quantrill

Well-known member
Sep 20, 2018
988
300
63
#2
Hi folks,
I have always loved this story and of all the possible things to cause a reader problems, I am puzzled by the content of these 5 verses. In verse 18 Balaam makes a declaration that could only be pleasing to God. In verse 19 he asks Balak’s ambassadors to wait, while he enquires of the Lord. In verse 20 God instructs Balaam to go with the men and do only as God tells him. In verse 21 Balaam does exactly as God has instructed and goes with the men. In verse 22 we find that God is very angry with Balaam ‘when he went’ and the Lord sends his angel to kill Balaam.
I don’t understand this at all. How are we to make sense of it?
Any views on this would be much appreciated.
Most everything about Balaam is strange. Was he a true prophet of God, or a false prophet? I believe he was a true prophet, but then you wonder how he could do the things he did. He was what one calls a hireling prophet, wanting to sell his gift of being a prophet.

As to your question, God had already told Balaam not to go. (Num. 22:12-13) Balak upped the annie promising more for Balaam. (Num. 22:17) This caused Balaam to want to ask God again. But he already knew as God had told him no. What Balaam wanted was the reward that Balak offered. If he really wanted to obey God he would have told the messengers no again. Instead he really wants to go and so God says go.

So, God's will is no, don't go. Balaam's heart is on the reward and God knows it, and therefore tells him, go ahead. But warns him that it will be only God's word that he is allowed to speak. (Num. 22:20) God's will is still no and for Balaam to proceed is still disobedience to God. Thus the anger of God toward Balaam as He said in (Num. 22:32) "...I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me."

Balaam acknowledges his sin, and now wants to go back. Can't blame him. But now God says to Balaam, (Nub. 22:35), (my paraphrase) Go ahead. You have come this far, so we will let it play out. But you will only speak the Words of God.

Quantrill
 

PennEd

Senior Member
Apr 22, 2013
8,127
4,408
113
#3
Hi folks,
I have always loved this story and of all the possible things to cause a reader problems, I am puzzled by the content of these 5 verses. In verse 18 Balaam makes a declaration that could only be pleasing to God. In verse 19 he asks Balak’s ambassadors to wait, while he enquires of the Lord. In verse 20 God instructs Balaam to go with the men and do only as God tells him. In verse 21 Balaam does exactly as God has instructed and goes with the men. In verse 22 we find that God is very angry with Balaam ‘when he went’ and the Lord sends his angel to kill Balaam.
I don’t understand this at all. How are we to make sense of it?
Any views on this would be much appreciated.
Of all the awesome, supernatural events in Scripture, I LOVE the talking donkey account the best!
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
13,532
7,332
113
#4
As to your question, God had already told Balaam not to go. (Num. 22:12-13) Balak upped the annie promising more for Balaam. (Num. 22:17)
Quantrill
Good answer. Just one minor correction: the phrase is ‘upped the ante”; it comes from card games where the ante (Latin for “before”) is an initial wager to buy into a game.

“Upped the annie” may be an auto-incorrect... but it’s funny. Or weird. :)
 

1ofthem

Senior Member
Mar 30, 2016
2,069
640
113
#5
Always loved that story. I see it as when God says no then it is a no and if we go ahead anyhow then trouble is most definitely awaiting us. What kind of trouble God only knows but if we are warned not to do something then we shouldn't do it.

I can relate to the story well. I've had instances in my life when God has told me not to do something, but I wanted to do it anyway. So I tried to head on my way anyhow and just like the donkey my car which had never given me any trouble before started acting up. Doing everything but actually talking to me...lol and Just like Balaam...I was mad enough to hit my car because I really wanted to go. But Then I finally realized that it was a good thing because God had done told me no so there was more than likely trouble awaiting just down the road. Now I could have found another way but I realized it wasn't God's will. So it was actually a blessing in disguise to get my attention.

God can use many things to get our attention not just a talking donkey so I think it is a story to remind us to pay attention to God. He knows what's best.
 

garee

Senior Member
Mar 28, 2016
14,040
1,325
113
#6
Most everything about Balaam is strange. Was he a true prophet of God, or a false prophet? I believe he was a true prophet, but then you wonder how he could do the things he did. He was what one calls a hireling prophet, wanting to sell his gift of being a prophet.

As to your question, God had already told Balaam not to go. (Num. 22:12-13) Balak upped the annie promising more for Balaam. (Num. 22:17) This caused Balaam to want to ask God again. But he already knew as God had told him no. What Balaam wanted was the reward that Balak offered. If he really wanted to obey God he would have told the messengers no again. Instead he really wants to go and so God says go.

So, God's will is no, don't go. Balaam's heart is on the reward and God knows it, and therefore tells him, go ahead. But warns him that it will be only God's word that he is allowed to speak. (Num. 22:20) God's will is still no and for Balaam to proceed is still disobedience to God. Thus the anger of God toward Balaam as He said in (Num. 22:32) "...I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me."

Balaam acknowledges his sin, and now wants to go back. Can't blame him. But now God says to Balaam, (Nub. 22:35), (my paraphrase) Go ahead. You have come this far, so we will let it play out. But you will only speak the Words of God.

Quantrill
Prophecy is never considered in respect to the person seen(walking by sight) . Holy men were moved by the will or hand of God,(walking by faith) not seen . We offer our private interpretation as personal commentaries as to what we believe he is teaching us. like finger prints they differ form on another

I would compare the not sending at first which was ignored by the false prophet Balaam, to God giving him over to do things he should not of. Just like when the elders of Israel gathered themselves together(not called by God's will) because of their jealously for the sounding pagan nations desiring to have a outward representative, walking by sight. They rejected our invisible God as King of kings not desiring to walking by faith. God gave them over temporally to do what they desired until the first century reformation. Therefore returning or restoring the government to the period of Judges when there was no outward representative. The kind of government we have today .

Ultimately I would suggest with Balaam as a object lesson to help s understand the teaching we find in Acts 17. This is in so much that God not seen does not live in temples made with human hands neither is he served by hands used to represent the will.

In the Old testament God uses animals to represent the clean (inspired by God as the will of God "prophecy") or the unclean to represent the will of men (false prophecy) the Ass( the unclean) the lamb (clean)

Twice in Exodus we are given the spiritual understanding in a parable to indicate the redemption we receive in Christ the lamb of God and if not born again redeemed the second death is inevitable(Break the neck)

Exodus 13:13And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.

Exodus 34:20But the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb: and if thou redeem him not, then shalt thou break his neck. All the firstborn of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before me empty.

The Ass a ceremonial unclean animal in effect reveals that God is not served by human hands again according to Acts17. He can use a believer or a unbeliever to accomplish the good purpose of His will.

Numbers 22:28 And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

Three is used to denote the end of a matter.

It was not to promote we walk by sight as instant gratification rather than faith which can require patience as long suffering.

It was the subtleness of the father of lies (Satan as the god of this world) in the garden who by instant gratification tried the faith that came from hearing God not seen .When the father of lies opened the mouth of the serpent and said: "you will not surely die" opening the way for the lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh .The three avenues of the father of lies (1 John 2:16)Then they knew they were naked (the glory of God departed or lost their glow ) as the pride that came before the fall.

1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world

I think it can also be applied to the man in Mathew 7 to represent a Ass or unbeliever who replied..... "have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works"?

Jesus did not say those things were not performed. But acknowledged I never knew you as a believer . Again God is not served by human hands as a will. That many, worked iniquity by claiming fame. (blasphemy)

Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Mathew 7:22-23
 

Adstar

Senior Member
Jul 24, 2016
6,019
2,608
113
#7
Hi folks,
I have always loved this story and of all the possible things to cause a reader problems, I am puzzled by the content of these 5 verses. In verse 18 Balaam makes a declaration that could only be pleasing to God. In verse 19 he asks Balak’s ambassadors to wait, while he enquires of the Lord. In verse 20 God instructs Balaam to go with the men and do only as God tells him. In verse 21 Balaam does exactly as God has instructed and goes with the men. In verse 22 we find that God is very angry with Balaam ‘when he went’ and the Lord sends his angel to kill Balaam.
I don’t understand this at all. How are we to make sense of it?
Any views on this would be much appreciated.
I think you have missread the scriptures or you may have a faulty translation..

Numbers 22: KJV
18 "And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. {19} Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more. {20} And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. {21} And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab."

The princes of Moab did not call Balaam.. Balaam jumped the gun, He should have waited until He was called by the princes..
 

1ofthem

Senior Member
Mar 30, 2016
2,069
640
113
#8
Good point... we have to do things exactly how God instructs us, not get in ourselves and do it our own way. God knows best and if we don't listen and wait upon him and do what he says then we will surely mess up.
 

JaumeJ

Senior Member
Jul 2, 2011
17,116
3,749
113
#9
Do not think a prophet of God is chosen for his intellectual prowess, no God will choose what is not to bring down that which is.
 

Scrobulous

Active member
Sep 17, 2018
285
72
28
#10
Ah, my friends! I would not like to be in a court of law with you as my prosecutors! In verse 12 God certainly said do not go with them and Balaam unequivocally gave them the message from God. When more ambassadors came from Balak, verse 18 gives Balaam’s response ‘even if Balak gave me a palace filled with silver and gold I couldn’t do anything beyond what the Lord commanded.’ Then he seeks God again to see ‘what else the Lord might say’ and in verse 20 God very clearly countermands his previous instruction and tells Balaam to go with the men. My question is why, when Balaam is obedient to this command, the Lord sends his angel with hostile intent.
Since writing this post, I read in 2 Peter 2:15 confirmation of what Quantrill says, but I don’t see evidence of this in Numbers. In fact the narrative confirms that God did want Balaam to go to Balak, for purposes of his own and Balaam is faithful to God throughout. In fact he risks his life by directly disobeying the wishes of his host. Certainly Balaam admits to sin in verse 34, but this was the sin of not apprehending the angel. It seems to me poor old Balaam gets a very poor press. To me he seems like a faithful prophet.
We are assuming he had impure motives, but the text doesn’t bear this out.
 

1ofthem

Senior Member
Mar 30, 2016
2,069
640
113
#11
I think it was more than likely what the other guy on here said Balaam jumped the gun. We can have the best of intentions sometimes but move out before the Lord is ready.

I've heard it referred to as running on ahead of God, instead of running with him and doing what he says when he says to do it.

Look at it this way. He may tell you to go witness to someone at a certain time, but you move out before that time then you could be messing up because he may be doing a work in that persons heart and they are not ready yet. If you rush right in and that person is not ready to hear that message, then you jumped ahead of the Lord and messed up his plan. We have to go by God's timing not our own.
 

Scrobulous

Active member
Sep 17, 2018
285
72
28
#12
I think you have missread the scriptures or you may have a faulty translation..

Numbers 22: KJV
18 "And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more. {19} Now therefore, I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the LORD will say unto me more. {20} And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do. {21} And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab."

The princes of Moab did not call Balaam.. Balaam jumped the gun, He should have waited until He was called by the princes..
This
 

Scrobulous

Active member
Sep 17, 2018
285
72
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#13
NIV
19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.”
20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”
21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials.

The NIV gives no indication of the 'jumping the gun' theory.
Are you seriously saying the NIV is a 'faulty translation?'
 

1ofthem

Senior Member
Mar 30, 2016
2,069
640
113
#14
I'm not sure, but sounds like something is off in that passage, though. :unsure:
 

Adstar

Senior Member
Jul 24, 2016
6,019
2,608
113
#15
NIV
19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.”
20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”
21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials.

The NIV gives no indication of the 'jumping the gun' theory.
Are you seriously saying the NIV is a 'faulty translation?'
I have never trusted in the NIV as a dependable translation of Scriptures... So if you have accurately given the verses from the NIV above in the quote then it only affirms to me again that the NIV is not to be trusted..

Also it is just luck that caused me to read this post of yours... If you do not use the reply option that quotes my post i am not informed that someone has replied to my post asking questions..
 

Scrobulous

Active member
Sep 17, 2018
285
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#16
I have never trusted in the NIV as a dependable translation of Scriptures... So if you have accurately given the verses from the NIV above in the quote then it only affirms to me again that the NIV is not to be trusted..

Also it is just luck that caused me to read this post of yours... If you do not use the reply option that quotes my post i am not informed that someone has replied to my post asking questions..
It is never a good idea to build a thesis on a single word. The context should be the guide. The men are already there with Balaam. There is no ‘if’, as in ‘if they come to you’.
 

Adstar

Senior Member
Jul 24, 2016
6,019
2,608
113
#17
It is never a good idea to build a thesis on a single word. The context should be the guide. The men are already there with Balaam. There is no ‘if’, as in ‘if they come to you’.
Single word ??? The NIV you quoted gave NO reason for God to be angry at Balaam to send an angel of death to wait and strike Him down.. Therefore you come online asking why.. If we just rely on the NIV then you would end up having no reason from scripture and you would end up believing that God was unjust towards Balaam.. But in the KJV it has the critical detailed instructions from God telling Balaam only to go with them if they come and call him in the morning.. See God said only to ""rise up and go with them"" If they come and call him.. which means wake Balaam up from his sleep because he would be laying in bed and would need to rise up out of bed to go with them..

See, your reaction to my answer to your question is totally wrong.. You should be happy there is a Bible translation that is adequate and detailed and has not had words removed from scripture.. One that gives understanding and wisdom.. But how do you react? By defending the translation that has removed words from the Holy Scriptures and left you with the impression that God has been unjust and unreasonable... Absolutely amazing.. Your loyalty to a translation that has lied to you is absolutely amazing..
 

NayborBear

Banned Serpent Seed Heresy
#18
NIV
19 Now spend the night here so that I can find out what else the Lord will tell me.”
20 That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.”
21 Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials.

The NIV gives no indication of the 'jumping the gun' theory.
Are you seriously saying the NIV is a 'faulty translation?'

If the NIV causes you to read the Bible more? That isn't a fault.

Having said that, however, Compare the translations of Ezekiel 13:20 with the KJV.

NIV:
20 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. .

KJV:
20 Wherefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.


As one can see, the KJV goes pretty hard against "the rapture doctrine/thoery".

I mean, you read whatever translation/s that keeps you "in His Word!"

Just my personal preference, is that I find the NIV to be faulty.
 

PennEd

Senior Member
Apr 22, 2013
8,127
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#19
If the NIV causes you to read the Bible more? That isn't a fault.

Having said that, however, Compare the translations of Ezekiel 13:20 with the KJV.

NIV:
20 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against your magic charms with which you ensnare people like birds and I will tear them from your arms; I will set free the people that you ensnare like birds. .

KJV:
20 Wherefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against your pillows, wherewith ye there hunt the souls to make them fly, and I will tear them from your arms, and will let the souls go, even the souls that ye hunt to make them fly.


As one can see, the KJV goes pretty hard against "the rapture doctrine/thoery".

I mean, you read whatever translation/s that keeps you "in His Word!"

Just my personal preference, is that I find the NIV to be faulty.
I'm sorry. I see NO relevance whatsoever to the Rapture in EITHER translation you just cited.

But I do agree that I'm not crazy about the NIV.
 

oldethennew

Senior Member
Feb 28, 2016
10,004
2,142
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#20
PS. 25:21.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on Thee.

HOS. 12:6.
Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.

ROM. 12:5-6-7-8.
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy,
let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;

Or he that exhorts, on exhortation: he that gives, let him do it with simplicity;
he that rules, with diligence; he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness.