Yeah, how can we not appreciate that? I agree.
I love that story! The story of Balaam in Numbers is so interesting as the more you read it, the more questions you ask. I write down all my questions when I study but the list is too long on this story!
Not only the question of the donkey having perfect intelligent reasoning, indeed speaking at all, but that Balaam didn't question why he was talking back to his donkey in the first place?
This reminds me of the nonsensical reaction in the character in the Franz Kafka novel " The Metamorphosis”. The salesman Gregor Samsa wakes one morning to find himself inexplicably transformed into a huge insect. But Gregor then worries when he wakes up that he is not going to be able to go to work.
You would think Balaam's first response would be, "How come you speak being a donkey?"
"Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you that you have struck me these three times?” Balaam answered the donkey, "You have made a fool of me! If I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now!" Numbers 22:31
Then Balaam changes in speech from being full of violence and rage to being passive and calm. One minute he is beating the donkey in a fury threatening to kill her, the next just passively saying "No" to the donkeys extremely patient and enlightened speech. A bit like a little kid might answer.
So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?
” And he said, “No.” (Num 2:30)
A change in mood from rage to reason?
He had not seen the Angel at that point or had his eyes opened.
The Angel would have killed Balaam if it hadn't been for the donkey and says as much, yet the Angel still let Balaam go on with his journey and instructs him he will be told what he will say..
Yet Balaams answer is still odd - almost like "well if you think it's evil, or course I won't go". (Like he didn't know by that point?). It seems only an evil can be stopped by fear in some. Only seeing the Angel with a sword drawn stopped Balaam yet still he acted oddly. He might as well have said, "oh well, if you say so; I don't have to go if you don't want me to go". This is really odd and not normal behaviour.
If most people saw an Angel about to kill them for disobeying God, you would think that would be enough! But it clearly wasn't enough (or he forgot) as it didn't stop him trying to harm Israel later either, even after the blessing and before he was slain. He surely knew the will of God by that point? This story continues to raise even more questions than it answers but I am sure we are supposed to pay attention to those red flags!
If the Angel was going to kill Balaam before the donkey stopped him doing so, why did God tell Balaam he could go, especially after he said no before?
The donkeys actions seem central to the story as they saved Baalam his life but did not change Balaam's way his way of thinking, as we find out later that after all this, he went back to his place, but still then helped trap the Israelites later in Numbers 25. For this God plagued them, and 24,000 men died. So he might not have been a false prophet but he was a wicked one.
Peter says Balaam“ loved the wages of wickedness” 2 Peter.2:15
It is also strange how later on after the two attempts to get Balaam to curse the Israelites that Balak insists upon he still keeps going. You would think by now after twice failing, he would have given up? The "Spirit of God" came upon him before he blesses Israel so poetically in the third attempt, which it had not happened the previous two attempts when "he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments".
Such a mysterious story. So much more to it than the question of whether Donkeys can talk or not. Did the donkey represented Balaam's enlightened intellect he was ignoring?
He couldn't have been that enlightened, as he later gets his reward from Balak after all. Balaam “error” again shown with him advising the Moabites on how to entice the people of Israel with prostitutes and idolatry after all. He must have forgotten about the Angel who was going to kill him or Gods Will? Yet how could he forget that?
Balaam was a strange character indeed. It was like he was two people.
One a wicked greedy sorcerer who loved gain, and the other one a prophet of God.
Whether he was a “false prophet” is unknown as I don't know if he said anything false or not, just wicked.
I would love to know what you make of it!