Monday, September 19, 2011

Bible quote of the week: "Am I not your own donkey?"

Bible quote of the week brings you the wit and wisdom of Bronze Age and Iron Age barbarians God's Word. This week:

Numbers 22:30 (NIV)
The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" "No," he said.

This has always been one of my favorite Bible stories (not least because in the King James version the whole thing is about "Balaam's ass"). The talking donkey, of course, is the best part.

Numbers 22:20 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 princes of Moab. 22 But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the LORD stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. 23 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, she turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat her to get her back on the road. 24 Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between two vineyards, with walls on both sides. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat her again. 26 Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat her with his staff. 28 Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?" 29 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." 30 The donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?" "No," he said. 31 Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown. 32 The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. 33 The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her." 34 Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, "I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back." 35 The angel of the LORD said to Balaam, "Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you." So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

I especially like the way Balaam seems completely unsurprised by the fact that his donkey is talking. He's never like "WTF?! My donkey is talking!" He just has a (quite abusive) conversation with her.

But there's other good stuff in there as well. First God tells Balaam to do something, then he sends an angel to kill him for doing it. But then the angel -- who apparently can't just walk up to Balaam and smite him, but has to wait for the man to come to him (kind of like how a vampire can't come inside your house unless you invite him, I guess) -- gets outsmarted by a donkey.

And then the angel tells Balaam all over again to do the same thing that he was trying to kill him for doing in the first place. And Balaam doesn't say, "Dude, you just tried to kill me for doing that!" He just says, "Sure, OK," and does it (and manages to survive for a few more chapters). That's the wisdom of the ages right there, I'm telling you.


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4 comments:

  1. I heart Bible Quote of the Week.

    ReplyDelete
  2. God just likes to phut with people.

    A friend just had me watch an episode of "Wilfred" on FX with her. Same thing.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's like Job, only shorter. God loves him.... sorry, "Him"... some pranking on His people.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Michelle, it hearts you back.

    Nance, I should get cable.

    NC, but no one pranks like a Samaritan!

    ReplyDelete

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