The Man With A Talking Ass

In the world of make believe, animals have developed vocal chords and brains so that they can communicate in human languages.  This is true in the Bible as well.  Not long after the creation of Adam and Eve we find a serpent that is “more crafty than any beast of the field.”  Maybe all the beasts were crafty, but the serpent was “more crafty” (Gen. 3:1).  What does that even mean?  Out of all the tricks that the beasts could play, the serpent turned the best tricks?  I don’t know, but it sounds awfully silly.

Anyway, the serpent speaks to Eve and questions Bible-God’s commandments (Gen. 3:1).  Eve doesn’t act surprised that this serpent can speak.  She doesn’t call her husband to come hear; she just engages in a conversation with this craftiest of all creatures.  Who knows? Maybe we’re supposed to believe that all the animals could talk in Genesis 3.  Most people are familiar with this story, but the serpent isn’t the only creature to speak to a human and get a non-surprised response.

Have you ever heard about Balaam’s ass?  No, I don’t mean his backside, but his donkey.  Balaam is an odd figure in the book of Numbers.  He wasn’t necessarily a believer and follower of the Bible-God, but he was a holy man who sort of kept all the local religions.  The Moabites, alarmed by the huge mass of Israelites moving into their homeland, hired Balaam to pronounce a curse on Israel in Numbers 22.  The Bible-God apparently spoke to this religious holy man of the land, and told him not to go with the men from Moab and not to curse Israel (Num. 22:12).  So the Bible-God speaks to holy men outside of Israel in the Old Testament?  Apparently so.

Later, the Bible-God talked again to Balaam.  This time he told Balaam to go with the men from Moab, but only do whatever he tells him to do (Num. 22:20).  So Balaam obeys the Bible-God, mounts his ass early in the morning, and leaves with the leaders of Moab (Num. 22:21).  But as Balaam was going with the leaders of Moab, the Bible-God, who often changes his mind in Scripture, gets ticked off about it (Num. 22:22).[1]  So does the Bible-God speak to Balaam directly as he’d done previously?  No.  This time the Bible-God sends an “angel of the Lord” with sword in hand to block Balaam’s way.  Though Balaam cannot see the angel, his donkey has some kind of sixth sense or something because it can see the angel and refuses to go any further.  After Balaam beats his ass mercilessly, the donkey finally turns to Balaam and says, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” (Numbers 22:28).  Now in real life, if any person with any measure of sanity was questioned by a donkey, we’d have to pinch ourselves to see if we were awake or dreaming.  Not Balaam, however.  Balaam, just like Eve, engages in conversation with the donkey like nothing is out of the ordinary.  This story is just plain silly.  It’s a mockery of the God of the universe and until one of my pets talks to me, then I don’t believe it.

[1] Does Yahweh change his mind?  Yes—Genesis 6:6, Exodus 32:14, 1 Samuel 15:11, Psalm 106:45.  And, no—Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29.  So which one is it?


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