21 So Balaam got up in the morning and [a]saddled his donkey and went with the leaders of Moab.
The Angel and Balaam
22 But God’s anger was kindled because [b]he was going, and the [c]Angel of the Lord took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. Now he 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 way and His drawn sword in His hand, the donkey turned off the path and went into the field; but Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back toward the path. 24 But the Angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path of the vineyards, with a [stone] wall on this side and a [stone] wall on that side. 25 When the donkey saw the Angel of the Lord, she pressed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against it, and he struck her again. 26 The Angel of the Lord went further, 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, so Balaam was angry and he struck the donkey [a third time] with his staff. 28 And 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?” 29 Then Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now!” 30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life until this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?” And he said, “No.”
31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and lay himself face down.
Numbers 22:21The ancient rabbis saw in this action an indication that Balaam was eager to go with the messengers, because it was not considered appropriate for a man of importance to saddle his own mount.
Numbers 22:22Balaam went with God’s permission, but his motives were in opposition to God’s will.
Numbers 22:22“Angel” has been capitalized here to reflect the likelihood that it is God appearing in a visible form (see note Gen 16:7).
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