Study Guide

Book of Numbers Chapter 22

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Chapter 22

Balak's Big Mistake

  • The Israelites are hanging in Moab when they manage to catch the attention of the Moabite king, Balak.
  • See, the Moabites are worried that the Israelites are going to destroy their land, so Balak plans to drive them out of Moab using military force. He knows they've got a pretty mighty army going though, so first he needs a little help.
  • He sends a message to Balaam, a non-Israelite who specializes in cursing people, predicting the future, and communicating with the divine. Basically, if Balaam worked at Hogwarts, he'd be teaching Divination.
  • King Balak sends messengers to Balaam who offer to pay him handsomely if he'll dish out a curse on Israel.
  • Balaam is interested in this offer, but needs to consult with God first. Wonder what he'll say?
  • News flash—God is not in favor of Balaam cursing his most favorite people on the planet. Big shocker.
  • So, Balaam sends the messengers back. When King Balak sees them, he decides to try again. This time he sends more people and offers to pretty much write him a blank check if Balaam will just come to Moab and curse Israel. Is that so hard?
  • Dudes, Balaam says, you're not getting it. No matter how much you offer me, I can't go against God. But just in case he's changed his mind, Balaam decides to consult with God one more time.
  • This time, God tells him that, if the men come to get him, it's fine to go with him. But he still hasn't given him leeway to curse Israel yet.

Balaam And Donkey On Another Whirlwind Adventure

  • The next morning, Balaam saddles up his donkey and goes to meet the Moabite men.
  • God is ticked. He clearly told Balaam to wait until the Moabites came to him. Ugh. Does no one listen to instructions? So, he sends the Angel of the Lord to stand in the roadway and block him.
  • Now, Balaam can't see the angel, but the donkey can. The donkey spots him standing there with a huge sword in his hand and decides to take another path.
  • Balaam hits the donkey to get him back on the road. Poor donkey!
  • When the donkey gets to a narrow strip of road with walls on either side, the angel pops up again. And he's still holding that sword.
  • The donkey is so freaked out that he just lays down in the road.
  • Balaam hits the donkey again, but this time the donkey starts to talk. Go ahead and imagine that he sounds like Eddie Murphy. We know we are.
  • Dude, the donkey says, why're you hitting me?
  • Balaam (who doesn't panic about this talking donkey) says, Um, maybe because you can't walk straight. Seriously, if I had my sword right now I'd kill you.
  • Honestly, the donkey says, you humans are so thick. Obviously there's something wrong because I'm acting really weird.
  • Just then, Balaam sees the angel in the road. With the sword. Oh, so that's what the donkey was talking about.
  • The angel explains that it's trying to stop Balaam from going to the Moabite men. That donkey actually saved his life, because if Balaam had kept going, the angel would have killed him dead. Hey, can a donkey get waffle for his trouble?
  • My bad, Balaam tells him.
  • No worries, the angel replies. Go ahead on your way. I'll let you know what to say to King Balak. Huh? We thought God was opposed to this trip.
  • Anyway, King Balak is pretty excited when Balaam arrives, but Balaam tells him that he's not at liberty to curse anyone yet. So, he sacrifices some oxen and sheep and takes Balak to a place where he can see the Israelites in their camp. Interesting move, Balaam.

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