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Out of the Mouth of a Talking Donkey

Numbers 22:28

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Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?” (Numbers 22:28 NIV)

This is one of the stories I remember from children’s Sunday school, many years ago: Balaam and his talking donkey. And I still find it amusing when I read it. Especially as Balaam carries on a conversation with this donkey as if it was a normal part of his day.

But there is more to this account than just a talking donkey. Balaam had embarked on a dangerous journey. He had been hired to curse God’s people. Even though it appears God has told him he could go, the journey’s purpose was displeasing to God, so he warned the prophet. Using the prophet’s own donkey.

But does this account have any applicability to me today? I cannot imagine that I will ever curse God’s people. And I certainly don’t have a donkey. But I have been known to act contrary to God’s will.

Most often, his word serves as a warning to me. But at other times, he uses other methods. Sometimes it is by what another person says or does. But occasionally, some circumstance that comes my way will take the place of the talking donkey. But whatever the method of warning, it is important to pay heed to it. In the end, Balaam did not, and it cost him his life (Num. 31:8, 16).

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

2 thoughts on “Out of the Mouth of a Talking Donkey – Numbers 22:28”

  1. I think it means, with the Old Testament in particular we have to take it with a big grain of salt!

    In addition, many of the writers of the O.T. were polytheists. They believed the Lord God was the most powerful, but they definitely believed in multiple gods. That is, on a central theological point, they were as wrong as they could be.

    • While I do believe we need to understand the cultural background that the Old Testament was written in, it is the inspired word of God. Clearly the people in Israel, at least until the Babylonian exile, were polytheistic. But I do not believe that to be the case of the Bible’s author’s who constantly argue against the worship of other gods. They may have accepted the existence of other gods. But for them God was sovereign and over all.

      Not sure what you mean by ‘taking the Old Testament with a grain of salt’. But when I hear that expression used it is generally dismissive. Indicating you can’t put too much stock in something that you read or hear. And I believe that is an inappropriate response to God’s inspired word. It is indeed hard to understand sometimes. But it is well worth taking the time to develop that understanding and to get to know the God who inspired it, the people it was written to, and its message for us today.


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