Numbers 22:21-41

Balaam and his donkey

21 In the morning, Balaam prepared his donkey to travel. He went with the officers to Moab. 22 God was angry because Balaam went with the men. The angel of the Lord stood on the road to stop Balaam. Balaam was riding on his donkey and his two servants were with him. 23 The angel of the Lord was holding a sword. When the donkey saw the angel, it tried to leave the road and go into a field. Balaam hit the donkey to make it go back to the road.

24 Then the angel of the Lord stood on the road between two vineyards. The path was narrow there, with a wall on each side. 25 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pushed against the wall. Balaam's foot became fixed between the donkey and the wall. So Balaam hit the donkey again.

26 Then the angel of the Lord moved on. He stood in a very narrow place where there was no space to turn round. 27 When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord it lay down on the ground. Balaam was still sitting on the donkey and he became very angry. He hit the donkey with his stick. 28 Then the Lord caused the donkey to speak. It said, ‘What have I done to hurt you? Why have you hit me three times like that?’

29 Balaam said to the donkey, ‘You have made me look silly. If I had a sword in my hand now, I would kill you.’

30 The donkey said to Balaam, ‘I am your own donkey that you ride every day. Do I usually do things like this to you?’ Balaam said, ‘No.’

31 Then the Lord let Balaam see the angel of the Lord. He could see that the angel stood there with a sword in his hand. Balaam lay down with his face down towards the ground.

32 The angel of the Lord said to him, ‘You should not have hit your donkey like that! I have come here to stop you because you refuse to obey me. 33 Three times the donkey saw me and turned back. If it had not done that, I would have killed you. But I would not have killed your donkey.’

34 Then Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, ‘I have done a wrong thing. I did not realize that you were standing in the road to stop me. So, if you do not want me to continue, I will return to my home.’ 35 But the angel of the Lord said to Balaam, ‘Go with the men. But you must say only the words that I will tell you.’ So Balaam went with Balak's officers.

36 Balak heard the news that Balaam was coming. He went out to meet Balaam at the border of Moab's land. The town was beside the river Arnon. 37 Balak said to Balaam, ‘You should have come the first time that I sent men to get you. Why did you not come? Did you think that I could not pay you with enough good things?’

38 Balaam said to Balak, ‘Anyway, I have come to you now! But I cannot choose to say anything. I can only say the words that God tells me to speak.’

39 Balaam went with Balak to Kiriath-Huzoth. 40 When they arrived there, Balak killed bulls and sheep as a sacrifice. He sent some of the meat to Balaam and the officers who were with him. 41 The next day, Balak took Balaam to Bamoth-Baal. From there, Balaam could see some of the big group of the Israelites.