Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: At Wit’s End (02/13/14)
- TITLE: When Donkeys Talk
By Elizabeth Baize
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From my view on the top of Mount Peor, the tent city below me appears as harmless as a flock of sheep, but when I glance at King Balak, I almost wonder if a dragon is crouching below us instead. Every line of his face is oozing desperation. You see, he’s depending on my master to curse the people in those tents and so far, well . . . Yahweh has only allowed Balaam to bless them. Every time a string of blessings comes out of my master’s mouth, Balak suggests we climb another mountain. So far, changing locations hasn’t changed Yahweh’s mind.
Although I hate to admit it, I can actually empathize with the exasperated Moabite that is hanging on my master’s every word. Yes, he’s a king and I’m only a lowly donkey, so please let me explain.
The other morning, Balaam mounted me for this journey to Moab. As I plodded along wishing for a bite of grass, a distinctly unearthly being with a drawn sword suddenly stood in the road ahead. I’m sure such a sight would spook the average horse, but due to my intellectual superiority, I didn’t even flinch. Instead, I simply waited for redirection.
Imagine my surprise when my master made no effort to avoid the flashing blade! Determining Balaam didn’t know what was good for him, I decided to intervene. Besides, I hadn’t forgotten the grass. Before my master could stop me, I stepped off the road creating distance between us and the celestial being. Now for the grass! Just as I was snatching a bite, I felt a sharp sting on my rump. I shook my head in disbelief and pain as Balaam jerked me back toward the road. Had he gone insane?
Thankfully the sword bearer had moved, so I submitted to my master’s cues. My relief was short-lived. As I prepared to walk between two walls, the being appeared again. That’s when I noticed the first inklings of an indescribable feeling, but I still didn’t lose my head. In an attempt to avoid death, I threw my body against one wall. Too late I realized my action was smashing Balaam’s foot, but I felt confident he would forgive my oversight. Wrong! He thanked me for my quick thinking with a second whack.
Dejectedly I hung my head, let my ears flop more than normal, and plodded onward. Just as an embankment reared itself on both sides of me, I happened to glance up. The being stood before us. At that moment the indescribable feeling hit me full force. I still believe in donkey intelligence, but this donkey had reached the limit of applying it. With a sigh, I folded my legs and sank to the ground.
Almost instantaneously, Balaam slammed me with his staff. I opened my mouth to groan, but something else came out. I heard human words; heard myself saying, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” Astonished by my own question I found myself even more astonished at my master’s response. He waved his staff in the air and shouted back, “Because you have made a fool of me. I wish I had a sword in my hand, for then I would kill you.”
Kill me with a sword!! Hadn’t I just avoided such a demise? Was my master so blind he couldn’t he see the blade that was still flashing just cubits from his own heart? Unsure of the outcome, I opened my mouth and spoke. “Am I not your donkey, on which you have ridden all your life long to this day? Is it my habit to treat you this way?” Balaam lowered his staff and uttered one single word. “No.”
I didn’t even have a chance to breathe a sigh of relief before Balaam suddenly landed facedown on the road beside me. In that moment, my master and I shared a posture, but not that feeling I have in common with Balak. Somehow I know my master bowed simply because he had just seen Yahweh’s angel.
Quotes obtained from the ESV
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