left biblioblography: JACKASS! (NO, NOT THE MOVIE)

Sunday, March 26, 2006


This Sunday’s sermon involves the second instance of a talking animal in the OT: Francis the talking mule (Balaam’s ass, no less!).

This is just hysterical, on so many levels, scatological or otherwise, so I’m not sure just where to begin.

Let’s start from the top.

Apparently, Balaam was the only creature gifted with the ability to ‘see god’s wrath’. In accordance with this, he of course receives major favors. The Moabian king, Balak, orders Balaam to curse Israel. Balaam refuses to, based on a nocturnal emission (oops! Sorry! Dream) from on high. There’s the hilarious respite, where only the ass sees the Angel standing in Bal’s way, as following:

Num 22:20 And God came unto Balaam at night, and said unto him, If the men come to call thee, rise up, [and] go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.

Okay, so Balaam (Bal) is given the okay.

Num 22:21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
Num 22:22 And God's anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants [were] with him.

This crosses my eyes a bit: didn’t he just get a divine permission slip?

Num 22:23 And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.

Here’s a guy, who can (allegedly) foretell the wrath of YHVH: you’d think seeing an angel would be a cakewalk.

Num 22:24 But the angel of the LORD stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall [being] on this side, and a wall on that side.
Num 22:25 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.

So here we have Balaam kicking his own ass. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).

Num 22:26 And the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place, where [was] no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left.
Num 22:27 And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.

Good thing PETA didn’t exist back then.
So then Francis pipes up:

Num 22:28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?

This kind and pleasant gentleman replies:

Num 22:29 And Balaam said unto the ass, Because thou hast mocked me: I would there were a sword in mine hand, for now would I kill thee.

Guess that he witnessed YHVH’s wrath so much, it was a matter of projection, eh?

Num 22:30 And the ass said unto Balaam, [Am] not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since [I was] thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? And he said, Nay.

Most people would probably respond, “No, but then you never spoke before, either.”

Num 22:31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

Why have his ass be the go-between in the first place? Talk about bugfuckery.

Num 22:32 And the angel of the LORD said unto him, wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? Behold, I went out to withstand thee, because [thy] way is perverse before me:

Ummm…ain’t that how people (in that timeframe) handled obstinate donkeys? They’re not the brightest of creatures, not to mention the legendary stubbornness.

Num 22:33 And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.

Which old Bal knew, how?

Num 22:34 And Balaam said unto the angel of the LORD, I have sinned; for I knew not that thou stoodest in the way against me: now therefore, if it displease thee, I will get me back again.

So get this:

Num 22:35 And the angel of the LORD said unto Balaam, Go with the men: but only the word that I shall speak unto thee, that thou shalt speak. So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.

Here we have this divine, omnipotent being, who could’ve avoided the ENTIRE EPISODE, by including this little bit in Bal’s nocturnal, er, um, musings.

I’ve chanced across a re-interpretation here, http://www.egodeath.com/EgoDeathAndMythReligion.htm that extrapolates that this may be a revamp of the Minotaur myth. Not an adherent just yet: providing this, as some interesting reading is all. NOTE: this website is all OVER the place, so it’s a kick and a giggle at best.


“While speaking animals are a common feature of folklore, the only other case in the Old Testament is that of the serpent in Eden. Classical Jewish commentators, such as Saadia Gaon, and Maimonides, taught that a reader should not take this part of the story literally. Rather, they explained, it should be read as an account of a prophetic experience, which are experienced as dreams, or as visions, and consequently, the donkey did not actually speak. Rabbi Joseph H. Hertz, one of the great Jewish biblical commentators of the 20th century, writes that these verses
depict the continuance on the subconscious plane of the mental and moral conflict in Balaam's soul; and the dream apparition and the speaking donkey is but a further warning to Balaam against being misled through avarice to violate God's command'.
Similar views have been held by E. W. Hengstenberg and other Christian scholars, though others, e.g. Voick, regard the statements about the ass speaking as figurative; the ass brayed, and Balaam translated the sound into words.”
Color me curious, and turn the page: I wonder how the literalist interprets this bit of skullduggery?
Oooohhhh, riiiiggghhtt….’allegory’.

This also gives us some amusing wordplay/innuendoes, such ass:


“but the Spirit of God was not in Balaam, nor in Balaam's ass”

One can only hope NOT.


“But I tell you, if the Spirit of God can enter into Balaam’s ass and cause him to see the Angel of our Lord and speak the words of Yahweh”

Ouch. Or ooohhh, depending on your, um, erogenous zones?

What an ass. Figuratively, metaphorically, literally, or otherwise.

The moral here, boys and girls, is this:

We have medication to treat these symptoms now. Back then; it was ‘divine intervention’.

And that, dear readers, is my nickels worth. Flip a coin, or spend it: up to you.

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udonman said...

well you cant spell christianity with out insanity which i think balems ass proves

Anonymous said...

That egodeath site made me go "HUH?" too much and I felt like an intellectual redneck at a black-tie event!
But it started making sense as my ass started to hurt from the chair I sit on hereat work.
I had to wonder, "Is my ass speaking to me? Should I beat my own ass to achieve enlightenment?"
Normally, I have a very wise ass.
Since it was already sore, I decided not to beat it.
I left that site, stood up, and it thanked me.


Krystalline Apostate said...

well you cant spell christianity with out insanity which i think balems ass proves
Hey, I like that. Nice wordplay! Kudos.
Kin I borrow it?

Krystalline Apostate said...

Since it was already sore, I decided not to beat it.
I left that site, stood up, and it thanked me.

Wow, darlin' that was...semi-surreal.
You coulda gotten Michael to spank it for ye, no? ;)
I hesitated throwing that out there: it's actually a wild site, but very interesting reading. I can't say I put much stock in any of it.
Truthfully, it's much farther out than left field: try Pluto.

HairlessMonkeyDK said...

Uncy Relucty spake thusly:

"And that, dear readers, is my nickels worth. Flip a coin, or spend it: up to you."

To which I'll quote TW:

"So you’ll ask me
what I’m doing here,
holding up a lamp-post
Flipping this quarter, trying to make up my mind
And if it’s heads I’ll go to Tennessee, and tails I’ll buy a drink
If it lands on the edge I’ll keep talking to you".

Let this be a hint for all wannabe detractors of Relucty:
His wisdom often lands on the very edge of sharpness
that your dull-bladed wits seldom dare pursue.

Krystalline Apostate said...

His wisdom often lands on the very edge of sharpness that your dull-bladed wits seldom dare pursue.
Wow, that's high praise indeedy, coming from Denmark's answer to Bukowski.
Much obliged.
Was wonderin' where everyone got to: my Sunday sermon seemed unheeded yesterday. But apparently, it was a slow Blog-o-day for everyone.

Anonymous said...

ra, udonman
Technically, insanity has 2 "n"s, so the whole word isn't needed for christianity,
but it's still a funny saying.

I think I just might be able to get Michael to spank me, but that wouldn't satisfy the egoistic whatchamacallit that guy was talking about.
The site was interesting, but you are infinitely moreso!


Krystalline Apostate said...

The site was interesting, but you are infinitely moreso!
Ah, Ramen luv ya, dearheart.
Careful, though: HMDK might start gettin' jealous (again!)

Ocean Lady said...

Hey Ra! I have your blog link up now; I had your Tai Chi site up b4, but I placed into my bookmarks for safekeeping; Chen village is bookmarked too. I love Jethro Tull too! Songs of the Wood esp. I'll be back! :)

Krystalline Apostate said...

Aye, & I thank ye.
Songs from the woods rocks, all righty. I adore Stormwatch.
"Lines join in faint discord as the Stormwatch a concert of kings as the white sea snaps at the heels of a soft prayer, whispered."
Tull is never dull.

Stardust1954 said...

I was laughing my ass off reading this! And to think at one time in my life I actually sat and listened to this stuff in a serious manner! I could never sit through a church service without cracking up anymore.

Krystalline Apostate said...

I was laughing my ass off reading this!
Was that literally, or metaphorically? ;)
Amazingly enough, there's actually a blog surnamed Balaam's Ass (http://talkingdonkey.worldmagblog.com/talkingdonkey/)
But it sure lends new meaning to 'talking out one's ass', don't it?

udonman said...

karen thanks for the heads up i know it wasnt correct but i thought it still fit with balems ass i am going to make a bumper sticker with it tommorow morning when i get home