Friday, March 12, 2010

Numbers Chapters 22-24

The story of Balaam, who Jerry Falwell absolutely hates. He devotes three-quarters of a page to denigrating him, so he's probably a stand-up guy in most people's books. Prefer to watch? See here.

Chapter 22

Balak, king of Moab, is worried about the Israelites. He sends messengers to his soothsayer, Balaam, to ask him to curse them. God notices his houseguests and asks Balaam what's going on. Balaam explains and god tells him not to attack the Israelites. Balaam breaks the bad news to the messengers, but Balak won't take no for an answer and keeps sending more and more envoys. They keep promising him rewards, and finally they wear him down and he agrees to talk to god again. Jerry condemns him here for trying to get an ever-bigger reward out of the king, as if those in the messianic line have all taken vows of poverty. Anyway, god finally tells him to go with them, but to do as he says.

The next day, Balaam sets out on his ass, which pisses god off, even though he told him to go the day before. So god sends an angel down (Jerry, of course, thinks all angels are Jesus) to block the path. Balaam can't see it, but the donkey does and balks. Balaam beats her, but she refuses to go forward. Then god makes her speak and gives me the first genuine laugh of this book, in verse 30 Am I not 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. I love puns, even unintentional ones. God then appears, and Balaam apologizes, and goes on his way, with a promise to obey god. He arrives at Balak's court. Balak asks why he's late and he non-answers that he can only say what god tells him to say. Then they go look at the Israelite camp.

Chapter 23

Balaam sends Balak all over his kingdom building altars and making animal sacrifices. Each time, he tells him to wait, and he'll talk to god. Instead of cursing them, though, he returns each time with a blessing. We are also informed that god is as strong as a unicorn. What about a leprechaun? He also tells Balak that the Israelites are going to win. At his wit's end, Balak just asks him to neither curse nor bless the Israelites, but Balaam says sorry, he's just repeating what god said.

Chapter 24

Balaam falls into a trance and reveals the coming victories of Israel over its enemies. Of course Jerry sees the predictions of Revelations, the End of Days and the Rapture in his predictions. You and Maryann the Maenad, Jerry. Balak gets angry and sends him home, but he points out that he said all along he was only saying what God told him. Point Balaam. They separate.

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