Eventually the Hebrews set up camp in Moab near the city of Jericho. The Moabites were pretty terrified by this horde of Hebrews that had been burning and pillaging its way through the region, so King Balak sent a message to the Balaam, a holy man in Pethor, asking him to come curse the Hebrews.
Balaam told the messengers to spend the night to give him time to confer with God. God was all, don’t go with these dudes, Balaam, because the Hebrews are my chosen people.
However, Balak wasn’t the sort of king to take no for an answer, so he sent a second group of messengers, all higher ranking than the first, to entreat Balaam to come curse the Hebrews. Balaam was all, there’s not enough gold in Mesopotamia for me to curse those who God loves, but stay the night and I’ll ask. But that night God was all, yeah, go with them, but do exactly as I say.
Next morning, Balaam got up and saddled his donkey to go with the messengers, not realizing that in the meantime, God had changed Its mind. While Balaam was riding along, his donkey suddenly balked and headed into the field next to the road. She had seen an angel standing in the road that had come to kill Balaam for defying God, and she wanted nothing to do with it. Balaam started hitting his donkey with and yelling at it to get back on the road. She started that way, but then the angel appeared again, and she took off between the fences, crushing Balaam’s foot against one. Balaam began beating her, but there was no way the donkey was heading toward the angel, and there wasn’t enough room for her to turn around, so she just lay down. Balaam was totally pissed off and starting hitting the donkey with his staff. At this point the donkey started talking, and was all, why do you keep hitting me? Balaam wasn’t phased by this and answered, because you’re a stupid donkey! If I had a sword, I’d kill you? The donkey was all, Kill me? Jeez! Haven’t I always been a good donkey? Don’t you think there’s a reason I won’t go? Balaam gave a sullen, yeah, and at that moment Balaam could finally see the angel. He was all, oh shit! and fell down on his face beside the donkey.
The angel scolded Balaam for beating his donkey and for going to Balak. Balaam was all, sorry, bro! I thought God wanted me to go! The angel was all, um, yeah, about that. God decided It didn’t and sent me here to kill you. But It just told me It changed Its mind again, and wants you to go ahead and go, but to only do what It says? Got it?
So Balaam continued on to Moab. When he got there, King Balak was all, what took you so long, bro? You come to curse these Hebrews for me or what? Balaam was all, look, I came to say whatever God tells me to say. I can’t guarantee that you’ll like it.
But Balak didn’t listen and just called for the feast to be prepared. The next day, Balak took Balaam to see the Hebrew hordes.