We know there is nothing impossible for God to do. But it seems there is something figurative about Numbers 22:28 when it says the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey.

Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” (ESV)

Did the donkey talk plainly or something? If it was so, then why is the Bible silent about other instances of animals that talked before and after the case of Balaam? The experience of Noah in the ark is the most likely case where we could have read of animals that talked before the case of Balaam.

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    Why is the Bible silent about other instances of animals that talked before and after the case of Balaam ? - Which animals would those be exactly, apart from parrots ?
    – Lucian
    Oct 1 '18 at 14:43
  • @Lucian: Noah in the ark: Is the most likely case where we could have read of animals that talked. Oct 3 '18 at 20:42
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    @ErnestAbinokhauno: Why exactly, and to what purpose, would such a miracle have been needed on the Ark ?
    – Lucian
    Oct 3 '18 at 21:08
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    @ErnestAbinokhauno: No.
    – Lucian
    Oct 4 '18 at 8:12
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    I wonder why this incident bother you while the snake speaking to Adam and Eve not..
    – A. Meshu
    Oct 4 '18 at 12:31

Curious, I went looking for an answer, and I found an article (link given below) which drew this conclusion:

There is no doubt that Balaam’s donkey spoke to him. The question that arises is whether the donkey was suddenly given the power of speech, which would also mean she was given the power to reason because she answered Balaam’s questions, asked some of her own, and carried on a rational conversation. While it is certainly possible that God granted human powers to the donkey, it’s more likely that He opened her mouth and spoke through her. The angel that barred his way is identified as the angel of the Lord, likely a manifestation of the presence of God Himself (Genesis 16:9-16; Exodus 3:1-6). After the donkey “spoke” to Balaam, and Balaam’s eyes were opened, the angel proceeded to ask the identical questions that came from the mouth of the donkey, further evidence that God, not the donkey, was actually speaking both times. This is reiterated by Peter, who identifies the donkey as “a beast without speech” and who “spoke with a man’s voice” (2 Peter 2:16). Whatever the method, the donkey was able to speak by a miraculous working of God’s power.

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/Balaam-donkey.html

Edit: There is no mention in Genesis of any of the animals in the ark talking or having the power of speech.


I also found an article (link given below) that showed that Balaam's donkey spoke plainly. It also supports the fact that the Bible is not silent about other instances of animals that talked before the case of Balaam.

Interestingly, the serpent/snake speaking to Adam and Eve is not the only instance in the Bible where an animal speaks. The prophet Balaam was rebuked by his donkey (see Numbers 22:21-35). We have to remember that while animals are not capable of speaking, there are powerful beings out there (God, the angels, Satan, the demons) who are capable of the impossible, including enabling animals to speak. Most scholars hold that it was Satan in the Garden of Eden who was speaking through the snake, not the snake itself speaking on its own. Thus, the Genesis 3 account it is not suggesting that snakes were of an intellect that would have enabled them to speak coherently.

Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/talking-snake.html

  • Yes, the serpent/snake spoke to Adam and Eve, and the donkey spoke to Balaam. As the Got Questions articles explain, it was Satan who spoke through the serpent/snake and it was God who spoke to Balaam through the donkey.
    – Lesley
    Oct 9 '18 at 9:15

The thing is, the Scripture doesn't say God spoke through the donkey. It says He opened the donkey's mouth. To say God spoke through the donkey would mean that God is tricking Balaam into thinking his donkey is really his donkey and not God himself, as the donkey asks why are you striking ME? Then says "Aren't I the donkey you've ridden on all your life?" I can't think of anywhere else in scripture where God *pretends to be someone else to get a point across. When God spoke to moses from the burning bush, He didn't say " Behold! Aren't I the bush you've seen all these years?" He just said "I Am".

To me, this opens many other questions. If God need only "Open an animal's mouth" what else might have they to say? It sounds silly, but animals have a lot more going on inside than we give credit for.

Because to say God spoke through the donkey (to me) seems to lead to God lying to Balaam, by pretending to be his donkey.

  • Food for thought. Yes, the Lord opened the ass's mouth but, as you say, the ass spoke its own mind, as it were. The Lord also 'opened the eyes' of Balaam, to see certain things. But Peter and Jude both censure Balaam : he was not a wise man, nor a truly believing man, despite the Lord opening his eyes for him. Thus also, the ass, as you say. (Up-voted +1.) Welcome to BH. Please see the Tour and the Help.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 9 at 8:37

I believe the donkey really spoke to Balaam. God in his sovereignty can do whatever pleases him. When we take our minds back to what Jesus said to the scribes and the Pharisees at his entry into Jerusalem, we will easily understand that the donkey of Balaam could really have spoken to him to show the wonderful works of God.

Luke 19:40 says,

He answered, "I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stoned would cry. " (Christian Standard Bible).

If in the words of the Lord, he authoritatively affirms that God could make the stones to cry out, then we can easily understand that having a donkey speaking out would not be a big deal. Statistically speaking, evidence shows that it is more difficult to make a stone cry than to have a donkey speak. This is why I believe the donkey really spoke to Balaam.

Apart from that, God could have chosen to make the donkey speak just to humiliate the prophet for cashing in on God's permissive will. So I do really believe the donkey spoke to Balaam.


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