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.

  • This site is not about telling people whether to believe a point in the Bible should be taken literally or figuratively, as my now deleted answer was careful to avoid. You have to decide for yourself, Ernest, and my answer did not say it had to be one or the other. It could be both. As my answer has been removed for not giving a black and white answer to a colourful question, I just hope your interesting question survives longer than my answer did! All the best, Ernest! – Anne Sep 28 '18 at 18:33
  • 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. – Ernest Abinokhauno Oct 3 '18 at 20:42
  • 1
    @ErnestAbinokhauno: No. – Lucian Oct 4 '18 at 8:12
  • 1
    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

Animals were never ment to talk.

It is a true story as other Bible penmen were inspired by God to write about him:-

2 Peter 2:15, 16 They have followed the path of Baʹlaam the son of Beʹor, who loved the reward of wrongdoing, 16 but was reproved for his own violation of what was right. A voiceless beast of burden speaking with a human voice hindered the prophet’s mad course.

Jude 11, Too bad for them, for they have followed the path of Cain and have rushed into the erroneous course of Baʹlaam for reward, and they have perished in the rebellious talk of Korʹah!

Revelation 2:14 “‘Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, that you have there those adhering to the teaching of Baʹlaam, who taught Baʹlak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality.

The story is used to make very important teaching points by God.



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.

  • This post has not answered my question satisfactorily. I suggest you improve upon what you have here, please. – Ernest Abinokhauno Sep 29 '18 at 12:39
  • @ErnestAbinokhauno please be nice to new contributors. If this does not answer your question, perhaps you can clarify what you're missing? That way, Mary can edit her post to improve it. – user2672 Sep 29 '18 at 17:03
  • That's right! I looked at Mary's post much like a piece of Bible study. I was just thinking she could add some little research substance. – Ernest Abinokhauno Sep 29 '18 at 17:09
  • I believe it too, but that doesn't give much substance to an answer. This site is for hermeneutics. Show us from the text why this is the most logical conclusion. In this case it should be pretty simple, the face value meaning of the text and every reference to it points to this conclusion. But your answer should state this. – Caleb Sep 29 '18 at 17:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.