Balaam's Ass

Balaam’s Ass


according to Hebrew myth (preserved in the biblical Book of Numbers), the ass on which the soothsayer Balaam rode to Balak, the king of the state of Moab, in order to curse the Israelites, who were waging war against Moab, and guarantee a Moabite victory. According to the myth, Balaam’s ass, after thrice seeing an angel with an unsheathed sword blocking its way, suddenly began to speak, and when Balaam reached Balak, he blessed the Israelites instead of cursing them.

In the figurative sense, “Balaam’s ass” is used to describe a silent, downtrodden person who suddenly says something worthy of attention. Recently the term has been used primarily in an ironic sense in Russian, designating a silent person who begins to speak unexpectedly and says something extremely stupid.

Balaam’s ass

ass which rebukes Balaam who then blesses the Israelites. [O.T.: Numbers 22:22–35]
See: Ass
References in classic literature ?
He did not mention that he was a lineal descendant of Balaam's ass, but everybody knew that without his telling it.
In other words, while he had implicit faith in the ability of Balaam's ass to speak, he was somewhat skeptical on the subject of a bear's singing; and yet he had been assured of the latter, on the testimony of his own exquisite organs.
The "may have been's" abound here, as does the phrase "if Balaam's ass inspired Bottom's translation" (102)--but why it might have "inspired" Shakespeare is repeatedly asserted, not demonstrated.
What we need, then, is some sort of device to steer us back on path, a device like Balaam's ass.
Stuart has found in the Bible and the Apocrypha all passages relating to animals, from creation to the serpent in the Garden; from the creatures sailing with Noah on the ark to Balaam's ass, which spoke to him; and to those animals in New Testament miracles.
Hrabanus, like Origen before him, viewed Balaam's ass as a forerunner of the Christian church.
It is as rare, as it is enjoyable, to find a chapter on business ethics that illustrates a point by referring to Balaam's ass from the Bible's Book of Numbers (158)
For the latter are, in fact, "irreversibly doomed," explained Phelps's daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, whose contempt for the lily-livered Christians in the ex-gay movement was undisguised: "Some of these groups that call themselves Christian are about as Christian as Balaam's ass," she declared.
Balaam's ass sees the angel, but Balaam does not, so he strikes the ass three times, and then finally the ass speaks to Balaam; the animal upbraids the diviner for striking him, and the ass points out the angel to Balaam.
Balaam's ass refers to the Old Testament (Numbers 22) story of the prophet-for-hire, Balaam, someone who, so to speak, was selling his talent to the highest bidder.
Her examination of how Satan was conceived in the Hebrew Bible is lucid and convincing; the section on Satan as adversary is particularly well illustrated by the way in which she presents the example of Balaam's Ass.