Through literary apologetics, this four-part series examines one of the more difficult passages in which to reconcile the God of the Old Testament with the God of love, namely Numbers 31:13-18, which records the mass killing of Midianites including baby boys. As mentioned before, I find this particular passage abhorrent; however, after researching the cultural context, I do recognize that the blame is on the parents of the orphaned boys, not on God or Moses. It is not my intent to treat this subject matter lightly, or even make you like this passage. My only hope is for others who struggle with this passage to see God’s mercy in the situation.
Each part of this series includes excerpts from the literary apologetics novel, Prophecy of the Heir, which covers these events. Please note that Prophecy of the Heir is written as a fantasy novel from the viewpoints of angels and demons, predominately Michael the archangel’s. For your convenience, I have created a brief glossary of terms which will open in a new window, allowing you to switch back and forth at your lesuire.
Historical Background: The Israelites had been wandering around the wilderness for the past 400 years. They are now ready to receive the land that God has promised them, but to several countries lie in the way. They have written to the kings of these lands requesting save passage, and vowing to neither eat from their crops, nor drink from the wells. Two of the kings refused, and launched an army against them. Both armies were defeated. When the third king, Balak, heard of this, he summoned a sorcerer from Babylon to put a curse on the Israelites, ensuring they would be slaughtered in the battle he prepared to launch against them. In Part One of this series, we saw how Balaam was warned by the Angel of the Lord to not curse the Israelites, to which he reluctantly agreed.
Part Two: Balaam and the Angel of the Lord
A chest filled with gold lay at Balaam’s feet. Though the officials had relayed Balaam’s refusal to Balak, he’d sent them again, with more gold, and promises of much wealth and power. Balaam’s eyes never wavered from the chest, and his voice sounded hoarse. “Even if your king offered me his own palace, filled with gold, I can’t speak out against a people forbidden me by my lord Elyon.”
“Anything you want,” the official said, “His Majesty, Balak, will do for you.”
Balaam heaved a sigh. “Stay the night,” he said. “I’ll summon Lord Elyon again. Perhaps…perhaps he will tell me something different.”
Lost in his thoughts, the Prince stood beside the window of Balaam’s private chamber. Appearing quite humble beside the camels adorned in royal livery, the donkey looked up from its feast of straw and gave a soft bray. The Prince gave it a half-hearted smile. Balaam slipped into the room and began his ritual of lighting incense.
“Why have you let these men back into your house?” the Prince asked without turning from the window.
Balaam spun from his jar of incense and bowed. “My lord Elyon,” he sputtered. “They…they have requested―”
“Go with them,” the Prince said, knowing Balak would not relent until the sorcerer came.
Balaam’s face lit up. “Thank you my lord. Thank you.”
The Prince turned to face him. “But speak only what I tell you to speak.”
Balaam’s expression fell. “Yes, my lord.”
* * *
Suspecting the Captain of Shamayim was near, Chemosh and the Shaityrim who had accompanied him gave the sorcerer a wide berth as they escorted him to Moab. His guard had refused to come.
Sulking and feeling demeaned, Balaam trekked behind the royal procession of camels on his donkey. “If I actually collect this money,” he muttered with a kick, “you’ll be replaced with the finest Aravian steed.”
Unseen to all, the Prince walked beside the sorcerer. Though he attempted to ignore Balaam’s venting, it became increasingly obvious the sorcerer’s greed would overcome his superstition.
“I will have stables built,” Balaam’s continued. “And a grand house. And servants so numerous I won’t be able to count them.”
The Prince sighed. He would have to kill the sorcerer.
In an instant, he stood further up the road. When the last of the royal caravan passed, he drew his father’s sword, blocking Balaam’s path. Onyx light emanated from the blade.
With long ears pricked upright, the donkey halted. Balaam gave the animal a sharp kick, but the donkey held its ground.
Intent on thrusting the blade through Balaam’s chest, the Prince stepped forward, but the donkey bolted off the road. The Prince stared in bemused fascination.
Fuming curses, Balaam beat his mount back onto the path, while Chemosh and the Shaityrim watched in wary suspicion.
Ahead, the road wound under a stone arbor allowing passage through a vineyard. Knowing the donkey would have no place to run, the Prince stationed himself in the archway and waited for Balaam to pass.
Yet once again the creature saved its master’s life. Bewildered by his own hesitation, the Prince lowered his sword as the animal pressed itself against the opposite wall, crushing Balaam’s leg as it sidled by.
Determined not to allow an animal to keep him from his task, the Prince positioned himself in an even narrower archway. But as the donkey approached, it stopped altogether and lay down in the road.
Shaking his head in disbelief, the Prince laughed aloud.
An irate Balaam, humiliated by the amusement he provided King Balak’s officials, struck the donkey with his staff. “Get up, you lazy beast!”
The staff crashed down again and again.
The Prince tensed as he stared into the mournful eyes of the donkey, beaten by the one she wanted to save. “Speak to him,” he whispered.
The donkey brayed, but behind its raspy utterance, a voice like the wind spoke. “What have I done to deserve such a beating?”
Chemosh and the Shaityrim backed away even further, their eyes scanning for any sign of Shamayim’s Captain.
“You’re making a fool of me!” Balaam blurted. “If I had a sword, I’d kill you this―” He halted, having answered in anger, before it occurred to him what had spoken.
“I’ve been your donkey all your life. Have I ever done anything like this before?”
Balaam glanced at the officials, who had stopped ahead. Though still laughing, they were too far to hear the intelligible words behind the animal’s braying.
“Um, no,” Balaam muttered.
The Prince’s skin took on a luminescent glow as he materialized into the corporeal world. Though enraged, Chemosh and the Shaityrim bowed their heads. Balaam gaped in horror at the bronze figure before him. No longer concerned with the esteem of Balak’s officials, he fell prostrate.
“Why did you beat your donkey?” the Prince demanded. “Three times it saw me ready to slay you, and three times it saved your life. I swear I would have killed you, but spared her!”
“Forgive me!” Balaam pleaded. “Please. I won’t go with them.”
The Prince stepped forward. “I will let you go, but you are to say only what I tell you! Do I make myself clear?”
1Prophecy of the Heir. Volume I, Book 1 of The Chronicles of Time. Chapter 6, Dunes of the Damned. Crimson Moon Press. 2nd Edition. 2014