וַיְגַל ה' אֶת עֵינֵי בִּלְעָם וַיַּרְא. וְכִי סוּמָא הָיָה. אֶלָּא לְהוֹדִיעוֹ, שֶׁאַף הָעַיִן אֵינוֹ בִּרְשׁוּתוֹ. וְיִקֹּד וַיִּשְׁתַּחוּ לְאַפָּיו, שֶׁדִּבֵּר עִמּוֹ, וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו מַלְאַךְ ה' עַל מַה הִכִּיתָ אֶת אֲתוֹנְךָ זֶה. עֶלְבּוֹן שֶׁל אָתוֹן בָּא הַמַּלְאָךְ לְבַקֵּשׁ מִיָּדוֹ, וְאָמַר לוֹ: מָה הָאָתוֹן שֶׁאֵין לָהּ זְכוּת וְלֹא בְּרִית אָבוֹת, נִצְטַוֵּיתִי לִתְבֹּעַ עֶלְבּוֹנָהּ מִיָּדְךָ. אֻמָּה שְׁלֵמָה שֶׁאַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ לְעָקְרָהּ, עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי יָצָאתִי לְשָׂטָן. כִּי יָרַט הַדֶּרֶךְ, נוֹטְרִיקוֹן, יָרְאָה רָאֲתָה נָטְתָה. דָּבָר אַחֵר, יָרַט, בְּא״ת ב״ש מָגֵן. וַתִּרְאֵנִי הָאָתוֹן וַתֵּט לְפָנַי זֶה שָׁלֹשׁ רְגָלִים אוּלַי נָטְתָה וְגוֹ' וְאוֹתָהּ הֶחֱיֵיתִי. מִכָּאן אַתָּה לָמֵד, שֶׁהָרַג אֶת הָאָתוֹן. וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם אֶל מַלְאַךְ ה' חָטָאתִי כִּי לֹא יָדַעְתִּי. לְהוֹדִיעַ, שֶׁהָיָה רָשָׁע גָּמוּר, יָדַע שֶׁאֵין עוֹמֵד עַל הַפֻּרְעָנִיּוּת אֶלָּא תְּשׁוּבָה. שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁחָטָא וְאוֹמֵר חָטָאתִי, אֵין רְשׁוּת לַמַּלְאָךְ לִיגַע בּוֹ. כִּי לֹא יָדַעְתִּי. אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּבֵּחַ אוֹתוֹ רָשָׁע וְאוֹמֵר: וְיוֹדֵעַ דַּעַת עֶלְיוֹן, פִּיו הֵעִיד בּוֹ וְאָמַר, לֹא יָדַעְתִּי. וְעַתָּה אִם רַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ אָשׁוּבָה לִי. אָמַר לוֹ: אֲנִי לֹא הָלַכְתִּי עַד שֶׁאָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא קוּם לֵךְ אִתָּם, וְאַתְּ אָמַר שֶׁאֶחֱזֹר. כָּךְ אֻמָּנוּתוֹ. לֹא כָּךְ אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְאַבְרָהָם לְהַקְרִיב אֶת בְּנוֹ, וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן, וַיִּקְרָא מַלְאָךְ ה' וַיֹּאמֶר אַל תִּשְׁלַח יָדְךָ (בראשית כב, יב). לָמוּד הוּא לוֹמַר דָּבָר, וּמַלְאָךְ מַחֲזִירוֹ. וְעַכְשָׁו אִם רַע בְּעֵינֶיךָ אָשׁוּבָה לִי. וַיֹּאמֶר מַלְאַךְ ה' אֶל בִּלְעָם לֵךְ עִם הָאֲנָשִׁים, שֶׁחֶלְקְךָ עִמָּהֶם וְסוֹפְךָ לֵאָבֵד עִמָּהֶם. וַיֵּלֵךְ בִּלְעָם עִם שָׂרֵי בָּלָק. מְלַמֵּד, שֶׁכְּשֵׁם שֶׁהֵם שְׂמֵחִים לְקַלֵּל אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל, כָּךְ הוּא שָׂמֵחַ. וַיִּשְׁמַע בָּלָק כִּי בָא בִּלְעָם. מְלַמֵּד, שֶׁשָּׁלַח שְׁלוּחִין לְבַשְּׂרוֹ. וַיֵּצֵא לִקְרָאתוֹ אֶל עִיר מוֹאָב, לְמֶטְרֹפּוֹלִין שֶׁלָּהּ. מָה רָאָה לְקַדְּמוֹ לִגְבוּלִין. אָמַר לוֹ: הַגְּבוּלִין הַלָּלוּ שֶׁנִּקְבְּעוּ מִימֵי נֹחַ שֶׁלֹּא תִּכָּנֵס אֻמָּה בִּגְבוּל חֲבֶרְתָּהּ, הַלָּלוּ בָּאִין לַעֲקֹר אוֹתָם. אָמַר לוֹ: בֹּא לְקַלְּלָן. וְהָיָה מַרְאֶה הֵיאַךְ פָּרְצוּ וְעָבְרוּ גְּבוּל סִיחוֹן וְעוֹג, כְּאִלּוּ קוֹבֵל עֲלֵיהֶם. וַיֹּאמֶר בָּלָק אֶל בִּלְעָם הֲלֹא שָׁלֹחַ שָׁלַחְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ לִקְרֹא לְךָ וְגוֹ', נִתְנַבֵּא שֶׁסּוֹפוֹ לָצֵאת מִמֶּנּוּ בְּקָלוֹן. וּכְעִנְיָנוֹ הֱשִׁיבוֹ בִּלְעָם. וַיֹּאמֶר בִּלְעָם אֶל בָּלָק, הִנֵּה בָּאתִי אֵלֶיךָ וְגוֹ', שֶׁאֵין בְּיָדִי רְשׁוּת לוֹמַר מַה שֶּׁאֲנִי רוֹצֶה. (Numb. 22:31:) “Then the Lord uncovered the eyes of Balaam and he saw [the angel of the Lord….].” Was he blind?34Numb. R. 20:15. [These words were] simply to inform him that even the eye is not under his control. (Ibid., cont.:) “Then he bowed down and prostrated himself on his face,” because [the angel] had spoken with him. (Numb. 22:32:) “And the angel of the Lord said unto him, ‘Why did you strike your she-ass these three times?’” The angel come to seek satisfaction at his hand for the she-ass. He said to him, “Now if for the she-ass, which has neither its own merit nor merit from ancestors, I have been commanded to seek satisfaction from your hand, how much the more so for an entire people that you have come to uproot!“ (Numb. 22:32, cont.:) “Here I have come out as an adversary (satan), because your way is contrary (yrt).” [Yrt is interpreted as] an acronym [concerning the ass for] yare'ah (she feared), ra'atah (she saw), natetah (she turned away). Another interpretation: [The numerical value of] yrt, in the atbash [scheme] is [equivalent to that of] shield (magen). (Numb. 22:33:) “For the she-ass saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away [from me, surely just now I would have killed you] and let her live.” From here you have learned that he killed the ass. (Numb. 22:34:) “Then Balaam said unto the angel of the Lord, ‘I have sinned because I did not know.’” [These words are] to teach you that he was completely evil. He knew that nothing can withstand divine punishment except for repentance; for whenever anyone sins and says, “I have sinned,” the angel has no authority to touch him. (Ibid.:) “Because I did not know.” Although that wicked man was praising himself and saying (in Numb. 24:16), “who has knowledge of the Most High,” his mouth bore witness about him and said (in Numb. 22:34), “I did not know.” (Ibid., cont.:) “And now, if it is evil in your eyes, I will return.”35This verb can also be rendered as “repent.” He said to him, “I did not go until the Holy One, blessed be He, said to me (in Numb. 22:20), “Arise and go with them”; yet you are saying that I should return! [Indeed] such is His practice! Similarly, did he not tell Abraham to sacrifice his son? Then after that [it is stated (in Gen. 22:11-12)], ‘But the angel of the Lord called [unto him…]. And he said, “Do not raise your hand [against the lad].”’ He is used to saying something, then to have an angel come and reverse it.” [So (in vs. 34),] “if it is evil in your eyes, I will return.” (Numb. 22:35:) “The angel of the Lord said unto Balaam, ‘Go with the men’”; for your lot is [to be] with them, and your end is to be obliterated with them from the world. (Ibid., cont.:) “So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.” [These words] teach that just as they were happy to curse [Israel], so was he happy. (Numb. 22:36:) “When Balak heard that Balaam had come.” [These words] teach that he sent messengers unto [Balak] to send him tidings.36Numb. R. 22:16. (Ibid., cont.:) “He went out to meet him unto the city of Moab,” [i.e.,] unto their metropolis.37Gk. and Lat.: metropolis. What was [Balak's] reason for preceding him to the borders? He said to him, “These are borders which have been fixed from the days of Noah, so that a nation would not enter the territory of its neighbor. These [people] are coming to uproot them.” He said to him, “Come to curse them.” Then he showed him how they had broken through and crossed the border of Sihon and Og, as though lodging a complaint against them. (Numb. 22:37:) “Then Balak said unto Balaam, ‘Did I not truly send unto you [to summon you; why did you not come unto me; am I really unable to honor you]?’” He prophesied that his end would be to go in disgrace. Then did Balaam also answer him like the [truth of the] matter (in Numb. 22:38), “So Balaam said unto Balak, ‘See, I have come unto you now, [but am I really able to say anything at all…?]’” For I do not have authority to say what I want.