The employment in the prose parts of our story of the two divine names Elohim by the side of YHWH has led the followers of the Documentary Theory to the vain attempt of breaking up our story into fragments of a Yahwistic and of an Elohistic document. But as we have shown ... the employment of Elohim by the side of YHWH is specially characteristic of early prose narrative in the Pentateuch and in the historical books. There can be no doubt whatever that this masterly story (with the exception of the episode of the she-ass) forms a literary unity by a single author. As already noted by some modern scholars, it is artistically planned to lead up progressively to the impressive climax of frustration for both Balak and Bileam and of success and triumph for Israel. But there is a surprising disagreement between the episode of the she-ass (xxii, 22-35a) and the preceding permission finally given to Bileam to go with Balak's messengers (v. 20). Already the ancient
rabbis sought to harmonize the contradiction but without success. It seems best to assume that the whole episode is a later addition. It is plainly a folk-tale with the broad humour of a folk-tale in derision of the pagan prophet. He failed to see what the humble she-ass had seen, was rebuked by the animal, and sharply reprimanded by the angel. For the purpose of ridiculing the pagan prophet the tale overlooks the divine permission previously given him, and also deviates from the main story in making Bileam journey in the company of his two lads instead of with the princes of Moab. The insertion of the addition is marked (as elsewhere, e.g. Gen. vi, 17; cf. above p. 34, etc.) by the resumption of the words preceding it (v. 35b-21b).
The story of Balak and Bileam is not an organic part of the Pentateuchal narrative. It has nothing to say of the covenant and of its promise of Canaan. It is no more than an episode inserted in the narrative. This was already acknowledged by the ancient rabbis who declared: "Moses wrote the five books of the Torah and then wrote again the section of Balak and Bileam" (Jerus Sotah, ch. v, end; also Babli Bathra, 14b). But perhaps it may seem unlikely that Israel's supreme prophet
would himself employ a Mesopotamian prophet-soothsayer of a questionable moral character as a mouth-piece for the announcement of Israel's future greatness. Perhaps it was another inspired poet in age of Moses who composed this masterpiece.
M.H. Segal, *The Pentateuch: Its Composition and Its Authorship and Other Biblical Studies* (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1967)
Elöbim bas gone up with a shout, YHWH witb the sound of a trumpet; the two Names are parallel to each other in the two lines, because, as we have stated, they are identical, YHWH being Elõbim. The same obtains in Psalm lxvii, and in many other psalms. The position is similar, to a certain extent, to what we found in the wisdom literature of the other peoples, who use a general term when they wish to convey the general concept of Deity, and proper names when they desire to refer to the distinctive character and atributes of their gods. I said 'similar to a certain extent', since there is actually a vast difference between the two. The resemblance lies in the literary form; the divergence is conceptual. The great innova-
tion on the part of the Israelites consists in the fact that, while the writings of the pagans give expression, on the one hand, to the abstract and general notion of Divinity, and, on the other, make mention of some particular god, in Hebrew literature the concept of the specihc God of Israel is completely identified with that of the God of the whole earth. YHWH, whom the children of Israel recognize and before whom they prostrate themselves, is none other than Elöbim, of whose dominion over them all men are more or less clearly conscious, and whom they are destined to acknowledge fully in time to come. This is the sublime thought to which the Biblical poets give expression through the variation of the Names.