Abbott and Costello, Flanagan and Allen, Balak and Bilam – comedy duos, all of them.
Balak and Bilam fit into the list because the Bible is not short of homorous situations and characters. I can actually think of a few more.
No wonder I suddenly burst out laughing when I read the Chumash. I know I have often said that God has a sense of humour, which I mean quite seriously, because when He sees the silly things that human beings get up to He either has to laugh or to cry, and I hope it is the first.
But He must also have decided that his Torah was not going to be all solemnity, and the drollness of the human story was not going to be left out.
So back to Balak and Bilam… and the donkey.
They are caricatures of human types. Not creations of fiction, since fiction is often less dramatic than fact. The donkey talks to its master, the king flies into a rage, the prophet wavers between the cheque book and the Holy Book.
The only ones who come out of it well are the people of Israel – and God Himself.