Right, where was I? Oh yes, the Israelites have just started their ruthless conquest of the promised land.
The Israelites are now camped in Moab near Jericho. I guess their reputation has preceded them, because the people of Moab are pretty freaked out. The king of Moab, Balak, sends some messengers out to some guy named Balaam, who is apparently some sort of holy man, or divination guy, or something. Balak knows he can't defeat the Israelites on his own, so he wants Balaam to curse them before they fight.
The funny thing about Balaam is that he talks to the same God as the Israelites do. I don't get why there is some guy who is on God's good side already in the promised land, with all the people who are so horrible that they all need to die. I wonder what happens to God's BFF Balaam when the Israelites take over? And I wonder if there are any other secret friends of God in the promised land? There must be. This is just weird. I was expecting Balaam to either be talking to some other God, or to himself.
So Balaam asks God if he should go with Balak and curse the Israelites, and God is like, "Don't curse the Israelites! They're my favorite! Even though I've personally killed hundreds of thousands of them..." So Balaam says no. Undeterred, Balak sends fancier messengers with money. This time God tells Balaam to go with them, but not to do anything without his OK.
This next part is just weird. Balaam, as per God's instructions, goes off with the messengers to see Balak. But God is pissed off for some reason. Is anyone surprised... So God sends a couple of angels to stand in the road and get in the way. Somehow Balaam doesn't see them, but his donkey does and stops. And Balaam beats the donkey to get it going again. 3 times this happens, then God speaks out of the donkey's mouth and makes it ask, "what did I ever do to you, you jerk?" Shrek - err, Balaam - has a nice little conversation with his donkey about how frustrated he is that the donkey won't move. Like as though this happens all the time. If that happened to me, the first thing out of my mouth would be something along the lines of "holy crap, a talking donkey!" But no.
Anyway, then suddenly Balaam can see the angels in the road. The angels tell him that he shouldn't be going with the messengers, and that they are here to "oppose" him, and that they would have killed him for going on, except the donkey stopped. I so don't get this...God told Balaam to go with the messengers. Balaam says just that, and the angel is like, "OK fine, go with them." Seriously.
He gets there without being murdered by God for following God's own instructions, and then makes Balak build 7 alters (that seems extravagant), then they sacrifice a bull and a ram on each one. Then Balaam, speaking for God, says nice things about the Israelites. Balak is like, WTF!? You're supposed to curse them! I know, come stand over here; maybe it's a location problem. (Weird.) They go somewhere else, built 7 more alters, and try again...and the same thing happens. So they do it all again. Then Balak is like, "go away, you suck." *pout* But Balaam has more to say, mostly about how the Israelites will crush their enemies (which is himself. Great.) Then they part ways and go home.
Lol. While all this is going on, the Israelites are apparently getting bored again. Again! (I've said before, I really don't know who I hate more, God or the Israelites.) "The men indulge in sexual immorality" with the Moab women (men having sex with women? what's the problem!) and participate in sacrifices to somebody named Baal. God makes Moses kill all the Israelite elders for allowing this to happen.
Just as this is being decided, some poor sap comes into the camp with a Midianite woman. One of the priests stabs them both with a spear. "Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped," though it never started. Oh well. God is thoroughly impressed with this display of zealotry, and decides not to kill anyone else today (though he already killed 24,000 with that plague, so he's still way ahead). And he decides to reward that priest and all his descendants by making them priests forever. Though he's already a descendant of Aaron, so I thought this already happened. Hmm. God is clearly expert at giving you what you already have, and making it seem like a big treat.