Thursday, December 03, 2009

This week's lesson: Numbers 22-24

Who knew Moses could do comedy?

The story of Balaam, after all, is a burlesque -- a slapstick comedy about an utterly humorless "swell" who runs afoul of a fast-talking hustler. (Think of Margaret Dumont and Groucho Marx in Duck Soup, and you have the picture.)

And yes, the plot is pretty much what you'd expect: king hires prophet to curse God's people; prophet learns you cannot curse what God has blessed. Cue the closing music, and discuss.

What makes this story a joy and a thing of beauty, however, is its humor.
  • Think of the king's messengers, wearily trudging back and forth while Balaam tries to find some way he can go with them.
  • Then you have the donkey -- and to paraphrase an old saying, "It's bad enough you're talking to animals; it's even worse they're talking to you. But what's utterly unforgivable is that you should lose the argument!"
  • Finally, you have that long, Monty Python-like sketch . . . one in which an increasingly frantic king takes Balaam shopping for just the right place to curse the Israelites.
And all through this, notice, God stays off-stage -- letting others get the laughs while He feeds them their lines.

No, the only reason we don't see the humor in this story is that we're not used to the Bible being funny.

But if someone tries to curse the people whom God has blessed . . .

Then what else can you do but laugh?

1 comment:

Ansku said...

My husband found this very helpful in preparing the lesson. Actually, he got all excited about the topic!

Thank you for your blogging ministry. :-)