And the ass said unto Balaam
Made a reply to him, as if it understood what he said, and had the faculty of reasoning and discoursing, as well as of speaking, which is very amazing:
am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine
unto this day?
or rather, "ever since thou wast"; not ever since he was in being, but ever since he could ride, so Aben Ezra; according to which, it seems that this was the first he rode upon, and which he had always been used to; hence the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase it,
``upon which thou hast rode from thy youth unto this day;''and be it that Balaam was a man pretty well advanced in years, an ass is a creature that lives a long time: Pliny says F18 it lives thirty years; and an Arabic writer F19 makes mention of an ass that the owner of it rode on forty years:
was I ever wont to do so unto thee?
to start out of the way, or lie down with him, could anyone instance be given of it? suggesting that she was a sure footed creature, and had always carefully and safely carried him, for which it appeals to him:
and he said, nay;
she had never been used to serve him in such a manner as she had now, and therefore he might have concluded that something more than ordinary was the matter; and it is much his conscience had not accused him that he was wrong in coming with the princes, taking the alarm from these circumstances, had he not been an hardened creature, or, at least, had he not been so eagerly bent on riches and honour.
F18 Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 43.
F19 Algiahid in Damir. apud Bochart, ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 14.) col. 195.