on 2-peter 2 :16
The dumb ass, speaking with man's voice - See the note on Numbers 22:28.
The madness of the prophet - Is not this a reference to the speech of the ass, as represented in the Targums of Jonathan ben Uzziel and Jerusalem? "Wo to thee, Balaam, thou sinner, thou madman: there is no wisdom found in thee." These words contain nearly the same expressions as those in St. Peter.
on 2-peter 2 :16
But was rebuked for his iniquity - The object of Peter in this seems to be to show that God employed the very extraordinary means of causing the ass on which he rode to speak, because his iniquity was so monstrous. The guilt of thus debasing his high office, and going forth to curse the people of God - a people who had done him no wrong, and given no occasion for his malediction - was so extraordinary, that means as extraordinary were proper to express it. If God employed means so extraordinary to rebuke "his" depravity, it was to be expected that in some appropriate way he would express his sense of the wickedness of those who resembled him.
The dumb ass, speaking with man's voice - Numbers 22:28. God seems to have designed that both Balsam and Balak should be convinced that the children of Israel were his people; and so important was it that this conviction should rest fully on the minds of the rations through whom they passed, that he would not suffer even a pretended prophet to make use of his influence to curse them. He designed that all that influence should be in favor of the cause of truth, thus furnishing a striking instance of the use which he often makes of wicked men. To convince Balaam of the error of his course, and to make him sensible that God was an observer of his conduct, and to induce him to utter only what he should direct, nothing would be better suited than this miracle. The very animal upon which he rode, mute and naturally stupid, was made to utter a reproof; a reproof as directly from heaven as though the stones had cried out beneath his feet, or the trees of the wood had uttered the language of remonstrance. As to the nature of the miracle here referred to, it may be remarked:
(1) that it was as easy for God to perform this miracle as any other; and,
(2) that it was a miracle that would be as likely to be effectual, and to answer the purpose, as any other.
No one can show that it could not have occurred; and the occasion was one in which some decided rebuke, in language beyond that of conscience, was necessary.
Forbade the madness of the prophet - That is, the mad or perverse design of the prophet. The word here rendered "madness" means, properly, being aside from a right mind. It is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. It is used here to denote that Balaam was engaged in an enterprise which indicated a headstrong disposition; an acting contrary to reason and sober sense. He was so under the influence of avarice and ambition that his sober sense was blinded, and he acted like a madman. He knew indeed what was right, and had professed a purpose to do what was right, but he did not allow that to control him; but, for the sake of gain, went against his own sober conviction, and against what he knew to be the will of God. He was so mad or infatuated that he allowed neither reason, nor conscience, nor the will of God, to control him!
on 2-peter 2 :16
2:16 The beast - Though naturally dumb.