What Hath God Wrought?

Balaam’s donkey didn’t know, and neither did Balaam, although he uttered that phrase.

But now, three thousand years later, we know What Hath God Wrought.

Led by Joshua, the Israelites had defeated the Amorites on the east side of the Jordan River on their way to Canaan. This is where Balaam and his famous talking donkey appeared. Balaam and his donkey have mostly been regarded as a children’s story, but Balaam’s donkey seeing the angel on the road is just the beginning of a fascinating series of events that ended with one of the first, if not the first, farseeing of events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries AD.

The conquering Israelites camped on the Moab Plain in Ammon after defeating the Amorites. This greatly upset King Balak of the Moabites, who sent for a diviner named Balaam with the message:

A people has come out of Egypt; they cover the face of the land and have settled next to me. Now come and put a curse on these people, because they are too powerful for me. Perhaps then I will be able to defeat them and drive them out of the land. For I know that whoever you bless is blessed, and whoever you curse is cursed.

Num. 22:5-6

So Balam mounted his famous donkey and went to Moab. Though not an Israelite, Balaam was a believer in the one God and he turned to God for guidance. Long back-and-forth dialogues ensued between God and Balaam, and between Balaam and Balak. The short story is that God forbade Balaam from placing a curse on the Israelites. In turn, Balaam told Balak:

How can I curse those whom God has not cursed?
How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced?
From the rocky peaks I see them, from the heights I view them.
I see a people who live apart and do not consider themselves one of the nations.
Who can count the dust of Jacob or number even a fourth of Israel?
Let me die the death of the righteous, and may my final end be like theirs!

Num. 23:8-10

As Jewish history unfolded over thousands of years, the Jews did live in increasing separation from others. The reason for this in ancient times was an attempt to remain true to the Mosaic Covenant and not assimilate into Canaanite polytheistic culture. After the Diaspora, the Jews first continued living among themselves to retain their culture and religion, but increasingly because they were forced into ghettos and refused the right to work in certain jobs. In recent history, the modern state of Israel in its early years existed relatively alone among the nations, but it has gradually gained acceptance in the international community.

Next Balak took Balaam to the mount of Pisgah where he could see the Israelites camped and begged him again to curse them. Instead, Balaam proclaimed:

Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!

Num. 23:23, KJV

How clearly spoken! Not only was there to be no enchantment or divination against the Israelites, but it would be said of them, “What hath God wrought!” This famous verse from over three thousand years ago was the first telegraphic message sent by Samuel Morse on May 24, 1844. Was it a coincidence that it was telegraphed and thus made globally known the day after the Báb declared Himself to His first disciple? This verse also alludes to the establishment of the modern state of Israel where the Bahá’í World Centre is located on Mount Carmel. Possibly this time means the latter days, or the time of the end, which started in 1844 with the return of the Christ spirit embodied in the Báb.

The Morse code sent through wires from Baltimore to Washington, DC, laid the foundation for the internet, the system of communication that would ultimately unite the globe. Global communication would be essential for global unity, the foundational principle of the Bahá’í Faith. Shoghi Effendi foresaw this technology in 1936:

A mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvellous swiftness and perfect regularity.

World Order of Bahá-u-lláh, p. 203