Written for the JTS Torah Commentary
That night God came to Balaam and said, “Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you.” Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. And God was very angry when he went. (Num. 22:20–22)
Poor Balaam. He does what God tells him to do, and God gets angry with him. This strange response is explained by most traditional Jewish sources by resorting to a caricature of Balaam as a wicked person who hates the Israelites and loves the wealth and glory that Balak promised him in exchange for cursing them.