A Note on Balaam’s Chimaera

In: Iran and the Caucasus
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  • 1 Harvard University

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The Biblical tale of Balaam and his taking donkey was elaborated in the Babylonian Talmud: Balaam commits bestiality with the animal and this is accounted one of his failings as a pagan prophet, which accumulate as he tries and fails to curse the Children of Israel. This aspect of testing, probably transmitted by Jews of Iran and Sasanian Mesopotamia, probably becomes the source of an Iranian folk myth about a demonic ass called "mantrier". The myth enters Armenia from there and becomes a legend about the trial that a Christian holy man successfully overcomes.

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