Balaam was a seer sought by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the Israelites. By this point, the Israelites had fought and won many battles with peoples in the area. Balak heard these reports and was afraid. God came to Balaam in a dream, and told him not to curse the Israelites. Balak asked again. Balaam refused again. Balak asked again. This time, God told Balaam he could go meet with Balak. So Balaam mounted his donkey and went. For an unexplained reason, God gave Balaam permission to go, but then made his journey unusually difficult.