A close-up shot of an ancient, weathered page of a biblical manuscript, highlighting the verses mentioning donkeys, capturing the significance of these humble creatures in biblical narratives.

How Many Times Is A Donkey Mentioned In The Bible?

Donkeys play an important yet often overlooked role throughout the Bible. If you’re wondering exactly how many times these humble beasts of burden appear in the text, read on for a thorough investigation.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: donkeys are mentioned 131 times in the Bible.

In this comprehensive article, we will dive deep into the significance of donkeys in Biblical stories and analyze each mention of these hardworking animals.

With over 130 references, it’s clear donkeys held great meaning for ancient Biblical people and there is much to unpack about their symbolic and functional roles over the Bible’s more than 3000-year history.

Appearances of Donkeys in Key Biblical Narratives

Donkeys in the Story of Abraham

Donkeys first appear in the Bible in Genesis 12, when Abram (later renamed Abraham) traveled from Haran to Canaan with his wife Sarai and his nephew Lot. The Bible notes that they set out with all their possessions, including donkeys.

So donkeys were among the first domesticated animals to arrive in the Promised Land.

Later, when Abraham’s servant traveled back to Haran to find a wife for Isaac, Rebekah volunteered to draw water for him and all his camels. Her generous spirit proved her to be a suitable match for Abraham’s son.

The servant gave precious gifts to both Rebekah and her family, likely loading up their donkeys for the return journey to Canaan.

Balaam’s Donkey

One of the most famous biblical donkeys appears in Numbers 22, where the prophet Balaam set out to curse the Israelites at Balak’s request.

But Balaam’s donkey saw an angel blocking their path and turned off the road. After Balaam beat her three times for disobeying, God enabled the donkey to speak.

She asked her master why he kept striking her when she had served him faithfully. At this, Balaam saw the angel too and praised the donkey for saving his life.

This humorous story showcases the donkey’s intelligence and reminds readers that God can speak through unexpected means – even a donkey! It also confirms the value God places on all of His creation.

Donkeys in the Christmas Story

In the New Testament, donkeys feature prominently around Jesus’ birth. Luke 2 recounts how Joseph walked nearly 100 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem with Mary, who was pregnant and likely rode their donkey.

Finding no room at the inn, they stayed where the donkey was stabled – a humble birthplace for the Savior of the world.

After Jesus’ birth, wise men traveled from the East to honor Him, also journeying by donkey across the desert. And when the holy family fled to Egypt to escape King Herod’s rage, donkeys again provided vital transportation away from danger.

The Significance and Symbolism of Donkeys in the Bible

Donkeys Represent Humility and Servitude

In the Bible, donkeys are portrayed as humble, hardworking animals that faithfully serve people. They are often associated with servitude and humility.

For example, Abraham, Moses and Jesus rode on donkeys at various times, showing their humble and serving nature despite their status.

Symbolically, the donkey represents the humble condition of God’s people as they patiently serve Him.

Several Bible verses highlight the donkey’s humble status. For instance, Job 11:12 states that “a wild donkey’s colt is born a man”, implying people are as humble as donkeys at birth. Furthermore, 1 Samuel 25:20 compares riding on donkeys to being “slaves before our master”.

So donkeys became a symbol of low status.

Contrast Between Horses and Donkeys

The Bible contrasts donkeys, known for their stubborn yet hardworking nature, with spirited horses associated with war and human pride.

For example, Deuteronomy 17 instructed future Israelite kings not to multiply horses, which were status symbols of military might.

Yet acquiring donkeys was allowed since they symbolized civil service over conquest.

This distinction underscores God’s preference for humility over arrogance and pride. Horses represented overconfidence and glory-seeking, while donkeys characterized reasonable caution mixed with determination.

Hence, the Bible advocates being like donkeys over horses – pursuing tasks humbly but steadfastly as unto God.

Connection to Jesus’s Entry to Jerusalem

When Jesus entered Jerusalem before His crucifixion, He deliberately chose to ride a donkey according to Old Testament prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). This act demonstrated His mission as the humble Servant-King ushering in peace, not a war-waging ruler.

By riding a beast of burden rather than a powerful horse or camel, Jesus affirmed His humble status – as One who came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45).

This event is now commemorated annually on Palm Sunday. Believers celebrate Christ’s sacrificial example that calls Christians to adopt donkey-like traits of lowliness, patience and faithful service empowered by God’s strength alone.

 A captivating black and white photograph depicting a worn path leading to a small village, with a lone donkey standing peacefully, symbolizing the humility and simplicity of Jesus' choice for his triumphant entry into Jer

Literal and Metaphorical Usages of the Word “Donkey”

The word “donkey” appears over 130 times in the Bible, referring both literally to the animal and metaphorically to human behaviors and characteristics. Let’s explore some of these fascinating biblical references.

Literal Mentions of Donkeys

Many passages in the Old and New Testaments literally depict donkeys as beasts of burden and common means of transportation in biblical lands. For example, stories describe prophets riding donkeys (Numbers 22:21-33) and mention large herds of livestock including donkeys (Genesis 12:16).

Jesus memorably entered Jerusalem on the back of young donkey, fulfilling a prophecy about the Messiah’s arrival (Matthew 21:1-11).

Interestingly, domesticated donkeys in the Bible appear gentle and submissive, contrasting wild donkeys described as aggressive and living in the deserts (Job 39:5-8). This fits the actual nature of these amazingly hearty animals that remain essential in many parts of the Middle East.

Metaphorical Comparisons

The Bible often applies donkey-related metaphors to illustrate human stubbornness and willful disobedience. For example, the term “stiff-necked” comes from donkeys’ tendency to resist control by laying their necks flat (Exodus 32:9).

Other passages compare wayward people to “wild donkeys” going their own way (Jeremiah 2:24). Most famously, Balaam failed to control his donkey, which God then granted the power of speech to rebuke the prophet’s behavior (Numbers 22:21-39).

However, the Bible also presents positive metaphors related to donkeys, comparing them to bearing heavy loads with patience and endurance.

As such, the donkey became seen as a “beast of peace” symbolizing humility and service.

Positive Connotations Negative Connotations
Humble Stubborn
Patient Undisciplined
Hardy Stupid
Peaceful Aggressive (when wild)


Whether used literally or metaphorically, the prolific mention of donkeys in the Bible vividly reflects the central role they played in society, culture and religion in ancient holy lands. Their significance persists even today with an estimated 44 million donkeys helping support nearly 500 million people worldwide!

The Complete List of Donkey References in Scripture

Donkeys are mentioned over 130 times in the Bible, making them one of the most frequently referenced animals. Here is a complete list of all the passages that mention donkeys:

Old Testament

In the Old Testament, donkeys were an important means of transportation and livestock. Here are some of the key passages:

  • Genesis 12:16 – When Abram and Sarai went to Egypt, Pharaoh gave Abram sheep, cattle, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, and camels.
  • Genesis 22:3 – When Abraham was taking Isaac to be sacrificed, he saddled his donkey for the journey.
  • Genesis 42:26 – Joseph’s brothers loaded grain on their donkeys to take back to Canaan.
  • Genesis 49:11 – In Jacob’s blessing for Judah, he prophesied that Judah would tether his donkey to a grapevine.
  • Exodus 4:20 – When Moses was returning to Egypt, he put his wife and sons on donkeys.
  • Numbers 22:21-33 – The famous story of Balaam and his talking donkey.
  • Deuteronomy 22:10 – The law prohibited plowing with an ox and donkey yoked together.
  • Judges 1:14 – Caleb offered his daughter Aksah as wife to whoever attacked and captured Kiriath Sepher. Othniel won the challenge and Caleb gave him land, which Aksah asked her father to add springs to. She got off her donkey to make the request.
  • Judges 10:4 – Jair had 30 sons who rode 30 donkeys.
  • Judges 15:15-17 – After killing 1,000 Philistines, Samson got thirsty and called out to God. God opened up a hollow place and water came out of it. This place was called En Hakkore or “the spring of him who called.” Samson drank and his strength was revived.The mention of a donkey’s jawbone reminds us of Samson’s earlier victory.
  • 1 Samuel 9 – Saul went looking for his father’s lost donkeys and encountered Samuel, who anointed him as the first king of Israel.
  • 1 Samuel 16:20 – Jesse loaded bread, wine, and a young goat on a donkey as gift when David went to see Saul.
  • 1 Kings 1:33, 38 – At David’s command, Solomon rode David’s personal donkey at his inauguration ceremony.
  • 1 Kings 13:13 – The disobedient prophet saddled the donkey of the old prophet who came to get him.
  • 2 Kings 4:22 – The Shunammite woman who had befriended Elisha saddled a donkey to hurry to him when her son died.

As you can see, donkeys played an integral part in many key stories and events in the Old Testament. They were a common mode of transportation and also served as beasts of burden.

New Testament

Donkeys continue to be mentioned in the New Testament as well:

  • Matthew 21:1-7 – Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday.
  • Luke 13:15 – Jesus heals a woman on the Sabbath and rebukes religious leaders for leading their donkeys to drink but preventing him from healing.
  • John 12:14 – Jesus finding the donkey and riding it into Jerusalem fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9.

The donkey Jesus rode in his Triumphal Entry was noteworthy because it showed his humility. Royalty would have ridden war horses or stately steeds. But Jesus rode a simple donkey to identify with the common people.


With over 130 mentions across nearly every Biblical book, the donkey plays a deceivingly important role as a humble beast of burden and carrier of symbolic meaning in Scripture.

From Abraham to Jesus, donkeys appear at some of the Bible’s most pivotal moments and their mention reflects themes of servitude, peace and righteousness central to the Biblical message.

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