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February 22    Scripture



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Manners & Customs: Oxen
Oxen in the Ancient World

Ancient Goads The goad. A goad is carried by the native ploughman today, and was also used in Bible times. It is a wooden rod varying in length from five to seven feet, with a sharp point at one end. With this the farmer can hurry up his slow-moving animals. It was such an ox-goad that was used by Shamgar in slaying six hundred Philistines (Judges 3:31). The conviction of sin that came to Saul of Tarsus and led to his conversion was compared to the pricks of an oxgoad: "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks [goad]" (Acts 26:14). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Ancient Yokes The yoke. The yoke is a rude stick that fits the necks of the cattle. Two straight sticks project down each side, and a cord at the end of these sticks and underneath the cattle's necks holds the yoke on the necks. These yokes of wood are often spoken of in the Scriptures (Jeremiah 28:13, etc.). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Muzzling the Ox The oxen not muzzled while threshing. Even today the Arab peasant farmer does not muzzle his oxen while they are treading the grain on the threshing floor. He says it would be a great sin to do so. This agrees with the teaching of the Mosaic Law. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn [grain]" (Deuteronomy 25:4). The Apostle Paul quotes this Scripture to enforce his argument that "the laborer is worthy of his hire" (I Corinthians 9:9; I Timothy 5:18). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Ox Goad in Easton's Bible Dictionary mentioned only in Judg. 3:31, the weapon with which Shamgar (q.v.) slew six hundred Philistines. "The ploughman still carries his goad, a weapon apparently more fitted for the hand of the soldier than the peaceful husbandman. The one I saw was of the 'oak of Bashan,' and measured upwards of ten feet in length. At one end was an iron spear, and at the other a piece of the same metal flattened. One can well understand how a warrior might use such a weapon with effect in the battle-field" (Porter's Syria, etc.). (See GOAD -T0001508.)

Ox in Easton's Bible Dictionary Heb. bakar, "cattle;" "neat cattle", (Gen. 12:16; 34:28; Job 1:3, 14; 42:12, etc.); not to be muzzled when treading the corn (Deut. 25:4). Referred to by our Lord in his reproof to the Pharisees (Luke 13:15; 14:5).

Ox in Fausset's Bible Dictionary (See BULL.) The law prohibiting the slaughter of clean beasts in the wilderness, except before the tabernacle, at once kept Israel from idolatry and tended to preserve their herds. During the 40 years oxen and sheep were seldom killed for food, from whence arose their lustings after flesh (Leviticus 17:1-6).

Ox in Smiths Bible Dictionary There was no animal in the rural economy of the Israelites, or indeed in that of the ancient Orientals generally, that was held in higher esteem than the ox and deservedly so, for the ox was the animal upon whose patient labors depended all the ordinary operations of farming. Oxen were used for ploughing, De 22:10; 1Sa 14:14 etc.; for treading out corn, De 25:4; Ho 10:11 etc.; for draught purposes, when they were generally yoked in pairs, Nu 7:3; 1Sa 6:7 etc.; as beasts of burden, 1Ch 12:40 their flesh was eaten, De 14:4; 1Ki 1:9 etc.; they were used in the sacrifices; cows supplied milk, butter, etc. De 32:14; 2Sa 17:29; Isa 7:22 Connected with the importance of oxen in the rural economy of the Jews is the strict code of laws which was mercifully enacted by God for their protection and preservation. The ox that threshed the corn was by no means to be muzzled; he was to enjoy rest on the Sabbath as well as his master. Ex 23:12; De 5:14 The ox was seldom slaughtered. Le 17:1-6 It seems clear from Pr 15:17 and 1Kin 4:23 that cattle were sometimes stall-fed though as a general rule it is probable that they fed in the plains or on the hills of Israel. The cattle that grazed at large in the open country would no doubt often become fierce and wild, for it is to be remembered that in primitive times the lion and other wild beasts of prey roamed about Israel. Hence the force of the Psalmist's complaint of his enemies. Ps 22:13

Oxen ANIMALS USED IN PLOUGHING Use of oxen. In Bible times oxen were used almost exclusively for ploughing. For this reason the expression "a yoke" was used by the Hebrews to mean the measure of land which a yoke of oxen could plough in a day (cf. I Samuel 14:14, and Isaiah 5:10). "Oxen" as the Hebrews used the term, meant both sexes of the animal, cows being used as well as bulls for purposes of draught, but the latter were castrated. This explains the reason for the law specifying concerning a heifer to be used for sacrificial purposes, that it be one "upon which never came yoke" (Numbers 19:2). The law of Moses forbade ploughing with an ox and an ass yoked together (Deuteronomy 22:10). The Apostle Paul spoke of "the unequal yoke" in connection with partnership between believers and unbelievers (II Corinthians 6:14). Today, the Arabs usually make use of oxen in ploughing, but sometimes utilize camels, and occasionally yoke together an ox and a donkey, or a camel and a donkey. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Oxen Scripture - 1 Chronicles 21:23 And Ornan said unto David, Take [it] to thee, and let my lord the king do [that which is] good in his eyes: lo, I give [thee] the oxen [also] for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; I give it all.

Oxen Scripture - 1 Kings 1:19 And he hath slain oxen and fat cattle and sheep in abundance, and hath called all the sons of the king, and Abiathar the priest, and Joab the captain of the host: but Solomon thy servant hath he not called.

Oxen Scripture - 1 Kings 8:63 And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.

Oxen Scripture - 2 Chronicles 35:8 And his princes gave willingly unto the people, to the priests, and to the Levites: Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave unto the priests for the passover offerings two thousand and six hundred [small cattle], and three hundred oxen.

Oxen Scripture - 2 Chronicles 7:5 And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty and two thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep: so the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.

Oxen Scripture - Daniel 4:25 That they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will.

Oxen Scripture - Deuteronomy 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

Oxen Scripture - Exodus 20:24 Exodus 20:24 - An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

Oxen Scripture - Jeremiah 51:23 I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers.

Oxen Scripture - Numbers 7:87 All the oxen for the burnt offering [were] twelve bullocks, the rams twelve, the lambs of the first year twelve, with their meat offering: and the kids of the goats for sin offering twelve.

Threshing Methods Methods of threshing. Three methods of threshing were in use in ancient times, and in some places in the East today. (1) A flail was used for threshing small quantities of grain. Ruth must have used such a wooden instrument. "And beat out that she had gleaned: and it was about an ephah of barley" (Ruth 2:17). And without doubt Gideon was also using such an instrument when he was threshing a small amount of wheat secretly, for fear of the enemy. "Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites" (Judges 6:11). (2) A threshing instrument was often used. One type that has been used in Bible lands in modern days, is composed of two wooden planks joined together, about three feet wide and six feet long, and underneath has rows of cut square holes, and sharp stones or pieces of metal are driven into these. Isaiah well describes such a threshing instrument: "Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth" (Isaiah 41:15). This threshing board is pulled by the oxen over the grain, and the thresher sits or stands upon the instrument, with his goad in his hand to hurry up the animals.36 Another type of threshing instrument takes the form of a small wagon with low cylindrical wheels that serve as saws.37 The prophet must have been thinking of this sort of instrument when he mentioned "the cart wheel" in connection with the threshing activity of the farmer (Isaiah 28:27, 28). (3) The oxen alone were driven over the grain in order to thresh it. This method was the most common method used by the Jews in Old Testament times. The animals were turned over the layer of grain as it lay upon the threshing floor, and their hoofs did the work of threshing. Many of the Fellahin today will say that this is the best way of threshing. "This must have been the same in Bible days, for the Hebrew verb "to thresh" is doosh, which has as its root-meaning 'to trample down], 'to tread under foot'" (cf. Job 39:15; Daniel 7:23). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

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