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, (22:10; 1 Samuel 14:14) etc.; for treading out corn, (25:4; Hosea 10:11) etc.; for draught purposes, when they were generally yoked in pairs, (Numbers 7:3; 1 Samuel 6:7) etc.; as beasts of burden, (1 Chronicles 12:40) their flesh was eaten, (14:4; 1 Kings 1:9) etc.; they were used in the sacrifices; cows supplied milk, butter, etc. (32:14; 2 Samuel 17:29; Isaiah 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. (Exodus 23:12; 5:14) The ox was seldom slaughtered. (Leviticus 17:1-6) It seems clear from (Proverbs 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 Palestine. 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 Palestine. Hence the force of the Psalmist's complaint of his enemies. (Psalms 22:13)
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