The male of the beeve kind when grown, synonymous in the Bible with BULL; a clean animal, by the Levitical law; much used for food, 1Ki 19:21, and constituting no small part of the wealth of the Hebrews in their pastoral life, Ge 24:35; Job 1:14; 42:12. Oxen were used in agriculture for ploughing, 1Ki 19:19; and for treading out the grain, during which they were not to be muzzled, 1Co 9:9, but well fed, Isa 30:24. The testing of a new yoke of oxen is still a business of great importance in the East, as of old, Lu 14:19. A passage in Campbell's travels in South Africa well illustrates the proverbial expression, "as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke," Jer 31:18: "I had frequent opportunities of witnessing the conduct of oxen when for the first time put into the yoke to assist in dragging the wagons. On observing an ox that had been in yoke beginning to get weak, or his hoofs to be worn down to the quick by treading on the sharp gravel, a fresh ox was put into the yoke in his place. When the selection fell on an ox I had received as a present from some African king, of course one completely unaccustomed to the yoke, and attempting to make its escape. At other times such bullocks say down upon their sides or back, and remained so in defiance of the Hottentots, though two or three of them would be lashing them with their ponderous whips. Sometimes, from pity to the animal, I would interfere, and beg them to be less cruel. 'Cruel,' they would say, 'it is mercy; for if we do not conquer him now, he will require to be so beaten all his life.'"
The "wild ox," mentioned in De 14:5, is supposed to have been a species of stag or antelope. See BULLS OF BASHAN.
Heb bakar, "cattle;" "neat cattle", (Ge 12:16; 34:28; Job 1:3,14; 42:12, etc.); not to be muzzled when treading the corn (De 25:4). Referred to by our Lord in his reproof to the Pharisees (Lu 13:15; 14:5).
(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 (Le 17:1-6).
An ancestor of Judith (Jdt 8:1).
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,
etc.; as beasts of burden,
their flesh was eaten,
De 14:4; 1Ki 1:9
etc.; they were used in the sacrifices; cows supplied milk, butter, etc.
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.
It seems clear from
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.
OX, ???, in Arabic, boekerre and bykar, the male of horned cattle of the beeve kind, at full age, when fit for the plough. Younger ones are called bullocks. Michaelis, in his elaborate work on the laws of Moses, has proved that castration was never practised. The rural economy of the Israelites led them to value the ox as by far the most important of domestic animals, from the consideration of his great use in all the operations of farming. In the patriarchal ages, the ox constituted no inconsiderable portion of their wealth. Thus Abraham is said to be very rich in cattle, Ge 24:35. Men of every age and country have been much indebted to the labours of this animal. So early as in the days of Job, who was probably contemporary with Isaac, "the oxen were ploughing, and the asses were feeding beside them," when the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away. In times long posterior, when Elijah was commissioned to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, prophet in his stead, he found him ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, 1Ki 19:19. For many ages the hopes of oriental husbandmen depended entirely on their labours. This was so much the case in the time of Solomon, that he observes, in one of his proverbs, "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean," or rather empty; "but much increase is by the strength of the ox," Pr 14:4. The ass, in the course of ages, was compelled to bend his stubborn neck to the yoke, and share the labours of the ox; that still the preparation of the ground in the time of spring depended chiefly on the more powerful exertions of the latter. When this animal was employed in bringing home the produce of the harvest, he was regaled with a mixture of chaff, chopped straw, and various kinds of grain, moistened with acidulated water. But among the Jews, the ox was best fed when employed in treading out the corn; for the divine law, in many of whose precepts the benevolence of the Deity conspicuously shines, forbad to muzzle him, and, by consequence, to prevent him from eating what he would of the grain he was employed to separate from the husks. The ox was also compelled to the labour of dragging the cart or wagon. The number of oxen commonly yoked to one cart appears to have been two, Nu 7:3,7-8; 1Sa 5; 7; 6/3/type/hcsb'>2Sa 6:3,6.
The wild ox, ???, De 14:5, is supposed to be the oryx of the Greeks, which is a species of large stag.