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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2002

Better Than a John Deere?

by  Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

I've always wanted to drive one of those big John Deere tractors. But have you ever wondered what farming was like before tractors? In Bible times, men had to plow fields using animals such as donkeys. But rich farmers would buy a stronger and more reliable ox. These oxen (plural form of ox) were used for labor in the field, provided meat, and had hides that could be used for clothing. They were even used as a sacrifice at the altar as a gift to God.

For a farmer to lose his ox would be like a farmer today losing an expensive tractor, except that it would be worse because that animal also could provide food and clothing to the family. Because of this, people took extremely good care of these animals. When Solomon had completed the temple, the Bible says that the Israelites sacrificed about 22,000 oxen (1 Kings 8:63). Why do you think these people would so freely give up that many oxen, considering their great value? Surely God was worth it!

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