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Discovery Magazine 11/1/2002

The Costly Cow

Can you imagine going into a shopping mall and seeing a beautiful new coat that you want to buy? Then when you check the price tag, it read “two cows and one bull.” What kind of price is “two cows and one bull”? (When talking about cattle, a cow is a female and a bull is a male.) Did you know that in Bible times, that would have been a very common way to price things? God and silver were often used as money, but so were cows, sheep, goats, and oxen. Wouldn’t it be funny to haul a cattle trailer around to the mall and swap cows and goats for other things you needed?

What makes cattle so valuable? They can be used for hundreds of things. Their meat was often eaten in Bible times, and we today continue to eat steak, hamburger, and other types of beef (God gave us permission to eat cattle in 1 Timothy 4:3-4). Their hide can be treated and made into leather shoes, purses, belts, and thousands of other items. In Bible times, many animals such as camels, sheep, goats, and cows were milked. But today in the United States, most all of the milk we drink comes from the wonderful cow. Cows were trained to grind grain, and they were often given as gifts or wages. In Genesis 32:15, Jacob gave his brother Esau “forty cows and ten bulls.”

One of the most important uses for cattle was sacrifice. God commanded the Israelites to sacrifice every firstborn cow or butt. The blood of this sacrifices allowed the sins of the Israelites to be “rolled forward” until Jesus could die on the cross and forgive those sins. Hebrews 10:4 says, For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” Only Christ’s sacrifice can take away sins.

Today, we do not sacrifice cattle to God, because Christ was the true sacrifice. But we do continue to use cows in many of the same ways that the people in the bible used them. Cattle truly are one of God’s good gifts

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