Domestic Animals in Ancient Israel
How Hebrew life and thought balanced the needs of
people and animals
In the Bible, God is green. The best of Hebrew life and thought
strove for a humane and sustainable balance between the needs of people
and animals. The same God, after all, preserves both man and beast.
Hebrew law required a man to give aid to a donkey or an ox that had
fallen, to let the mother bird go when he took her young, and not to
muzzle the ox that treads out the grain. Hebrew wisdom said, “a
righteous man has regard for the life of his beast.” Here are four short
articles on animals in ancient Israel.
The Dog: Its Gradually Changing Status
The dog’s present-day position as a decent, noble animal has been
The Donkey: Faithfulness,
In the tradition of the West we know the donkey as a slow, dull,
foolish creature. Did the ancient East share the same sentiments?
The Camel: Our Adaption to Them
This animal is so well adapted for life in a hostile desert
environment that its domestication was more a process of people
conforming themselves to its ways than the other way around.
Sheep and Goats: A Mingled Flock
Sheep and goats were tamed very early in the Near East. Man
and flock go back together a very long time.