Saturday, January 4, 2014

Animals in the Bible - First: the ASS

Chapter 1 - Ass:

How prurient of me to start this series off with the donkey and call it an ass so it comes first alphabetically. But actually ass is the favored translation for this animal which is called chamowr in Hebrew. To us we use the word to ridicule someone; there are unfavorable attributes given to the animal such as slowness, stupidity, and stubbornness. However, those weren't the adjectives they would have used in Bible times. The donkey/ass was friendly, loyal, meek, and dependable. He symbolized peace and is mentioned over 130 times in Scripture. I did a quick search to see how that compares to horse, sheep, and camel, three animals that come to mind first as prominent in the Bible. Ass beats camel almost three to one but is third behind sheep and horse.

In the Ten Commandments we learn “thou shalt not covet”. Look carefully at Exodus 20:17 and you’ll see that the ass is so highly prized that the Lord deemed it necessary to include it in the prohibition:

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Asses were vitally important as transportation and farm workers. They carried burdens and people and they plowed fields, turned mill wheels, and threshed wheat. In Deuteronomy the ass’s importance is further shown as Scripture instructs people to care for their neighbor’s ass if it wanders off or falls down.

Famous asses from the Bible:
1) the dead donkey: Samson killed a thousand men with the jawbone of an ass.
2) Balaam's donkey: God opened the mouth of Balaam’s ass and it complained of Balaam’s cruelty.
3) Mary's donkey: Mary rode a donkey into Bethlehem.

4) the borrowed donkey: Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on a donkey.

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