The Ox that was Want to Push

Sep 14th, 2012 | By | Category: Special Features (click on Article name)

The Ox that was Want to Push


Br. Frank Shallieu  1995


We will be considering Exodus the 21th chapter verses 28-31, the account of the ox that gores another animal or an individual.

Exo. 21:28  If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit exonerated.

What interests us in not just the letter of the Law, in which we see the reasonableness of this that is a man had an ox in his field and someone was gored to death by that animal. It says here, that the owner of that animal is exonerated; no guilt can be placed on him.

What were they doing on his property where that can happen, and knowing what an ox is, a bull, and how erasable their nature is? They were endangering themselves if they see an animal loose and if they taunt it or are in the vicinity if that ox would kill a person trespassing his domain. The owner cannot be held liable for that circumstance.

Deuteronomy tells us several things with regards to animals. In working with animals there is a law that prohibits the yoking to the plough of an ox and ass, because of an ox being of a full stature. The ass even though it is a powerful animal it is no match for the bull like strength of the heavier beast and when yoked together that unbalance is not doing justice to the animal. Even the stronger animal is out of kilter and the weaker would also be affected.

Deu. 22:10  Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.

The Apostle Paul in the New Testament shows us the spiritual symbology of this law. These animals represent to the Christian, himself, and what he does. We will go into this is a bit later, but Paul does say “be ye not unequally yoked.”

2 Cor. 6:14  Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

This would mean, if you are unmarried and you consecrate your life to the Lord it would be very foolish to marry an unconsecrated person, as the Lord says don’t marry the unconsecrated. We do see a caveat in the scriptures, “unless you have given promise beforehand, that is, before you consecrated. But that is up to you to make that choice. When you are already married to someone who does not consecrate with you, that is also a different circumstance as well.

So Paul uses these animals as examples. The ox is the person who has accepted the “truth” and the other is unequal in the sense that he hasn’t the benefit of the Holy Spirit and other things which brings soundness of mind, purpose and enriches one’s life in many ways. This is an unfair thing in nature to practice and certainly spiritually speaking as well. Thus we have a lesson of the natural and the spiritual.

1 Cor. 9:9  For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

1Tim. 5:18  For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.

You don’t muzzle the ox that treads the corn.  As an example the Apostle Paul went throughout the mid-east establishing classes and witnessing and so forth, and others like himself, such as Barnabus who accompanied him, as well as others on different occasions. Since they have forsaken their livelihood it would not be improper for the brethren to temporally assist those who are working in the field, just as in nature you wouldn’t muzzle an ox who is doing the work for you. The ox is entitled to wages. This corn, in a way, would be their wages, not money. The laborer, whether man or beast, is worthy of his hire or compensation of some kind. So he draws from the Law spiritual lessons and applies them to us as new creatures.

We come to this in Exodus 21st chapter starting with the 28th verse when it says about the ox goring a human being in the sense that it dies and the owner is not responsible. But when we read on we notice certain things that the ox seems to take a prominent position in this experience; it is the aggressor. In some of the verses we see we have two oxen were one kills another ox or some tragedy follows in connection with one of them. We find that there is an owner of an ox and someone else’s animal.

What do these represent? In the New Testament the Apostle Paul definitely uses the beast as a comparison with the experiences of the Christian. In this case you have a dual picture that the owner is the new creature, the ox is the old creature that he possesses, the body. The owner is the new will that has this animal nature as it were.  So we find that in verse 28 the owner is exonerated, because the incident occurred in which the owner would have no responsibility due to the carelessness of others who were too close in proximity to that animal so that they were gored to death.

Now in verse 29, it shows another account where the ox was want to push.

Exo. 21:29  But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.

In this instance this animal was accustomed to push or attempt to gore with his horns. Now you are in a different position. Here is an animal that by nature is aggressive and dangerous.  It means that there were previous incidents. How does one know an animal was want to push with its horns unless it manifested such behavior in several occasions. It may have wounded or killed another animal, or injured a person based on their behavior.

At this point the owner has a responsibility, when he sees what has been done by his animal. He has to be very careful with regard to this matter. What is that responsibility? There are several options:

1)      Make a fence where the ox cannot go outside that boundary to injure anyone, but if someone comes in then the owner is not responsible as long as he has taken precautions.

2)     Stake the animal with a chain or something to give it limited range of free motion.

3)     Put it in a stall.

If that animal kills another after his attention has been called to the previous behavior, the ox is then put to death. This was the case in the previous verse also. The ox was to be slain and the flesh was not to be eaten. If we find that the ox which was want to push kills another, and the owner has not taken the proper precautions, that owner is also put to death. He did not directly do the murder, but is responsible for “gross negligence” and is responsible and put to death as well.

The antitype would be the person (the new creature/old creature) and we have to fight these desires of the flesh, some of which appear to be legitimate and some are clearly illegitimate.  There is a responsibility for the New Creature in this earthen vessel. In this case when the owner is put to death, it represents the second death.

If his flesh is “want to push” or is a habitual problem, the Bible says thorns and thistles or a person just being cantankerous by nature, and he is consecrated and is the same troublemaker and so forth and does cause injury to others, this case happened to be the death of another. An example can be where an individual is led astray and dies.  You have three deaths in this scenario. The ox which kills the person and the owner and his ox are both put to death as a result. Jesus in the scriptures says, “he that stumbles one of the least of the little ones.” That stumbling is not just an irritation or little problem of some words uttered. It is where another person either by their deeds or actions or doctrine, if the Lord holds them responsible for the death another new creature in Christ, even a little one, it would be better that a cord and stone was put around their next and thrown into the sea. There would be no hope of surfacing or being resurrected.

Matt. 18:6  But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

This is indicating different degrees of responsibility. In one case the owner of the animal that did the injury is completely exonerated. This second instance because of the habit manifested, he is put to death. In the law you have different degrees of slaughter: homicide, manslaughter, murder and when people through passion may make a quick judgment and kill someone.They may kill another but may not be held fully accountable or accountable at all depending on how it is done, say under emotional stress it is to be treated a little differently. But when it is a deliberate characteristic and nothing is done about it and this type of injury occurs either naturally or spiritually,it is the responsibility of the owner of that new creature having that body (or bull). The Law is very instructional with regard to Christian habits.

Verse 30  continues:

Exo. 21:30  If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.

Even though an owner is worthy of death because of this gross negligence, the ones that would do it (family members ) may want more not just his death. They may want everything he possess forfeited, not just his life. The victim’s family could exact a sum of money instead of the death penalty. In this case it is unlimited, no specifics. This may be a more desirable penalty because perhaps there may be a widow left who has no means of providing for herself. The law makes an allowance considering the victim. Today the victim isn’t given much consideration.

So the law says a ransom can be assigned to the owner, thus opening up another circumstance. It doesn’t say who lays the sum upon him; the victim’s family or the court or the heavenly Father. A penalty and an alternate penalty is assigned. There is another qualification, whether he hath gored son or daughter. According to this judgment, it shall be done according to him.

Exo. 21:31  Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him.

The judgment of the previous verse applies also to verse 31. It can be the son or daughter or servant who [is] put to death because of gross negligence on the part of the owner of the animal.

Exo. 21:32  If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

In all these incidents the flesh of the ox should not be eaten. Anti-typically this is not appreciated. This is where the problem is. We can mentally see the owners responsibly; we can see the oxen’s responsibility; but the eating of the ox we can’t see. That is material benefit obtained of which the Lord disapproves of the thing being done.  Some don’t extrapolate properly. Spiritually speaking there is fraternizing done with regard to people who should not be fraternized with, because of certain deeds that were done. Being eaten would show that other people are getting benefit, that is, fellowship from (in this case) the old man or old woman. That tie should be severed completely. Not only is the animal put to death, but the animal nature is disapproved, disavowed, excommunicated.

We get now the value of a human, thirty shekels of silver, the price of a full grown man or woman. We see this identified with the death of Jesus when he was betrayed. This is an interesting thing of Ransom, payment or reimbursement.

In verse 33 we have another case:

Exo. 21:33  And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein;

Here the man doesn’t cover his pit and subsequently an ox or an ass falls in. An ox and ass are used because they are of a different nature than other animals that are not as costly. That has to be taken into consideration when dealing with compensation. So this man did not take proper precautions when creating a dangerous or potentially dangerous hazard. If one makes a porch and doesn’t put a banister up and someone walks off, then the owner also is responsible because they didn’t make it safe.

Exo. 21:34  The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.

In this case the ox did not kill anyone, but got killed himself.  The owner of the pit pays the full price of the dead beast and keeps it. Presumably the flesh can be eaten because this is not killed by another. This also pictures the old nature that is killled and not any damage to the new creature. This is a very complicated subject, but we are just broad brushing. The Law is very deep and has many valuable lessons which can profitably benefit us.

Exo. 21:35  And if one man’s ox hurt another’s, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it; and the dead ox also they shall divide.

In this case both are responsible and there were no witnesses to determine which animal was the agressor.  In this instance also it was not known that one animal was “want to push”  or not,  just that two animals have a confrontation of some kind, but there is no past history of either. There has been a loss, and to be fair it is to be divided down the midde.

Solomon got this principle and used its logic in the incident where he said to divide the child. This was done to deterimine who the real mother was.

The live ox cannot be divided unless you kill it, but if you leave it alive there is more value involved. You can always eat it later, but in the interim it can be working, plowing the field serving your needs until it is needed for food. So here they are to liquidate the asset—that is the live ox–and divide the price.  They can also sell the dead animal for food and divide that if one can’t eat it all.

We see that the Law is just, there is fair play invovled. In considering a dispute or confrontation a judge has a very hard problem to learn to be a proper judge, as to how to be fair to both parties. Where one is to not be shown any mercy but only death, has to be considered too, but the circumstances have a lot to do with how it is handled.

Now in verse 36:

Exo. 21:36  Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath not kept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.

In this case you have an ox for an ox. Both parties have an animal and one gores to death the other. The one animal was want to push with his horn, in this case there is no division of the goods, and no human life is involved. It was just an animal that was ornery and got out of control. The owner of the dead ox will get double value. He gets the sale price of both animals. He gets more than just his own animal in this instance. The owner of the ornery animal also gets something–he gets the dead animal.

When you go into the next chapter you find a case of a thief. If the thief is caught in the act, he has to pay five times the value of the goods that he was taking. This shows how the Lord views thievery, that is quite a penalty. Five times! Five hundrend percent! But if the party is not caught in the act, then there is a problem, because you don’t know if he really was fully responsible. You don’t know the details, so then in the final judgment it does ameliorate the perspective because he wasn’t caught in the act. If he was, then there is no question for the judge of who is guilty. It is completely manifest. But once it gets stale the judgment becomes more difficult. So from a practical standpoint a person who is to judge this matter and to make a fair allowance, the penalty has to be paid, but it isn’t quite the same as the other.

The Law is like Paul says, spiritual. That is a very deep statement. In other words, even  from a natural standpoint, fairplay and judgment has to be given. From a spiritual standpoint you have other characterizations that take place; so we have not considered this subject in real depth.

It has helped us to see that when others discredit the Law, that Law is of God. It is God’s Law and not man’s. We cannot demean or diminish the Law itself, but when it comes to the grace of forgiveness in the Gospel Age, that is another matter. We find that even in the Law there is more liberty involved with regard from a natural standpoint to the New creature and the old man, but the New creature, when that is guilty there is no other recourse than Second Death–the death of the owner of the creature that did some injury.








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