The Bible is full of many examples of God’s love for animals and His desire for mankind to love them just as He does.
We find in The Old Testament that one commandment for the Sabbatical year (the year of rest) was to let the land lie fallow. This was so that not just poor people, but also livestock and wild animals could be fed from it:
6 Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you,
7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten.
God also commanded that animals be given rest on the same day as people:
14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do.
The intention of the next verses was to prevent animal cruelty.
Since an ox is much larger and more powerful than a donkey; the result would be one frustrated animal, and one that was overworked and exhausted:
10 Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.
In the next two verses, God commands Israelites to help an animal; even if it belongs to an enemy:
4 If you see your fellow Israelite’s donkey or ox fallen on the road, do not ignore it. Help the owner get it to its feet.
5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.
In the following verse God tells the Israelites that an ox should not be muzzled while working.
The muzzle would prevent the animal from being able to eat the grain as reward.
The animal deserves to reap from its labor.
4 Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.
In Proverbs we are issued a warning:
23 Be sure you know the condition of your flocks,
give careful attention to your herds;
These verses, all from The Old Testament, were written during the time that God was giving fundamental commandments to His people.
The care of animals was, and still is an important priority for God.
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