A Handbook of Bible Law - Animal regulations

Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994

Animal regulations

Comments: The majority of laws in the Bible dealing with animals (other than those surrounding sacrifices which are no longer relevant or applicable to us) involve property rights, owner responsibility and restitution. In the Bible animals are made reference to by the terms "creature," "living thing," "cattle," "beast," and "creeping thing."

The Bible says that God put animals on earth for man to make use of "into your hand are they delivered" (Gen. 9:2). In biblical times animals were used for food, to do work with, as a source of clothing, as money for trading or buying, and even as pets, all of which have changed little since biblical times. So important were animals that the number owned was a measure of one's wealth and social status.

'And Abram was very rich in cattle.. . . "" (Gen. 13:2).

"The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb (2 Sam. 12:2-3).

Just as today the owner of an animal was responsible for what his animal did to other persons or their property. In fact, if an animal had previous incidents of aggressiveness towards persons, and its owner has been warned about it but fails to take precautions to confine the animal, he is to be regarded as a murdered and put to death if that animal kills someone (Exod. 21:29).

7A - Animals Used For Labor

  1. You are not to work animals on the Sabbath. Exod. 20:10; Exod. 23:12; Deut 5:14.
  2. You are not to have two different kinds of animals work together; You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together. Deut 22:10.
  3. You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that is being used for work. Deut 25:4; 1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18.

7B - Damage and Injury Done by Animals

  1. If an animal kills a person the animal is to be put to death. Exod. 21:28-29.
  2. If an animal is proven to be aggressive, and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it, and it kills a man or woman, then both the animal and the owner are to be put to death. If there is a ransom of money demanded of the owner, it can be paid for the redemption of his life. Exod. 21:29-31.
  3. If an animal shall gore a servant, the owner shall give the servant's master a set amount of money and the animal is to be killed. Exod. 21:32.
  4. If a man's animal eats the crop of another man's field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field. Exod. 22:5.
  5. If one man's animal kills another's animal, then the live animal shall be sold and the money (and the dead animal if it be cattle) shall be divided between them. Exod. 21:35.
  6. If an animal which is known to be aggressive kills another animal yet its owner had not confined him, then he shall pay for the animal killed but can keep the dead animal. Exod. 21:36.

7C - Animals Owned by Others

  1. Stolen animals are to be repaid to the owner 4 or 5 times. Exod. 22:1.
  2. Stray animals belonging to your brethren are be brought back to the owner. If the owner is unknown, then you are to keep the animal until the owner comes looking for it and then return it to him. Deut. 22:1-3.
  3. If you encounter an animal of your enemy going astray, you shall bring it back to him. Exod. 23:4.
  4. If a pit is opened or dug and left uncovered, and an animal falls into it, the owner of the pit shall pay the owner of the animal but he can keep the dead animal. Exod. 21:33-34.
  5. If you see an animal of one that hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall release the animal. Exod. 23:5.
  6. You shall not see your brother's ass or ox fall down by the way, and hide yourself from them: you shall surely help him to lift them up again. Deut. 22:4.
  7. Whoever kills another's animal shall make it good, animal for animal. Lev. 24:18, 21.

7D - Animals Borrowed or in Another's Care

  1. If a man gives his neighbor his animal to keep for him and it dies or runs away, then an oath before the LORD shall be made between them, that he has not laid his hands on his neighbor's animal. He is not required to pay for it. Exod. 22:10-11.
  2. If a borrowed animal is stolen, the keeper shall make restitution to the owner of the animal. Exod. 22:12.
  3. If a borrowed animal is torn in pieces, the remains shall be brought as evidence, and no restitution shall be made. Exod. 22:13.
  4. If a man borrows any animal, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution to the owner. But if the owner is with it, no restitution is to be made. Exod. 22:14-15.

    7E - General Care of Animals

    1. You are not to breed cattle with a diverse kind (no hybrid cattle, livestock or pets). Lev. 19:19.
    2. Should have regard for the life of your animals. Prov. 12:10.
    3. Do not separate a newly born ox or sheep or a goat from its mother for the first seven days. Lev. 22:27.
    4. The eggs or young can be taken from a bird's nest but not along with the mother. Deut. 22:6-7.
    5. Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds. Prov. 27:23.

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