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The Plow

The plow, or plough, is an agricultural implement that is used to break up the soil in preparation for sowing or planting of crops. Unlike the huge modern version, ancient plows were often just a forked branch that was dragged along by people or animals. During the times of Bible History, the plow was usually drawn by a yoke of oxen. The original definition of an "acre" was the amount of land that a yoke of oxen could plow in a day.

Oxen and Plow

  • Plows were usually drawn by oxen: "The oxen were plowing" (Job 1:14 NIV). It was forbidden to have an ox and a Donkey yoked together: "Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together." (Deuteronomy 22:10 NIV)

  • Elisha was plowing when he was called into God's service by Elijah:

    "So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother good-by," he said, "and then I will come with you." "Go back," Elijah replied. "What have I done to you?" So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant." (1 Kings 19:19-21 NIV)

  • The plowman usually steered the plow with his left hand and goaded (a goad was a pointed stick) the oxen with his right hand, all the while keeping his eyes straight ahead to make a straight furrow. Jesus Christ used this as an analogy for not looking back to a sinful life after conversion: "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in The Kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62 NIV)

  • Plowing was used in a number of other lessons in Christian Living:

    • "When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cummin? Does he not plant wheat in its place, Barley in its plot, and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way." (Isaiah 28:24-26 NIV)

    • A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing." (Proverbs 20:4 NIV)

    • "For it is written in the Law of Moses: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." Is it about oxen that God is concerned? Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest." (1 Corinthians 9:9-11)

  • Plowing was included in a prophecy of a great future gathering of Israel (all Israelites, not just the tribe of Judah who are known today as "Jews" - see Children of Jacob and The Tribes Of Israel and The Chosen People and Jews At War With Israel):

    "The days are coming," declares The Lord, "when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them," says The Lord your God." (Amos 9:13-15 NIV)

Fact Finder: Did Jesus Christ speak of a great future "harvest" of humanity?
Matthew 13:37-43
See also Parable Of The Sower and Parable Of The Weeds

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