Man's Role with Animals According to the Bible

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Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion

Man's Role with Animals According to the Bible

By "Cat" Morales on Kitty Liberation Front

The creation of "Companion Animals" and the purpose of man and his responsibility "over" them has been a topic of interest for a very long time. It has been controversial at best. Most people who quote from scripture talk of how God created animals "for man" and how in biblical times God gave man "beasts of burden" to help them in heavy tasks and times of war. The nice thing about "today" is we have the ability to use logic and reasoning and voice our opinion with little or no fear of condemnation. But even that is changing.

"Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him."

Some points to ponder over these three versus in Genesis:

1. God felt it wasn't good for man to be alone.
2. God felt man needed a helper (using this translation), What is the meaning of this word and is it the correct translation?
3. God formed every beast of FIELD and SKY (no mention of SEA).
4. God gave man the "right" or “power” to name all the creatures. How literal and how much further can we take this?
5. OUT OF ALL THE FIELD AND SKY ANIMALS THERE WAS NO HELPER FOUND!

The problem with man’s translation to the bible is that they often take it literally, out of context or worse yet, replace one word for another or delete the word altogether. In this translation the word "helper" is used. Other translation contain words such as "help meet" or "help mate".

"A husband would be best advised not to call his wife a "helpmate" these days, but once upon a time the word was considered a high compliment. The term's prestige derived mostly from its origin in the book of Genesis, where the older form "help meet" is how God describes the mate he creates for Adam.

Actually, though, "help meet" is not an integral phrase in the King James translation, and despite the resemblance "meet" does not mean "mate," but rather "fitting." What God intends for Adam is a "help" (helper) "meet for him" -- in other words, "equal to and appropriate for him." (The oldest English translation, John Wyclif's 1382 version, gives "Make we to hym help like hym.")

The OED calls the word "help-meet" or "helpmeet" -- which first appeared in John Dryden's Marriage à la Mode (1673) -- a "compound absurdly formed by taking the two words help meet" in Genesis "as one word." Absurd or not, the word remained in common usage until the late nineteenth century. By 1715, though, the parallel and more logical term "helpmate" had appeared, and it (barely) survives to this day as an epithet for one's wife." (Excerpt from Brush Up Your Bible: Help Mate and Adam's Rib)

What we have to remember and understand is Gods initial wish for man. Man was made in God's likeness and was placed in Eden to be happy and well tended to (healthy and safe) by God. Man was the "child" of God and God was the "Father", the loving caretaker. When God gave man the power to "Lord" over animals (as in some translations) it was with the same meaning as God has to "Lord" over man. To be a caretaker and protector. God does not push man around to carry his burdens. He does not dissect him to see what causes him pain.

The "helper" God was intending for man was a companion of equal worth to man. Animals were created by God for man so that he may not be alone but even though man was given the authority to name them, they were found not to be what was needed by man or intended by God. Instead woman was created. She was meant to be his companion and equal.

“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”

Does this mean that because woman was finally created as the perfect "helper" for man and that God maintained or released man's obligation as "Lord" over the animals. This was never stated or implied. Nor does it imply anywhere that God put animals on earth to be man's "beasts of burden". The term "beasts of burden" is used within the bible in several incidents and in biblical times people rode "beasts of burden" into battle and even used them to carry heavy loads. But once again, people draw what they want from what is written without research or taking it out of context.

Let’s first consider the period of time these things took place. Would we still do things that were done in biblical times? Have we not grown, learned and adapted to new thoughts? Also, the biblical times most are referring to takes place AFTER man's fall from grace and departure from Eden . Which means, what man does outside of Eden WAS NOT God's intention and in fact probably brings God great sadness.

The usage of the term "Beast of Burden" in the bible was generally referring to one specific animal... the "ass". A donkey, not a mule, was often referred to as a “beast of burden”. Further inspection will find that the donkey was actually held in high regard by man. God even used the donkey to teach man a lesson. This dictates to us that, although one animal was used to "help" us, it was also our duty to treat it with high regard and great care and respect.

"Beast of burden and wild animal to KJV but translated, “donkey” in most modern translations. Six different Hebrew words and two Greek words lie behind the English translations. 1. ‘athon is a female animal used for riding (Genesis 49:11; Numbers 22:21-33; Judges 5:10; 2 Kings 4:22) and as a beast of burden (Genesis 45:23). Saul's father lost his female asses (1 Samuel 9:3). This indicated loss of pride and prestige, for asses were apparently the riding animals for leaders and for the nobility (compare Judges 10:4; Judges 12:14; see below on ayir). Warriors rode female asses (Judges 5:10). Wealthy persons owned numbers of asses (Genesis 12:16; Genesis 32:15; 1 Chronicles 27:30; Job 1:3). They grazed the grasslands for food (Job 1:14). God used a talking ass to teach a prophet a lesson in obedience (Numbers 22:1). Zechariah pictured the Messiah as riding on “a colt the foal of an ass” (‘athon), thus emphasizing the animal was a purebred ass and not a crossbred mule (Zechariah 9:9)." (Holman Bible Dictionary on www.StudyLight.org)

My Stand for Animals and All Living Things on God's Great Earth:

I am a child of God, placed on this earth as mother to my children, wife to my husband, companion to the animals. It is my place to 'help' them to live as prosperous, healthy and safe a life as possible within the capabilities that God has given me. I do not have the right to force anyone to work for me nor do they have the right to force me to work for them. We are 'Lords' to all living creatures, which simply means we are chosen by God to be their 'protectors'.

This I say, This I pray, In God's name.... AMEN

Let me put this thought before you...

For every man that quotes scripture of the right of man over animals because they are his "helpers", let him turn to his wife to see if she agrees. For every woman that uses scripture as the right to "own" an animal or use an animal as a “beast of burden” let her look to a man and see if he would dare to say the same of her!

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