|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:4 This is a charge to husbandmen. It teaches us to make much of the animals that serve us. But we must learn, not only to be just, but kind to all who are employed for the good of our better part, our souls, 1Co 9:9.
Verse 4. - The leaving the ox unmuzzled when treading out the corn was in order that the animal might be free to eat of the grains which its labor severed from the husks. This prohibition, therefore, was dictated by a regard to the rights and claims of animals employed in labor; but there is involved in it the general principle that all labor is to be duly requited, and hence it seems to have passed into a proverb, and was applied to men as well as the lower animals (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18). The use of oxen to tread out the corn and the rule of leaving the animals so employed unmuzzled still prevail among the Arabs and other Eastern peoples (Robinson, 'Bib. Res.,' 2:206, 207; 3:6; Kitto, 'Bib. Cycl.,' 1:86).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou shall not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. As oxen are used in ploughing, so likewise in treading or beating out the corn; of the manner of which; see Gill on 1 Corinthians 9:9; now while it was thus employed, it might not be restrained by any means from eating the corn as it had an opportunity, either by a muzzle put over its mouth, or other ways. The Gentiles had several ways of restraining their cattle from eating, while they thus made use of them, to which this law is opposed. Maimonides (f) has collected several or them together, as prohibited by it; as putting a thorn into its mouth, causing a lion to lie down by it, or causing its calf to lie down without, or spreading a skin on the top of the corn, that so it may not eat. Aelianus (g) relates a very particular way of hindering oxen from eating at such times, used some countries, which was this; that oxen might not eat of the ears of corn, in a floor where they were trod out, they used to besmear their nostrils with cows' dung, which was so disagreeable to the creature, that it would not taste anything though pressed with famine. This law is not to be limited to the ox only, or to this peculiar work assigned it; but, as Jarchi says, respects any sort of cattle, and whatsoever work that has food in it, none of them being to be restrained from eating while at work: and this law was not made for the creatures only, but for men also; and especially for the sake of ministers of the word; who for their strength, labour, and industry, are compared to oxen, and ought to be comfortably supported and maintained on account of their work; for the illustration and confirmation of which this passage is twice produced; see Gill on 1 Corinthians 9:9; See Gill on 1 Corinthians 9:10; See Gill on 1 Timothy 5:17; See Gill on 1 Timothy 5:18.
(f) Hilchot Shecirut, c. 13. sect. 2, 3.((g) Hist. Animal. l. 4. c. 25.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn—In Judea, as in modern Syria and Egypt, the larger grains were beaten out by the feet of oxen, which, yoked together, day after day trod round the wide open spaces which form the threshing-floors. The animals were allowed freely to pick up a mouthful, when they chose to do so: a wise as well as humane regulation, introduced by the law of Moses (compare 1Co 9:9; 1Ti 5:17, 18).
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