For it is written in the law of Moses
( Deuteronomy 25:4 )
Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out
The manner of threshing, or beating out the corn among the Jews, was not the same with ours; it was not done by the flail, at least not always, but by the means of oxen; and by these not only treading upon it to and fro, but drawing a wooden instrument after them, the bottom of which was stuck with iron teeth, and the top of it filled with stones, to press it down close by the weight thereof; the sheaves put in proper form, the oxen were led to and fro upon them, drawing this threshing instrument after them, by which means the grain was separated from the husk and ear F7; see ( Isaiah 41:15 ) The learned Beckius F8 has given us a figure of this instrument, and the manner of using it: now according to this law, whilst the ox was thus employed, its mouth was not to be muzzled, but it might freely eat of the corn it trod upon, excepting, the Jews say F9, what was dedicated to sacred uses. They give many rules relating to this law, and particularly observe, that it is to be extended to all sorts of creatures, as well as the ox, and to all sorts of business F11; and that what is said of the ox, is much more to be observed with respect to men F12; and which agrees with the apostle's reasoning here:
doth God take care for oxen?
yes, he does, and for creatures of less importance than they, even the fowls of the air, and the most worthless of them, sparrows, two of which are sold for a farthing; but not for them only, nor principally, but chiefly for men.
F7 Ben Melec. in 2 Sam. xii. 31. & Jarchi in Isa. xli. 1, 5.
F8 Not. in Targum in 1 Chron. xx. 3. p. 210. Vid. Surenhusii Biblos Kattallages, p. 535.
F9 Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Meilah, c. sect. 6. & Trumot, c. 9. sect. 3.
F11 Jarchi in loc. Maimon. Hilch. Shecirot, c. 13. sect. 1, 2, 3. Moses Kotsensis Mitzot Tora, pr. neg. 184. & affirm. 91.
F12 T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 88. 2.