Muzzle (חָסִם, chasam', to step the nostrils, as in Eze 39:11). In the East grain is usually thrashed by sheaves being spread out quite thick on a level spot, over which oxen, cows, and younger cattle are driven, till by continued treading they press out the grain. One of the injunctions of the Mosaic code is, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn" (De 25:4). From the monuments we learn that the ancient Egyptians likewise suffered the ox to tread out the corn unmuzzled. "The origin of this benevolent law," says Michaelis, "with regard to beasts, is seemingly deducible from certain moral feelings or sentiments prevalent among the people of the early ages. They thought it hard that a person should be employed in the collection of edible and savory things, and have them continually before his eyes, without being permitted once to taste them; and there is in fact a degree of cruelty in placing a person in such a situation; for the sight of such dainties is tormenting, and the desire to partake of them increases with the risk of the prohibition. Add to this that, by prohibitions of this nature, the moral character of servants and day- laborers, to the certain injury of their masters' interests, seldom fails to become corrupted, for the provocation of appetite at the sight of forbidden gratification will, with the greater number, undoubtedly overpower all moral suggestions as to right or wrong. They will learn to help themselves without leave. Therefore when Moses, in the terms of this benevolent custom, ordained that the ox was not to be muzzled while thrashing, it would seem that it was not merely his intention to provide for the welfare of that animal, but to enjoin with the greater force and effect that a similar right should be allowed to human laborers. He specified the ox as the lowest example, and what held good in reference to him was to be considered as so much the more obligatory in reference to man." Comp. Ho 10:11; 1Co 9:9-11; 1Ti 5:18. This ancient Mosaic law, allowing the ox, as long as he is employed in thrashing, to eat both the grain and the straw, is still observed in the East. Prof. Robinson, when at Jericho, in 1838, observed the process of thrashing by oxen, cows, and younger cattle. He says, "The precept of Moses, 'Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn,' was not very well regarded by our Christian friends; many of their animals having their mouths tied up; while among the Mohammedans I do not remember ever to have seen an animal muzzled. This precept serves to show that of old, as well as at the present day, only neat cattle were usually employed to tread out the grain." SEE THRESHING.

Definition of muzzle

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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