We ask the following database query:
In the Bible what animals are used to symbolize destruction?
The reader is encouraged to perform the query using a standard Biblical Konnkordance or search engine. Many examples come from Gn49.
This database query yields the following list.
||Text of Verse
Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that biteth the horse's heels, so that his rider falleth backward.
Behold a people that riseth up as a lioness, and as a lion doth he lift himself up; he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain.
For thus saith HaShem: Behold, he shall swoop as a vulture, and shall spread out his wings against Moab.
The cities are taken, and the strongholds are seized, and the heart of the mighty men of Moab at that day shall be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.
And the Amorites, that dwell in that hill-country, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and beat you down in Seir, even unto Hormah.
And Moab said unto the elders of Midian: 'Now will this multitude lick up all that is round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field.' --And Balak the son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.--
There are many more entries to the list. The appearance of the ox on this
list seems peculiar as oxen are not wild animals known for their hunting.
Without using Rashi the most reasonable explanation is that
Balak complained as follows:
The Jews aren't a military people. Their goals are not conquest.
But they are like an ox plowing a field. The ox is not trying to
destroy anything but must consume much pasture to do a days work.
So too the Jews are not trying to destroy anything. But to achieve
their goal of transporting several million people to Israel they
must consume many nations in their path. I am worried I will be
The above approach is not the only approach. This is characteristic
of the database method. Unlike the grammar and meaning
methods the database method has a certain characteristic vagueness
and ambiguity allowing multiple interpretations. In the above interpretation
I have used the concept of political correctness. Balak did not want
to appear anti-semitic. Instead he approached the problem as something the
Jews needed, like a ploughing ox who must consume pasture. It wasn't their
intent that was bothering him but the consequences of their actions. Such
political correctness, although milder than outright anti-semitism,
does occur in history and has caused us much anguish.
Rashi literally says:
All that the Ox licks does not have blessing.
I have interpreted this to mean that
While the ox is not a viscious animal it must
consume alot to do a days work
In light of the database query, which shows that elsewhere, the Bible uses
wild, not domestic animals, to symbolize destruction, I think this
a reasonable interpretation of Rashi's intent.
As indicated above the database method characteristically leaves open
many approachs to the uncoveries of the database.