Why should the Messiah (the King) choose a Donkey to enter into Jerusalem while all the Kings rode on Horse? Do Kings ride on a Donkey?

(“Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden.) Lk.19,30

  • Are kings born in stables? Feb 15, 2019 at 2:31

3 Answers 3


Here is The Jewish custom:-

NWT 1 Kings 1:32, 33 "Immediately King David said: “YOU men, call for me Zaʹdok the priest and Nathan the prophet and Be·naiʹah the son of Je·hoiʹa·da.” So they came in before the king. 33 And the king went on to say to them: “Take with YOU the servants of YOUR lord, and YOU must make Solʹo·mon my son ride upon the she-mule that belongs to me and lead him down to Giʹhon.

Here is the prophecy that Jesus had to fulfill:-

NWT Zechariah 9:9 "“Be very joyful, O daughter of Zion. Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem. Look! Your king himself comes to you. He is righteous, yes, saved; humble, and riding upon an ass, even upon a full-grown animal the son of a she-ass."


The Greek word here is πῶλον (accusative of polos), which can refer to the young of a variety of animals, "from an elephant to a locust" (BDAG), but most often the young of a donkey or horse. In the parallel passages of Matt 21:2, 5, 7, John 12:15, it specifically refers to the colt or foal of a donkey.

This passage in the Gospels was specifically done to fulfil the prophecy of Zech 9:9, 10

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

     Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!

     Behold, your king is coming to you;

     He is just and endowed with salvation,

     Humble, and mounted on a donkey,

     Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim

     And the horse from Jerusalem;

     And the bow of war will be cut off.

     And He will speak peace to the nations;

     And His dominion will be from sea to sea,

     And from the River to the ends of the earth.

This act of Jesus as both King and Messiah was a modification of the use of dedicated animals as defined in Numbers 19:2; Deuteronomy 21:3; 1 Samuel 6:7. See also 1 Kings 1:32, 33.


A colt is the foal of a donkey. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a borrowed donkey’s colt, one that had never been ridden before. This is explained in Matthew 21:1-5:

“As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away. This took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’ ”

Matthew quotes from the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9, applying it to Jesus: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Why a colt and not a powerful horse? Well, Bible history tells us that leaders rode horses if they rode to war, but donkeys if they came in peace. First Kings 1:33 mentions Solomon riding a donkey on the day he was recognized as the new king of Israel. King David gave him is own donkey to show he had been appointed by David as the new King.

Other instances of leaders (the judges of Israel) riding donkeys are Judges 5:10; 10:4; 12:14; and 2 Samuel 16:2. Of greater significance is the mention of a donkey in Zechariah 9:9-10 which fits the description of a king who would be “righteous and having salvation, gentle.” Rather than riding to conquer, this king would enter in peace. In Israel, riding into a city on a donkey was a sign of a ruler coming in peace.

That is why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a colt, to fulfil the prophecy that the Messiah would come into Jerusalem in peace, upon the back of a colt, the foal of a donkey.

The article in the link below says this:

“The horse has usually symbolized times of war, but the donkey, times of peace. In Old Testament times this was especially true from the days of King Solomon. Rich people and important people rode on this animal (as did the Judges and their sons). White donkeys were used by persons of high rank. "Speak, ye that ride on white asses, ye that sit in judgment, and walk by the way" (Judges 5:10). These white donkeys are used today in many places in the East by people of high social standing. They are usually larger animals and are supposed to be swifter.”

With regard to Jesus entering Jerusalem on the back of a donkey colt, the article makes this comment:

“Here the use by JESUS of the donkey was to signify that He was Prince of Peace, rather than Captain of an army, when He entered the Holy City [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Source: https://www.bible-history.com/links.php?cat=39&sub=442&cat_name=Manners+%26+Customs&subcat_name=Donkeys

  • “Well, history tells us that in the Middle East leaders rode horses if they rode to war, but donkeys if they came in peace.”—Please source your assertion. Dec 2, 2018 at 17:43
  • The answer provided three sources to back up the answerer's claim that Middle East leaders rode on donkeys when coming in peace. All three sources dealt with areas in the Middle East a long time ago. In some other areas some kings may have preferred more spectacular modes of transport - elephants, even - but the sources given in Lesley's answer deal with the exact question as it pertains to why Jesus chose this donkey as a symbol of peace. A separate question re. your query could be asked in the History section.
    – Anne
    Dec 3, 2018 at 9:37
  • Although history describes how conquering kings would make a triumphal entry riding on a powerful horse, it’s hard to imagine Alexander the Great, Mark Anthony or Nero ever making an entrance astride a humble donkey. I will edit my answer to make clear that I speak about Bible history and that in Israel, riding into a city on a donkey was a sign of a ruler coming in peace. I have also quoted the link to one source of information regarding the use of donkeys.
    – Lesley
    Dec 3, 2018 at 16:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.