[Isa 1:2-4 ESV] (2) Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the LORD has spoken: "Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. (3) The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." (4) Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.

[1Co 10:11 ESV] (11) Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

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What specific "crib" should Israel have recognized and did not?


2 Answers 2


Berean Study Bible Isaiah 1:3

 The ox knows    its owner, 
and the donkey   its master’s manger, 
but Israel       does not know; 
My people        do not understand.”

its master’s
בְּעָלָ֑יו (bə·‘ā·lāw)
Noun - masculine plural construct | third person masculine singular
Strong's 1167: A master, a husband, owner

אֵב֣וּס (’ê·ḇūs)
Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's 18: A crib, feeding trough

Isaiah compares the Israelites to animals. Animals recognize their owner and even the particular manger but the Israelites do not recognize their master, their God. This alludes to Luke 2:12

This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.

The Jews did not recognize Jesus' authority. Jesus used a similar animal metaphor in Matthew 23:37

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

  • This answer has helped me appreciate just how unnatural it is for a donkey to not be inexorably drawn to his food supply or a baby chick to the shelter of their mother's wings. It makes it seem so unreasonable to not so feed and seek repair to that safe place. It is a harsh rebuke.
    – Ruminator
    May 3, 2021 at 17:02
  • 1
    Exactly. Isaiah is very rich with Messianic allusions.
    – user35953
    May 3, 2021 at 17:04
  • Feel free to use my photo in your answer to explain the NT perspective.
    – Ruminator
    May 3, 2021 at 17:07
  • Please help me understand. Is this correct? 1. Jesus is the Donkey/Crib/Manger. 2. Jews did not recognize him. 3. Isaiah compared the Jews to Donkey with their relation to God right? 4. Were the Jews expect to recognize the Donkey.
    – Yeddu
    May 4, 2021 at 5:58
  • Are you familiar with Hebrew parallelisms?
    – user35953
    May 4, 2021 at 13:32
  • It is a wooden trough where the donkey's food is kept every day
  • The farmer puts the food for the donkey in the same place
  • The donkey after its work for the day eagerly gets back to the crib to eat its food.
  • Here God is saying the donkey knows how to get back to its crib but Israel does not know

God bless

  • IE: a "manger"?
    – Ruminator
    May 3, 2021 at 16:32
  • If Israel is the donkey, then what is the crib/trough/manger? What specifically is the metaphor? What did it represent?
    – Ruminator
    May 3, 2021 at 16:41
  • 1
    A brutish animal like a donkey knows where to get back to (food for its sustenance) but Isreal does not come back to God for its sustenance,
    – Yeddu
    May 3, 2021 at 16:45
  • A little vague, but the idea. I hinted at my own understanding of what I see as the prophet's prophetic play on words is from an NT perspective.
    – Ruminator
    May 3, 2021 at 16:47

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