28 But, whether it is an ox or a sheep, you shall not slaughter both it and its young in one day.
What is the reason for this prohibition?
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Lev 22:28 is one of the many examples of humane animal treatment enshrined in the Ceremonial law. Note the comments of these commentators:
(28) Not kill it and her young both in one day.—According to the ancient canons, this prohibition to slaughter the dam and its youngling the same day was not only designed to remind the Israelites of the sacred relations which exist between parent and offspring, but was especially intended to keep up feelings of humanity. Hence the ancient Chaldee version begins this injunction with the words, “My people the children of Israel, as our Father is merciful in heaven, so be ye merciful on earth.”
Leviticus 22:28. The cow or ewe, and her young, in one day — This Maimonides considers as a precaution of humanity, lest the dam should be brought to the altar while she is yet mourning the loss of her young, slain perhaps before her eyes. And, indeed, there is a degree of cruelty in the very idea of imbruing the hand in the blood of both parent and offspring at the same time. Therefore Jonathan, in his paraphrase, considers this as a symbolical precept, to teach the Israelites to be merciful, as their Father in heaven is merciful.
Verse 28. - A lesson of charity is added. A young animal and its mother are not to be killed (though reference is specially made to sacrifice, the general word, not the sacrificial term, for slaying is used) on the same day, just as the kid is not to be seethed in its mother's milk (Exodus 23:19; Deuteronomy 14:21), nor the mother bird be taken from the nest with the young (Deuteronomy 22:6). Thus we see that the feelings of the human heart arc not to be rudely shocked by an act of apparent cruelty, even when no harm is thereby done to the object of that act. Mercy is to be taught by forbidding anything which may blunt the sentiment of mercy in the human heart. Leviticus 22:28
The humane treatment of animals is encouraged in many places in the Bible. Here is a sample:
Our divinely decreed responsibility for animals is part of the human family’s responsibility for the earth’s environment.