Disclaimer: “In keeping with our Christmas theme we have included this article about donkeys…as we are a donkey/wild burro friendly group. We, however, do not endorse nor know much about the rescue groups mentioned, here. Our long time Donkey/Wild Burro Lady has been Marjorie Farabee who sits on our Wild Horse Freedom Federation‘s Board of Directors as the Director of Wild Burro Affairs. But the more we can get the word out about the plight of donkeys/wild burros perhaps we can perhaps stop the total extinction of the few remaining burros on our public lands.” ~ R.T.
Despite accepted lore that Mary rode a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the Bible does not specifically state how she made the journey. The only place where the trip is mentioned is Luke 2:4-5.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
The day of the Lord shall itself bring it to pass as the Lord will. And he saddled the ass, and set her upon it; and his son led it, and Joseph followed.
Perhaps that is the source of the image of Mary riding a donkey to Bethlehem. If not, common sense and reasoning might lead one to the same conclusion when considering other less likely means of transportation for a pregnant woman and an elderly man, such as walking or riding a camel.
It is simply beautiful.
Irrespective of the Bible’s lack of detail about how Mary traveled to Bethlehem, donkeys feature prominently throughout the holy book. Perhaps no story is as poignant as Jesus riding a donkey to Jerusalem. (References to donkeys in the Bible, here and here.)
Donkeys are humble, faithful animals that have served humanity for centuries. And in service to mankind, donkeys have often been treated poorly, especially in certain quarters. Jewish and Israel News reports:
In the Bible, donkeys and mules are ridden by kings, prophets, and judges, used as metaphors for either humble or wild people, and have specific laws pertaining to their care. Today, thousands of equines (donkeys, mules, and horses), mostly with Arab owners, are used in Israel and the Palestinian territories to transport their masters, carry produce from the fields and to market, and for recreational riding.
Until recently most of these animals faced great harm…Suffering in silence, they had no organization to rescue them.
Throughout the Middle East (and in other parts of the Islamic world), donkeys are tortured in all manner of ways including being lit on fire, beheaded, brutally beaten, murdered for “fun,” used by men for bestiality sex, starved to death, and worked beyond their physical capacity until they literally drop dead in the street. They have also been loaded with explosives as a way to murder Israelis. (See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.)
But now there are organizations in Israel that rescue and care for abused donkeys. May God bless these precious animals and the people who give them a safe place to recover from their horrific wounds.
PEGASUS was founded in 1993 by Zvika Tamuz, who states: “In biblical times, the donkey was honourable. Now he is something that can be kicked around. I am trying to give them back their honour. They say the Messiah will come on a donkey. Until then, I will take care of them.”
The Jewish Chronicle online reports that Tamuz has received death threats from disgruntled owners and that his sanctuary is protected by nearly a dozen guard dogs. The article notes that Tamuz once rescued a donkey while under sniper fire, that he coaxed another donkey through a minefield to safety, and that he has rescued donkeys set on fire.
Some have called Tamuz a “miracle worker” as he has rescued and nurtured back to physical and mental health donkeys that have been subjected to unimaginable forms of neglect and cruelty. Tamuz seems to possess a depth of feeling for these creatures that enables him to do the impossible in the face of limited resources.
To learn more about this exceptional man and his amazing organization, see here, here, here, and here for media coverage. Link to Pegasus videos, here, with link to short video overview of the organization, here.
SAFE HAVEN 4 DONKEYS IN THE HOLY LAND is another donkey rescue in Israel. Formed in 2000, it has a sanctuary for abandoned or abused donkeys and also provides free veterinary care via a mobile clinic. This year an offshoot organization was formed called Lucy’s Sanctuary for Holy Land Donkeys. (Video about the organization, here.)