For some strange reason, I used to hear or read 1 Kings 19:19-21 and picture poor Elisha in a field by himself behind a plow pulled by a team of twelve oxen. Every time I heard the passage, I would think to myself, "That's a lot of oxen to be pulling a plow!" Now it seems clear to me that Elisha was out there with at least eleven other guys, each pushing a plow that was being pulled by a pair of oxen yoked together. Elisha, as the son of the owner of the field, was not only supervising the others, he was working alongside them.
The thought that Elisha would slaughter a whole team of twelve oxen always seemed exorbitant and, yes, a little wasteful, especially with property that probably was not his, but his father's. However, in my new understanding, when he slaughtered his yoke of oxen, it was one twelfth of the total that his father had commited to the working of the field, and the people that ate from the sacrifice were the servants that he was supervising.