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Reference: Swine


Domesticated swine were probably kept in the East in the earliest historic times, when they appear to have been regarded as sacred. In a cave associated with the earliest place of sacrifice at ancient Gezer, in use certainly before b.c. 2000, large quantities of pigs' bones were found. It was the sacrosanct character of swine that lay at the root of the prohibition in Le 11:7 and De 14:8; and the eating of swine's flesh and offering of swine's blood (Isa 65:4; 66:3,17) are clearly regarded as a sign of lapse into paganism. The heathen frequently tried to compel the Jews to eat swine's flesh (e.g. 2Ma 6:18; 2Ma 7:1) and thus renounce their religion. The contempt felt for swine is shown by the proverbs quoted in Pr 11:22; Mt 7:6, and 2Pe 2:22. In the Talmudic writings the pig appears as the emblem of uncleanness, and those who keep swine are regarded with aversion. The same ideas colour the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lu 15:15), where he is depicted as reaching the lowest depth of infamy in being sent to feed swine, and actually being reduced to covet their food; and also the narrative of the demoniacs, where the Gentile inhabitants of Gerasa lose their great herd of swine (Mt 8:30; Mr 5:13; Lu 8:32).

In modern Palestine very much the same feeling survives. Chanz

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