Mark 5:13

Jesus drives evil spirits out of a man and into a herd of pigs. What’s a herd of pigs doing in Judea? Were there gentile pig farmers, or was it OK for a Jew to own a pig farm? And were there enough Romans around to make owning a pig farm profitable?

The Jews weren’t the only people around. Plenty of others who ate pigs (I assume, because the contemporary explanation of the ancient dietary laws emphasizes separation of Jews from their then-neighbors via restricting foods favored by others).

This miracle took place in the country of the Gadarenes. This was a Greco-Roman area, so there would have been a market for pigs.

Makes sense. Thanks.

Actually, Mark identifies the town as Gerasa*. Matthew changed it to Gerada, probably because Gerasa was 30 miles away from the lake which the pigs were supposed to have jumped into (not only that but it had no less than three rivers blocking the route). Gerada was still 6 miles away from the Sea of Galilee and still had a river in the way, but it was not as badly situated for the credibility of the story as Gerasa. Mark had a lousy understanding of Palestinian geography.

Here’s a map. (look south of the sea of Galilee and yu’ll find Gadara. A little south of that is Gerasa).

Having said all that, both towns were in the region of the Greek inhabited Decapolis, so pigs would not have been out of place.

*The Textus Receptus uses later manuscript sources in which choran ton Gerasenon (“the land of the Gerasenes”) has been redacted to choran ton Gadarenos to make it jibe with Matthew. The older and more reliable manuscripts show the Gerasenon reading. While Gerasa is the correct reading, many English Bible versions, such as the KJV, still retain the Gadrerenos redaction as an artifact of the Received Text.

Thanks for that, Diogenes. After I posted that, with the wiki reference, I started wondering how Mark had managed to get something more or less right about Palestinian geography. Anyway, point remains, in the Decapolis, so no problem with pigs.

Mmm…sacrificed pig.

You would think the evil spirits would ruin the taste…
Also I always wondered what the poor pig herder did to deserve to loose his pigs to a bunch of evil spirits. Never thought that was very nice of Jesus considering he could have done anything, why did he have to kill the guys pigs?

It was a request of the demons, not a command of Jesus:

But the reason that Jesus did that may be revealed here:

The demons’ request was used by Jesus to show the population what had happened to the man that was demonized.

Still don’t see what the poor pig herder did to deserve having his pigs drowned. Back then a herd of pigs probably represented all his earthly wealth. How would you like to lose all your wealth merely to prove a relatively minor point? And since the pig herder probably was not a jew, I mean how would you like to lose your wealth to prove an atheists point.

Why, Jews? Why? Why do you hate piggies so much?

I think Jews and muslims are self loathing cannibals. They probably all got rickets and mad cow disease in their prehistory in Africa and the taboo stuck, long pig and all that. The pig reminds them of human flesh in some weird genetic memory.


Well, kuru, and if anyone outside of some Pacific islands had ever originated the phrase “long pig”. And if… Actually, you might be better advised to drop this whole hypothesis and come up with something more plausible involving seventeen-toed mauve aliens from the planet Neptune. :dubious:

Uh… what? Is that an airplane going over my head?

Mmmmm, deviled ham!

It wasn’t just the Jews. The Muslims have an injunction against pig. So did the ancient Egyptians, and, IIRC, the Sumerians, too. Notice that they all live in the Middle East.

One rationale that has been written about it is that Pork was unhealthy there. Moses Maimonides suggested that, implying that it had something to do with the heat and vapors it generated. More recently, people have suggestyed it might have something to do with trichinosis.

as ever, I cite Marvin Harris, who has suggested in books and articles* that the cause is something completely different – that Pigs compete with people for food and resources, and that caring for them in that environment (where they must be kept cooled by mud wallows, or they die) was too labor-intensive, and used up even more resources (this is he quick version, that doesn’t do the theory justice. see Harris’ books for details), and that all those people experienced the same problems, leading them all to formulate the no-pigs rule.
Nevertheless, pigs fatten quickly on their feed, and are nutritious (if you cook it long enough to kill the parasites), so there’s certainly a temptation to raise pigs and eat it. Hence the prohibitory passages in the OT and in the Koran. You don’t need prohibitions on things people aren’t likely to do**. And it explains why pigs were being raised there – not everyone had such prohibitions. Especially those who came from elsewhere, or whose ancestotrs did. Pigs aren’t the heavy tax on resources in Greece that they are in the Middle East (As Harris points out, pig consumption is actually a religious duty in some places in the world, like parts of Polynesia).

*Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches, or Good to Eat (also punlished as The Sacred Cow and the Abominable Pig).

** At least until our current litigious society. “Not Intended as a Life-Saving Device”

Maybe he had demon insurance?

Whether the destruction of the pigs was Jesus’s “fault” or not, it may explain verse 17 (immediately following the verses kanicbird quoted): “Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”

A bigger message in those verses, Jesus (God) allowing the self direction (free will) of the demons. What the demons thought would be a good idea, just lead them to the same result when the pigs died anyway. (demons are ‘uncomfortable’ when outside a body Matthew 12:43 & Luke 11:24). Not that the demons had any chance anyway, but it shows their efforts are ultimately in vain.

The later verses indicate the choice that the population made, they chose to follow their own desires instead of the miracle that God had preformed.

The story does not say what happened to the pig farmer, I’m sure he was very upset, perhaps God replaced it, perhaps not. The pigs did belong to God anyway.

Homer Simpson: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Lisa, honey, are

saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?

Lisa Simpson: No.

Homer Simpson: Ham?

Lisa Simpson: No.

Homer Simpson: Pork chops?

Lisa Simpson: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!

Homer Simpson: [Chuckles] Yeah, right Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

But Jesus didn’t drown the pigs, nor direct them to be drowned. The demons drowned them. So that wasn’t done “to prove a point,” unless the point was “demons don’t like to be inside pigs.”