Top Ten Reasons Why There Were Pigs In Gerasenes

Remember the story of Jesus casting demons out of the crazy man in Luke 8? The demons freak out that Jesus is there because it’s not time for them to be tormented by Him yet. They ask Him if they can enter some nearby pigs, and He lets them. It’s a weird story, but it’s in the Gospels a couple of times, so we have to accept it as truth.

(Sidebar: During the whole Rob Bell “Love Wins” craze, I had a friend who claimed to believe the Bible, but denied that demons exist. He says that the demon expulsions are just unenlightened men of the first century trying to explain illnesses being healed. I asked him how could it be that Jesus carried on an intelligent, protracted, two-way conversation with an “illness” after the “illness” was excised out of the man. The conversation showed that the “illness” had a will, a coherent sense of past, present and future, knowledge of the supremacy and authority of Jesus Christ, and a compulsion to worship Jesus. I don’t know of any “illness” that can do that. He changed the subject. *sigh*)

There’s another interesting question in the sidelines: if Jews detested pigs, why were there pigs in the area?

The Bible doesn’t say. So I figure we could speculate a little and see where this goes. To that end, may I present…

Top Ten Reasons Why There Were Pigs in Gerasenes (Lk 8 )

10 ) It was the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, the area of the Decapolis. Lots of non-Jews lived there.

9 ) They were wild Ferrel hogs feeding near the cliffs. The nearby shepherds were sheep shepherds, not hog herders.

8 ) Their pork was kosher, kept out of the camp for 7 days, and circumcised. This made them fit for consumption. Besides, it was Christmas!

7 ) The pigs weren’t for eating. They were ..ummm ..for producing manure to …fertilize crops.

6 ) There were lots of laws they didn’t keep. Why should this surprise us? “You received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it!” (Acts 7:53)

5 ) They weren’t real Jews – They were JINOs!

4 ) As R. Sol Urbin Ohel Moed teaches us, “Technically, the greek word for ‘swine’ is ‘choiros’, which many people think means ‘swine’, but in the Akkadian, and so with the Syriac, it really refers to an indigenous type of little lamb owned by sea-faring peasants, suitable for pets, grazing, shishkabob and MLT (Mutton, Lettuce and Tomato) sandwiches.”

3 ) “Pigs?? What pigs?? Oh, you mean THOSE pigs!! Ha, ha.. yeah… lemme ummm.. tell ya about those pigs..”

2 ) Like any rational redneck, they smelled their Gentile neighbors having a pork BBQ and said “DAAAANG, Hoss! That sure does smell good! We gotta git us some!”

1 ) [your turn. why do you think there were pigs there?]

Post your suggestions below.

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24 comments to Top Ten Reasons Why There Were Pigs In Gerasenes

  • I’ve heard that the apostles and Christ may have traveled to Spain. Pork was a prevalent food staple and as you travel near the gates of Gibraltar the terrain matches the craggy cliffs as well as the placement of aboveground as well as natural cave tombs which show signs of living inhabitants at some point. Also oral tradition in this area talks of Christ coming and preaching the gospel there but being asked to leave shortly afterwards. Also in a side note there’s a rock with what looks like a human footprint in it, it is said this is Christ’s footprint. But just a theory.

    • admin

      Very interesting. I’ve not heard that theory before.

      Paul talked about going to Spain in Rom 15:24-28, so part of this is certainly within the realm of possibilities. And if I remember correctly, I think there is some tradition about other Apostles going to Spain.

      I would, however, be a little skeptical of stories about Jesus Himself visiting Spain. He was clear that His mission was not to the Gentiles and Samaritans, but rather, to the lost tribe of Israel. (Matt 15:24)

  • Charles Pye

    The story is about the power of Jesus and, even his name, to rid humans of demons and also to show that his power was for Gentiles as well. The Garasenes were not Jewish but the country was close to Galilee and Jesus had been to that side of the sea before. So why pigs? Because the writer of the story wanted to make sure that everyone would know that the Garasenes were not Jewish.

    The stories in the gospels may or may not have happened but, regardless, they are told in a way that makes a theological point and were never intended to be understood as factual history.

    • admin

      Thanks Charles.

      I’m wondering…
      * If one believes demons exists, why invent a false story to make the point that Jesus has power over demons? Surely He could have demonstrated real power over real demons, right?
      * And if one doesn’t believe demons exist ..same question: why invent a false story to make the point that Jesus has power over demonic creatures that don’t exist? (we don’t invent stories to let people know Jesus has power over the Tooth Fairy, do we?)

      In either case, the “theological point” is not helped by a fictitious story.

      But there are many reasons why I’m not keen on the idea of the Gospels as non-historical.
      – They’re written as factual history. Therefore they should be taken as such.
      – Many of the events are corroborated by other authors. These authors were Biblical (Peter, James, Paul, Hebrews, etc) and to a lesser extent, non-biblical (Josephus, Pliny, etc). Since these events were “supposedly” witnessed by hundreds (and even thousands of people), it would have been very easy for 1st century critics to debunk it as non-historical. Additionally, it would have been foolish for the Apostles to claim hundreds and thousands of witnesses (1 Cor 15:1-6).
      – The church fathers treated them as literal history.
      – Over the centuries, many scribes spent an enormous amount of time, energy and resources copying them, thereby lending credibility to them.

      Is there actually a real reason why the Gospel accounts shouldn’t be taken as factual history?


  • Peter Johnson

    Them there pigs were trying to hog Jesus’ limelight☺!

  • Peter Johnson

    Them there pigs were going to try to ‘hog the limelight’that Jesus was famous for but ended up being lost in more ways than one! ☺

  • Anne Marsilje

    Jesus was wise to use what God gives us, for a teachable moment. Swine are considered unclean and unholy in the Jewish tradition, and Jesus was Jewish.This miracle, witnessed by his disciples, also shows Jesus’s wisdom in teaching the Word of God among non Jewish people.

  • debra wallace

    Jesus was Jewish and He said He came for the lost sheep of Israel…the 10 cities of Decapolis were Roman cities but also contained some Jews who were most likely not keeping the Torah or mixing paganism with Judaism…..Romans had many pagan gods and sacrifice pigs especially a certain black pig…..I believe the man with the unclean spirits was a Jew….a Jew would never hang out in a tomb because that would make him unclean according to Jewish law…..satan probably got a kick out of a Jew being forced by his demons to live in one….interesting that unclean spirits went into a unclean animal according to Judaism………what a sight to see and then told by to go and tell what happened to you and to those pigs to your fellow Jewish friends and family who may not be keeping the Torah…..just my opinion.

  • jackie cargile

    If pigs were considered unclean then would the demons not wanted unclean to possess. I would think that it shows that demons would enter anything that could be unclean including a human being. Jesus was teaching the way to live life so demons would not have a place in us to possess. I listen to a pyschiatrist that said he never believed in demon possession until a exorcist ask him to work with him. He seen himself demon possessed people that had extrodinary powers. He also said after much work with people that was possess that most of them dealt in occult practices. I think Jesus was trying to give to all the sight to see the wrong things in this world we can overcome by walking with Him and His Way of life. Demons do not care about the person they possess hence all the cutting and harm the man did to himself. Jesus came to teach a better way of life that you could have abundantly!

  • Cindi

    Herod had massive building projects all over Israel. Did you know that one of the 7 ingredients in underwater concrete was animal blood? And from what I have heard, preferrably pig blood. It’s true!

  • […] “Top ten reasons why there were pigs in Gerasenes,” (Linear Concepts, 17 October 2012), […]

  • Eric

    There’s got to be a a good one about…. Instead of Jesus turning water into wine….(wait for it) turning the swine to the water!

  • Em

    This was a Gentile town so they had pigs. You know that because the people tell Him to leave. They don’t care about about the demon possessed men, they want their pigs back, (My opinion) Jesus was raised with sacrifice so animals were thought of for food, not so much as pets like today. My question is:
    What happened to the demons when the pigs died?
    Wasn’t this just a temporary fix to a bigger problem?
    How and why did this happen in the first place?
    Will the demons come back?
    Since I believe the word of God is our playbook for life, what is Jesus telling us?

  • Mammyof4


  • Marty

    One Bible expositor said the pigs the demons sought refuge in were black. There was a logic in this. Demonic forces seem to be territorial; i.e., they have assigned areas of domain. These demons of the Gadarene Demoniac wanted to stay in this “territory” where worship of Baal was predominant. They were wise enough to figure out if Jesus in His authority over them would allow them to exit of their choosing, they would select the black pigs often used in sacrifice to Baal. In turn, they would have a vehicle wherewith to stay in their “territory”. ‘Problem was, not even the pigs could withstand the madness these demonic forces manifested. One can only imagine the insanity the demoniac suffered at the hands of these evil forces. Note that Jesus never touched the demon-inhabited individual: He merely spoke to him, commanding the evil to depart. Since demons are by most accounts fallen angels to begin with, they already know to Whom they are ultimately accountable. When He speaks, they obey. Not by will, but because they have no choice other than to do as the Administrator of all creation commands them.
    I cannot offer you a proof-text for this observation. It is a logical thesis based on historic accounts (Josephus, etc) Feel free to challenge this thought or pursue it from another angle. Being teachable is a great avenue for learning!

  • To feed the spectators who came there purposely to see those crazy chain braking tomb dwelling lunatics! The Spectators probably from all over the world!

  • Jayne Stewart

    My research shows swine kill poisonous snakes. If you eat a swine/hog that has killed eaten a poisonous snake and you eat that hog, you will be poisoned and die. I would have wanted a herd of swine had I been an Israelite in the desert.

  • Somewhere I read that that region actually raised pigs and worshipped them or considered them as idols so study about the region and style of worship for that region.

  • James Simmons

    Swine there because they could eat pork, just not while it is representing a clean sacrifice, which would be representing Jesus as the real sacrifice not yet available until Jesus actually came and died for all of our sins naturally. SO Jesu said later in the NT, that meats going in the mouth does not defile because we excrete it out in the draught, solid and liquids, so physically our body cleans itself if there were toxins, and It is whatever comes out of the mind, is what taints a person, whatever he or she thinks. Food cant affect our salvation, nor disqualify us from being saved.Pork might not be very healthy,but as long as its USDA approved and deemed good by health inspectors from feeder hogs tat eat corn to clean the mess out of them of the last few bowel movements, then you should be good to go. take a dump and be

  • Tracey

    Hello, I don’t know the real answer but I have heard from others that Jesus has authority over any demonic presence and there were many in this man (other Gospel says two men), so it clearly shows Jesus Power and Authority and that is probably the main point to show the people and the demon possessed at that time that it doesn’t matter how many of you there are your not staying and your leaving now because I say so and you can’t do anything and because I say so you can go into them pigs because you are unclean, so it was a demonstration for all, including his Disciples who were with him, I do believe that Jesus went there for that purpose because of his Love for us, Jesus knows why He did it, maybe one day He will tell us or not ?

  • Justin Rutledge

    Eating swine was a sin. The swine were destroyed, so was Jesus being destructive to these poor pig farmers. A good explanation to this is the following…..If you heard that a boat load of illegal drugs was destroyed in the water, would your reaction be, “oh those poor farmers that lost a boatload of drugs?”

    • admin

      Since this took place on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, it could very well have been Gentile pig farmers. (Gentiles lived there). Gentiles did not have a prohibition on eating pigs. Or farming pigs.

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