(חֲזַיר, chazir; Sept. υς, ὕειος, σῦς; New Test. χοῖρος). Allusion will be found in the Bible to these animals, both in their domestic and in their wild state. See Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 145; Wood, Bible Animals, p. 292.

1. The flesh of swine was forbidden as food by the Levitical law (Le 11:7; De 14:8). The abhorrence which the Jews as a nation had of it may be inferred from Isa 65:4, where some of the idolatrous people are represented as "eating swine's flesh," and as having the "broth of abominable things in their vessels;" see also 66:3, 17, and 2 Macc. 6:18, 19, in which passage we read that Eleazar, an aged scribe, when compelled by Antiochus to receive in his mouth swine's flesh, "spit it forth, choosing rather to die gloriously than to live stained with such an abomination." The use of swine's flesh was forbidden to the Egyptian priests, to whom, says Sir G. Wilkinson (Anc. Egypt. 1, 322), "above all meats it was particularly obnoxious" (see Herodotus, 2, 47; Elian, De Nat. Anim. 10:16; Josephus, Apion, 2, 14), though it was occasionally eaten by the people. The Arabians also were disallowed the use of swine's flesh (see Pliny, H. N. 8:52; Koran, 2, 175), as were also the Phoenicians, Ethiopians, and other nations of the East.

"Swine." topical outline.

No other reason for the command to abstain from swine's flesh is given in the law of Moses beyond the general one which forbade any of the mammalians food which did not literally fulfill the terms of the definition of a "clean animal," viz. that it was to be a cloven-footed ruminant. The pig, therefore, though it divides the hoof, but does not chew the cud, was to be considered unclean; and consequently, inasmuch as, unlike the ass and the horse in the time of the Kings, no use could be made of the animal when alive, the Jews did not breed swine (Lactant. Instit. 4:17). It is, however, probable that dietetical considerations may have influenced Moses in his prohibition of swine's flesh. It is generally believed that its use in hot countries is liable to induce cutaneous disorders; hence in a people liable to leprosy the necessity for the observance of a strict rule. "The reason of the meat not being eaten was its unwholesomeness, on which account it was forbidden to the Jews and Moslems" (Sir G. Wilkinson's note in Rawlinson's Herodotus, 2, 47). Ham. Smith, however (Kitto, Cyclop. s.v.), maintains that this reputed unwholesomeness of swine's flesh has been much exaggerated; and recently a writer in Colburn's News Monthly Magazine (July 1, 1862, p. 266) has endorsed this opinion. Other conjectures for the reason of the prohibition, which are more curious than valuable, may be seen in Bochart (Hieroz. 1, 806 sq.). Calüstratus (apud Plutarch. Sympos. 4:5) suspected that the Jews did not use swine's flesh for the same reason which, he says, influenced the Egyptians, viz. that this animal was sacred, inasmuch as by turning up the earth with its snout it first taught men the art of ploughing (see Bochart, Fieroz. 1, 806, and a dissertation by Cassel, entitled De Judcebrum Odio et Abstinentia a Porcina ejusque Causis [Magdeb.]; also Michaelis, Comment. on the Laws of Moses, art. 203, 3, 230, Smith's transl.). Although the Jews did not breed swine during the greater period of their existence as a nation, there can be little doubt that the heathen nations of Palestine used the flesh as food. See Plumptre, Bible Educator, 1, 280 sq.

At the time of our Lord's ministry it would appear that the Jews occasionally violated the law of Moses with respect to swine's flesh. Whether "the herd of swine" into which the devils were allowed to enter (Mt 8:32; Mr 5; Mr 13) were the property of the Jewish or Gentile inhabitants of Gadara does not appear from the sacred narrative; but that the practice of keeping swine did exist among some of the Jews seems clear from the enactment of the law of Hyrcanus, ne cui porcum alere liceret" (Grotius, Ann. of. ad Matthew loc. cit). Allusion is made it 2Pe 2:22, to the fondness which swine have for "wallowing in the mire;" this, it appears, was a proverbial expression, with which may be compared the amica luto sus" of Horace (Ep. 1, 2,26). Solomon's comparison of a "jewel of gold in a swine's snout" to a "fair woman without discretion" (Pr 11:22), and the expression of our Lord, "neither cast ye your pearls before swine," are so obviously intelligible as to render any remarks unnecessary. The transaction of the destruction of the herd of swine already alluded to, like the cursing of the barren fig-tree, has been the subject of most unfair cavil: it is well answered by Trench (Miracles, p. 173), who observes that "a man is of more value than many swine;" besides which it must be remembered that it is not necessary to suppose that our Lord sent the devils into the swine. He merely permitted them to go, as Aquinas says, "quod autem porci in mare prsecipitati sunt non fuit operatio divini miraculi, sed operatio demoanum e permissibne divina;" and if these Gadarene villagers were Jews and owned the swine, they were rightly punished by the loss of that which they ought not to have had at all. See Tacit. Hist. 5, 4; Juven. Sat. 14:98; Macrob. Sat. 2, 4; Josephus, Ant. 13:8, 2; Philo, Opp. 2, 531; Mishna, Baba Kama, 7:7; Talm. Hieros. Shekal. fol. 47, 3; Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. p. 315 sq.; Otho, Lex. Rab. p. 530 sq.

Bible concordance for SWINE.

2. The wild boar of the wood (Ps 80:13) is the common Sus scrofa which is frequently met with in the woody parts of Palestine, especially in Mount Tabor. The allusion in the psalm to the injury the wild boar does to the vineyards is well borne out by fact. "It is astonishing what havoc a wild boar is capable of effecting during a single night; what with eating and trampling underfoot, he will destroy a vast quantity of grapes" (Hartley, Researches in Greece, p. 234). SEE BOAR.

Definition of swine

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.