“Now a large herd
On a hillside mountain.
To let them
Enter these pigs.
Jesus gave them permission.”
ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ ἀγέλη χοίρων ἱκανῶν βοσκομένη ἐν τῷ ὄρει· καὶ παρεκάλεσαν αὐτὸν ἵνα ἐπιτρέψῃ αὐτοῖς εἰς ἐκείνους εἰσελθεῖν· καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς.
Luke said that a large herd of swine or pigs (ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ ἀγέλη χοίρων) was feeding (ἱκανῶν βοσκομένη) on a hillside mountain (ἐν τῷ ὄρει). These demons begged Jesus (καὶ παρεκάλεσαν αὐτὸν) to allows them to enter these pigs (ἵνα ἐπιτρέψῃ αὐτοῖς εἰς ἐκείνους εἰσελθεῖν). Thus, Jesus gave them permission (καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς). All three synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 5:11-12, Matthew, chapter 8:30-31, and Luke here, have these demoniacs ask to be sent into this herd of pigs nearby, with slight nuances in each story. Mark said that this incident took place near a mountain or hill. There was a large herd of swine, pigs, or hogs feeding on this hill, since this was gentile or a Greek area that was not Jewish. Then the unclean spirits, not the demoniac, begged, entreated, or beseeched Jesus to send them into these pigs or swine. Matthew said that this large herd of pigs was feeding in a pasture at some distance away from them, since this was a non-Jewish, gentile area. Then the demoniacs begged Jesus to send them into these pigs. It seems like these evil spirits knew that they belonged in the unclean pigs or swine. Have you ever seen a hog farm?
“‘You are my sheep,
Of my pasture.
I am your God.’
Says Yahweh God!”
In a great simple statement, Yahweh proclaimed, via Ezekiel, that the Israelites were his sheep in his pasture. Yahweh was their God. Case closed, end of discussion.
“I will make Rabbah
A pasture for camels.
Ammon shall be
A fold for flocks.
Then you will know
That I am Yahweh.”
Rabbah was the capital of Ammon. Thus the capital city would become a pasture for camels. The current capital of Jordan is Amman where Rabbah once was. Ammon would just become a place for animals to graze. They would learn that Yahweh was in charge.
“All her majesty
From daughter Zion!
That find no pasture.
Before the pursuer.”
All the great majesty that was part of Zion has now departed. Her princes have become like wandering stag deer with no place to pasture. They even fled without any strength before the pursuing Babylonians. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Vav. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.
“Thus says Yahweh.
‘As the wine is found in the cluster,
‘Do not destroy it!
There is a blessing in it!’
So I will do for my servants’ sake.
I will not destroy them all.
I will bring forth descendants
I will bring from Judah
Inheritors of my mountains.
My chosen ones shall inherit it.
My servants shall settle there.
Sharon shall become
A pasture for flocks.
The Valley of Achor shall become
A place for herds to lie down.
My people have sought me.”
Yahweh here makes an exception. He would not destroy all of them. Just like a good cluster of grapes should be saved for wine, so too, he would save the good Israelites. No one wants to destroy a good cluster of grapes because it was considered a blessing. Yahweh was going to bring descendants from the people of Jacob. The people from Judah would inherit the mountains. These chosen servants of Yahweh would inherit this land and live there. Sharon, the northern coastal plain area, would become a place for flocks to pasture, while the arid valley of Achor, west of the Dead Sea, would also be a great place for herds to rest. Yahweh is doing this because some of his people had sought him out.
“My beloved has gone down to his garden.
He has gone down to the beds of spices.
He is pasturing his flock in the gardens.
He gathers lilies.
I am my beloved’s.
My beloved is mine.
He pastures his flock among the lilies.”
Now we come back to the garden that was in chapter 4. Her lover has gone to his garden with all its spices and lilies. He seems to pasture his flock there, but previously the flock was in the mountains with the lilies. She proclaims that she is his and he is mine. This love union seems almost complete.
“If you do not know,
O fairest among women!
Follow in the tracks of the flock.
Pasture your kids
Beside the shepherds’ tents.”
Now the Greek chorus will tell this woman, who is the fairest of them all, where to go. She is the Snow White witch looking in the mirror to find the fairest of them all. She just has to follow the tracks of the flock. She could then pasture her flock next to the shepherd’s tents.
“Know that Yahweh is God.
It is he that made us.
We are his.
We are his people.
We are the sheep of his pasture.”
In case there was any doubt, this psalmist clearly says that Yahweh is their God. He is their creator. They are his people like sheep in a pasture.
“The wicked perish.
The enemies of Yahweh
Are like the glory of the pastures.
They vanish away.”
The wicked are here today, but gone tomorrow. The enemies of Yahweh will perish. They are like the glory in a pasture. Suddenly they are gone like smoke. One day it is here and the next day the smoke has made them vanish. So too the wicked will vanish away.
“Who has let the wild ass go free?
Who has loosed the bonds of the swift ass?
I have given the steppe for its home.
I have given the salt land for its dwelling place.
It scorns the tumult of the city.
It does not hear the shouts of the driver.
It ranges the mountains as its pasture.
It searches after every green thing.”
Once again there is a series of questions and answers about wild animals. This time it is the wild donkeys. Why are they so fast? Yahweh has given them a home in the steppe and the salt land. They live far from the tumult of the city and the shouts of drivers. They pasture in the mountains seeking green things. Somehow Yahweh wants to show the importance of wild animals.