The herd of swine (Lk 8:32-8:32)

“Now a large herd

Of swine

Was feeding

On a hillside mountain.

The demons

Begged Jesus

To let them

Enter these pigs.

Thus,

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?

The unclean spirits enter the swine (Mk 5:13-5:13)

“Thus,

Jesus gave them

Permission.

The unclean spirits

Came out.

They entered

The swine.

The herd,

Numbering about two thousand,

Rushed down

The steep bank

Into the sea.

They were drowned

In the sea.”

 

καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς. καὶ ἐξελθόντα τὰ πνεύματα τὰ ἀκάθαρτα εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους, καὶ ὥρμησεν ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, ὡς δισχίλιοι, καὶ ἐπνίγοντο ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ.

 

All three synoptic gospels, Matthew, chapter 8:32 and Luke, chapter 8:32-33, and Mark here, have Jesus cast out the demons into the herd of pigs nearby, with slight nuances in each story.  Jesus then accommodated or allowed what these evil spirits had wanted (καὶ ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτοῖς).  Then the unclean spirits demons left the demoniac (καὶ ἐξελθόντα τὰ πνεύματα τὰ ἀκάθαρτα).  They entered the herd of pigs (εἰσῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους).  This herd then rushed down a steep bank into the sea (καὶ ὥρμησεν ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν).  Mark was the only synoptic to mention the number of pigs, 2,000 (ὡς δισχίλιοι), who were drowned or died in the sea (καὶ ἐπνίγοντο ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ).  There is one problem, pigs can swim, so that some might have survived.  Perhaps the unfamiliarity of these Jewish authors with pigs may have led to this harsh ending.  Anyway, the 2,000-pig herd with the unclean spirits ran into the sea off a steep bank and perished.

The dragon and Daniel (Dan 14:23-14:26)

“Now in that place,

There was a great dragon

That the Babylonians revered.

The king said

To Daniel.

‘You cannot deny

That this is a living god.

So,

Worship him!’

Daniel said.

‘I will worship

The Lord,

My God.

He is the living God.

But give me permission!

O king!

I will kill the dragon

Without a sword,

Without a club.’

The king said.

‘I give you permission.’”

Daniel now will take on the great nameless dragon god, that the king and the Babylonians revered. The king pointed out that this dragon was surely a living god worthy of worship. Daniel once again announced that he was only going to worship the Lord, his living God. However, he wanted permission from the king to kill the dragon, without using a club or a sword. The king then gave him permission to do so.

The plan to kill Ishmael (Jer 40:15-40:16)

“Then Johanan

The son of Kareah,

Spoke secretly

To Gedaliah

At Mizpah.

‘Please let me go!

Let me kill Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah!

No one else will know.

Why should he

Take your life?

Then all the Judeans

Who are gathered

Around you

Would be scattered.

The remnant of Judah

Would perish.’

But Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam,

Said to Johanan,

The son of Kareah.

‘Do not do such a thing!

You are telling a lie

About Ishmael.’”

Johanan toke Governor Gedaliah aside and spoke to him secretly. He wanted permission to kill Ishmael before he was able to kill the new governor. He said that no would have to know about it. Why should Governor Gedaliah die? If he died, then all the Judeans gathered at Mizpah would scatter. The small remnant of Judeans there would all die. However, Governor Gedaliah responded to Johanan in no uncertain terms. Johanan was not to kill Ishmael, because this story about the plot to kill him was a lie. Thus Governor Gedaliah dismissed the warning against his life.

The wisdom of the Lord (Sir 15:18-15:20)

“Great is the wisdom of the Lord.

He is mighty in power.

He sees everything.

His eyes are on those who fear him.

He knows every human action.

He has not commanded any one to be wicked.

He has not given anyone permission to sin.”

The Lord God has great wisdom and mighty power. He sees everything as he watches over those who fear him. He knows their every action. He definitely has not commanded us to be wicked. He has never given anyone permission to sin.

John wants help with baggage (1 Macc 9:35-9:36)

“Jonathan sent his brother John as the leader of the multitude. John begged the Nabateans, who were his friends, for permission to store with them the great amount of baggage that they had. However, the family of Jambri from Medeba came out and seized John and all that he had. They departed with it.”

Jonathan wanted the Nabateans to help him store his baggage. These Nabateans were southeast of Palestine, somehow connected to the Edomites in the area between the Red Sea and the Euphrates River. However, the family of Jambri seized John, the brother of Jonathan, and took all his baggage since they had a “great amount of baggage.” The Jambri came from Medeba, a city of the Moabites, about 12 miles southeast of the Dead Sea.

The king asks Haman for advice (Esth 6:4-6:10)

The king said.

‘Who is in the court?’

Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows that he had prepared for him. So the king’s servants told him.

‘Haman is there, standing in the court.’

The king said.

‘Let him come in.’

So Haman came in. The king said to him.

‘What shall be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?’

Haman said to himself.

‘Whom would the king wish to honor more than me?’

So Haman said to the king.

‘For the man whom the king wishes to honor,

Let royal robes be brought,

Which the king has worn,

Let him have a horse that the king has ridden.

Put a royal crown on its head.

Let the robes and the horse be handed over

To one of the king’s most noble officials.

Let him robe the man whom the king wishes to honor.

Let him conduct the man on horseback

Through the open square of the city.

Proclaiming before him.

‘Thus shall it be done for the man whom the king wishes to honor.’

Then the king said to Haman.

‘Quickly.

Take the robes and the horse,

As you have said,

Do so to Mordecai who sits at the king’s gate.

Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.’”

In a very interesting turn of events, who should show up as the king was trying to figure out how to reward Mordecai, but his mortal enemy Haman? Haman had been planning to kill Mordecai that very same day as he had come early to the king to get permission to hang Mordecai. Instead, he will end up honoring Mordecai because he thought that he himself was the honoree. When the king asked him how to honor someone, he assumed that he was the one to be honored. Thus he laid out plans to have a royal robe and a royal horse. He even said that a royal official should accompany him. Never did he realize that he was to be the royal official who would accompany Mordecai. What a revolting development for Haman and a reversal of fortune for Mordecai.

Judith reveals the situation of the Israelites (Jdt 11:9-11:15)

“As for Achior’s speech in your council,

We have heard his words.

The people of Bethulia spared him.

He told them all he had said to you.

Therefore, lord and master, do not disregard what he said.

Keep it in your mind.

It is true.

Indeed, our nation cannot be punished.

The sword cannot prevail against them,

Unless they sin against their God.

Now, in order that my lord may not be defeated

That his purpose may not be frustrated,

Death will fall upon them.

A sin has overtaken them,

By which they are about to provoke their God to anger,

When they do what is wrong.

Since their food supply is exhausted,

Their water has almost given out,

They have planned to kill their livestock.

They have determined to use all

That God by his laws has forbidden them to eat.

They have decided to consume

The first fruits of the grain,

The tithes of the wine and oil,

That they had consecrated.

They had set aside for the priests

Who minister in the presence of our God in Jerusalem.

These are things not lawful for any of the people,

Even to touch with their hands.

Since even the people in Jerusalem have been doing this,

They have sent messengers there,

To bring back permission from the council of the elders.

When the response reaches them

They will act upon it.

On that very day,

They will be handed over to you to be destroyed.”

Judith revealed that the people of Bethulia knew everything that Achior had said to him. What he said was true. Only God can defeat them if they sin. However, because of the famine and thirst, they are about to sin. They were going to eat the forbidden foods. They are going to take the first fruits and tithes of wine and oil that had been set aside for the priests, and consume it. They are going to break the law of God. It was forbidden to even touch these things. Now they have sent messengers to Jerusalem to get permission from the elders there. As soon as their response reaches them, they will act on it and destroy themselves.