The demonic pigs die in the sea (Mt 8:32-8:32)

“Jesus said to them.

‘Go!’

Thus,

The demons came out.

They entered the swine.

The whole herd

Rushed down

The steep bank

Into the sea.

They perished in the waters.”

 

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ὑπάγετε. οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες ἀπῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους· καὶ ἰδοὺ ὥρμησεν πᾶσα ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν, καὶ ἀπέθανον ἐν τοῖς ὕδασιν.

 

All three synoptic gospels, Mark, chapter 5:13 and Luke, chapter 8:33, and Matthew here, have Jesus cast out the demons into the herd of pigs nearby, with slight nuances in each story.  Jesus then accommodated these evil spirits.  He told them to leave the humans and go into the swine or pigs (καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Ὑπάγετε.).  Then the demons left the humans (οἱ δὲ ἐξελθόντες) and entered the herd of pigs (ἀπῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους ἀπῆλθον εἰς τοὺς χοίρους).  This herd then rushed down a steep bank into the sea (καὶ ἰδοὺ ὥρμησεν πᾶσα ἡ ἀγέλη κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν) where they died in the water (καὶ ἀπέθανον ἐν τοῖς ὕδασιν).  There is one problem, pigs can swim, so some might have survived.  Perhaps the unfamiliarity of this Jewish authors with pigs may have led to this harsh ending.  Anyway, the pig herd, without a particular size here, ran into the sea off a steep bank.

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Pestilence (Ezek 14:19-14:20)

“‘Or if I send

A pestilence

Into that land,

I would pour out

My wrath

Upon it

With blood,

To cut off

Humans

With animals

From it.

Even if

Noah,

Daniel,

Job,

Were in that land,

As I live,

They would save

Neither son

Nor daughter.

They would save

Only their own lives

By their righteousness.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Once again, we have the same concept of limited human power. If Yahweh sent a pestilence to the land, the humans and animals would die. Even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in that land, they would not be able to save their sons or daughters. They would only be able to save their own lives by their own righteousness. Individual righteousness brought individual salvation. The idea of group salvation seems to be diminishing.

Supreme power of Yahweh (Isa 45:11-45:13)

“Thus says Yahweh!

The Holy One of Israel!

It’s Maker!

‘Will you question me

About my children?

Will you command me

Concerning the work of my hands?

I made the earth.

I created humankind upon it.

It was my hands

That stretched out the heavens.

I commanded their entire host.

I have aroused Cyrus in righteousness.

I will make all his paths straight.

He shall build my city.

He shall set my exiles free,

Not for a price or a reward.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

There is no doubt that this is an oracle of Yahweh, the Most Holy One of Israel, and its maker, here in Second Isaiah. Yahweh was defending his choice of Cyrus. Why would any of his children question him? Why should they say anything about how he is doing things? Yahweh has made the heavens and the earth with all the humans that live here. Thus he has appointed Cyrus in his righteousness. Yahweh is going to level the ground in front of him. In turn, Cyrus was going to build a city and set his exiles free, but he would not receive any money or reward for this action.

Death and the fool (Prov 27:20-27:22)

“Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied.

Human eyes are never satisfied.

The crucible is for silver.

The furnace is for gold.

A person is tested by being praised.

Crush a fool in a mortar with a pestle.

Crush him along with crushed grain.

But his folly will not be driven out.”

First we have the insatiable appetite of death, Sheol and Abaddon, the shadowy underworld where people go after they die. This is compared to human eyes that are never satisfied, always looking for new things. Both silver and gold have to go through a crucible furnace. But instead as in chapter 17, here it is praise and not Yahweh that tests the humans. You can try to get the folly out of a fool by putting him in mortar or crushed grain. A pestle is some kind of grinding machine. However, it will be to no avail. You cannot drive the foolishness out of a fool.