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.

Praise for the Creator God (Am 9:5-9:6)

“Yahweh!

God of hosts!

He touches the earth,

So that it melts.

All who live in it

Mourn.

All of it rises

Like the Nile.

It sinks again,

Like the Nile of Egypt.

He builds his upper chambers

In the heavens.

He founds his vault

Upon the earth.

He calls for the waters

Of the sea.

He pours them out

Upon the surface

Of the earth.

Yahweh is his name.”

Amos has this praise of Yahweh, the Creator, the God of the heavenly hosts.  Yahweh merely touches the earth and it melts.  Everyone who lives on the earth mourns.  The earth itself rises and sinks like the Nile River in Egypt.  Yahweh has his upper chambers in heaven.  He has put a rounded vault over the earth.  Thus, he calls the waters from the sea and then pours them out on the earth.  He is none other than Yahweh.  Yahweh is his name, the continuing creator of the world.

The God of creation (Jer 51:15-51:16)

“He made

The earth

By his power.

He established

The world

By his wisdom.

By his understanding,

He stretched out the heavens.

When he utters

His voice

There is a tumult of waters

In the heavens.

He makes the mist rise

From the ends of the earth.

He makes lightning

For the rain.

He brings forth

The wind

From his storehouses.”

This is exactly the same, word for word from chapter 10 about the power of Yahweh. Jeremiah proclaimed that Yahweh was all powerful. He made the earth by his power. Thus he established the world by his wisdom. He stretched out the heavens by his understanding, so that when he uttered his voice, the waters in the heaven could create a mist from the ends of the earth. He made lightning in the rain. He also brought wind from his various wind storehouses. Thus you can see this author’s cosmology about the powerful God, Yahweh, who has control of the world and its climate.

 

The personal plea of Jeremiah (Jer 15:15-15:18)

“Yahweh!

You know me!

Remember me!

Visit me!

Bring down retribution for me

On my persecutors!

In your forbearance,

Do not take me away!

Know that on your account

I suffer insult!

Your words were found.

I ate them.

Your words became to me a joy.

Your words became the delight of my heart.

I am called by your name.

O Yahweh!

God of hosts!

I did not sit in the company of merrymakers.

But I did rejoice

Under the weight of your hand.

I sat alone.

You had filled me with indignation.

Why is my pain unceasing?

Why is my wound incurable?

Why has my wound refused to be healed?

Truly you are to me

Like a deceitful brook,

Like waters that fail.”

Jeremiah pleaded with Yahweh to remember and visit him. Jeremiah wanted his persecutors to get retribution. He wanted to be saved. He indicated that he had suffered insults because of the name of Yahweh. Jeremiah had eaten the words of Yahweh that were a joyful delight to him. He had called on the name of Yahweh. He has never sat in the company of merrymakers. Rather he often sat alone, because of his indignation. However, Jeremiah continued to suffer continuing pain that was not healing. He thought that Yahweh was like a deceitful stream where the waters had stopped running. Jeremiah was a little upset at Yahweh.

The power of Yahweh (Jer 10:12-10:13)

“It is he who made the earth

By his power.

He established the world

By his wisdom.

By his understanding,

He stretched out the heavens.

When he utters his voice

There is a tumult of waters

In the heavens.

He makes the mist rise

From the ends of the earth.

He makes lightning for the rain.

He brings forth the wind

From his storehouses.”

Jeremiah proclaims that Yahweh is all powerful. He made the earth by his power and thus established the world by his wisdom. He stretched out the heavens by his understanding, so that when he utters his voice, the waters in the heaven can create a mist from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning in the rain. He also brings wind from his various wind storehouses. Thus you can see this author’s cosmology about the powerful God, Yahweh, who has control of the world and its climate.

The powerful intervention of God (Isa 51:9-51:11)

“Awake!

Awake!

Put on strength!

O arm of Yahweh!

Awake!

As in days of old!

The generations of long ago!

Did you not cut Rahab in pieces?

Did you not pierce the dragon?

Did you not dry up the sea?

Did you not dry up the waters of the great deep?

Did you not make the depths of the sea

In a way for the redeemed to cross over?

The ransomed of Yahweh shall return.

They will come to Zion with singing.

Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads.

They shall obtain joy.

They shall obtain gladness.

Sorrow shall flee away.

Sighing shall flee away.”

Second Isaiah has a plea for the arm of Yahweh to act again as he had done in Egypt at the time of the Exodus. He had cut up Rahab, the sea monster name for Egypt. He had pierced the dragon in mythological terms. He dried up the waters, so that the redeemed of Israel could cross over. These same ransomed people will now come to Zion singing with joy. They will be joyful and glad and not sorrowful or sighing. Yahweh will intervene again on their behalf.

The taking up of Elijah (Sir 48:9-48:11)

“You who were taken up

By a whirlwind of fire.

You were taken up

In a chariot

With horses of fire.

At the appointed time,

It is written,

That you are destined

To calm the wrath of God

Before it breaks out in fury.

You are destined

To turn the hearts of parents

To their children.

You are destined

To restore the tribes of Jacob.

Blessed are those

Who saw you.

Happy are those

Who were adorned

With your love.

We also shall surely live.”

The story of the taking up of Elijah is recorded 2 Kings, chapter 2, in the so-called Elisha cycle. Elijah, like Enoch, was taken up to heaven without dying, being the only 2 in all these biblical stories. Not even Moses, Aaron, David, or any other of the patriarchs, prophets, or kings had this privilege. Thus near the Jordan River, the chariots of fire came and took Elijah away in a whirlwind of fire. Elisha took Elijah’s place, as he was able to part the waters of the Jordan River. Other prophets went looking for Elijah, but to no avail. However, it is not clear where the idea of the second coming of Elijah comes from at some appointed hour. For many Christians, Jesus was the Messiah of the Second Coming. However, some believe it was John the Baptist, or as the Mormons believe with Joseph Smith in 1836. At the appointed hour, Elijah will calm the wrath of God, turn parents to their children, and restore the tribes of Jacob. Happy and blessed are those who saw and loved Elijah for they will live on.

The hymn of praise (Sir 39:16-39:21)

“All the works of the Lord

Are very good.

Whatever he commands

Will be done

At the appointed time.

No one can say.

‘What is this?’

‘Why is that?’

At the appointed time,

All such questions

Will be answered.

At his word,

The waters stood in a heap.

The reservoirs of water

Stop in a heap

At the word of his mouth.

At his commands,

His every purpose is fulfilled.

None can limit his saving power.

The works of all

Are before him.

Nothing can be hidden

From his eyes.

From the beginning

To the end of time,

He can see everything.

Nothing is too marvelous for him.

No one can say.

‘What is this?’

‘Why is that?’

Everything has been created

For its own purpose.”

Sirach begins this hymn of praise to the Lord by saying that all his works are very good. The Lord commands everything in his own time. No one should question him with what is this or why is it that way. All the questions will be answered at the appropriate time. He made the waters and the reservoirs of water stand in a heap. No one can limit his saving power since all his commands get followed. He sees everything, since nothing can be hidden from him, since the beginning of time to the end of time. Nothing is too marvelous for him. Therefore no one should question the Lord because everything has a purpose.

The uncertainty of life (Eccl 11:1-11:3)

“Send out your bread upon the waters.

After many days

You will get it back.

Divide your means seven ways,

Or even eight.

You do not know

What disaster may happen on earth.

When clouds are full,

They empty rain on the earth.

Whether a tree falls to the south

Or to the north,

In the place where the tree falls,

There it will lie.”

Qoheleth reminds us of the uncertainty of life itself. He wanted people to put their bread on the waters. He wanted people to take chances because it might return to them with some kind of profit. You should not keep all your eggs in one basket. You should spread out your resources into 7 or 8 places. You never know when some disaster might hit. The clouds could send rain. When a tree falls, no matter in what direction, it will lie there where it fell.

Yahweh’s creation (Ps 136:4-136:9)

“Yahweh alone does great wonders.

His steadfast love endures forever.

By understanding he made the heavens.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He spread out the earth on the waters.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the great lights.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the sun to rule over the day.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the moon and the stars to rule over the night.

His steadfast love endures forever.”

Once again, the congregational refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated after every verse. This is a tribute to the creator Yahweh. He has done great wonders. He has made the heavens and put the earth on top of the waters. He made the great lights for the day and the night, the sun, the moon, and the stars. Therefore we cry out that his steadfast love endures forever.