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Pearls before Swine

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by JohnC, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. #1 JohnC, Dec 23, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2014
    We have some discussion running on this saying of Jesus in another thread. Rather than clog up that thread - I want to start a new thread for it.

    Matthew 7:6
    Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor throw your pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet, then turn again and rend you.

    Here's what I propose Jesus is getting at:
    Do not throw what is holy to dogs = this is an act of utter contempt for God and His law showing that you absolutely do not care about either God or His prescribed worship....
    Juxtaposed with:
    Nor throw your pearls before swine = Jesus seems to be indicating that throwing Pearls before Swine is ALSO having contempt for God and His ways... That God gave you this resource of Pearls, which, though "Abominable" are very valuable - and you, being a wise and thoughtful steward of what God had given you - should not have contempt and disdain for Resources that God has given you - even if they are "Unclean"...

    The consequences in both cases is that the Animals may turn on you and rend you.... The dogs because they want more, and the swine because they aren't interested in pearls when they want food....

    Here's how I got there....

    First thing. This saying is given BEFORE Matthew 13 - where Jesus declares that He is teaching in parables to obscure mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. I will propose that this saying in Matt 7 is simply Wisdom and does not contain great mysteries pertaining to heaven.

    I will ALSO propose that this was not crafted to be obscure or hidden to the Orthodox Jews of the day. The subject matter would be familiar to Jews who had even a passing knowledge of the Scripture and sacrificial system. It is obscure to US now because we are Gentiles and typically don't spend any time trying to learn the Old testament or Jewish sacrificial law....

    Here goes....

    Please refer back to Leviticus 11 - there is a declaration that Shellfish and Swine are unclean and are to be treated as abomination.

    Please refer back to Leviticus 6-9 - specific directions for HOW sacrificial food is to be treated.

    Please refer back to Deuteronomy 14 rules on food animals - which lumps dogs into the "Unclean" pile.

    Now, this saying of Jesus is what we would call a Hebraism... Characterized by the juxtaposition or comparison of different ideas to make a point... Thus - we will learn what Jesus is getting at by not splitting out the two halves of the saying, but trying to understand them together....

    OK... First Idea: Do not throw what is Holy to Dogs.

    Leviticus 6-9 - When you had Food sacrifice - it was to be treated in a very specific way. Most of the Holy sacrifice was to be COMPLETELY Eaten by the Giver and/or the Priests... Typically only a small portion was to be burned.. There was a specific time period which you had to completely consume the food. If you could not consume it in that period - you had to BURN whatever was left over. Failure to comply and your offering would be REJECTED by God and either You or the priests would then bear the guilt for failure to comply.... Feeding the "Leftovers" from a Sacrifice to unclean dogs would be a SERIOUS and utterly contemptuous breach of God's Holy Ordinance....

    So... Do not throw what is holy to dogs = this is an act of utter contempt for God and His law showing that you absolutely do not care about either God or His prescribed worship....

    Throwing pearls before Swine.
    In this case - BOTH Pearls AND Swine are Unclean and declared Abomination (Leviticus 11). If you were Orthodox Jewish or "Found God" and recommitted yourself.... AND you found or ended up with some Pearls - THEY ARE to be considered ABOMINATION! So.. As an Act of showing your COMMITMENT - you may decide to destroy such as Profane! Now... The interesting part is that the caution about treating it as "Abominable" means that you are to having nothing to do with it, nor to desire it.... but neither Pearls, nor Swine are a graven image or an idol... Clearly not something that's an item of profane religious significance....

    The second idea is that throwing Valuable but "Abominable" pearls to likewise unclean and "Abominable" Swine is ALSO unwise.... Jesus seems to be indicating that throwing Pearls before Swine is ALSO having contempt for God and His ways... That God gave you this resource of Pearls - and you, being a wise and thoughtful steward of what God had given you - should not have contempt and disdain for Resources that God has given you...

  2. Said again...
    Giving what is Holy to the dogs... This is CLEARLY in violation of major sections of Torah and would be considered a "Presumptuous and Intentional Sin" - AKA Unpardonable and deserving of DEATH (Ref Numbers 15)! Clearly shows utter contempt for God and a complete lack of any semblance of concern over God and his ways...

    Throwing pearls to Swine... That even though this is not in direct violation of major sections of Torah, it SIMILARLY showing utter contempt and lack of semblance of concern over God and his ways..... Jesus is putting forth the idea that this is SIMILARLY presumptuous and intentional sin against God himself!
  3. I think you are taking the text way too literally. If you follow the context of the whole passage you would note that
    it has to do with dealing with others.
    I would say that a more appropriate interpretation is that he was suggesting that people not offer holy things to the pagans
    or to offer "pearls of wisdom" to degenerates, as they will not only learn nothing but will hate you for it.
    Silk likes this.
  4. Which makes sense, especially when we consider Jesus speaking in parables. He could of just flat out told people the points he was trying to make, but instead gave many messages in the form of parables. Perhaps He may have been exercising the whole pearls and swine statement.
    KingJ and Major say Amen and like this.
  5. That's an entirely gentile interpretation of this passage.... It's fine and dandy as wisdom in and of itself - and probably the most frequent In-Church exposition of this wisdom I have encountered.... But no orthodox Jew would ever interpret it as what you have proposed....

    See, to an Orthodox Jew... Casting your Pearls before Swine would be considered a showy "Pious Act"..... It's an outward expression of Disdaining the Abominable things that Gentiles treasure - even at great expense to yourself .... To put absolutely no value on these "Treasures" and to rid yourself of them showing that you were 100% Committed to God....

    How is this for a Christian example..... A Newly converted Christian who is a very successful entrepreneur forsaking all of his businesses to pursue a life in a monastery... He simply dumps the businesses and leaves for the monastery as a pious act of his Commitment to The Lord... Unfortunately, that man does not realize that his ability at running businesses is God-given and that he can accomplish far more for the Kingdom if he uses his entrepreneurial powers "For good" rather than totally forsaking them altogether....

    I believe that Jesus is making the point that NOT only is this not a pious act as you planned - it is an affront to God Himself - who GAVE you those resources in the first place.

  6. As far as I know, none of us are Orthodox Jews.
    Nor would I particularly care what their opinion might be.

    As for your example, there are those who cannot be pleased.
    No matter what choice the man made, there are those who would find fault with it.
    It is a good example of "playing with what ifs".
    Jesus told his disciples to forsake "everything", not "keep your business going cause it might do some good".
    Major likes this.
  7. You used this on the other thread as an "obscure" example. Again, pearls are not for eating and oysters/clams fall in the dietary law. My example of sea snails used for dye of tzit tzit fringe is part of the 613 Mosaic laws and the snail, itself, is unclean for eating. I don't know about the history of Jews keeping dogs for pets but I knew a few Jews that had dogs as pets.
    Major likes this.
  8. Greetings;
    I cast pearls to swines all day long,if we are talking about wisdom.I conclude that it's an advisory.I figure that you don't give your daughters to the defiled.The D's will ruin all the godly instructions that she received.
  9. #9 JohnC, Dec 25, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
    So... If the pearls are wisdom and we are therefore not to "Cast" our pearls of "Wisdom" before "Swine" who hate us - then why does Christ command we are to declare the Mysteries that He has spoken in our ear from the housetops?

    This idea creates an "Official" command to hoard "Secret" or "Mysterious" wisdom within Christianity - which is the Opposite of what Jesus Himself commanded.... That we are to DECLARE the Gospel of Christ - even to those who hate us...

    It's one thing when we declare God's wisdom and truth - and have it rejected by those who hate us or God... It's completely another thing to DECIDE that someone doesn't deserve to hear God's wisdom because they hate us or we don't respect them or whatever....

    Remember - WE ourselves were Enemies of God before He gave Himself for us... WE did not deserve to know the Mysteries of God and yet He declared them to us....

    In this context - Keeping "Gospel" knowledge from those who hate us because they are unworthy - this interpretation is not consistent with the rest of Jesus' message... So - I must reject it.

    And, I fall back on a message that *IS* consistent with many other teachings of His - that Showy, Pious works intended to puff yourself up in front of others are SINFUL - and fall within the same category of disregard for God as the most heinous examples (Throwing holy sacrificial foods to dogs.)
  10. You are calling Leviticus obscure?

    Now, how the Jews worked their way around the use of the purple dye from specific sea snails - I have no idea.... Crimson dye was likewise made from the Tola worm - which falls under the category of "Creeping things"...

    If you poke around the web some - you will find that this very question is VERY hotly debated among Jewish Scholars and sages today.. How could these dyes that are clearly "Unclean" be used on Ceremonial garb - which required the highest standards of Kosher.... There's no consensus right now as to what the "Right" answer is...

    In the case of a pearl - it's clearly part of the "Carcass" of an animal without fins or scales - and as such, is clearly unclean... Not the sort of thing you adorn yourself with if you are Kosher...
  11. 2 Peter 2:22 (NASB)
    It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

    If you give someone the Good News and the ridicule it and mock it, then you are giving what is holy to a dog and casting your pearls before swine. Jesus tells us what to do in this case.

    Matthew 10:14 (NASB)
    Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.
    LanceA likes this.
  12. Wow.. Apparently, I struck a nerve here with this one...

    I was not expecting this thread to go the direction it has - with people here openly ADVOCATING to NOT preach the gospel to those they perceive as "Enemies" or who are "Closed minded".....

    Think for a minute what you are saying....

    You are implying that it is RIGHT and in fact Godly to NOT preach the Gospel to those who we believe might be hostile or unwilling to hear it....
  13. #13 Silk, Dec 25, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2014
    No- I meant parable of Christ where pearl of great price was obscure (had a hidden meaning) Sorry about the mix up but pearls before swine was shown that Jews understood about pearls and were only forbidden to eat pearls.

    And in one of the 613 Mosaic laws the blue was commanded by God for the tzit tzit - they may argue whether the refound it but the snail dye was very expensive as the snail shows up only every 70 yrs. Poke around some more :)
  14. Confused now.
    How do we know when someone is a pig or dog? The first time they reject us? When they laugh at us? When they bite us? What if we actually live in families of pigs and dogs? How can we leave or escape and where do we go?
    Not everyone grows up or is raised in church.

    Isnt pigs and dogs referring to gentiles, in the old testament? can you give your own experiences as an example? Trying to relate...

    What about the samaritan woman who asked for healing, and jesus mentioned dogs, and she retorted that even dogs need the crumbs. Or so ething like that. Wasnt he being ironic?
  15. I would not consider Answers.com a definitive site for "Orthodox" interpretation of the Jewish Law... and the person offering the answer has not offered any actual rabbinical credentials....

    let's go back to Matt 7 again... This statement is a Hebraism - a comparison/juxtaposition between the 2 ideas to make a point... We see this frequently in scripture - especially in Proverbs for example.. Take for example Proverbs 26:11 that Preachers wife quoted above:
    As a dog returns to his own vomit,
    So a fool repeats his folly.

    You don't separate the 2 halves of the Hebraism and interpret them independently as wisdom - you use the juxtaposition to understand.... For example - the Proverbs Dog cannot help himself... He is DRIVEN to return to eat his own vomit - and many will actually try to FIGHT you so he can eat his vomit... Thus,in like manner - the fool doesn't just unluckily stumble back into his folly, but rather, is DRIVEN and will FIGHT to return to his own folly - even though you fight him tooth and nail to prevent him....

    In like manner, to understand the meaning of "Pearls before Swine" - we must not separate "Throwing what is holy to the Dogs" from "Casting your pearls before swine"....

    At least in my mind - not giving wonderful things to people who despise them is hardly wisdom.... and you don't need a fancy hebraism to illustrate this...

    The WHY don't you throw what is Holy to Dogs is the important part - because it helps resolve the second half.... It's not just a bad idea - it's Presumptuous, Intentional sin against God himself!
  16. From the stance of we can AND should (at all times) reflect the Glory of God, I agree with JohnC, that as Christians, we are required, as a duty, to show the world, and all the pigs and dogs in it, the truth. And like Preachers Wife indicates, there are those who will never accept it and we should recognize that and move/separate away from these.
    Now I have a headache. :)
    Major and Preachers-Wife say Amen and like this.
  17. I hope you did not take what I said to mean this ^. Jesus doesn't expect us to continually beat our heads against a wall. If someone does not want to hear and has made it very clear that they will not hear, we are to move on to the one who does. If we continue to push the one who rejects, we could very well miss the one who wants, but has not heard. There is a time for everything, sometimes it is time to just go.
    Silk likes this.
  18. Now that is a good answer.
  19. Ok can someone give a real life example please?
    Im feeling ignored here.

    I know if someone is curious about the gospel and WANTS to talk to me, I feel obliged to explain it to them. I sure dont waste time with people who dont want to listen, like some in my family.
    Some are harder nuts to crack, but I persist with prayer, even if seems like they are not receptive the first time, as his word does not return back empty.

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