Did Jesus Destroy a Man/Men's Livelihood?


I read something online recently that sparked a thought in my mind and today as I was reading the Gospel of Luke that same question resurfaced. It’s this: In the story in the Gospels where Jesus casts “Legion” out of the Gerasene Demoniac, the demons plead with Jesus not to send them into the abyss, or Hell, so they ask to be allowed to go into a herd of pigs instead. Jesus agrees and casts them out of the possessed man and into the pigs, which then run off a cliff. So the question is this; why would Jesus agree to the demons wishes and not just send them back to Hell, but instead send them into a herd of pigs, presumably destroying the livelihood of one or more farmers.

I know this question seems like something an Atheist would ask, but I ask it so that I have an answer if someone of no faith should bring this up.



It doesn’t seem that was their main concern. The next few verses tell us how they reacted. They were afraid of Jesus’ demonstration of power, not upset over losing the pigs. The herd may have been only one of several that a rich person owned that they had been tending. A loss, but apparently not great enough for any complaints about the loss of income nor any word about losing a living. In allowing the demons to enter the pigs Jesus mitigated the demons damnation since they had implored him to not send them into the abyss–hell, one presumes.


If they were so afraid, how come they kicked him out?


Because they were so afraid. They asked him to go–they didn’t force him out with pitchforks. And the man who had been possessed begged Jesus to let him go with him. Hardly sounds like anyone had a complaint, but rather they were terrified at what he might do next–after all, if they were Jews keeping pigs they were in violation of the Mosiac Law.


I’ve heard, alternately, that a) this area of Galilee was settled by Greeks and not Jews, hence the pigs; or b) that if the owners were Jewish, our LORD took the opportunity to teach them a lesson about not raising pigs.



But they were Gentiles keeping pigs. And remember what the name of that possessed man was eh?


The poeple keeping pigs were not Jews.

***They came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Ger’asenes. ** (Mark 5:1)

Then they arrived at the country of the Ger’asenes, which is opposite Galilee. (Luke 8:26)*

The “country of the Ger’asenes” (or “Gadarenes” in some translations) is Gentile land, not Jewish land. It is on the east coast of the sea of Galilee, part of the “area of the Decapolis” also mentioned in the Bible.



You know those pigs were destined for the slaughterhouse anyways right? They probably ate a lot of bacon after that. :wink: Couldn’t they still use and sell the meat?

Did you know that native Americans used to herd wild Buffalo off of cliffs in order to get meat and hides?


As pointed out, they were not Jews, and Jesus was not in Jewish territory at the time. Any sensible law-observing Jew would not keep pigs around. One sign archaeologists even use to determine whether a given area was Jewish is to check if there were any pig bones around - which would hint to the inhabitants raising and eating pork. If there were such bones in abundance, then there’s a very high chance that the people who lived there weren’t Jewish.


He’s just giving them what they wanted. The overall point of the story is that evil is stupid. Demons are destructive, even self-destructive - they do harm to the beings they possess. (Note how in the story, the possessed man also engages in self-destructive behavior.) The demons here do the same to the pigs: unfortunately, they don’t realize that by drowning the pigs, they’re robbing themselves of their hosts. They’re dumb enough to destroy themselves. Jesus did not have to lift a finger.

And, another point that would not have been lost to the 1st century readers/listeners of the gospel is that Jesus is much more powerful than any ‘legion’. One of the Roman legions that was involved in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was the tenth. Guess what one of their emblems was - a boar.

I know this question seems like something an Atheist would ask, but I ask it so that I have an answer if someone of no faith should bring this up.


Y’know, there are times when I think we believers are entitled to out-atheist atheists. :stuck_out_tongue:


Well, yes the whole story could be a anti legion x fretensis story (anti romans story)



So do you deny it happened?


As to the herders being Gentiles, that is not certain–remember the prodigal son kept pigs before he returned to his father. Jews and Gentiles lived in the same communities in some areas, such as Galilee and Samaria. And Jesus had come first to his own people, not the Gentiles. He did very few miracles for Gentiles, and sometimes under protest that he hadn’t come to minister to them. In any case, no one suffered any great loss due to this incident. Luke’s purpose was to tell us that Christ had power over the devil and his forces, which is the important thing he intended us to take away from it.


Jesus going to Samaria was shocking to his followers because no Jew went there.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samar’ia?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. (John 4:9)

Jesus cured many sick in Gennes’aret. This was Gentile land. (Mark 6)

Jesus cast out a demon from the woman’s daughter in the region of Tyre and Sidon (Mark 7:24). This was Gentile land, not Jewish.

Jesus healed the deaf, mute man in the region of the Decapolis, again Gentile land. (Mark 7:31)

Jesus fed 4000 Gentiles with miraculous bread in Matthew 15. These were Gentiles, not Jews.



I did say there were a few instances in which Jesus did miracles for Gentiles. :shrug: None of the verses you cited tell me that the herders couldn’t have been Jewish. None at all. :rolleyes:


The Galilee in Jesus’ day was mostly Jewish in terms of population (a consistent lack of pig bones for 1st century Galilean sites, burials in Jewish fashion, pools or miqveh for ritual purificatory baths) and pretty much Jewish in terms of government (the coins Antipas minted were Jewish-friendly: no graven images of pagan gods or any human or animal). There would have been some gentiles there (after all, Antipas’ personal army would have included recruits from non-Jewish areas, just like that of his father Herod the Great), but were apparently not so numerous or even influential in Galilean life since they are practically invisible in the archaeological record and are not prominent in literary discussions of the area.

Now the Galilee was surrounded by gentile areas, however. The Decapolis region (where Gerasa and Gadara are) was not part of the Galilee tetrarchy, since these cities were autonomous. Caesarea Philippi was part of Philip’s tetrarchy (but for that matter, so was Bethsaida - which is a Jewish area), Tyre and Sidon was part of the Roman province of Syria.


1). The PS didn’t keep pigs; he worked for someone who did; and not by choice. The “distant country” he went to was probably a Gentile nation bordering Israel.

  1. while our LORD did protest on occasion about ministry to Gentiles. He did not scorn to go to Samaria, Peraea, Sidon and Tyre, etc.



I didn’t say he owned them, but that he kept them–for another person. Gees Louise! Talk about nitpicking! :stuck_out_tongue:

  1. while our LORD did protest on occasion about ministry to Gentiles. He did not scorn to go to Samaria, Peraea, Sidon and Tyre, etc.


Sigh! I never claimed that he didn’t. Nor did I claim he never did miracles for Gentiles. Can we please get back to the OP’s topic---------now? :shrug:


There might be a practical reason behind Jesus going in those places. Antipas killed John the Baptist, and according to Luke, some Pharisees slipped in to Jesus that Antipas was planning to kill Him too. That might have provided Jesus a reason to lie low for a moment and leave the Galilee.

As an aside, there were Jewish communities in Tyre and Sidon, apparently. Later rabbinic sources even speak of villages in the region of Tyre that have become “forbidden” (i.e. became Jewish - in contrast with ‘permitted’ gentile territories; the ‘prohibition’ refers to the ban on working lands during the sabbatical year). At least, that might be another reason why Jesus decided to visit those areas.


Jesus fed 4000 gentiles with miraculous bread. That’s all we really need to know.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.