Did Jesus intentionally destroy a farmer's livelihood by killing all the swine in Mark 5:13?

Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them. Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea.

Now, I imagined the herder of these swine lost his whole livelihood after this. Was Jesus being selfish and inconsiderate to this farmer? What was the rationale behind this?

We don’t know what happened after this event. Maybe the herder left everything and became a disciple. Didn’t apostles/disciples do that? This was a very special time of grace, Jesus was walking this earth, so the wise would not care about material possessions/jobs.

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The demons had to go somewhere. Jesus didn’t MAKE them go into the swine; he PERMITTED them to. Just as God permits all kinds of evil without willing it to happen.

The swine owner was obviously a Gentile. With such a (what was for the time) huge herd of pigs he was probably quite wealthy and very likely gained his wealth by stealing/extorting Jews’ land in the Holy Land and/or currying favour with the ruling occupying pagan powers. And apparently deliberately trashed the Jewish religion by choosing to farm unclean animals on their land. I wouldn’t feel too sorry for him.

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Maybe they were wild pigs and were more like pets than livestock?

We don’t know the situation. The owner could have been a rich man that the lives of the pigs could have been only a financial bump. Or because of what otherwise happened, he could have been richer than before.
We really can’t speak of the owner with a complete lack of information.

Swine. As in pigs.

What would they be doing in that area?

If the farmer was a Jew, what was he doing with swine?

If the farmer was Gentile, why would his swine be within sight of Jews as was obviously the case here?

Should we really be too concerned about swine and swine farmers at that place and time? I think the technical term is, “they had it coming.”

Now if they were sheep or goats or cattle, that may be another story or concern entirely.

It was a Gentile area. They didn’t have the prohibition against raising swine.

Because… it was the Decapolis.

Nah. Not the point of the story.

Let’s look at this in context.

  • There’s a human being, whose affliction is severe. Severe enough that the community recognizes it, but relegates him to ostracization from the community. Rather than attempt to work with him, they merely give up and let him live outside the community, in a cemetery.
  • Jesus encounters the man, and heals him from his affliction.
  • The townspeople – rather than thanking Jesus for healing one of their own – beg Him to just leave. In a very literal way, they tell Jesus “we don’t want healing; we want the status quo of evil in our community”.

And we’re supposed to conclude that “Jesus was being selfish”? That Jesus was “inconsiderate”? Hmm… :thinking:

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Consider: When something in the faith does not seem to make sense, is it not best to doubt ourselves first? To doubt our understanding first? I say yes, we should always doubt ourselves first, then seek greater understanding.

To project human thought processes, failings and sin upon God in the Flesh does not make sense to me. Did not our Lord rebuke Peter for thinking as man does and not as God does? Yes, he did.

If there is no answer which satisfies in Church teaching or in bible commentaries, just know that some things will remain a mystery.

And, that there is no sin in what occurred. If you or I did that, it would be completely different.

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You don’t know, they could have been wild swine.

But let’s say that all that swine was domestic. We than run into another Job situation. Just like how God permitted the satan to ruin Job’s life, Jesus (probably) permits Legion to ruin the swineherder’s life. It sucks, but like Job I’m sure the farmer will get over it and was blessed down the road.

I implore you to read the Book of Job for a better understanding of why God permits evil in this world.

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They didn’t just ignore him.

He wasn’t ill: he was demon-possessed. The people of the time had no effective means of treatment for mental illness in any case.
The text tells us he could be bound with chains and burst them. They didn’t just ignore him out of indifference. He was violent, dangerous and they couldn’t control him.

They didn’t let him live in a cemetery. That’s where the demons chose to keep him. The people had no control over him.

When the people begged Jesus to leave that doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t want healing, nor that they wanted ‘the status quo of evil’. It means they were frightened. Having the demoniac around was bad enough: but they had just seen a huge herd of beasts run into the sea and drown themselves. This had to be scary stuff, and they were scared.
It was probably irrational of them: but not proof of selfish indifference, nor that they wanted to maintain any evil status quo.

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To clarify one point being raised in this thread: the swine are most definitely being farmed for consumption. The Greek words ἀγέλη agele (herd) and βόσκομαι boskomai (graze) are near exclusively used for domestic agricultural settings, typically for cattle and oxen. Likewise the owners are referred to as βόσκοντες boskontes, which means farmers or herders.

That being said, I think I’ve read some twenty different analyses regarding specifically the swine: why are pigs (rather than another animal) featured, why did they jump into the sea, why did the demons ask permission to enter the pigs, etc. Most of them are highly speculative in searching for a pedagogical motive behind these features of the narrative. For e.g. one analysis speculates that the herders were Jews (rather than Gentiles) and the death of their swine was punishment.

However, most of these analyses are highly speculative and many technical commentaries don’t even allocate space to examine them due to their conjectural basis.

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Did Jesus intentionally destroy a farmer’s livelihood by killing all the swine in Mark 5:13?

False Question … filled with pre-sumptions…

Since we know that Jesus is perfectly just, the answer is obvious.

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That doesn’t sound too convincing. Why would the swineherds go to town and report that Jesus did something that had no effect on their (and their masters’) livelihood? Why would the townsfolk then come to Jesus and request that He leave the area?

They couldn’t control him, so they left him to roam the countryside.

Hang on a second: they were frightened by the presence of a demoniac, but they were more frightened by his healing? Umm… sure… :roll_eyes:

Not “evil”; just – as you put it – “indifferent”. “Leave us alone; we’re good without your ‘cures’!” seems to be their plea.

Although it appears the possessing demons kept him in the cemetery.

Frightened by the fact that about two thousand herd animals all suddenly just up and drowned themselves, because of Jesus. It wasn’t the cure that scared them, if was the display of power.

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I mean, how common was it for a man to heal a person of demon possession that resulted in the death of a heard of swine? Sure it wouldn’t affect the people, but it certainly isn’t something that one could easily ignore.

Exactly … There’s zero problems … zero need to overspend time on it. .

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Jesus left in fear of his life.

And why did the owner have the swine in the first place?
Then Job arose and tore his cloak and cut off his hair. He fell to the ground and worshiped.
He said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!”
In all this Job did not sin, nor did he charge God with wrong.
(Job 1:20-22)

Jesus has the authority of God. He had the authority to permit the demons to enter the swine. He had the authority to clear the moneychangers out of the Temple. He had the authority to forgive sins. It scandalized his religious enemies, but it was the truth. When it comes to property rights, no one has rights that trump the rights of the Creator and the King of the Universe. No one understands the needs of the persons God created or cares about them more than God does, either.

Why did he grant the request of demons? I do not know. It doesn’t seem they’d be too high on his list of supplicants. I’d be interested in hearing what others think or what they have read.

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I suppose if you want to examine the question with ill-will and bad faith, yes maybe Jesus was being selfish and inconsiderate. Maybe Jesus doesn’t really care about farmers.

What do you think? Is it possible to assume the best of Jesus and his actions here? Like we do with everyone else?

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