Dogs and Pigs

Who are the dogs and pigs whom Jesus warns His hearers against in Matthew 7?

Firstly, there are clues in the literary structure, which turns out to be so finely crafted and allusory that it could only come from the mouth of the One who spoke the Creation into existence, and also spoke the words of every subsequent Covenant.

The Structure

I’m sure some readers think splitting the text down to single words and simple phrases might be taking things too far, but we speak of Covenants being “objective” or “subjective.” Thus, any sentence is potentially “Covenantal.” Language begins a chain of authority but is itself a chain of authority. Observe the movement from above to beside to below (as appears in the Ten Words) in Jesus’ single sentence.

Do not (Ark – Transcendent Imperative – Creation)
give (Veil – Delegation – Division)
that which is holy (Altar – Ascension)
to the dogs (Table – Firstfruits)
(Lampstand – Seven Lights/Eye & Tooth)
nor (Creation: Light & Darkness)
cast (Division: Firmament)
the pearls (Ascension: Sea and Land)
of you (Firstfruits: Grain and Fruit)
before the pigs, (Testing: Governors)
lest they trample them (Maturity: Swarms/Hosts)
with their feet, (Conquest: Mediators – Laver/Crystal Sea)
(No Glorification)
and having turned, (Incense – Maturity)
they tear you (Mediators – Atonement: Torn Veil)
to pieces. (Shekinah – Scattering)

The sentence itself is a “two-level” fractal, with the lights of the Lampstand, as seven pearls, given their own stanza within the stanza. This is a literary marvel right here.

The Character

Now, to the identity of these dogs and pigs. How are they similar? Dogs and pigs are scavengers. They “eat death.” The instances of “worms” (maggots) in the Bible have the same meaning, whether they are eating over-ripe manna or King Herod.

The context at this point in Jesus’ sermon is judgment. A righteous judge is not a hypocrite. But then Jesus moves to dealing with such unrighteous judges. Being scavengers, dogs and pigs are not discriminating despite the fact that they have heard the Law:

For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 21:22)

These dogs and pigs are judges whose law is the flesh, whose god is their belly. But how are they different? They minister in different domains.

The Arena

Dogs scavenge within the house, or within the city (1 Kings 14:11; 1 Kings 21:24; Psalm 59:6). Pigs would be the scavengers outside the walls, eating not household scraps but agricultural refuse, as they do in the parable of the prodigal son.

A similar combination of dogs and pigs is found in Isaiah 66, where Israel’s holy sacrifices are deemed unholy. For her profane sacrifices, Israel is ready to be “deconsecrated.” Once again, the references are linked to the architecture of the Tabernacle. The dog is linked to the table, and the pig is linked to the husks of the threshing field.

These lines are the “Ethics” section of the stanza:

Offering an ox = slaughter of a man (Bronze Altar, Land)
Sacrificing a lamb = breaking a dog’s neck (Golden Table, Firstfruits)
Offering grain = offering pig’s blood (Lampstand, Pentecost)
Offering incense = blessing an idol (Incense Altar, Trumpets)

The animal offered at Firstfruits was a lamb (not a choice between a lamb or a kid as it was at Passover). Dogs and lambs meet again in Matt 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Dogs have to do with the source of doctrine, the priestly house.

[Jesus] answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.”And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:24-28)

The Jews would not allow any holy flesh or oblations to be given to dogs, only the unclean meat which they themselves were forbidden to eat. (Ex. 22:31) Jesus uses dogs to highlight the mistreatment of the common people by the Jewish rulers. Again, dogs are linked to the Table, the “Firstfruits” Man, the blameless Jew:

“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.” (Luke 16:19-21)

Paul likens the post-Pentecost Circumcision to dogs in God’s house:

“Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” (Philippians 3:2)

Pigs possess a cloven hoof, like the clean animals, but were unclean because they do not chew the cud. Symbolically, this has to do with a failure of judgment. Rumination is an image of meditation. Pigs lack kingly wisdom.

“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion.” (Proverbs 11:22)

It seems that dogs are false priests in the house (Garden) under a pretense of serving God, much like the sons of Eli, or the false prophets in the time of the kings. The pigs are indiscriminate rulers of the Land, hence the reference to them “walking on the pearls of wisdom” (the “Sea” being a reference to the king’s court, as the Laver symbolizes the crystal sea, the court of heaven). Dogs and pigs are Church and State “on the take.”

The End

Based upon these definitions, priestly and kingly scavengers who cannot discern the truth because they walk in the flesh, Judas at the Last Supper was a dog sent from the house. Jesus deliberately gave him “that which is holy,” His own sacrificial body, and Judas returned with the pigs—to attack and scatter the disciples.

In reference to Jezebel, it is worth mentioning that the “Covenantal” parts of her were too unclean for even the dogs to eat: her head (Garden: priest), hands (Land: king) and feet (World: prophet).

Finally, who are the pigs in the next chapter, Matthew 8? Some believe their significance is linked to a Roman garrison situated nearby. It is more likely they were a sign to the Jewish rulers, the kings of the Land (1 Kings 10:23; Revelation 6:15). The demoniacs were victims of an unfaithful priesthood, scapegoats for a government which refused to judge righteously. [1] The demons would be cast into those who ruled over them, who thought they dwelt in the courts of God, but could not “walk on the sea.” The reversal would be the same as it was between the rich man and Lazarus, which identifies the context of that parable.

We see one final, but very subtle, link between the dogs and the pigs, the rulers of the Garden and the Land, a corrupted Church and State, in Revelation 17:18:

“And the woman that you saw [Jerusalem as Jezebel: dogs] is the great city that has dominion over the kings of the Land [the Herods as Ahab: pigs].”

There are no dogs in the New Jerusalem, because her King is the Lamb:

“Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Revelation 22:15)

[1] See Mad Men.


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One Response to “Dogs and Pigs”

  • Mike Bull Says:

    On facebook, Jerry Bowyer said,
    “Maybe, but when the gentile woman asked for a healing, Jesus told her it was not right to take bread from the children to give to the dogs. Plus Caleb (“Dog”) in Joshua was a faithful gentile. Seems plausible that pigs and dogs are both symbols of gentiles, but different degrees of uncleanness. I’m not sure, the symbolism is dicey when it comes to proof.”
    Good objection. The answer might be that Jesus takes those “faithful dogs” and turns them into priestly rulers, while he throws out those who are abusing their office – it’s the same role reversal in Luke 16. The exalted rulers of Israel would be “deconsecrated,” the mountain thrown into the sea.