Boar in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
The flesh of "swine" (domestic) was forbidden food to
Israel. Eating it was the token of apostasy under Antiochus
Epiphanes' persecution, and is mentioned among Judah's
provocations of Jehovah (Isaiah 65:4; Isaiah 66:17). E. of
the sea of Galilee, some Gadarenes are mentioned as having a
herd of 2,000. Probably they refrained themselves from the
flesh, and compromised between conscience and covetousness
by selling them to their neighbors the Gentiles. But they
gained nothing by the compromise, for the whole herd
perished in the wafters, in judicial retribution. The Lord
of the land, peculiarly set apart as the Holy Land, finds it
defiled with demons and unclean beasts. The demons beg leave
not to be sent to the abyss of torment, but into the swine.
With His leave they do so, and the swine rush down the steep
and perish in the waters.
Instead of gratitude for the deliverance, the
Gadarenes prefer their swine, though at the cost of the
demons' presence, to the Savior at the cost of sacrificing
their swine; so they entreat Him to "depart out of their
coasts," forgetting His word, "Woe to them when I depart
from them" (Hosea 9:12); a striking contrast to him who was
delivered from the demons and who "prayed that he might be
with Jesus (Mark 5:15-18). The lowest point of the
prodigal's degradation was when he was sent into the fields
to feed swine (Luke 15:15). The sensual professor's
backsliding into "the pollutions of the world," after he has
"escaped them through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior,"
is fitly compared to "the sow that was washed returning to
her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 2:20-22).
"As a jewel of gold (worn often by women as 'nose
jewels,' Isaiah 3:21) in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman
which is without discretion" (Hebrew: taste, i.e. without
moral perception of what is pure and impure) (Proverbs
11:22). The brutish stolidity of those who appreciate only
what gratifies their own foul appetites disqualifies them
for appreciating heavenly mysteries; to present these holy
truths to them would be as unwise as to east pearls before
swine, which would only trample them under foot (Matthew
The wild boar is mentioned once only (Psalm 80:13).
Its destroying a vineyard partly by eating the grapes,
partly by trampling the vines under foot, is the image of
the pagan world power's ravaging of Israel, Jehovah's choice
vine, transplanted from Egypt into the Holy Land. Pococke
saw large herds among the reeds of Jordan, where it flows
into the sea of Galilee; and so it is sculptured on Assyrian
monuments as among reeds. Its Hebrew name, chazir, is from a
root to roll in the mud.