Swines flew*

Ok team. I have a question. Well, two questions. I was reading through the passage in Mark this morning where Jesus encounters the demon possessed man – with the demon called Legion. It’s an odd story, not because it’s all about demon possession and features a crazy guy living in a cemetery – it’s crazy because there’s a herd of pigs wandering around, being tended to. Here’s the story for those needing a refresher:

9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. 12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

14 Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. 15 When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. 16 Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. 17 Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

So, as I was saying, I read this this morning with a friend who’s a new Christian – and we speculated about why there would be pigs being tended by people – in a presumably Jewish city. We presumed it was Jewish because there seems to be no reaction to the fact that 2,000 pigs have just been demon possessed and drowned. If I were a farmer and some guy caused 2,000 of my stock to die, I’d be pretty upset. When I was working in a law firm at uni there was a case I did a lot of photocopying for where the government had culled a bunch of cows on the suspicion that they had tuberculosis – and that was a case worth millions of dollars… so there wasn’t much of a reaction recorded re the destruction of livestock… they just asked Jesus to leave town.

So we were wondering why Jews would be keeping a herd of 2,000 pigs that they couldn’t eat and didn’t seem to care about.

But Wikipedia suggests the region Jesus was in was a Gentile region – which just makes the story odder not simpler. Because you would assume these Gentile farmers would be pretty unhappy with a Jew killing their herd.

So what’s your take on the story?

*I wonder if swine flu is a case of a phonetic fulfillment of any contractual obligation to partake in an activity when “pigs fly”…