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Pig Sacrifices

I have long assumed there was a connection between the prohibition of pig flesh in Leviticus 11 with the use of pigs in sacrifices to chthonic (i.e., netherworld) deities in various Indo-European cultures. I appreciate John Walton confirming that such a connection exists, but am still curious about how pigs feature in the cultuses of Israel’s nearer neighbors. There were Hittites around from the mid-second millennium, and the Hurrians may well have shared many cultural and religious traits with them. Given their presumed Aegean origins, the Philistines also may have sacrificed pigs to chthonic deities. What about the Canaanites and other Semitic cultures? What about the Egyptians?

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4 Comments

  1. Jim Getz says:

    Is there anything about which one can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? It was already written of by Milgrom in his gigantic Anchor Bible Commentary.

    😉

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  2. Jim, does Milgrom say anything about Canaanite and Egyptian sacrificial practices vis-à-vis pigs?

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  3. Sorry to hijack this D.P., but I wrote today on Palm Sunday. http://levellers.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/palm-sunday-anti-imperial-street-theatre/

    One of my persistant conservative critics tried to turn this into a debate over the Jesus Seminar (which I’m ignoring–he knows well that I am not a fan of the JS, but is trying to sidetrack things). But he had a more substantive criticism saying that the early church was apolitical and other worlldly. I am not enough of a scholar of the Ante-Nicene church to answer authoritatively. My impression is that this apolitical otherworldliness was a part of the Constantinian capture of the church, but I need people like you to address this because of your greater knowledge of early church history.

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  4. mikelioso says:

    other groups in the area had prohibitions on pigs. Egyptians seem to have different views within their culture on pigs, along with fish, on whether they were clean or unclean. Pigs were comonly seen as a destructive forse in legends of the region. in egypt the evil god seth assumed the form of a black pig, and some legends of adonnis say he was gored to death by a pig. beyond those negative attributes, I wonder if the Israelite ban on pigs reflects that they weren’t good animals for a wandering beduin to keep, and thus were assotated with canannite city dwellers? i have a hard time immagining a group of pigs accompaninying goats and camels in the high desert.

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