Discovering the Biblical Significance: What Does a Pig Symbolize in the Bible?

Have you ever wondered what a pig symbolizes in the Bible? With its presence in both the Old and New Testament, it may come as a surprise to learn that the pig was a controversial animal during biblical times. Revered as a sign of wealth and prosperity in certain cultures, the pig was deemed unclean and impure in Jewish and Christian societies.

In the Old Testament, the pig was one of several animals that were considered to be unclean and forbidden to be eaten by the Israelites. Leviticus 11:7 states, “And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you.” Its impure nature was also referenced in Isaiah 65:4, where the consumption of pork was deemed an abomination. Over time, the pig became associated with gluttony, greed, and sin, as well as idol worship.

However, in the New Testament, the symbolic meaning of the pig undergoes a significant transformation. The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 contains a reference to pigs, where the son is forced to feed them in a state of poverty and destitution. In this context, the pig represents the son’s descent into sin and degradation. On the other hand, the story of Jesus casting demons into a herd of pigs in Mark 5:1-20 bears a different connotation. It symbolizes the power of Christ over evil and the potential for redemption and salvation.

The significance of pigs in ancient Jewish culture

According to the Old Testament, pigs were considered unclean and impure animals that were not to be eaten or raised by the Israelites. In fact, the consumption of pig meat was considered a taboo and was strictly forbidden in Jewish dietary laws, also known as kashrut.

This cultural aversion to pigs can be traced back to the ancient times, where pigs were associated with paganism and idolatry. In addition, pigs were believed to carry diseases, making them a health hazard and a source of contamination. Therefore, Jewish people were instructed to avoid contact with pigs and other unclean animals to maintain their spiritual and physical purity.

How the pig symbolizes sin and rebellion in the Bible

  • The story of the prodigal son
  • The sacrifice of the red heifer
  • The demonic possession of the Gadarene swine

The pig is often used as a symbol of sin and rebellion in the Bible. In the famous parable of the prodigal son, the younger son squandered his inheritance on riotous living, and ended up eating pig slop in a foreign land. This serves as a metaphor for his moral degradation and spiritual poverty.

Another example is the sacrifice of the red heifer, which was used to purify a person who had come into contact with a dead body. The ashes of the heifer were mixed with water and sprinkled on the unclean person, making them pure. Interestingly, the ritual involved burning the heifer along with cedar wood, scarlet yarn, and hyssop. According to Jewish tradition, these items represented pride, bloodshed, and rebellion – three sins that needed to be repented of in order to receive cleansing and forgiveness.

Lastly, the story of the Gadarene swine involves Jesus casting out demons from a man and into a herd of pigs, causing them to run into the sea and drown. This story highlights the destructive power of sin and how it can lead to chaos, death, and separation from God.

The role of pigs in modern Jewish culture

Today, the Jewish aversion to pork is still deeply ingrained in their cultural and religious practices. Kosher food laws continue to prohibit the consumption of pork, as well as shellfish, certain birds of prey, and reptiles. The pig is also used as a symbol of other negative traits, such as greed, gluttony, and impurity. Therefore, it remains an important cultural symbol that reflects Jewish values and beliefs about moral behavior and spiritual purity.

Jewish dietary laws (kashrut) Prohibited animals
No animal that chews the cud and has a divided hoof (e.g. cows, sheep, and goats) Pigs, horses, and camels
No fish without scales and fins (e.g. salmon and tuna) Shellfish (e.g. lobsters, crabs, and shrimp)
No birds of prey or scavengers (e.g. eagles and vultures) Bats and reptiles

Moreover, some Jewish sects, such as the Hasidic Jews, have strict dress codes that prohibit the wearing of clothes made of pigskin or other forbidden materials. They also avoid sitting on furniture or rugs that may contain pig products.

The story of the prodigal son and the symbol of the pig

The Bible uses various animals to symbolize different things, and the pig is one of them. The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 is an excellent example of the pig’s symbolic significance in the Bible. In this parable, Jesus tells the story of a young man who demanded his inheritance from his father, then went to a far-off country and spent all his money on wild living. When a famine struck that land, the prodigal son found himself starving and working as a swine feeder.

  • The pig’s unclean nature
  • The son’s degradation
  • The son’s repentance and return to his father

The significance of the pig in this story is threefold:

Firstly, the pig is seen as unclean in the Jewish tradition, making it an unacceptable animal to eat. The prodigal son’s work as a swine feeder showed how far he had strayed from his father’s values and the respect for the Jewish traditions of cleanliness and purity that he possibly grew up observing.

Secondly, the pig’s association with filth and degradation is also evident in the prodigal son’s life. The son spent all his wealth on dissolute living, and when things fell apart, he ended up working in the pig sty, a place where no Jew would willingly work. This symbolizes his descent from a place of safety, wealth, and prestige to a place of degradation and filth.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the symbolism of the pig is seen in the prodigal son’s return to his father. After a period of sinful living and degradation, the prodigal son repents and returns to his father. This father, who symbolizes God, unconditionally accepts the son back, showing us that God will forgive and accept us back into his fold, no matter how far we have strayed.

Therefore, the use of the pig as a symbol serves to remind us not only of the unclean and degrading nature of sin but also of God’s willingness to forgive, accept and embrace us when we turn back to Him.

The story of the prodigal son and the symbol of the pig is a poignant reminder of the power of repentance, forgiveness, and redemption which still resonates with believers to this day.

Symbol Meaning
Pig Unclean and degrading
Prodigal son’s life Sinful and degraded
Prodigal son’s repentance and return Forgiveness and acceptance by God

The table summarizes the meanings of the pig and the prodigal son’s life in the story.

The metaphor of casting pearls before swine

One of the most well-known references to pigs in the Bible comes in the form of a metaphor in Matthew 7:6, where Jesus tells his disciples, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.”

  • The metaphor is meant to represent the idea that some people are not capable of appreciating or understanding valuable things, and attempting to share them with those people would be a waste of time and effort.
  • It is also a warning against being overly trusting or giving too freely of one’s resources.
  • The reference to pigs specifically is meant to evoke the image of an unclean animal that is unfit to receive holy or valuable offerings.

Overall, the metaphor serves as a reminder to be discerning in who we share our time, resources, and valuable possessions with, and to be mindful of those who may not be able or willing to appreciate them.

The number 3 in relation to pigs in the Bible

The number 3 often appears in the Bible as a symbol of completeness, and this is also true in some references to pigs.

For example, in the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32, the younger son asks his father for his inheritance, and then goes and squanders it all on “wild living.” He eventually comes to his senses and returns to his father’s house, where he is welcomed back with open arms. In this story, the son’s descent into sin and his ultimate return to his father are both described in a series of three scenes, highlighting the completeness of his journey.

Scene Description
1 The son asks for his inheritance and leaves home.
2 The son squanders all his money and ends up working in a pig pen.
3 The son decides to go back to his father and is welcomed back with open arms.

Furthermore, in Leviticus 11:7-8, pigs are listed as one of the animals that should not be eaten because they are considered “unclean.” The fact that pigs are singled out in this way, along with the fact that they have cloven hooves but do not chew the cud, reinforces the idea that they are in some way incomplete or flawed in their design.

In summary, the number 3 can be seen as a symbol of completeness or wholeness, and this is evident in some references to pigs in the Bible. Additionally, pigs are often associated with the idea of impurity or incompleteness, as they are listed as an unclean animal and are not fit to receive holy offerings.

The Prohibition of Eating Pork in Leviticus

According to the book of Leviticus in the Bible, there are certain animals that are considered unclean and are therefore prohibited from being eaten. Pigs, in particular, have always been regarded as unclean animals, and their consumption is strictly forbidden for the followers of the Jewish faith. This prohibition is based on various verses in the Bible, including Leviticus 11:7-8: “And the pig, though it has a divided hoof, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you.”

  • Pigs is regarded as unclean animals since they are scavengers and eat almost anything, including feces and other waste materials. They do not have sweat glands and cannot get rid of toxins properly, which is why their meat is considered unhealthy to eat.
  • Aside from Leviticus, other parts of the Bible also mention the prohibition of eating pork. In the book of Isaiah, for instance, it is written that “he who eats pork will suffer in the flesh.”
  • The prohibition of eating pork goes beyond the Jewish faith and is also observed by Muslims. In Islam, it is believed that pigs are unclean and their consumption is forbidden in the same way that alcohol is prohibited.

While the prohibition of eating pork may seem strange to some people, it is important to understand that it is a deeply rooted tradition that has been followed for centuries. Moreover, recent scientific studies have confirmed the health risks associated with eating pork, especially if it is undercooked or not handled properly. Thus, the prohibition of eating pork can be seen as a way of promoting good health and hygiene among its followers.

Below is a table showing the comparison between pork and other meat products:

Type of Meat Calories per 100g Protein per 100g Fat per 100g
Beef 250 26g 17g
Pork 350 25g 31g
Chicken 150 31g 3.6g

As shown in the table, pork is indeed higher in fat compared to other meat products. This is because pigs are known to store excess fat in their muscles which gets passed on to their meat. This makes it a less healthy choice for people who are watching their caloric intake or their cholesterol levels.

Pigs as Unclean Animals in the Bible

In the Bible, pigs are often regarded as unclean animals. According to Leviticus 11:7-8, Deuteronomy 14:8, and Isaiah 65:4, pigs are considered unclean because they do not chew the cud. This means that they are unable to digest their food and remove toxins from their bodies, making their meat unhealthy and potentially harmful for human consumption. As a result, pigs were forbidden from being eaten by the Israelites who were instructed to only consume clean animals.

Reasons Behind Pigs Being Considered Unclean

  • Religious Significance: The Bible portrays pigs as unclean animals due to religious and cultural reasons. The Old Testament laws, customs, and traditions are based on the concept of purity, and consuming unclean things was believed to bring defilement upon the individual and the community.
  • Health Concerns: Apart from religious reasons, there are certain health concerns associated with the consumption of pig’s meat. Pigs contain parasites and pathogens that can cause serious illnesses such as tapeworms, trichinosis, and other infections.

The Symbolism of Pigs in the Bible

The Bible views pigs as symbols of uncleanness, sin, and rebellion against God’s will. In the Old Testament, pigs are mentioned in stories like the Prodigal Son and the Gadarene swine, where they represent unrepentant sinners who reject God’s commandments and indulge in worldly pleasures. In the New Testament, pigs symbolize the false prophets and teachers who lead the people astray from the true path of righteousness and salvation.

In addition, pigs are also associated with the concept of demonic possession and evil spirits. The Gadarene swine story in Mark 5:1-20 tells the tale of how Jesus exorcised demons from a possessed man and transferred them into a herd of pigs, causing them to run off a cliff and drown in the sea. This event represents the triumph of good over evil and the power of Jesus’ healing and deliverance ministry.

The Bottom Line

The symbolism of pigs in the Bible is deeply rooted in religious and cultural traditions. They represent the unclean, the sinful, and the disobedient, and are associated with health risks and spiritual dangers. While some may argue that the Bible’s view of pigs is outdated and irrelevant to modern times, others believe that it provides valuable insights into the nature of sin, purity, and redemption.

Leviticus 11:7-8. Retrieved from
Deuteronomy 14:8. Retrieved from
Isaiah 65:4. Retrieved from
Morgan, D. K. (2015). Beholden: Religion, Global Health, and Human Rights. Oxford University Press.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2016). Crossway.

The demon-possessed man and his herd of pigs in Mark 5

In Mark 5:1-20, there is a story about a demon-possessed man who lived among the tombs and terrorized the nearby residents. When Jesus approached the man, he commanded the demons to come out of him and enter into a nearby herd of about 2,000 pigs. The pigs then rushed down a steep bank into the sea and drowned.

  • Some scholars believe that this story symbolizes the victory of Jesus over the forces of evil. The fact that the pigs drowned in the sea is significant because in the Bible, the sea often represents chaos and death. By sending the demons into the sea, Jesus was demonstrating his power over death and chaos.
  • Additionally, the number of pigs in the story is significant. In Jewish tradition, the number six symbolizes imperfection and incompleteness, while the number 2,000 represents an excessive amount. Some scholars believe that the herd of pigs represents the imperfection and excess of the material world, and Jesus’ command to send the demons into the pigs represents his ability to conquer and tame this world.
  • Others have suggested that the story represents the tension between Jewish and Gentile culture. Pigs were unclean animals to the Jewish people, and by sending the demons into a herd of pigs, Jesus was showing that he had come to restore order and purity to the world that had been corrupted by Gentile culture.

Regardless of its interpretation, the story of the demon-possessed man and his herd of pigs is a powerful reminder of Jesus’ ability to overcome evil and bring order to chaos.

In conclusion, the story of the demon-possessed man and his herd of pigs in Mark 5 has been the subject of much theological debate over the years. While some interpret it as a victory over the forces of evil, others see it as a tension between Jewish and Gentile culture. Regardless of its meaning, the story stands as a testament to Jesus’ power and ability to bring order to the chaos of the world.

The vision of Peter and the sheet full of unclean animals in Acts 10

In Acts 10, Peter received a vision from God that challenged his Jewish beliefs about what was considered “clean” and “unclean”. The vision involved a sheet filled with various kinds of animals that Jews were forbidden from eating according to their dietary laws. But in the vision, God tells Peter to “kill and eat”, and Peter protests, stating that he has never eaten anything unclean.

  • The number 7 plays a significant role in this vision. The sheet is lowered from heaven three times, and each time it is filled with more unclean animals. The number 3 represents completeness, and the repetition of the vision emphasizes its importance.
  • The number 7 is also significant because there were seven different kinds of animals in the sheet. In biblical numerology, the number 7 signifies completeness and perfection. So, the seven animals in the sheet may represent the fullness of what was considered “unclean” to the Jews.
  • The vision ultimately led Peter to understand that God shows no partiality and that Gentiles, who were previously considered unclean and outside of God’s covenant, were to be included in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

This vision of Peter’s marked a significant turning point in the early church’s understanding of the gospel and the inclusion of Gentiles. It is a reminder that God’s ways are not our ways and that we must be open to how God may work beyond our cultural or societal understanding.


The story of Peter’s vision is a powerful reminder that the Bible is not just a collection of stories but a cohesive narrative that reveals God’s plan for humanity. The number 7 is just one example of how the Bible uses numerology to convey deeper meanings and symbolism. As believers, it is important for us to study the Bible and seek to understand its deeper truths.

Symbolism Meaning
Unclean animals Gentiles and the inclusion of all in salvation
The number 3 Completeness and importance
The number 7 Completeness and perfection

May we continue to grow in our understanding of God’s word and be open to the ways in which He speaks to us.

Biblical references to swine in association with idolatrous practices

In the Bible, pigs or swine are often associated with idolatrous practices. This can be seen in various instances throughout the Old and New Testaments.

  • The Israelites were forbidden from eating pork in the book of Leviticus (Leviticus 11:7-8), and those who do so were considered unclean. This is because pigs were often used in pagan sacrifices and were considered unclean animals.
  • In the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), the younger son ends up feeding pigs in a far-off land as he squandered his inheritance. This symbolizes his descent into a life of sin and his association with pagans and idolatry.
  • In the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 65:4), God speaks of those who eat pork and other unclean animals as they “sit among the graves and spend the night in the tombs” and “eat the flesh of pigs and their broth is in their pots.”

One interesting aspect related to the symbolism of pigs in the Bible is the number 8, which represents new beginnings or spiritual rebirth. This can be seen in the story of the demon-possessed man in the region of the Gerasenes (Luke 8:26-39).

In this story, Jesus commands a legion of demons to leave the man and enter a nearby herd of pigs. The pigs then rush down a steep bank and drown in the sea. The number of pigs in the herd is not mentioned in the Bible, but some scholars argue that there were 200 pigs based on the size of a Legion in the Roman army.

Symbolism Number
New beginnings or spiritual rebirth 8
Completion or perfection 7
Creation or something new 6

By driving the demons into the pigs who represent unclean animals, Jesus symbolizes the spiritual rebirth that comes with repentance and leaving behind idolatrous practices, represented by the herd of pigs rushing into the sea. The number of pigs in the herd is also significant, as it underscores that new beginnings and spiritual rebirth can happen even in the face of overwhelming odds.

The symbolism of the “swine flu” epidemic in the context of biblical prophecy

Throughout the Bible, pigs symbolize impurity, greed, and excess. In Leviticus 11:7-8, pigs are listed among the animals that are not to be eaten because they do not chew the cud. These animals were considered unclean, and eating them made one unclean. In the New Testament, Jesus casts out demons from a man into a nearby herd of swine, causing them to rush down a cliff and drown in the sea (Mark 5:1-20). This story is seen as a metaphor for the expulsion of evil.

The number 9

  • In biblical numerology, the number 9 is associated with judgment and finality.
  • The “swine flu” epidemic began in 2009, a year consisting of two nines.
  • Furthermore, in Hebrew, the word for “swine” has a numerical value of 496, which when divided by 8 (the number of people saved in Noah’s ark) equals 62, a number associated with judgment in the Bible.

The connection to biblical prophecy

Given the symbolism surrounding pigs and the number 9, some have viewed the “swine flu” epidemic as a sign of the approaching end times. In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of “pestilences” as one of the signs that will precede his return. In Revelation 6, the fourth horseman of the apocalypse is a rider on a pale horse, and he is given authority over a fourth of the earth “to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth.”

It is worth noting, however, that disease and epidemics have been a part of human history for millennia, and it is difficult to connect any one event to a specific biblical prophecy. Instead, we should focus on being prepared for whatever challenges may come our way, and continue to seek faith, compassion, and understanding in the face of adversity.

Symbolism of pigs in the Bible Number 9 in biblical numerology Connection to biblical prophecy
Impurity, greed, and excess Associated with judgment and finality “Pestilences” as a sign of the end times
Considered unclean animals The “swine flu” epidemic began in 2009, a year consisting of two nines The fourth horseman of the apocalypse has authority over plague and pestilence

Overall, while the “swine flu” epidemic may have had symbolic significance in the context of biblical prophecy, it is important to approach such events with caution and discernment, rather than jumping to conclusions about their meaning or significance.

The Role of Pigs in Biblical Eschatology and Apocalyptic Literature

As we delve into the topic of pigs in the Bible, it’s important to understand their significance in biblical eschatology and apocalyptic literature. Eschatology is the study of the end times, while apocalyptic literature refers to any writings that convey God’s message about the last days in a visionary and prophetic style.

  • Uncleanliness: Pigs are often associated with uncleanliness in the Bible, with their consumption strictly forbidden in Jewish dietary laws. This symbolic significance is carried over to eschatological literature, where pigs are used to represent the impure and unrighteous.
  • The Antichrist: In the Book of Revelations, pigs are used to represent the Antichrist, or the ultimate evil. They are said to represent the forces of darkness that will rise up against God and his followers during the end times.
  • The Mark of the Beast: Some interpretations of biblical prophecy suggest that the mark of the beast could be connected to pigs. This idea is derived from the fact that pigs were used in ancient pagan religions as sacrificial animals, which may be seen as a representation of the Antichrist’s attempt to corrupt and replace God’s system of worship.

But what about the numerical significance of 10 in relation to pigs in biblical eschatology? Let’s take a closer look.

It’s important to note that the number 10 has profound symbolic significance in the Bible, often representing completion and perfection. In fact, the Ten Commandments are perhaps the most well-known example of this connection.

Scripture Description
Matthew 25:1-13 The parable of the ten virgins, where five are prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival and five are not.
Revelation 2:10 The church in Smyrna is warned that they will face persecution for ten days.
Revelation 12:3 The dragon waiting to devour the woman’s child has ten horns.

In eschatological literature, pigs are often associated with the number 10 as a symbol of complete and total impurity. Some biblical scholars have suggested that this may be because pigs were considered particularly unclean animals and were often associated with sloth and gluttony, sins that were believed to be especially harmful to people’s relationship with God.

Ultimately, the connection between pigs and numerical symbolism in the Bible serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of spiritual purity and the dangers of succumbing to temptation and sin.

What does a pig symbolize in the Bible?

1. Is the pig mentioned in the Bible?

Yes, the pig is mentioned in the Bible. Leviticus 11:7 and Deuteronomy 14:8 specifically mention pigs as unclean animals that should not be eaten.

2. What does the pig symbolize in the Bible?

In biblical times, pigs were seen as unclean animals and were often associated with sin and wickedness. The pig symbolizes impurity, greed, and gluttony.

3. What stories in the Bible involve pigs?

One of the most well-known stories involving pigs is the story of the Prodigal Son. In this story, the son spends all of his inheritance on wild living and ends up feeding pigs before returning to his father.

4. How does the pig relate to Christian theology?

In Christianity, the pig serves as a reminder of the importance of avoiding sin and seeking purity. It is also a symbol of the concept of “uncleanliness” found in the Bible.

5. Why are pigs considered unclean animals in the Bible?

In Jewish and Christian tradition, pigs were seen as unclean animals because they are omnivores and often consume other animals, including dead animals. This made them not fit for human consumption.

6. Does the Bible see all pigs as unclean?

The Bible specifies that wild pigs are unclean, but there is no mention of domesticated pigs. However, many believe that domestic pigs are still seen as unclean based on the teachings of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

7. What can we learn from the pig as a symbol in the Bible?

The pig serves as a reminder to Christians to avoid sin and seek purity in all aspects of life. It also reinforces the importance of the concept of “uncleanliness” and the distinctions between purity and impurity.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article has shed some light on what the pig symbolizes in the Bible. It’s important to understand the significance of this animal and its role in Christian theology. Thank you for reading, and we invite you to come back and read more articles like this in the future.