On a recent trip to Israel our student group was preparing our lunch at the picnic grounds on the site of Banias (NT Caesarea Philippi—think Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ/Messiah—Matthew 16:16 and gospel parallels). Looking up from our lunch, much to my surprise I saw a herd of about 15 wild boar near another picnic table close to us (adults plus young ones)!! During my 15 years in Israel I had never seen a wild boar in the wild and here we were IN a Jewish national park and there they were!
When we tried to approach them (bad move) they made aggressive moves towards us—in fact some of the students had to run away! Their aggressiveness was evidently known to the Psalmist who wrote that God’s people were like a fertile vineyard that had been ravaged by animals, including boars—depicting how foreign nations had ravaged Israel.
Boars from the forest ravage it [the fertile vineyard]
and the creatures of the field feed on it.
(Psalm 80:13 NIV)
In the New Testament there is a reference to not throwing “your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces“!!
Pigs (domesticated boars) and boars are mentioned 22 times in the Bible. They were unclean, and not to be eaten by the ancient Israelites (Lev 22:7; Deut 14:8). In the New Testament there is the famous story about Jesus casting demons into “a herd of swine” that rushed down a steep bank into the sea [of Galilee] (Matt 8:28-34; Mark 8:28–34; Luke 8:26–37) and also of the “Prodigal Son” who resorted to eating the pods that the [domesticated] pigs were eating—in a distant country (Luke 15:11–32).
“Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.”
(Proverbs 11:22 NIV)
I am told by expert guide Ofer Drori that there are plenty of the creatures in the Golan, Galilee, and Mount Carmel. Possibly they multiply rapidly because both Jews and Muslims are forbidden to eat them.
Photos courtesy of: Lorna Davis, Brady Bobbink and Joe Kirkland.