This article is from the Encyclopedia Judaica

PIG (Heb, hazir). Included in the Pentateuch among the unclean animals prohibited as food is the pig which although cloven-footed, is a nonruminant (Lev. 11:7, Deut. 16:8). It is the sole unclean animal mentioned as possessing these characteristics. There are archaeological evidences (figurines and relics of bones) that the pig was eaten by the inhabitants of Canaan before the Israelite conquest. It was also offered as a sacrifice in idolatrous worship, provoking a protest from Isaiah (66:3), while those "eating swine's flesh, and the detestable thing, and the mouse" (66:17) apparently did so in a cultic ceremony. The pig symbolized something repulsive, and hence "as a ring of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman that turneth aside from discretion" (Prov. 11:22). Other peoples, too, such as the Egyptians and the Sidonians, refrained from eating pig, which was also later prohibited to the Muslims. Abhorrence of the pig entered so deeply into the consciousness of teh Jews that the expression davar aher ("another thing," i.e.. something not to be mentioned by name) was used for it, at least as early as talmudic times (Ber. 43b: Shab. 129a) and in Aramaic as "that species." As early as Antiochus Epiphanes it was decreed that the eating of swine's flesh was to be a test of the Jews' loyalty to Judaism (II Macc. 6:18). Following the incident in the days of Hyrcanus II when, instead of an animal fit for sacrifice, a pig was sent up the walls of Jerusalem during a siege, it was decreed: "Cursed be he who breeds pigs" (Sot. 49b; TJ,Ta'an. 4:8,68c), and this prohibition was incorporated into the Mishnah (BK 7:7). Since the pig eats everything and finds its food everywhere, there arose the saying: "None is richer than a pig" (Shab. 155b). The pig suffers from various maladies: "Ten measures of diseases descended to the world, of which the swine took nine" (Kid. 49b). During a plague that afflicted pigs, R. Judah decreed a fast in Babylonia since "their intestines are like those of human beings," the fear being entertained that the plague would spread to people (Ta'an. 21b).

The domesticated pig, Sus scropha domestica, is descended from the wild boar, Sus scropha. Its domestication was a lengthy process, going back to ancient times. The pig formerly found in Erez Israel differed from the present-day one whose various breeds were developed from strains brought from China about the middle of the 18th century. The wild boar (hazir ha-bar), which is found in Israel especially in Upper and western Galilee, damages plants and vegetables, and uprrots the bulbs adn tubers of wild flora. It is the "boar out of the wood" in Psalms (80:9-14), where reference is made to the ravages it causes to vines. The Tosefta (Kil. 1:8) states that "although the pig and the wild boar resemble each other, they are heterogeneous."

In Halakhah and Aggadah. In a baraita mentioned three times in the Babylonian Talmud (Sot. 49b:BK 82b: Men. 64b), the prohibition against rearing pig is joined with the prohibition against studying "Greek wisdom." and some scholars have queried the trustworthiness of this tradition and tend to the opinion that the incident referred to there - when the besiegers of Jerusalem sent up a pig to the besieged in place of the two lambs for the daily sacrifices occurred during the siege of Jerusalem by Titus when the subsequent prohibition against rearing pigs was decreed (TJ, BER: 1, 7B) where a similar story occurs about sending up a pig at "the time of the wicked kingdom"). It seems, however, that the prohibition against rearing pigs was already known in the day of the early Hasmoneans; it is possible that its source is to be found in a reaction to the decrees of Antiochius Epiphanes, who ordered a pig to be offered as a sacrifice (I Macc. 1:47) and pig's flesh to be eaten (II Macc. 6: 18-7:42), and that the incident in the time of the Hasmonean brothers caused the prohibition to be stressed with greater emphasis.

The phrase "Cursed be the man who rears" is worthy of attention. It would appear that, with the increase of the non-Jewish population, Jews in Erez Israel apparently engaged in the business of pig rearing. Of interest is the combination "pig-breeders and usurers" (Ber. 55a, and Rashi. ad loc.) both of which were regarded as providing an easy means of livelihood. Although there are many references in the aggadah to a feeling of' revulsion and disgust toward swine flesh, the rabbis refrained from connecting the prohibition with this feeling. Eleazar b. Azariah expounded, "Whence do we know that a man should not say. 'I have no desire to eat swine's flesh,' but rather should he say 'I would like to eat it, but what can I do seeing that my Father in Heaven has decreed against it"' (Sifra. Kedoshim, Perek 11:22). A substitute was even given in a fish called shibuta "which resembles the pig" in taste (Hul. 109b: Tanh. Shemini, 12).

In the Midrash the Roman kingdom is called hazir ("pig"), It is possible that the name originated in the fact that the symbol of the Roman legion in Erez Israel was the boar (see ARN. 34:100:" ' The ... boar out of the wood doth ravage it' [Ps. 8O:14], refers to the Roman kingdom", and cf. Mid. Ps. to 80:6). The Midrashim explain the name with reference to the characteristics common to Rome and to the pig: "and the swine because he parteth the hoof"-why is [Rome] compared to a swine?-To teach that just as a swine when it lies down puts out its hooves as if to say, 'see. I am clean,' so too the kingdom of Edom [Rome] acts arrogantly, and plunders and robs under the guise of establishing a judicial tribunal" (Lev. R. 13:5). Another "etymological" explanation states: "Why is [Rome] called hazir ['pig'] ... because it will eventually restore haHazir ['the kingdom'] to its rightful owner" (Eccles. R. 1:9: Lev. R. 13:5). This statement was quoted in the Middle Ages by the people with the reading, "Why is it called a pig? - Because the Holy One will restore it to Israel" (i.e., declare it clean), and in this form it became a topic in Jewish-Christian polemics.

In Israel. The raising of pigs in the Holy Land was always regarded with abhorrence not only by Jewish religious circles but also by many outside the strictly religious camp. The Jewish National Fund's leases forbade pig raising on its land. The religious parties pressed for the prohibition of pig breeding by law, but in the early years of statehood it was left to local authorities to pass their own bylaws in this matter. When the Supreme Court, in a test case, ruled that such regulations were ultra vires, the religious parties pressed for, and secured, the passage of a special authorization law (5717/1956) to give the local authorities the necessary authority. There was still pressure for the prohibition of pig breeding on a national basis and in 1962 a law was passed forbidding the breeding, keeping, or slaughtering of pigs, except in Nazareth and in certain other named places with a sizable Christian population. [ED.]

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