Questions From Readers
● Was it proper for Jesus to allow certain demons to enter into a herd of swine and destroy them, as recorded at Matthew 8:28-32, since the swine were not his own property?—A. P., United States.
This record is one critics of the Bible like to attack and to use as an excuse for doubting the authenticity of the Scriptures. Thus the Interpreter’s Bible comments on the various accounts of this incident by the Gospel writers in the following vein: “The notion that the legion of demons could enter the swine (vs. 13) was popular superstition, no doubt; but it seems better to leave the story as it stands, as a folk tale current in a pagan neighborhood.” “The story is legendary.” “One finds it hard to believe that Jesus would bargain with the demons and permit them to possess the swine, and perhaps these details have been added to the story.”
However, those having accepted the overwhelming proofs of the Bible’s authenticity, as repeatedly noted in the pages of the Watch Tower publications, will experience no difficulty in accepting the record as historical. According to God’s law swine were unclean animals, and not only were the Israelites forbidden to eat their flesh or to use them for sacrifices but even to touch the carcasses of swine made an Israelite unclean. For them to raise swine was therefore a flagrant disregard of God’s law. Since they had no business raising swine even for commercial purposes they could well consider this destruction of their herd as a just rebuke. Besides, it was not required that Jesus exercise foreknowledge as to what the demons would do once they entered the unclean animals. Also, it might be reasonably argued that one man is worth more than a herd of swine, especially since swine were supposed to have no commercial value among the Jews. So no fault can be found with Jesus’ permitting the demons to enter into the swine.