What Do Pigs Represent in the Bible – The Unclean and Forbidden Animal

What Do Pigs Represent in the Bible – The Unclean and Forbidden Animal

Porcine. A rare and often misunderstood creature in the context of the Bible. When we delve into the scriptures, we find that pigs hold a significant place in the religious text. In the Old Testament, pigs are considered unclean and forbidden animals for the Israelites. As per Leviticus 11:7-8, touching the carcass of a pig or even the pig itself is deemed unclean. This led to the complete avoidance of pork consumption in the Jewish dietary laws, further emphasized by the prohibition of swine flesh in Isaiah 65:4 and 66:17. Pigs symbolize impurity and sinfulness in the spiritual context of the Bible, and understanding their representation is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of biblical teachings.

Key Takeaways:

  • Uncleanliness: Pigs are seen as unclean animals in the Bible and are therefore forbidden to be consumed or used for sacrifices.
  • Symbol of impurity: Pigs represent impurity and are often used as a symbol of uncleanliness and sin in biblical teachings.
  • Forbidden consumption: The consumption of pork is explicitly prohibited in the Old Testament, and the handling of pigs is considered taboo in the Jewish tradition.
  • Cultural significance: The negative symbolism of pigs in the Bible has had a lasting impact on Judeo-Christian cultures, influencing dietary and lifestyle choices for adherents of these faiths.
  • Metaphor for moral corruption: In Christian teachings, pigs are sometimes used as a metaphor for moral corruption and the rejection of spiritual values.

The Biblical Representation of Pigs

For centuries, pigs have been a symbol of impurity and taboo in various religious traditions, including Christianity. The Bible provides a significant representation of pigs, associating them with uncleanliness and forbidding their consumption. Understanding the biblical view of pigs is essential for grasping the cultural and religious significance attached to these animals.

Pigs as Unclean Animals

In the Bible, pigs are considered unclean animals according to the laws outlined in the Book of Leviticus. The Old Testament categorizes pigs as unfit for consumption and prohibits the Israelites from touching their carcasses due to their cloven hoofs but not chewing the cud. Unclean animals were to be avoided, as they were perceived as impure and carrying spiritual contamination. The symbolism of pigs as unclean creatures is further portrayed in the New Testament, reinforcing the negative connotations associated with these animals.

Pigs as Forbidden for Consumption

The prohibition against the consumption of pork is explicitly mentioned in the Bible, particularly in the book of Deuteronomy. The Old Testament law strictly forbids the consumption of pork, including the flesh of swine, for it is considered impure and not suitable for human consumption. The biblical injunction against eating pork is deeply rooted in the religious beliefs and practices of the ancient Israelites, shaping their dietary customs and reinforcing the notion of pigs as forbidden animals.

Pigs in Different Biblical Contexts

Now, let’s delve into the different biblical contexts in which pigs are mentioned and the symbolic meanings associated with them.

Pigs as Symbols of Impurity

In the Bible, pigs are often used as symbols of impurity and uncleanness. The Old Testament specifically designates them as unclean animals, unfit for consumption or sacrifice. When pigs are mentioned in the context of impurity, they serve as a reminder of the need for spiritual cleanliness and purity. In Leviticus 11:7, pigs are listed among the unclean animals that the Israelites are not to eat. This categorization emphasizes the importance of adhering to purity laws and living a life that is free from impurity. The association of pigs with impurity serves as a warning to avoid anything that may defile your soul and spirit.

Pigs as Representations of Sin

In addition to representing impurity, pigs are also used in the Bible as representations of sin and ungodly behavior. In the New Testament, the story of the herd of swine in the region of the Gadarenes (Matthew 8:28-34) illustrates this concept. When Jesus cast demons out of a possessed man and allowed them to enter a herd of pigs, the pigs immediately ran into the sea and drowned. This serves as a powerful illustration of the destructive nature of sin and the consequences of allowing unclean spirits to have control. The pigs’ fate highlights the danger of allowing sin to take hold in your life and the need to resist temptation and live in accordance with God’s will. It is a reminder of the importance of striving for righteousness and resisting the lure of sinful behavior.

The Significance of Pigs in Judeo-Christian Traditions

Your understanding of the significance of pigs in Judeo-Christian traditions can provide essential insights into the religious beliefs and cultural practices of these traditions. Pigs are a central symbol in both Judaism and Christianity, representing uncleanliness and forbidden conduct. The evolutionary depiction of pigs in the Bible has played a crucial part in shaping the beliefs and practices of followers of both religions.

Pigs in Jewish Beliefs

In Jewish beliefs, pigs are considered unclean animals and are forbidden to be consumed. The prohibition against eating pork is outlined in the Torah, the central reference for Jewish law and tradition. The concept of ritual purity is deeply rooted in Judaism, and the consumption of pork is viewed as a violation of these laws. Pigs are seen as impure and are not fit for consumption in Jewish dietary practices. As a result, the pig symbolizes impurity and defilement in Jewish beliefs, and its association with moral and spiritual corruption is prominent in Jewish teachings.

Pigs in Christian Teachings

In Christian teachings, the symbolism of pigs is closely tied to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the early Christian church. Similar to Jewish beliefs, pigs are considered unclean animals in Christianity, and their consumption is forbidden. The association of pigs with impurity and uncleanliness is prevalent in the New Testament, where Jesus used the imagery of pigs to convey moral and spiritual lessons. The teachings of the apostle Paul also emphasized the importance of adhering to moral purity and avoiding behaviors that are spiritually defiling. Therefore, in Christian teachings, the pig symbolizes uncleanliness and the need for moral and spiritual purity.


So, pigs in the Bible are often seen as unclean and forbidden animals. They represent impurity and sinfulness, and are used as a symbol of what is not holy or acceptable in the eyes of God. By understanding the significance of pigs in the Bible, you can gain insight into the cultural and religious beliefs of the time, and how they continue to influence perceptions of certain animals and dietary practices today. It is important to recognize the historical and religious context in which pigs are mentioned in the Bible, and to consider how those interpretations may have shaped societal attitudes towards these animals.


Q: What do pigs represent in the Bible?

A: In the Bible, pigs are often associated with uncleanliness and forbidden behaviors. They are considered unclean animals and are prohibited from being consumed or even touched by the Israelites.

Q: Are pigs considered unclean animals in the Bible?

A: Yes, according to the laws outlined in the Old Testament, pigs are considered unclean animals. This classification is based on the dietary laws and regulations provided in the Book of Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

Q: Why are pigs considered unclean in the Bible?

A: Pigs are considered unclean in the Bible due to their behaviors and anatomy. They are omnivores and consume a wide variety of foods, including garbage and waste, which was seen as unclean. Additionally, they do not have split hooves, another characteristic that would classify an animal as clean for consumption. These characteristics led to the association of pigs with impurity and forbidden consumption.

Q: What is the significance of pigs being unclean in the Bible?

A: The classification of pigs as unclean in the Bible serves as a guideline for the Israelites, emphasizing the importance of maintaining spiritual and physical purity. It also reflects the idea of separation and distinctiveness, as the Israelites were called to be a holy people and set apart from other nations.

Q: How does the representation of pigs in the Bible impact religious and cultural practices?

A: The representation of pigs as unclean has had a significant impact on religious and cultural practices, particularly within Judaism and, to some extent, Christianity. It has influenced dietary restrictions, rituals, and even the symbolic significance of pigs in religious and cultural contexts. This representation continues to shape beliefs and practices related to purity, cleanliness, and obedience to religious laws.

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