The intriguing 2,800-year-old Jerusalem pig

Published 9:04 pm Wednesday, July 28, 2021

By R.A. Mathews

Is it an omen? The 2,800-year-old pig found in Jerusalem?

The animal is a recent discovery, reported in the June, 2021, issue of Near Eastern Archeology. The journal called the finding “intriguing” because there may have been zero pigs during that era in the Southern Kingdom of Israel. However, that wasn’t true for the Northern Kingdom.

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Was the 8th century B.C. different for the two kingdoms in any other way? If you want to know God, you must know this.

I read about the intriguing pig on the day of a mediation. The Apostle Paul wrote to encourage Christians but made his living as a tentmaker. Just so, I write a faith column but make my living as a civil mediator. Mediations are confidential, so I’ve changed the specifics of this case.

A mother filed suit against her daughter to regain money invested in the daughter’s company. The two had a written agreement — the mother could request the money at any time. The daughter was fighting because it meant selling the company.

The daughter was going to lose in court. Open and shut. But, I implored the mother— did she want her child to fail?

“Yes!” Her faced flushed with anger.

I had a loving mother, so it was hard to hear. The woman then wanted to tell me about other complaints with the daughter, and I kept thinking, “Focus.”

Mediation is my gift — “Blessed are the peacemakers” — and I usually succeed. But this one failed. As I was writing to the judge the next day, the mother called me. “I want to continue with the mediation,” she said.

Whoa. Where’d that come from?

So, we met. I talked first with her, but she’d changed her mind and wanted her money. The daughter looked terrible — her cat was sick, and the vet wasn’t sure he’d live.

I decided to put the two in the same room, say nothing, and see what happened. They stared at each other, faces filled with fury. It was a bad idea.

I closed my eyes and began to pray, remembering a Pope saying to ask your guardian angel to talk to your adversary’s guardian angel. I asked for our three angels to put their heads together. That’s when it happened!

“I love you.” The mother’s voice trembled with emotion.

I opened my eyes and looked at her.

“I’m not having it,” she said to the girl.

“You’re destroying my life, Mother.”

“No, you’re destroying your life.” Then all those complaints came out, and I realized how dense I’d been.

This wasn’t about money. The mother had many children. They spent Sundays going to church and eating together.

The daughter wasn’t in church or at family events but living with a man. The mother was trying to discipline her.

What does this have to do with the intriguing pig? Remember, the animal was found in the Southern Kingdom and had not been eaten. It would not have been intriguing in the Northern Kingdom, where pigs were eaten during this period, even though God forbid pork.

The Lord could not get His children to stop their evil. The pig was the tip of the iceberg — the Hebrews were worshipping other gods, sacrificing their children. Immorality was rampant. And God said, “Enough!” In the 8th century B.C., the Lord led the Assyrians to crush the Northern Kingdom.

This mother was also done with her daughter’s behavior. If it meant ruining the girl’s career to get her attention, better that than the girl losing her soul.

The prophet Isaiah told the Southern Kingdom to repent. The fate of the Northern Kingdom was coming if they didn’t change. King Hezekiah listened and turned the people from the immorality of the day. When Assyria showed up, God sent them packing. 2 Kings 17:6 – 19:37, Isaiah 36:1 – 37:38

The daughter also listened. She knew her love-filled mother was right and returned home.

The lone, uneaten pig.

Researchers say it means Jews were consuming pigs in Jerusalem. I say just the opposite. God’s people gave up their rebellion and were saved.

This country must do the same.

Look — plagues, fires, flooding, heat domes.  Is there any reason God might be mad at us?

The pig is an omen. Change or suffer the fate of Northern Israel. We must turn back to holiness.


The Rev. Mathews, (B.A., M.Div., J.D.), is a faith columnist, seminary graduate, and the author of “Reaching to God” and “Emerald Coast.” Write to her at

Copyright © 2021 R.A. Mathews.  All rights reserved.