Earlier, while trekking through the jungle both of us had spied tracks of wild pigs. On setting up camp for the night by the stream, he told me he would set up a trap (spring loaded stake) to kill one for me to have a taste of wild boar meat. A low lying branch next to the spoor trail would be pulled back horizontally and held as a spring, with a stake tied firmly to it. The trap's trigger was a vine set across the trail. When a wild pig next used the same trail and grazed the vine, it would trigger off the whipping branch, plunging the stake into the animal's side.
Being a bit of a wildlife lover, I asked whether it wasn't cruel to hunt the pigs with such a drastic trap. He replied gently:
”Tuhan menciptakan segala jenis binatang untuk kegunaan kita” (God created all creatures for our use).
In placating my concerns for a boar struggling painfully after being pierced by a spring loaded stake, he came up with very crystallized wisdom for people who survive in such environment (not city slickers like me). Thus I find it hard to reconcile the incongruity of an Almighty creating some creatures just to be forbidden food to his ‘children’ – what would be the divine purpose?
Then I came across a book by Stewart Lee Allen, titled In the Devil’s Garden: A Sinful History of Forbidden Food.
It is a bountiful collection of the world’s food taboos, ranging from why some Buddhist monks won’t take garlic, the Aztecs' relish for their enemies’ hearts, the disagreement between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church over the communion wafer, and of course the orthodox Jews' aversion towards pork.
The book also relates the torment of European Jews (by the use of and reference to pigs and pork) by the Catholic Church, particularly during the Spanish Inquisition, right down to Hitler and his Nazis. Sprinkled throughout its pages are interesting stories and recipes.
This is what Allen had to say, after he discussed a few other reasons (including a discussion on kosher split hoofed cud-chewing animals and the problem of trichinosis):
"Historians fancy the notion that Jewish pig phobia stems from their stint as slaves in Egypt during the time when the cult of the god Seth held pigs to be exalted beasts.
|Seth, God of Chaos|
This may also explain the curious reports that certain Jewish cults used to have secret pork feasts once a year. According to scholar Frederick Simoons, when Seth was overthrown, his beloved spareribs became taboo for Egyptians, save for a yearly feast held at the full moon, a habit some Jews might have picked up."
"Why the full moon? Because the original sacred animal was not the pig, but the similar-looking hippo, which according to ancient Egyptian belief, lives on the Moon. Hippos live on the Moon? Well, yes; the idea is that while some Pharaoh was meditating on the full moon reflected on the Nile, a hippo emerged from the reflection ..."
According to Professor Baruch Halpern, who holds the Chaiken Family Chair in Jewish Studies, in his book David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King, ...
... he stated in the preface that the ancient Hebrews had other gods beside Yahweh, including his consort Ashtoret, though no deeply religious Jew or Christian is likely to accept Halpern's revelation.
Thus, we shouldn't be surprised about the possibility of the ancient Jews worshiping many gods including and particularly Egyptian ones like Seth.
(I must qualify that I haven’t quite finished Professor Halpern's book of David, which tells the story from the other side, rather than by David's supporters or propagandists. Therefore if the quotation should eventually turn out to be not quite within context, I apologize).
After reading several books, I have found that the Egyptian connection for the Hebrews is too strong to be dismissed, and I'll be blogging more of this very soon, namely on ‘Who was Abraham?’
BolehTalk’s The Pig on Noah’s Ark