Pork Consumption as an Identity Marker in Ancient Israel: The Textual Evidence

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Abstract

While a finding of pig remains has often been regarded in Iron Age archaeological studies as an indication of the inhabitants' identity, several recent zooarchaeological studies have shown that the archaeological record is more complex, and that pig remains cannot serve as an identity marker. The textual evidence analyzed in this paper supports this direction and suggests a multistage development process leading up to various expressions of the pig taboo in ancient Israelite belief. While in the Pentateuch pigs are mentioned alongside other impure animals and are not accorded excessive impurity amongst them, the textual sources indicate that pigs received a special status and became an identity marker only from the Greco-Roman period onwards. This paper also shows that during this period even the word "pig"became taboo in certain instances, as seen from three texts preserved in LXX of Samuel-Kings (1-4 Kingdoms) but missing from MT.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Ahab (1 Kgs 21 [LXX 20]:19; 22:38)
  • David (2 Sam 17:8)
  • Esarhaddon's vassal treaty
  • dietary laws
  • martyrs
  • pig taboo

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