Pearls Before Swine
"Do not throw your
pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their
feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."
This phrase has come to mean different things in different situations...so I have divided this page into three sections.
Then all of these meanings can be explored.
The sections are as follows:
1. Literal interpretation--Pearls before swine, a story from Muscatine, Iowa during the days of clamming for shells used for buttons.
2. Spiritual interpretation--commentaries on verse about Pearls before swine in
3. Creative interpretation--Pearls before swine comic strip.
Blurred Pink Pearls
"Pearls Before Swine," comes from Matthew 7:6
"Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your
pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their
feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."
It seems like a funny thing for Jesus to include on His
famous "Sermon on the Mount," but He was the master of
picture language and deeper meaning...cryptic nuances that
take some thought.
I wanted to do a page
on this, so got out our trusty Matthew Henry commentaries
and was prepared to spend the day copying it all down when
Mark, my husband, informed me that it's a lot quicker to
"copy and paste" on the computer.
It had never entered my mind that Matthew Henry might be on
the computer...I thought he "lived" on our bookshelf.
Boy, sometimes, I realize how half of me still lives in the
dark ages while the other half is trying to enter into the
Anyway, I found, not only Matthew Henry, but tons of other
commentaries too....some even easier and more "21st
century-friendly" than good old Matt Henry.
I'll only include three, but for the students out there,
keep your eyes on my site for the full length version
including "fourteen" commentaries...coming soon.
By the way, you can read the Bible online at Bible.com
in a choice of 24 versions, plus tons of languages including
three types of French and three types of Greek and even get
free Bible downloads...Arabic maybe? or Russian, or Chinese?
Its also great for copying and pasting and for comparison
The couple who registered "Bible.com" were pretty smart. I
understand managing the site is their full time job....good
Anyway, back to "pearls before swine"...
First Section--Literal Example
During the beginning of the twentieth century, our city,
Muscatine, Iowa was known as the Pearl Button Capital of the World.
Because it's on the Mississippi River there was an
abundance of clam shells...free for the taking.
and his brother. entered into the business of gathering
shells, and cutting out blanks for buttons. (It's said that
parts of our city are built on four feet of the discarded
punched out shells.)
But, before they could be cut, they needed to be opened and
There was no better way than to "cook
them"...this would kill the mussel and open them, making it
easy to work with the money-making shell.
Were there pearls in those multitudes of clams?
Some young friends of ours, just this summer, gathered clams for fishing bait.
In the small number they gathered, they found three pearls! They were small, but pearls all the same. They made a great gift for their mom.
I've talked to others also who have firsthand experience of Mississippi River pearls. One man who bought a pink pearl necklace from me last Christmas said he saw a huge pink pearl from a river clam. That's why he was so thrilled to buy a pink pearl necklace for his wife!
These American pearls are a fascinating topic, watch for a future page about them or sign up for my e-zine to stay informed.
Every sort of clam is capable of producing pearls. (I once found a small rice pearl while eating oysters.)
In the flurry of the moment in Muscatine during the pearl button rush, the value was on the shells themselves, not the pearls.
Yes, pearls were gathered, but the emphasis those days wasn't on looking for pearls. Some pearls, however, found here in Muscatine are on display at the Pearl Button Museum.
Time usually was not spent to carefully search every shell
for pearls, before throwing them in the "cooking pot."
So, the clams were "cooked" in gigantic outdoor cookers.
Once the shells were free of the unwanted meat, the
Yes, you guessed it....FED TO THE SWINE!
...meat, brine, pearls and all!
I found this so interesting...a literal fulfillment of this
warning from Jesus--don't cast your pearls before swine.
I have read about one man from Eastern USA who found a
beautiful large pearl... only he found it "after" it had
been "cooked"... ruining it's value.
I want to write more about natural pearls (sometimes called
"orients") at a future time.
Pink Pearls in Old Tower
Second Section--Spiritual Interpretation
Here are three commentaries on Matthew 7:6."
1. Pastor Chuck has been the senior pastor of Calvary
Chapel Costa Mesa since 1965, and has been influential in
the Christian community for many years.
v. 6 We need to be careful about what we share with people
when we witness to them, and use discernment as to whether
they will scorn the precious things of God or listen with an
open mind. The Sermon on the Mount needs to be taken in
context The first section contains the Beatitudes. Matthew
5:3 -16 The Beatitudes place the emphasis on what we are as
opposed to what we do. Matthew 5:17 -48 deals with the
relationship of Jesus Christ to the law Matthew 6 deals with
our relation ship with God, and Matthew 7 deals with our
relationship with man.
2. David Guzik is the director of Calvary Chapel Bible
Balancing love with discernment a. Dogs and swine in this
context are those who are hostile to the gospel; our love
for others must not blind us to their hardened rejection of
the gospel b. Our pearls of the gospel may only confuse
unbelievers (who are blinded to the truth by the god of this
age), 2 Corinthians 4:4 and open the gospel to their
ridicule c. Of course, this is not a prohibition against
sharing the gospel, but a call to discernment, and an
invitation to look for prepared hearts
3. Geneva Study Bible Modern believers can read the
Scriptures with help from the theology of Calvin, Luther,
Zwingli, and other Reformation leaders. It was first printed
7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast
ye your a pearls before swine, lest they trample them under
their feet, and turn again and rend you. a. The stiff-necked
and stubborn enemies of the gospel are unworthy to have it
preached unto them. b. A pearl is known among the Greeks
for its oriental brightness: and a pearl was in ancient
times greatly valued by the Latins: for
a pearl that Cleopatra owned
was valued at two hundred and fifty thousand crowns: and the
word is now borrowed from that, to signify the most precious
Have you ever cast your pearl before "swine"? Don't worry...there's life after casting pearls.
Third Section--Creative Interpretation
A comic strip named: Pearls Before Swine
At its heart, "Pearls Before Swine," the comic strip tale of
two friends: a megalomaniacal Rat who thinks he knows it all
and a slow-witted Pig who doesn't know any better. Together,
this pair offers caustic commentary on humanity's quest for
the unattainable. The title of the strip comes from the New
Testament, and is taken from the phrase, "Don't cast your
pearls before swine." In this case, Rat believes that he is
an endless source of wisdom, and that it is wasted upon Pig,
who is rather slow. In truth, neither of them is very smart,
but while Pig is content with his humble status in life, Rat
is always on a futile search for fame, riches and
Rat: Arrogant, self-centered, fatalistic, philosophical and
quick-tempered, Rat is obsessed with fame, immortality and
making a quick buck. Spends his time with Pig because it
makes him feel superior and, more importantly, no one else
will hang out with him.
Pig: Humble (in fact, painfully aware of his limitations),
practical, kind and a little slow in the head, Pig has few
aspirations in life, other than to spend his days watching
TV and doing almost nothing productive. Apparently sees
something redeeming in Rat, as he is willing to endure Rat's
endless barbs and numerous schemes. Kicked out of the
Society of Cultured Pigs because he was caught eating a
Zebra: The humanitarian (or, more accurately,
"zebratarian"). Focused almost solely on devising ways to
protect his fellow zebras on the plains from their numerous,
more able predators. Must endure repeated failures in this
endeavor, as the lions, tigers and crocodiles win out
repeatedly. Not even his placement of zebras in small
Popemobiles can prevent their destruction.
Goat: The smart one. Would rather spend his time with his
snout in a book than talking to any of the other odd
characters in this strip.
About the Author
Stephan Pastis was born in 1968 and raised in San Marino,
California, a suburb of Los Angeles. He graduated from the
University of California at Berkeley in 1989 with a degree
in political science. Although he had always wanted to be a
syndicated cartoonist, Pastis realized that the odds of
syndication were slim, so he entered UCLA Law School in 1990
and became an attorney instead. He practiced law in the San
Francisco Bay area from 1993 to 2002. While an attorney, he
began submitting various comic strip concepts to all of the
syndicates, and, like virtually all beginning cartoonists,
got his fair share of rejection slips. Then, in 1997, he
began drawing Pearls Before Swine, which he submitted to the
syndicates in mid-1999. In December, 1999, he signed a
contract with United. Pearls Before Swine debuted in
newspapers in January, 2002, and Pastis left his law
practice in August of that year. Pearls Before Swine was
nominated in each of its first two years as by the National
Cartoonists Society and won the award in 2004. Pastis lives
with his family in Northern California.
Conclusion to Pearls Before Swine
Yes, Jesus is a master of picture language and these three variations of pearls before swine--Literal, Spiritual, and Creative--on one simple phrase prove the complexities of His teachings and the effectiveness of His intriguing methods.
Find out more meaning of pearls here.
Play a really fun online "Pearls Before Swine" game.
Beat the nasty pirate at his own game.