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6“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. ESV

Popular interpretations of this verse do not seem to fit well with its immediate context. Is Jesus offering a temper to his command not to judge, by saying there are some cases where judgement is necessary? It seems unlikely given his emphasis throughout the sermon on loving one's neighbour to the uttermost, and the immediately preceding verses (1-5) would seem to rule out an attitude that would consider someone a 'dog' or 'pig'.

I am suggesting that he is teaching that the Law condemns an attitude that would highlight one's perceived difference in moral standing with someone else; that to 'give dogs what is holy' or 'cast pearls before pigs' is such an action - as if I am setting the person up to fail, so I can say 'Did you see what they did with what I gave them? That just shows that they truly are unclean dogs/pigs!'

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Is this a question or an answer? – Dan Apr 13 '14 at 12:55
@JamesKrieg I agree w/Dan, are you asking a question or airing your opinion: if it is the 1st, then delete the last paragraph, and modify the 2nd one to clarify your question: otherwise it may get closed. – Tau Apr 13 '14 at 13:23

What is the correct interpretation of Matthew 7:6?

Beginning with Matthew chapter 5, Yeshua gives a lengthy discourse with a good deal of revelation mixed with correction, much of which is aimed directly at the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, etc.

Yeshua begins chapter 7 with an admonition against judging others. This morphs into a plea to get your own life in order before looking into the shortcomings of others; THEN comes verse six.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. (AV)

Dogs and pigs were at the very bottom rung of life in Jewish thinking; both were despised in the extreme. I see the admonition not to give that which is holy to dogs and swine as being a reference to the religious leaders of the day. We are never to entrust holy (sacred) things to people whose sole intent is to ridicule, find fault, and judge (Matthew 7:1-5). This is the standard operating procedure for the religious leaders with regard to Yeshua's ministry. The revelation(s) given from God are holy (sacred), and if an attempt is made to share that with those who have deemed themselves unworthy (Acts 13:46) of these sacred revelations, they will ill-treat that revelation and turn on that man and find fault with him and his faith.

In addition, this is where I see the greatest need to always prepare the soil prior to sowing any seed. One sows seed to reap a specific harvest; people never sow random handfuls of mixed seed into any soil. The soil must be prepared for the type of seed it is to receive. If a man is going to embrace any pearls (revelations), his heart (soil) must first be prepared to receive it; else it will be trodden under foot.

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Would preparation of the soil being prepared, be acts of kindness, generosity, fairness? I am considering that to mean just that ! Thanks for such a freedom explanation of this Scripture.. – user6064 Oct 12 '14 at 2:23

I have always felt that what this passage meant was not to waste your wisdom on fools, lest they turn and trample you under foot. I find this fits the ignorance that surrounds people on a daily basis and punishes us for wasting our gifts on those who do not have the capacity to understand.

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Hi Michael, welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. – Steve Taylor May 24 at 7:14
This is a good start to an answer, but doesn't really show its work, which is a requirement on this site. Good answers will demonstrate how an interpretation is arrived at and how this understanding is supported by the text. If you hit 'edit' you have the option to expand your answer to handle more of the original question. Thanks again – Steve Taylor May 24 at 7:16

This may be an ABBA doublet:

Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they [the pigs] trample them underfoot and [the dogs] turn to attack you.

"Matthew"/Jesus was alluding to this passage of Torah:

ESV Exodus 22:29 You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. Exodus 22:30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me. Exodus 22:31 You shall be consecrated to me. Therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.

Brenton LXX Exodus 22:29 Thou shalt not keep back the first-fruits of thy threshing floor and press. The first-born of thy sons thou shalt give to me. Exodus 22:30 So shalt thou do with thy calf and thy sheep and thine ass; seven days shall it be under the mother, and the eighth day thou shalt give it to me. Exodus 22:31 And ye shall be holy men to me; and ye shall not eat flesh taken of beasts, ye shall cast it to the dog.

In other words, what belongs to God should not be given to dogs. Therefore do not despise your brother and "toss him to the dogs".

Wild dogs were the object of fear and loathing:

But "God hath charms to soothe the savage beast":

Exo 11:7 But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.'

For his friendly conduct at the exodus of the Hebrews when he did not "move his tongue against man or beast" (Ex. xi. 7), God compensated the dog by telling the people that the meat forbidden to them should be cast unto him (Mek., Mishpaṭim, 20, on Ex. xxii. 30).

Pearls (which mostly came from India) were extremely valuable:

Mat 13:45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, Mat 13:46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

But wisdom is worth infinitely more:

Job 28:12 "But where shall wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Job 28:13 Man does not know its worth, and it is not found in the land of the living. Job 28:14 The deep says, 'It is not in me,' and the sea says, 'It is not with me.' Job 28:15 It cannot be bought for gold, and silver cannot be weighed as its price. Job 28:16 It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir, in precious onyx or sapphire. Job 28:17 Gold and glass cannot equal it, nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold. Job 28:18 No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal; the price of wisdom is above pearls. Job 28:19 The topaz of Ethiopia cannot equal it, nor can it be valued in pure gold.

So to take the wisdom of God and to treat it like an unholy thing and cast it to pigs, who cannot possibly appreciate it is a travesty. They will merely trample it under their feet.

Dogs, crazed by the taste of holy flesh will return to eat you!

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