Matthew 12 English Standard Version

43“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.

Mark 5

12The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.” 13He gave them permission, and the impure spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

4 Answers 4


Does Mat 12:43 relate to Mark 5:12 about water and demons?

Answer: Very possibly.

Note what the rich man said in Luke 16:24: "And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’"

The rich man was lost in Hades. It is very likely that unclean spirits and demons from that detestable realm have every desire to inhabit human beings — and be supplied with water, if given the chance. They are otherwise:

1 Peter 3:19b: "spirits now in prison"

And, that prison is characterized by flames and the abyss:

Luke 8:31: "They [unclean spirits (8:29), demons (8:27)] were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss" (Rom. 10:7, Rev. 20:3, emphasis added).

The two passages in question: Matthew 12:43 and Mark 5:12, are referring to the same unfortunate beings; they both relate how these lost spirits would desire nothing more than to be relieved of their deplorable circumstances.

Water and relief of any kind would be a great start.


The two passages are discussing quite separate matters. The key to understanding Matt 12:43 is the important word, "rest" which is deeply significant in the Hebrew psyche.


In Ruth 3:1, Naomi wants Ruth to find מָנוֹחַ (monoach), a resting-place, state, or condition of rest (BDB) or security. She does this by hatching a plan whereby Ruth proposes marriage to Boaz. Ruth finds security and rest by seeking the protection of “go'el”. This idea is taken up in many other places such as:

  • Deut 12:9 – For you have not yet come to the resting place and the inheritance that the LORD your God is giving you.
  • 1 Kings 8:56 – “Blessed be the LORD who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised. Not one word has failed of all his good promise, which he spoke by Moses his servant.
  • 2 Chron 6:41 – Now therefore, arise, O LORD God, and enter Your resting place, You and the ark of Your might. May Your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, and may Your godly ones rejoice in goodness.
  • Lam 1:3, Israel in captivity has no rest and needs a redeemer.
  • Ps 95:11 – “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.”
  • Heb 3:18-4:11 – the Hebrews did not enter God’s rest because of disobedience but there still remains a Sabbath rest (and security) for the people of God
  • Matt 11:28-30 – Jesus invites us to enter His rest and salvation security

Back to Matt 5:43 and Mark 5:12

Thus, the idiom of Matt 12:43 is of an unclean spirit (ie, demon) looking for a well-watered place to find a permanent home. That fact that it find only "water-less" places means that no permanent home (another person) was found. Thus, it returned to the original person.

In Mark 5:12, 13 - the demons destroyed the pigs, a highly valued commodity in a pagan (non-Jewish) place like Gerasenes. That is, the demons tried to alienate the people from Jesus (it worked as they asked Him to leave the area; BUT, the ex-demon-possessed man became a very effective witness for Jesus subsequently.

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary suggests this:

  1. Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them—Had they spoken out all their mind, perhaps this would have been it: "If we must quit our hold of this man, suffer us to continue our work of mischief in another form, that by entering these swine, and thus destroying the people's property, we may steel their hearts against Thee!" ...
  2. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave—In Matthew (Mt 8:32) this is given with majestic brevity—"Go!" The owners, if Jews, drove an illegal trade; if heathens, they insulted the national religion: in either case the permission was just. And the unclean spirits went out—of the man; and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently—rushed down a steep place—down the hanging cliff into the sea (they were about two thousand)—The number of them is given by this graphic Evangelist alone and were choked in the sea—"perished in the waters" (Mt 8:32).
  3. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it—"told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils" (Mt 8:33). in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done—Thus had they the evidence, both of the herdsmen and of their own senses, to the reality of both miracles.
  • So the pigs didn’t find rest in waterless places, but found rest in the lake? Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 22:19
  • @Constantthin - HaHa! The reason for the destroying the pigs was to destroy the reputation of Jesus, not find rest (which is never mentioned). Thus, in having a group of people alientated from Jesus, they presumably hoped to possess the people of the town and thus find "rest".
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 22:22
  • Otherwise our mystical rest of Heb 3 & 4 could maybe have something to do with water. Maybe it is a water fast? A once a week water fast. Or maybe a daily evening fast? Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 22:32
  • @Constantthin - not a bad idea for some of us who struggle with the waist-line!?!
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 28, 2021 at 22:40

Keep it simple - what do you need to drink water? A Body! Consider the verse prior to the one you quoted ...

MAT 12:43 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man [snip]

So the unclean spirit here is ‘body-less’. Nevertheless we actually need to look a little deeper. Water gives [physical] ‘life’. A demon can not interact with the ‘world’ without a body. So therefore ... it seeks a ‘house’. (Body).

But to your Q - the two passages are totally unrelated in the way you are implying. But - They are related in another way! This one in Matthew is symbolic of the nation of Israel (check context of Matthew 12!), where as the passage from Mark was a ‘message’ to the other nations. (We know this is in a ‘foreign’ land, No unclean animals [pigs] in Israel.) But expounding on this is outside of what your Q is asking.


Mark 9::21 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has this been with him?”

“From childhood,” he said. 22“It often throws him into the fire or into the water, trying to kill him. But if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”

Demons do not particularly dislike water. They would go into the water to deliberately drown the host. Somehow it is to their advantage to kill the host in this case.

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