Dogs in the Bible – The Holy Bible
Dogs in the Bible
Dogs are mentioned several times in the Bible, notably pejoratively. Why? Because in the ancient world dogs were common, mostly as a pest that spread death and diseases, but that in a few occasions served as a purpose, like eating food scraps from the floor.
There were numerous troops of wild, stray dogs living off the city rubbish dumps. They became so fierce and disliked that cruel enemies were poetically called ‘dogs’. The dog was an unclean animal; it could not be eaten. Its name was used as a reproach.
Let’s learn more about them:
In ancient times there were packs of wild dogs roaming the countryside and the city streets. Nobody owned them – they were scavengers, and probably still had a fair amount of wolf in their genetic make-up.
No doubt they were driven out beyond the city gates now and then, but returned. They mostly lived off the rubbish dumps outside the city walls, where they could find scraps of food.
Dogs became so fierce and savage that Israel’s enemies were poetically called ‘dogs’ as a term of abuse.
It was because of this type of dog that the Bible had such a low opinion of dogs in general.
Dogs in the Bible exhibited predatory behavior in their quest for survival, which included the eating of dead bodies (1 Kings 14:11; 16:4; 21:19, 23-24; 22:38; 2 Kings 9:10, 36; 1 Kings 21:23).
Hunting — meaning the Killing of other animals — was considered a suitable pastime for the nobility, trying to purport endurance and courage, so every ruler or governor of any importance kept a pack of hunting dogs. These dogs were much better treated than wild dogs, with regular food and exercise, and were specially bred to have:
- muscled bodies and long legs for coursing and running at speed on open plains; at this stage game was still easy to find, but the trick was to catch it
- powerful jaws strong enough to catch and hold prey
- keen senses of hearing and smell.
These were more like the domesticated dogs we see today – but they were probably not as well treated, nor as well-regarded.
Lazarus and the rich man: the dogs lick the sores of Lazarus
‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores…’ Luke 16:19-21
‘But the Canaanite woman came and knelt before Jesus, saying “Lord held me”. He answered “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” She said “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Matthew 15:25-27
It seems that dogs were allowed to come inside the house at times, and may even have been what we call today pets. The dog mentioned by the Canaanite woman (above) is inside, and allowed to come near enough to the eating area to pick up morsels of food from the floor or from the people around the table – much as a dog nowadays would do.
Caleb – From Celeb, Dog in Hebrew
Dogs in the Bible were not well loved.
To be called a dog was to be associated with evil and low status. Therefore it is surprising that Caleb, one of the great Hebrew spies, means “dog” in Hebrew.
Pictured is a stone relief created in 1958 by sculptor Ferdinand Heseding. The relief, which appears on a fountain in Dusseldorf, Germany, depicts the Biblical spies Joshua and Caleb carrying a cluster of grapes back from the Promised Land (Numbers 13:1-33).
The following verses express the lowly state of dogs. ie: they eat scraps and dead people, they drink water in a derogatory manner, they should be struck with sticks, they are insignificant animals, they are unclean like pigs, and they are used as examples to define lowly people.
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
“You are to be my holy people. So do not eat the meat of an animal torn by wild beasts; throw it to the dogs.
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.
So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues as a dog laps from those who kneel down to drink.”
1 Samuel 17:43
He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods.”
1 Samuel 24:14
“Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea?”
2 Samuel 3:8
Then Abner was very angry over the words of Ish-bosheth and said, “Am I a dog‘s head of Judah? To this day I keep showing steadfast love to the house of Saul your father, to his brothers, and to his friends, and have not given you into the hand of David. And yet you charge me today with a fault concerning a woman.
2 Samuel 9:8
Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”
2 Samuel 16:9
Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and take off his head.”
Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you. And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.
1 Kings 14:11
Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The LORD has spoken!’
1 Kings 16:4
Anyone belonging to Baasha who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the field the birds of the heavens shall eat.”
Anyone who is among the living has hope —even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
“But whoever sacrifices a bull is like one who kills a person, and whoever offers a lamb is like one who breaks a dog’s neck; whoever makes a grain offering is like one who presents pig’s blood, and whoever burns memorial incense is like one who worships an idol. They have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations;”
The following set of verses express the nature or attitude of dogs. ie: they drink blood, dwell in the company of prostitutes, *stay outdoors, vicious and snarling, foolish and will eat anything, and lazy.
1 Kings 21:19
Say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”
1 Kings 21:23
And of Jezebel the Lord also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’
1 Kings 22:38
They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the LORD had declared.”
2 Kings 8:13
And Hazael said, “What is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you are to be king over Syria.”
“But now they mock me, men younger than I, whose fathers I would have disdained to put with my sheep dogs.”
“They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city.”
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”
All you beasts of the field, come to devour— all you beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. “Come,” they say, “let me get wine; let us fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow will be like this day, great beyond measure.”
“Israel’s watchmen are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs, they cannot bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep.”
As we venture in the New Testament verses, it is very important to realize that the New Testament writers did not regard dogs in any better sense than the writers of the Old Testament. (Pay especial attention to the symbolism used to describe the function of dogs.)
Dogs are once again compared to pigs, **are not to be given what is sacred, are to eat scraps, are symbols of violent killers, and are symbols of the worst evildoers.
And from there he arose and went away to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And he entered a house and did not want anyone to know, yet he could not be hidden. But immediately a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard of him and came and fell down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, a Syrophoenician by birth. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she answered him, “Yes, Lord; yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. **
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh
“Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.”
“Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
What do all these several Bible verses mean?
1) Dogs are scavengers
2) Dogs are unclean animals (same as pigs)
3) Dogs are ill-mannered
4) Dogs should be struck with sticks
5) Dogs eat flesh and drink blood
6) Dogs dwell with prostitutes and unclean areas
7) Dogs are outdoor animals and not pets
8) Dogs are not to be given sacred things
9) Dogs are symbols of evildoers
10) Dogs represent: dark “magic”, sexual immorality, murderers, adulterers, and liars
In fact, all dog owners who claim to be serious Christians should rethink their position regarding dogs as pets.
How can any believer of the Bible claim that the Bible is the Word of God and then invite God’s most oft-repeated symbol of evil into their homes and hearts? Answer: either you are Not a believer or you Are a hypocrite.
What is more sacred than giving a dog your:
Owning a dog is a clear violation of Matthew 7:6:
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
And let’s not forget that dogs do Not love their keepers. This only happens in Hollywood.
Too long of a list? Please find it all sumarised below:
Dogs » Described as » Carnivorous
Dogs » Illustrative » Of obstinate sinners
Dogs » Illustrative » (dead,) of the mean
Dogs » Described as » Fond of blood
Dogs » Nothing holy to be given to
Dogs » Illustrative » Of persecutors
Dogs » Described as » Unclean
Dogs » Price of, not to be consecrated
Dogs » Illustrative » Of false teachers
Dogs » Illustrative » Of fools
Dogs » Described as » Impatient of injury
Dogs » Infested cities by night
Dogs » When domesticated » Fed with the crumbs, &c
Dogs » Illustrative » (dumb,) of unfaithful ministers
Dogs » Illustrative » Of covetous ministers
Dogs » Illustrative » Of apostates
Dogs » Things torn by beasts given to
Dogs » Despised by the jews
Dogs » Described as » Dangerous and destructive
Dogs » Sacrificing of, an abomination
Dogs » Manner of, in drinking alluded to
Dogs » A term of reproach
Names » Of the wicked » Dogs
Wicked people » Compared with » Dogs
Wicked, the, are compared to » Dogs
Dogs are nice in the Bible, ahn?
Violence Against Dogs in the Bible
There is evidence in the Bible that physical violence toward dogs was considered acceptable (1 Samuel 17:43; Proverbs 26:17).
To compare a human to a dog or to call them a dog was to imply that they were of very low status (2 Kings 8:13; Exodus 22:31; Deuteronomy 23:18; 2 Samuel 3:8; Proverbs 26:11; Ecclesiastes 9:4; 2 Samuel 9:8; 1 Samuel 24:14).
In the New Testament, calling a human a dog meant that the person was considered evil (Philemon 3:2; Revelation 22:15).
Killing Dogs in the Bible
Does the Bible say anything about killing dogs? Yes, it does:
- The Bible says that animals can be possessed by demons. Chewing a bible for example seems as good an indicator as any.
- The Bible prescribes capital punishment for over thirty-six kinds of evildoers. (Please check the list and find out for yourself if you — or your dog — would qualify.) Bible chewing appears well within the range of capital offenses.
- Animals are not exempt from capital punishment. When a man or woman has sex with a goat for example, the goat must be put to death. Same as to dogs as nowadays many are coming to practice this, sex with dogs, such is the lunacy of dog lovers.
- Fiery torture is the ultimate punishment for unrepentant sinners in hell. There is no indication from media reports that the pit bull in question was repentant. Furthermore, it probably didn’t take the dog more than ten or fifteen minutes to burn, a light punishment by comparison.
- Death by burning here on earth is also sanctioned by God in the Bible. God both models it and commands it. Biblical death by burning is not only not cruel—it is not unusual.
Please remember that to many Americans, biblical words are God’s words, set in stone.
1) There is No reasoned basis for owning a dog, according to the Bible.
2) Owning a dog as a pet is hypocrisy and a sign of disbelief.
3) Owning a dog for other reasons is still dangerous.
With all that, you, a firm Bible believer, will still keep a dog?
Dogs in Religion