By Odyssey Truett
I am a freethinker. But I also bark free and roam free on a hundred and ten acres of land that belongs to me and the other four dogs in my pack. Ethnically I am a Springer Spaniel, one of the finest of breeds. And my profession is in security, but I can't talk much about that. It involves secret information. Obviously I am smarter than the average dog. But I don't understand why the bible does not like me.
Americans, in general, are very fond of dogs. Most families have at least one dog. They will lavish lots of money on their dogs, and truly grieve when their pets die. This is not unusual because dogs have been much admired and even loved by people of most cultures going back to prehistoric times.
This admiration of dogs is not, however, universal. At least one ancient culture detested dogs. That was one of the peculiar characteristics of ancient Hebrew culture in both the Old and New Testaments. But many modern Jews are quite fond of their dogs. In ancient Judah and Israel, dogs were wild inhabitants of the streets. Hiding by day, they roamed in the open at night, running through the streets of every town seeking food and howling to one another. Although not admired, they were tolerated as scavengers.
This lack of admiration, or even understanding for dogs is quite evident in the bible. The scriptures contain a total of 41 references to dogs. Not one is favorable to dogs at all in any way. (Cats are not even mentioned in the bible, and I like that!)
When the Old Testament lists animals that the Jews must not eat because they are unclean, it does not specifically mention dogs. But we are included among the unclean animals as follows: "And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on all four, those are unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even" (Leviticus 11:27). Of course, I am glad the Jews were forbidden to eat my kind, but I resent being called unclean. We dogs are much cleaner than cows, sheep, or goats.
The ultimate sign of disrespect was to allow a dead body to lie out at night and be eaten by dogs. "And the dogs shall eat Jezebel . . . and there shall be none to bury her." These were the words of the prophet Elisha in II Kings 9:10. To see what contempt the bible god had for dogs, read Deuteronomy 23:18: "Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow: for even both of these are abomination unto the Lord thy God."
Not only did this incompetent god detest dogs, he also completely misunderstood them. "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly" (Proverbs 26:11). This proverb of the Old Testament is repeated in the second epistle of Peter 2:22. Anyone who knows anything about dogs knows they can easily regurgitate their food. A puppy will lick you in the face, as he would do to an older dog. That is a signal for the older dog to regurgitate some food for the puppy. A poor dog that is not well fed will gorge himself when food is available, then regurgitate and hide some of it to eat later. That makes sense.
How strange, then, that the bible says the clean animals are those that have cloven hooves and "cheweth the cud." (Leviticus 11:3). What this god did not know is that the cud is food the animal has previously eaten. It is regurgitated and chewed as a step in the process of digestion. All of the so-called clean animals do this, including cows, sheep, and goats. Understand that I have nothing personal against cows, sheep, or goats. However, those animals are so stupid that many dogs are employed just to herd them around. Someone who herds sheep is called a pastor. I understand that some humans also have to be herded by a pastor who fleeces them whenever possible.
The most disturbing of the dog references in the bible are those in which humans are called "dogs" as a term of contempt or scorn, and also those in which a person humbles himself by calling himself a dead dog. "His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, . . . Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough . . ." (Isaiah 56: 10-11). "What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?" (II Samuel 9:8).
The New Testament references to people as dogs are even more outrageous. The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:2: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers . . ." Revelation 22:14-15 includes dogs among the wicked to be kept out of heaven: "For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers . . ." So what? What thinking mortal would want to be near a god who would throw any sentient creature into flames for eternal torment?
Jesus freely refers to people he doesn't like as dogs, as well as referring to them as swine and as vipers. In the Sermon on the Mount he does this by saying: "Give not that which is holy unto dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine. . ." (Matthew 7:6).
Most disgusting of all is his conversation with the Syrophenician woman who came to him pleading for him to heal her daughter. He said to her, "It is not meet to take the children's bread and to cast it to dogs." (Matthew 15:26). He was, in effect, calling her little daughter a dog right to the mother's face. This cruel and immoral pronouncement is repeated, with only slightly softer wording, in Mark 7:27. There is no rational way for a thoughtful person to read these wicked words and think of Jesus as a moral teacher.
Before ending this little doggie essay, I must note that someone might object to the statement that the bible is entirely negative about dogs because of Proverbs 30:29-31. That passage starts, "There are three things which go well, yea four are comely in going." The next two verses tell of those four things whose gait the writer admires. One of them is a greyhound, according to the King James and also in the revised versions. Along with other doggie scholars, I disagree with this translation of the ancient Hebrew which is zar-zir-mathnaim. This literally means "one who is slender in the loins" or "one who has his loins girded." This almost certainly refers to trained human runners who ran ahead of the chariots of kings. These runners were selected for endurance and speed, and they did have their slender loins girded. The greyhounds are wonderful dogs, but actually the bible does not compliment even them.
I don't understand how any human can think that a book which doesn't like dogs is sacred.
Foundation member Bob Truett, a former director of a municipal zoo, lives in Alabama with his wife, Lisa, and their five dogs, including Odyssey.