Matthew 7:6

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

What animals do the rending--the swine or the dogs?

The verb "rend" in this verse means "to tear, to tear in pieces."  In the Arndt & Gingrich Lexicon the meaning given for this word is "of rabid animals tearing in pieces with their teeth."  Albert Barnes, in his commentary on Matthew, believes that this is an example of introverted parallelism or chiasmus.  In other words, according to this view, it is the dogs that do the rending and the swine that do the trampling.  See also the Expositors' Greek Testament and Edward Robinson in his Greek Lexicon, two additional sources which support this understanding of the passage.  Thus we would have this structure:

A   dogs

B   swine

B   trample under their feet

A   turn again and tear you

Many commentators, however, believe that the verb "rend" describes the swine (Lenski, Hendriksen, Lange, etc.).  For example, A. T. Robinson and M. R. Vincent both feel the term is used to describe wild boars who could rend with their tusks those who have angered them. 

The chiasmus view, nevertheless, is possible for these reasons:  1)  "Tearing in pieces" would be a fitting description of what dogs could do with their teeth.   2)  It seems less likely that dogs would be mentioned without anything said about what the dogs might do.  3)  It's possible that many commentators would naturally overlook the phenomenon of inverse parallelism.

For our detailed study on inverse parallelism see Chiasmus.

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