Offering things of value to those who don’t understand or appreciate them is the meaning behind this idiom.  I have been thinking about this phrase lately. On the one hand, I want to share what I have learned in this life in hopes of helping others. On the other hand, I sometimes have to question, ‘Who is listening?’

The term “pearls before swine” comes from the Sermon on the Mount, a famous speech given by Christ to his disciplines. It means that people should not waste pleasant or good things on people who will not appreciate them. The meaning of “pearls before swine” in the Sermon on the Mount is a topic of much debate among religious authorities, with some people believing that it simply means that Christians should only preach to a receptive audience, while others suspect that it specifically refers to the Romans, and other theories also abound.

In any case, “pearls before swine” is sometimes also seen as margaritas ante porcos, which means the same thing in Latin. Christ Himself, of course, would have said it in Aramaic, and in fact some people believe that the “pearls” in this phrase may have been mistranslated from the Aramaic, suggesting that Christ used a different word in this now-famous saying. Given that people have been talking about casting pearls before swine for two thousand years, a new translation is likely to meet with a frosty reception.

In the time of Christ, pigs were regarded as unclean animals in the Jewish faith, so in a sense, the term refers to giving great things to beings which are not worthy. The fact that pearls would be essentially useless to pigs has also been pointed out, as the term illustrates that it is rather foolish to give things to people who cannot or will not use them. Pigs are unlikely to realize the value of pearls when they see them, so tossing pearls to swine would really just be a waste.

There are all sorts of ways to use this idiom, and it has become so widespread that comic strips, books, and songs have been named after it. Many people use the term to talk about someone who doesn’t appreciate the value of an item or another person, as in “George asked her out on a date, but it was like tossing pearls before swine.” Some people also use this term in a resentful sense, suggesting that they offered or gave someone something superb, and ended up being snubbed.

This idiom is also used to imply that someone is uncultured or unworthy, with the swine being the great unwashed masses, while the pearls are some superb and excellent offering. Many people who attempt to enact social change find themselves frustrated by the pearls before swine phenomenon, struggling to understand why people reject their proposals and ideas when they hold so much promise.

I agree that we should not try to convince others who are set in their ways and have no intention of listening to anything you have to say. ‘Some people think they know everything.’ Now, there’s an idiom I’d like to discuss.

By: S.E. Smith


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About mountainsisters

WELCOME TO OUR BLOG WHERE WOMEN SHARE THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND CREATIVITY ON THE PATH TO ENLIGHTENMENT. We are two women sharing our thoughts, reflections and creativity. Stormy My name is Stormy and I have spent the last 20 years working on my spiritual growth and enlightenment. I still have a long way to go, but with your help I know I’ll keep growing, learning and expanding. Shar My name is Shar and I am a meditation, yoga and Qigong practitioner. I love to cook. I am vegan. I love to walk in nature, sing, drum, play guitar, write and spend time with family and friends.


  1. mountainsisters says :

    This such a good post, and so true! I know several people who have no understanding of the spiritual side of life. Yet, for years I tried to help them understand a situation from a metaphysical prospective. They would look at me as if I were completely crazy and go into a long lecture on how my thoughts were not logical and scientific. I finely came to understand you don’t Through Your Pearls Before Swine. It took a long time, but I no longer care what they think. Stormy

  2. Preston Gravely, Jr. says :

    It’s odd how a person can be a Christian for many years, and only recently he finds that he has made the mistake of casting his Saviour’s pearls before the swine. One of those persons has been me. Like a very special DVD I was inspired to create about our Lord’s life. The successful completion of it caused me to go overboard with the glee to share it with others, only to find their response to be something along the line of “Hmmm! So, what’s that to us? Take it to someone who cares!” The sad thing about it is that the very people I shared it with are those who are fellow members of a Christian organization.

    What I am now asking the Lord is, “Please, Lord Jesus, from now on, help me to be very careful in the future, and to make sure after much prayer, that You are leading me to share these Gems with those You are leading me to!”

    Thanks for sharing your own insights into this very important lesson our Lord taught.

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