PUPPIES ARE A NO-SHOW in the Bible.
Nothing canine cute and cuddly makes an appearance there.
As far as the Bible is concerned, dogs are not man’s best friend.
We spit on them and their mothers.
Sometimes we spit in them. In their mouth.
You read me right.
The spitting image is part of an ancient Hittite ritual for settling arguments.
It’s called the Ritual to End Family Conflict.
The spitting Hittites lived mainly in what is now Turkey, though some of them seemed to migrate into what is now Israel. Bathsheba – famous for her fling with King David – was married to Uriah the Hittite.
As reported in what is more formally known as the Tunnawi ritual, if two family members had a disagreement, here’s the fix:
- Bring them together in a meeting place
- Bring a dog – preferably a puppy because it’s more cooperative, easier to control, and less likely to bite the lips off your face when you do what you are supposed to do
- Have each bickering person spit into the dog’s mouth
- Kill the dog and bury it
In theory, this breaks the curse that caused the argument.
In today’s culture, a man might perform that ritual with his mother-in-law, and then report her to the authorities for killing the dog.
Not that I recommend that. I’m just thinking out loud without a filter.
Some can’t help but wonder if the Hittite ritual might be the reason for the dog cemetery in Ashkelon, Israel. Archaeologists found about 1,400 burial pits, each with the body of the dog. Most of the dogs were puppies.
Maybe those dogs were involved in some other ritual.
Likely, they were not buried by grieving pet owners. Most dogs in Bible times were scavengers.
That’s why the Bible says nothing kindly about the critters we have come to love. Instead, the Holy Bible says stuff like this:
“Don’t eat mutilated flesh you find in the fields; throw it to the dogs.”
“Am I some kind of worthless dog from Judah?”
2 Samuel 3:8
“My enemies come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets.”
No dogs go to heaven
If we read Bible symbolism with a touch of literalism, it sure could sound like heaven is a dog-free zone:
“Outside are the dogs, the drug users and spell-casters, those who commit sexual immorality, the murderers.”
It would be easy for me to imagine the disciples of Jesus shooing away pet owners who were bringing their critters to Jesus for a blessing.
It would also be easy for me to imagine Jesus yelling out to his disciples something like, “Bring those critters to me, for they are a blessing and they will be blessed, doggone it.”
Jesus would have made a nice Franciscan Friar. Those folks will bless pets with a prayer.
How to bless a dog
That gave me an idea.
What if I wrote a blessing, adapting the Franciscan prayer for Buddy the Dog.
You are wonderful God, maker of all creatures great and small.
You released fish into the sea, birds into the air, and animals into the fields.
You inspired St. Francis of Assisi to call all of these creatures his brothers and sisters.
In love, I believe, you placed Buddy the Dog in our home, his life in our care.
Our home is a better place because of him. May his life be better and blessed because of us.
For those who have never met Buddy, two short videos.
PS. Excluding those who have gotten a free book from me in the past 12 months, the first five souls to post comments in response to this article will get a free copy of my newest book: Strange and Mysterious Stuff From the Bible.