I was reading a book titled The Lost Gospel Q, which provides the reconstructed text of the so-called Q gospel (the hypothetical "sayings gospel", which was allegedly the 'source' of the common material found in Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark).
It gets to Q39 (Saying 39), which is parallel to Matthew 12.43-45 and Luke 11.24-26:
"When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation."Some of the sayings have a tidbit of relevant information about first-century Judea. The tidbit that goes with this saying reads as follows:
In Jewish folklore, demons and spirits could be destroyed by water, so they roamed the desert looking for a resting place.Now, I haven't checked into the authenticity of this claim (it is given without sources cited), but it is interesting nonetheless. As I read it, a different event in the gospels came to mind. Namely, the account of the demon(s) Legion, found in Mark 5.1-15 and Luke 8.26-35. The portion I specifically have in mind is the following:
And Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "My name is Legion, for we are many." And he begged him earnestly not to send them out of the country. Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him, saying, "Send us to the pigs; let us enter them." So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out, and entered the pigs, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, rushed down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.Whether or not the "Jewish folklore" above is literally true (about demons being destroyed by water), could it be possible that we are essentially being told that Legion attempted to escape judgment by begging to be cast into swine, but was destroyed anyway, the literal action of the demon-possessed pigs drowning in water figuratively displaying the (eventual?) destruction of the demons?