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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 8 - Verse 28
Verse 28. The other side. The other side of the sea of Tiberias.
Country of the Gergesenes. Mr 5:1 says, that he came into the country of the Gadarenes. This difference is only apparent. Gadara was a city not far from the lake Gennesareth; one of the ten cities that were called Decapolis. See Barnes "Mt 4:25".
Gergesa was a city about twelve miles to the south-east of Gadara, and about twenty miles to the east of the Jordan. There is no contradiction, therefore, in the evangelists. He came into the region in which the two cities were situated, and one mentioned one, and the other another. It shows that the writers had not agreed to impose on the world; for if they had, they would have mentioned the same city; and it shows they were familiar with the country. No man would have written in this manner, but those who were acquainted with the facts. Impostors do not mention places, or names, if they can avoid it.
There met him two. Mark and Luke speak of only one that met him. "There met him out of the tombs a man," Mr 5:2. "There met him out of the city a certain man," etc., Lu 8:27. This difference of statement has given rise to considerable difficulty. It is to be observed, however, that neither Mark nor Luke say that there was no more than one. For particular reasons they might have been led to fix the attention on one of them that was more notorious, and furious, and difficult to be managed. Had they denied plainly that there was more than one, and had Matthew affirmed that there were two, there would have been an irreconcilable contradiction. As it is, they relate the affair as other men would. It shows that they were honest witnesses. Had they been impostors; had Matthew and Luke agreed to write books to deceive the world, they would have agreed exactly in a case so easy as this. They would have told the story with the same circumstances. Witnesses in courts of law; often differ in unimportant matters; and, provided the main narrative coincides, their testimony is thought to be more valuable.
Luke has given us a hint why he recorded only the cure of one of them. He says, there met him "out of the city," a man, etc.; or, as it should be rendered, "a man of the city," a citizen. Yet the man did not dwell in the city; for he adds in the same verse, "neither abode he in any house, but in the tombs." The truth of the case was, that he was born and educated in the city; he had probably been a man of wealth and eminence; he was well known; and the people felt a deep interest in the case. Luke was, therefore, particularly struck with his case; and as his cure fully established the power of Jesus, he recorded it. The other that Matthew mentions was probably a stranger, or a person less notorious as a maniac, and he felt less interest in the cure. Let two persons go into a lunatic asylum, and meet two insane persons, one of whom should be exceedingly fierce and ungovernable, and well known as having been a man of worth and standing; let them converse with them; and let the more violent one attract the principal attention, and they would very likely give the same account that Matthew and Luke do; and no one would doubt the statement was correct.
Coming out of the tombs. Mark and Luke say that they dwelt in the tombs. The sepulchres of the Jews were commonly caves, beyond the walls of the cities in which they dwelt, or excavations made in the sides of hills, or sometimes in solid rocks. These caves, or excavations, were sometimes of great extent, They descended to them by flights of steps. These graves were not in the midst of cities, but in groves, and mountains, and solitudes. They afforded, therefore, to insane persons and demoniacs retreat and shelter. They delighted in these gloomy and melancholy recesses, as being congenial to the wretched state of their minds. Josephus, also, states that these sepulchres were the haunts and lurking-places of those desperate bands of robbers that infested Judea. The annexed cut will furnish an illustration of the nature of the sepulchres occurring in the east. A more full illustration may be seen by referring to See Barnes "Isa 64:4".
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