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LVI.

Jesus Heals Two Gergesene Demoniacs.

(Gergesa, Now Called Khersa.)

A Matt. VIII. 28–34; IX. 1; B Mark V. 1–21; C Luke VIII. 26–40.

b 1 And they came to the other side of the sea [They left in the “even,” an elastic expression. If they left in the middle of the afternoon and were driven forward by the storm, they would have reached the far shore several hours before dark], c 26 And they arrived at the country of the Gerasenes, which is over against Galilee. a 28 And when he was come into the country of the Gadarenes. c 27 And when he was come forth b out of the boat, c upon the land [Midway between the north and south ends of the lake, and directly east across the lake from Magdala, was the little city of Gergesa. In front and somewhat to the south of this city Jesus landed. Some sixteen miles away and to the southeast, and seven miles back from the lake, was the well-known city of Gadara. Further on to the southeast, on the borders of Arabia, and at least fifty miles from Gergesa, was the city of Gerasa. The name Gerasenes is, therefore, probably an error of the transcribers for Gergesenes, as Origen suggested. The region is properly called “country of the Gadarenes,” for Gadara was an important city, and the stamp of a ship on its coins suggests that its territory extended to the Lake of Galilee], b straightway there met him out of the tombs c a certain man out of the city [Gergesa], b with an unclean spirit, c who had demons; b 3 who had his dwelling in the tombs: c and abode not in any house, but in the tombs. [The sides of the mountain near the ruins of Gergesa are studded with natural and artificial caves which were used as tombs.] b and no man could any more bind him, no, not with a chain; 4 because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been rent asunder by him, and the 345fetters broken in pieces: and no man had strength to tame him. 5 And always, night and day, in the tombs and in the mountains, he was crying out, and cutting himself with stones. [The natural spirit of the man seeking to throw off the dominion of the demons would cry out in agony, and the demons themselves, in their own misery, would use him as a vehicle to express their own grief. It would be hard to imagine a more horrible state] c and for a long time he had worn no clothes, b 6 and when he saw Jesus from afar, c he cried out, b he ran c and fell down before him, b and worshipped him; 7 and crying out with a loud voice, he saith, { c said,} What have I to do with thee [on this phrase, see page 116], Jesus, thou Son of the Most High God? I beseech thee, b I adjure thee by God, torment me no. c 29 For he was commanding the unclean spirit to come out from the man. [The demons showed the supremacy of Jesus not only by their cries to be let alone, but by the fact that they made no effort to escape from him. They ran to him, knowing that it was useless to do otherwise.] b 8 For he said unto him, Come forth, thou unclean spirit, out of the man. c For often-times he had seized him: and he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters; and breaking the bands asunder, he was driven of the demon into the deserts. b 9 And he c Jesus asked him, What is thy name? b And he saith { c said} b unto him, My name is Legion: for we are many. c for many demons were entered into him. [It is likely that Jesus asked the sufferer his name wishing to assure him of sympathy, but the demons in him had the floor and continued to do the talking. A legion was a division of the Roman army containing from four to six thousand men. If Jesus asked the demon its name, he did so that he might disclose this fact to his disciples.] b 10 And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. [As one mouth entreated for many, Mark uses both the singular and the plural.] c 31 And they entreated him that he would not 346command them to depart into the abyss. [The abyss or bottomless pit was the proper abode of the demons. It is mentioned nine times in Scripture: here and at Rom. x. 7; Rev. ix. 1, 2, 11; xi. 7; xvii. 8; xx. 1, 3. How these demons escaped from the abyss is one of the unsolved mysteries of the spirit world; but we have a parallel in the releasing of Satan—Rev. xx. 1–3.] a 28b And there met him two possessed with demons, coming forth out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man could pass by that way. [Matthew tells of two, while Mark and Luke describe only one. They tell of the principal one—the one who was the fiercer. In order to tell of two, Matthew had to omit the name “legion,” which belonged to one; and conversely, Mark and Luke, to give the conversation with one, did not confuse us by telling of two.] 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? [The judgment-day, the time of punishment and torment—Matt. xxv. 41; II. Pet. ii. 4; Jude 6.] b 11 Now there was there a afar off from them b on the mountain side a great herd a of many swine feeding. 31 And the demons besought him, c and they entreated him that he would give them leave to enter into them. a saying, If thou cast us out, send us away into the herd of swine. b that we may enter into them. 13 And he gave them leave. a 32 And he said unto them, Go. And they b the unclean spirits c the demons came out of the man, and entered a and went into the swine: and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep into the sea, { c the lake,} b in number about two thousand; and they were drowned in the sea. a and perished in the waters. [About a mile south of Khersa a spur of the mountain thrusts itself out toward the lake so that its foot is within forty feet of the water line. This is the only spot on that side of the lake where the mountains come near the water. The slope is so steep and the ledge at its foot so narrow that a herd rushing down could not check itself before tumbling into the water. 347Skeptics have censured Jesus for permitting this loss of property. God may recognize our property rights as against each other, but he nowhere recognizes them in the realm of nature. What was done to the swine was done by the demons, and the owners had no more right to complain than they would have had if the herd had been carried off by murrain, by flood, or by any other natural cause. All animals have a right to die, either singly or in numbers. The demons evidently did not intend to destroy the swine. Their desire to have live bodies to dwell in shows that they did not. But the presence of the demons in their bodies made the hogs crazy, as it had the demoniac, and they ran the way their noses were pointed at the moment. For discussion of demoniacal possession, see page 167.] c 34 And when they that fed them [there being no fences in Palestine, herds were invariably attended by herdsmen] saw what had come to pass, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. a and went away into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to them that were possessed with demons. 34 And, behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus [it was about half a mile from Khersa to the seashore]: b And they came { c went out} b to see what it was that had come to pass. 15 And they come { c came} b to Jesus, c and found { b behold} c the man, b that was possessed with demons c from whom the demons were gone out, sitting, clothed and in his right mind, b even him that had the legion [a faint suggestion that there was another]: c at the feet of Jesus: and they were afraid. b 16 And they saw it [the herdmen] declared unto them how it befell him that was possessed with demons, c 36 And told them how he that was possessed with demons was made whole. b and concerning the swine. a and when they saw him, c 37 All the people of the country of the Gerasenes round about asked him b 17 And they began to beseech { a besought} b him a that he would depart { b to depart} from their borders. c from them; for they were holden with great fear [The loss 348of the swine moved them to a fear a further loss of property. To them the loss of swine was more important than the recovery of a man. To this day, worldly interests move men more than acts of mercy]: and he entered into a boat. b 18 And { c 38 But} b as he was entering into the boat, he that had been possessed with demons c the man from whom the demons were gone out prayed him { b besought him} that he might be with him. [As a frightened child newly wakened from a horrible dream clings to its parent, so the man clung to Christ.] c but he sent him away, b 19 And he suffered him not, but saith { c saying,} b unto him, Go c 39 Return to thy house, b unto thy friends, and tell them c and declare how great things God b the Lord hath done for thee, and how he had mercy on thee. [Jesus departed, but left behind him a witness whose very body was a living monument bearing testimony to Christ's compassion and power. Jesus revisited this locality some months later. See Mark vii. 31–37.] c and he went his way, publishing throughout the whole city [Gergesa] how great things Jesus had done for him. b and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him [for the cities which constituted Decapolis, see page 173]: and all men marvelled. 21 And when Jesus had crossed over again in the boat unto the other side, a great multitude was gathered unto him: and he was by the sea. c 40 And as Jesus returned, the multitude welcomed him; for they were all waiting for him. [They could see the sail of his boat as he started back.] a 1 And he came into his own city. [Capernaum.] 349

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