Mark 5:4
Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
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(4) Bound with fetters and chains.—These were not necessarily of metal. The two processes of snapping the latter by one convulsive movement and wearing away (not “breaking”) the latter by friction, rather suggests the idea of ropes, or cords, as in the case of Samson (Judges 15:13). In Psalm 149:8 the “chains” seem distinguished from the “links of iron.” The vivid fulness of the whole description is eminently characteristic of St. Mark’s style.

5:1-20 Some openly wilful sinners are like this madman. The commands of the law are as chains and fetters, to restrain sinners from their wicked courses; but they break those bands in sunder; and it is an evidence of the power of the devil in them. A legion of soldiers consisted of six thousand men, or more. What multitudes of fallen spirits there must be, and all enemies to God and man, when here was a legion in one poor wretched creature! Many there are that rise up against us. We are not a match for our spiritual enemies, in our own strength; but in the Lord, and in the power of his might, we shall be able to stand against them, though there are legions of them. When the vilest transgressor is delivered by the power of Jesus from the bondage of Satan, he will gladly sit at the feet of his Deliverer, and hear his word, who delivers the wretched slaves of Satan, and numbers them among his saints and servants. When the people found that their swine were lost, they had a dislike to Christ. Long-suffering and mercy may be seen, even in the corrections by which men lose their property while their lives are saved, and warning given them to seek the salvation of their souls. The man joyfully proclaimed what great things Jesus had done for him. All men marvelled, but few followed him. Many who cannot but wonder at the works of Christ, yet do not, as they ought, wonder after him.He had been often bound with fetters and chains - Efforts had been made to confine him, but his great strength - his strength increased by his malady - had prevented it. There often appears to be a great increase of strength produced by insanity, and what is here stated in regard to this maniac often occurs in Palestine and elsewhere now. Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," vol. i. p. 213) says respecting this case: "There are some very similar at the present day - furious and dangerous maniacs, who wander about the mountains, and sleep in tombs and caves. In their worst paroxysms they are quite unmanageable and prodigiously strong." Luke 8:27 says of him that "he were no clothes," or that he was naked, which is also implied in the account in Mark, who tells us that after he was healed he was found "clothed and in his right mind," Mark 4:15. This is often a striking characteristic of insanity. Dr. Pritchard (on "Insanity," p. 26) quotes from an Italian physician's description of raving madness or mania: "A striking and characteristic circumstance is the propensity to go quite naked. The patient tears his clothes to tatters." So Dr. Thomson ("The Land and the Book," vol. i. p. 213) says: "It is one of the most common traits in this madness that the victims refuse to wear clothes. I have often seen them absolutely naked in the crowded streets of Beirut and Sidon. There are also cases in which they run wildly about the country and frighten the whole neighborhood. These poor wretches are held in the greatest reverence by Muslims, who, through some monstrous perversion of ideas, believe them to be inspired and peculiarly holy."4. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, &c.—Luke says (Lu 8:29) that "oftentimes it [the unclean spirit] had caught him"; and after mentioning how they had vainly tried to bind him with chains and fetters, because, "he brake the bands," he adds, "and was driven of the devil [demon] into the wilderness." The dark tyrant-power by which he was held clothed him with superhuman strength and made him scorn restraint. Matthew (Mt 8:28) says he was "exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way." He was the terror of the whole locality. See Poole on "Mark 5:1" Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains,.... Trial had been made several times, to no purpose; his arms had been bound with chains, and his feet with fetters, which was very proper to prevent doing hurt to himself, and injury to others:

and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces; as if they had been twine threads; such was his strength, through the force of madness, and the possession of Satan, and his diabolical influence:

neither could any man tame him; by any methods whatever; even such who undertook the cure of madness, or to exorcise those that were possessed: this man was so furious and outrageous, that he was not to be managed any way, either by art or force.

Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
Mark 5:4 tells how they had often tried to bind the madman, feet (πέδαις) and hands (ἁλύσεσι, with chains, for the hands here, in contrast to πέδαις, chains for the feet; usually it means chains in general).—συντετρῖφθαι: the use of a distinct verb in reference to the fetters suggests that they were of different material, either cords (Meyer) or wooden (Schanz), and that we should render συντετ., not “broken in pieces” (A.V[33]), but rubbed through as if by incessant friction.

[33] Authorised Version.4. he had been often] Each Evangelist adds something to complete the picture of the terrible visitation, under which the possessed laboured. St Matthew that he made the way impassable for travellers (Mark 8:28); St Luke that he was without clothing (Mark 8:27); St Mark that he cried night and day and cut himself with stones (Mark 5:5).

broken in pieces] For another instance of the extraordinary muscular strength which maniacs put forth see Acts 19:16.With fetters and chains (πέδαις καὶ ἁλύσεσιν)

πέδη, fetter, is akin to πέζα, the instep; just as the Latin pedica, a shackle, is related to pes, a foot. The Anglo-Saxon plural of fot (foot) is fet; so that fetter is feeter. So Chaucer:

"The pure fetters on his shinnes grete

Were of his bitter salte teres wete."

Αλυσιν (derivation uncertain) is a chain, a generic word, denoting a bond which might be on any part of the body.

Broken in pieces (συντετρῖφθαι)

The verb συντρίβω means originally to rub together, to grind or crush. It has been suggested that the fetters might have been of cords which could be rubbed to pieces. Wyc. renders, Had broken the stocks to small gobbets.

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