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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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.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."See Poole on "Mark 5:1"
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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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), but rubbed through as if by incessant friction.
 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.
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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