Mark 9:18
And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.
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9:14-29 The father of the suffering youth reflected on the want of power in the disciples; but Christ will have him reckon the disappointment to the want of faith. Very much is promised to our believing. If thou canst believe, it is possible that thy hard heart may be softened, thy spiritual diseases may be cured; and, weak as thou art, thou mayest be able to hold out to the end. Those that complain of unbelief, must look up to Christ for grace to help them against it, and his grace will be sufficient for them. Whom Christ cures, he cures effectually. But Satan is unwilling to be driven from those that have been long his slaves, and, when he cannot deceive or destroy the sinner, he will cause him all the terror that he can. The disciples must not think to do their work always with the same ease; some services call for more than ordinary pains.And wheresoever - In whatever place - at home or abroad, alone or in public.

He teareth him - He rends, distracts, or throws him into convulsions.

He foameth - At the mouth, like a mad animal. Among us these would all be considered as marks of violent derangement or madness.

And pineth away - Becomes thin, haggard, and emaciated. This was the effect of the violence of his struggles, and perhaps of the want of food.

18. And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him; and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away—rather, "becomes withered," "dried up," or "paralyzed"; as the same word is everywhere else rendered in the New Testament. Some additional particulars are given by Luke, and by our Evangelist below. "Lo," says he in Lu 9:39, "a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly [or with difficulty] departeth from him."

and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not—Our Lord replies to the father by a severe rebuke to the disciples. As if wounded at the exposure before such a multitude, of the weakness of His disciples' faith, which doubtless He felt as a reflection on Himself, He puts them to the blush before all, but in language fitted only to raise expectation of what He Himself would do.

See Poole on "Mark 9:17"

And wheresoever he taketh him,.... The spirit, or devil, whether it be near fire, or water, whatsoever danger, or dangerous place:

he teareth him; or throws him into it, or dashes him against it; or inwardly racks, tortures, and convulses him:

and he foameth; at the mouth, like one that is mad:

and gnasheth with his teeth; through the excessive pain he is in:

and pineth away; his flesh is withered, dried up, and consumed away. This was the sad deplorable case this child was in, who was his father's only child, and therefore his health and life were very desirable: now he further observes to Christ, saying,

and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out, and they could not. Christ being absent, he entreated the disciples, who had power against unclean spirits, to cast them out; that they would make use of it, and dispossess this dumb and evil spirit; and who did make trial to cast him out, but were not able to effect it; See Gill on Matthew 17:16.

And wheresoever he taketh him, he {f} teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.

(f) Vexes him inwardly, as the colic does.

Mark 9:18. ὅπου ἂν α. καταλάβῃ, wherever it happens to seize him. The possession (ἔχοντα, Mark 9:17) is conceived of as intermittent; “the way of the spirit inferred from the characteristic phenomena of the disease” (The Miraculous Element in the Gospels, p. 181). Then follows a graphic description of the ensuing symptoms: spasms (ῥήσσει, a late form of ῥήγνυμι), foaming (ἀφρίζει from ἀφρός: he, the boy, foameth), grinding of the teeth (τρίζει τ. ὀδ.), then the final stage of motionless stupor graphically described as withering (ξηραίνεται), for which Euthy. gives as an equivalent ἀναισθητεῖ, and Weizsäcker “und wird starr”.

18. wheresoever] According to St Matthew these crises had a connection with changes of the moon (Matthew 17:15).

he teareth him] Probably this manifested itself in violent convulsions, St Vitus’ dance, or the like.

pineth away] “wexip drye,” Wyclif. The word may denote either that he pined away like one, the very springs of whose life were dried up, or that in the paroxysms of his disorder his limbs became unnaturally stiff and stark. The fundamental form of his malady was epilepsy in its worst form, accompanied by dumbness, atrophy, and suicidal mania (Mark 9:22).

Mark 9:18. Καταλάβῃ, he taketh him) The term [demoniacal] possession, seems too narrow to express the idea here.

Verse 18. - Wheresoever it taketh him (καταλάβη); literally, it seizeth hold of him. This is the Greek word from which comes our "catalepsy," the active form of "epilepsy." It teareth him (ῤήσσει). This is doubtless the literal meaning. But there is much evidence to show that it means here "it striketh or throweth him down." This is the reudering of the Peshito Syriac, and of the Vulgate. The same interpretation is also given by Hesychius as one of the meanings of the word. St. Luke (Luke 9:39) describes the symptoms thus: "A spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out, and it teareth him (σπαράσσει αὐτὸν) that he foameth (μετὰ ἀφροῦ), and it hardly departeth from him, bruising him sorely." This it will be remembered is the record of one who was himself a physician. He grindeth his teeth, and pineth away (ξηραίνεται), as though the springs of his life were dried up. The father of the boy is here minutely describing the symptoms when the fit was upon him. He seems here to express the stiffness and rigidity of the body in the approaches of the malady. And I spake to thy disciples that they should cast it out; and they were not able. They had tried and failed. This failure is attributed by our Lord (see Matthew 17:20) to their want of faith; or rather to their "little faith (διὰ τὴν ὀλιγοπιστίαν ὑμῶν)." Mark 9:18It taketh him (καταλάβῃ)

Lit., seizeth hold of him. Our word catalepsy is derived from this.

Teareth (ῥήσσει)

Rev., dasheth down, with rendeth in margin. The verb is a form of ῥήγνυμι, to break. The form ῥήσσω is used in classical Greek of dancers beating the ground, and of beating drums. Later, in the form ῥάσσειν, a term of fighters: to fell, or knock down, which is the sense adopted by Rev.

Gnasheth with his teeth

Rev., grindeth. This and the pining away are peculiar to Mark.

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