Matthew 4:25
And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
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(25) Decapolis.—The district so named was formed by the Romans on their first conquest of Syria, B.C. 65, and, speaking roughly, included a tract of country east and south-east of the Sea of Galilee. The ten cities from which the region took its name are given by Pliny (v. 18)—though with the reservation that the list was given differently by others—as Scythopolis, Hippos, Gadara, Pella, Philadelphia, Gerasa, Dion, Canatha, Damascus, and Raphana. Of these Gadara (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1; Luke 8:26), and in some MSS. of the first named passage, Gerasa, are the only two that occur in the Gospels. Damascus is prominent in the Acts, but the statement of Josephus (B. J. iii. 9, § 7), that Scythopolis was the largest of the ten towns, makes it almost certain that he did not include Damascus in the list.

Matthew 4:25. And there followed him great multitudes — Affected with the sight, or fame of his miracles, which was now very great, from Galilee — Its many and populous towns and villages. See note on Matthew 4:15. From Decapolis — A tract of land on the east side of the sea of Galilee, which had its name from δεκα, ten, and πολις, a city, because it contained only ten cities, which were situated near each other, and formed into a distinct district, the metropolis of which was Damascus.

4:23-25 Wherever Christ went, he confirmed his Divine mission by miracles, which were emblems of the healing power of his doctrine, and the influences of the Spirit which accompanied it. We do not now find the Saviour's miraculous healing power in our bodies; but if we are cured by medicine, the praise is equally his. Three general words are here used. He healed every sickness or disease; none was too bad; none too hard, for Christ to heal with a word. Three diseases are named; the palsy, which is the greatest weakness of the body; lunacy, which is the greatest malady of the mind; and possession of the devil, which is the greatest misery and calamity of both; yet Christ healed all, and by thus curing bodily diseases, showed that his great errand into the world was to cure spiritual maladies. Sin is the sickness, disease, and torment of the soul: Christ came to take away sin, and so to heal the soul.From Decapolis - Decapolis was the name of a region of country in the bounds of the half-tribe of Manasseh, mainly on the east of Jordan. It was so called because it included 10 cities - the meaning of the word Decapolis in Greek. Geographers generally agree that Scythopolis was the chief of these cities, and was the only one of them west of the Jordan; that Hippo (Hippos), Gadara, Dion (or Dios), Pelea (or Pella), Gerasa (or Gergesa), Philadelphia, and Raphana (or Raphanae), were seven of the remaining nine, and the other two were either Kanatha and Capitolias, or Damascus and Otopos. These cities were inhabited chiefly by foreigners (Greeks) in the days of our Saviour, and not by Jews. Hence, the keeping of swine by the Gergesenes Matthew 8:30-33, which was forbidden by the Jewish law. 25. And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis—a region lying to the east of the Jordan, so called as containing ten cities, founded and chiefly inhabited by Greek settlers.

and from Jerusalem, and from beyond Jordan—meaning from Perea. Thus not only was all Palestine upheaved, but all the adjacent regions. But the more immediate object for which this is here mentioned is, to give the reader some idea both of the vast concourse and of the varied complexion of eager attendants upon the great Preacher, to whom the astonishing discourse of the next three chapters was addressed. On the importance which our Lord Himself attached to this first preaching circuit, and the preparation which He made for it, see on [1223]Mr 1:35-39.

They followed for the loaves, for the benefit of the bodily cures, or out of curiosity, though some (probably) followed him out of love, and to learn of him.

Decapolis hath its name from ten cities comprehended in it. Here was a mixture both of Jews and Gentiles following Christ, who came to be a Saviour of them both, and to pull down the partition wall between both, to make them both one gospel church, Ephesians 2:14.

And there followed him great multitudes of people,.... Some on one account, and some on another; some out of good will, others out of ill will; some for the healing of their bodies, others for the good of their souls; some to see his miracles, others to hear his doctrine; and what with one and another, the concourse of people that followed him was greater than that which followed John. The Greek word for "multitude" is adopted into the Talmudic language, and is often used by the doctors; who have a tradition to this purpose, that , "there is no multitude less than sixty myriads" (o); but we are not to imagine, that when here, and elsewhere, a multitude is said to follow, or attend on Christ, that he had such a number of people after him as this; only that the number was very large. The places from whence they came are particularly mentioned, as "from Galilee"; where he had called his disciples, had been preaching the Gospel, and healing all manner of diseases; and therefore it is not to be wondered at that he should have a large number of followers from hence. This country was divided into (p) three parts:

"There was upper Galilee, and nether Galilee, and the valley from Capharhananiah and upwards: all that part which did not bring forth sycamine trees was upper Galilee, and from Capharhananiah downwards: all that part which did bring forth sycamine trees was nether Galilee; and the coast of Tiberias was the valley.''

Frequent mention is made in the Talmudic (q) writings of upper Galilee, as distinct from the other.

And from Decapolis; a tract of land so called, from the "ten cities" that were in it; and which, according to Pliny (r) were these following; Damascus, Opoton, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippondion, Pella, Galasa, and Canatha; see Mark 5:20 "And from Jerusalem"; the metropolis of the whole land; for his fame had reached that great city, and there were some there, curious and desirous to see him, and hear him; though he was got into those distant and obscure parts.

And from Judea; from the other parts of it:

and from beyond Jordan; which was a distinct country of itself, known by the name of Peraea; so called, perhaps, from the word here translated, "from beyond". It is to be observed, that here are three countries distinctly mentioned, Galilee, Judea, and "beyond Jordan"; which was the division of the land of Israel; of these three lands the Talmudists often speak.

"It is a tradition of the Rabbins (s), that in three countries they intercalate the year; Judea, and beyond Jordan, and Galilee.''

Again (t),

"There are three lands, that are obliged to the removing of fruits; Judea, and beyond Jordan, and Galilee.''

Once more (u),

"There are three countries for celebration of marriages, Judea, and "beyond Jordan", and Galilee.''

The account which (w) Maimonides gives of these three countries is this;

"The land of Judea, all of it, the mountain, the plain, and the valley, are one country beyond Jordan, all of it, the plain of Lydda, and the mountain of the plain of Lydda, and from Betheron to the sea, are one country: Galilee, all of it, the upper and nether, and the coast of Tiberias, are one country.''

The country beyond Jordan was not so much esteemed as what was properly the land of Canaan, or Israel; for the Jews (x) say,


And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan.
Matthew 4:25. Δεκαπόλεως] a strip of land with ten cities (Josephus, Vit. 9), chiefly inhabited by the heathen, on the other side of the Jordan, in the north-east of Palestine. As to the towns themselves, which were reckoned as included in it, and to which Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippo, and Pella certainly belonged, there was, so early as the time of Pliny (H. N. v. 16), no unanimity of opinion, Lightfoot, Hor. p. 563 ff.; Vaihinger in Herzog, III.; Holtzmann in Schenkel’s Bibellex.

πέραν τοῦ Ἰορδάνου] as in Matthew 5:15, Matthew 19:1, Mark 3:8, a geographical name: Peraea (Josephus, Bell. ix. 3. 3; Plin. v. 15), the land east of the Jordan, from Mount Hermon down to the river Arnon.

25. Decapolis] Lit. a group of ten cities. The cities included in this group are variously named by different authors, they lay to the E. and S. of the Sea of Galilee; by some Damascus is mentioned as belonging to the group.

Matthew 4:25. Ὄχλοι, multitudes) The plural is used on account of the various places from which they came.—Δεκαπόκεως, from Decapolis)[165] situated on both sides of the Jordan. Samaria is not mentioned in this enumeration.—πέραν, beyond) i.e., ἀπὸ τῆς πέρανfrom the country beyond.

[165] The region called Decapolis comprehended the ten cities of Scythopolis: Hippos, Gadara, Dios, Pella, Philadelphia, Gerasa, Canatha, Capitolias, and Abila.—W. Hughes.—(I. B.)

Verse 25. - The mention of the multitudes here serves as a transition to the sermon on the mount. The description of the con stituent paris of the multitudes is very similar to that found in Mark 3:7, 8, and is probably derived from the same source, Mark preserving in most respects the fuller form. Great multitudes; ὄχλοι πολλοί (not "many multitudes," but as plural of ὄχλος πολύς, Matthew 20:29); almost (Luke 5:15) peculiar to this Gospel (Matthew 8:1, where see note [18, Received Text; Matthew 12:15, Received Text]; Matthew 13:2; 15:30; 19:2). Decapolis. A kind of confederacy, originally of ten towns, the organization being apparently the work of Pompey. All were east of Jordan except Bethshan (Scythopolis). The names, as given in Pliny, are - Damascus, Philadelphia, Raphana, Scythopolis, Gadara, Hippus, Dium, Pella, Galasa (read Gerasa) , Kanatha. Schurer adds, Abila (not Abila of Lysanias) and Kanata (distinct from Kanatha) . These towns, like the great maritime cities, e.g. Joppa, and Caesarea Stratonis, were independent political communities, which - at least, after the time of Pompey - were never internally blended into an organic unity with the Jewish region, but were at most externally united with it under the same ruler" (Schurer, II. 1. p. 121). The population in them was chiefly heathen. Across Jordan; equivalent to Peraea, as in ver. 15 and Matthew 19:1, i.e. from Mount Hermon to the river Arnon (Weiss-Meyer); but according to Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 3:03. 3), between the rivers Jabbok and Amen (Alford). "The country east of Jordan was known as Peraea (the country beyond) in the wider sense, but Peraea proper was the small district extending from the river Amen (Mojib) to the Zerka, and now called Belka" (Socin's ' Baedeker,' p. 54). To the places mentioned here as those whence people came, Mark adds Idumaea; Mark and Luke add Tyre and Sidon.

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