Matthew 8:28
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
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(28) The country of the Gergesenes.—The exact determination of the locality presents many difficulties. In all the three Gospels we find various readings, of which the best supported are Gadarenes in St. Matthew, and Gerasenes in St. Mark and St. Luke. “Gergesenes” is, however, found in some MSS. of high authority, and the variations are obviously of very early date. The main facts as to the three regions thus indicated are as follows:—

(1.) Gadara was a city east of the Sea of Galilee, about sixteen miles from Tiberias. It is identified with the modern Um Keis, the ruins of which are more than two miles in circumference, and stand at the north-west extremity of the mountains of Gilead, near the south-east corner of the Lake. The tombs of the city, chambers in the limestone rock often more than twenty feet square, are its most conspicuous feature, and are, indeed, the sole abode of its present inhabitants. Under the Roman occupation it was important enough to have two amphitheatres and a long colonnaded street.

(2.) Gerasa was a city in the Gilead district, twenty miles east of the Jordan, described sometimes as belonging to Cœle-Syria, sometimes to Arabia. It also has ruins which indicate the former splendour of the city. Of these two, it is clear that Gadara fits in better with all the circumstances of the narrative; and if “Gerasenes” is more than the mistake of a transcriber, it could only be because the name was used vaguely for the whole Gilead district. The reading “Gadarenes” in that case would probably come from some one better acquainted with the position of the two cities.

(3.) There was no city named Gergesa, but the name Gergesenes was probably connected with the older Girgashites, one of the Canaanite races that occupied the country before the invasion of Israel (Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11; et al.). Apparently, however, from the last passage referred to, they were on the western side of the Jordan. It is, on the whole, more likely that the reading was a mistake, than that the old tribe still remained with its old name; but it is possible that the name of Gerasa may represent an altered form of Girgashim.

Two possessed with devils.—St. Mark and St. Luke speak of “one” only. A like difference meets us in St. Matthew’s “two blind men” at Jericho (Matthew 20:30) as compared with the “one” of the two other Gospels. The natural explanation is that, in each case, one was more prominent than the other in speech or act, and so was remembered and specified, while the other was either forgotten or left unnoticed. The difference, as far as it goes, is obviously in favour of the independence of St. Matthew’s narrative. The “tombs” in the neighbourhood of Gadara, hewn out in the rock, have been already mentioned. To dwell in such tombs was, to the ordinary Jew, a thing from which he shrank with abhorrence, as bringing pollution, and to choose such an abode was therefore a sign of insanity.

St. Luke adds that he wore no clothes (i.e., strictly, no outer garment; the word does not imply actual nakedness). St. Mark (whose account is the fullest of the three) notices that he had often been bound with fetters and chains, and that, with the abnormal strength often found in mania, he had set himself free from them. The insanity was so homicidal that “none could pass by that way,” so suicidal that he was ever cutting himself with stones, howling day and night in the wildness of his paroxysms.

For a full discussion of the subject of demoniacal possession, see Excursus at the end of this Gospel.


(1.) As to the word, the Greek δαίμων (the “knowing,” or the “divider”) appears in Homer as interchangeable with Θεός (God). In the mythology of Hesiod( Works and Days, i. 108) we have the first downward step, and the δαίμονες are the departed spirits of the men who lived in the first golden age of the world. They are the good genii of Greek religion, averters of evil, guardians of mortal men. The next stage introduced the neuter of the adjective derived from δαίμων as something more impersonal, and τὸ δαιμόνων was used by Plato as something “between God and man, by which the former communicates with the latter” (Symp., p. 202), and in this sense Socrates spoke of the inward oracle whose warning he obeyed, as his δαιμόνον, and was accordingly accused of bringing in the worship of new δαιμόνια, whom the State had not recognised. The fears of men led them, however, to connect these unknown intermediate agents with evil as well as good. The δαίμων of the Greek tragedians is the evil genius of a family, as in the case of that of Agamemnon. A man is said to be under its power when he is swayed by some uncontrollable, frenzied passion that hurries him into guilt and misery.

Such were the meanings that had gathered round the word when the Greek translators of the Old Testament entered on their task. They, as was natural, carefully avoided using it in any connection that would have identified it with the God of Israel. It appears in Psalm 90:3, where the English version gives “destruction;” in Deuteronomy 32:17, and Psalm 106:37, where the English version has “devils,” and in this sense it accordingly passed into the language of the Hellenistic Jews, and so into that of the writers of the Gospels. So St. Paul speaks of the gods whom the heathen worshipped as δαιμόνια (1Corinthians 10:20).

(2.) As to the phenomena described, the belief of later Judaism ascribed to “demons,” in the sense which the word has thus acquired, many of the more startling forms of bodily and mental suffering which the language of modern thought groups under the general head of “disease.” Thus, in the history of Tobit, the daughter of Raguel is possessed by the evil spirit Asmodeus, and he slays her seven bridegrooms (Tobit 3:8). Or passing on to the Gospel records, we find demoniac agency the cause of dumbness (Matthew 9:32), blindness (Matthew 12:22), epilepsy (Mark 9:17-27), or (as here, and Mark 5:1-5) insanity. To “have a devil” is interchangeable with “being mad” (John 7:20; John 8:48; John 10:20, and probably Matthew 11:18). And this apparently was but part of a more general view, which saw in all forms of disease the work, directly or indirectly, of Satan, as the great adversary of mankind. Our Lord went about “healing all that were oppressed of the devil” (Acts 10:38). “Satan had bound” for eighteen years the woman who was crippled by a spirit of infirmity” (Luke 13:16). And these “demons” are described as “unclean spirits” (Matthew 10:1; Matthew 12:43, et al.) acting under a “ruler” or “prince,” who is popularly known by the name of Beelzebub, the old Philistine deity of Ekron, and whom our Lord identifies with Satan (Matthew 12:24-26). The Talmud swarms with allusions to such demons as lurking in the air, in food, in clothing, and working their evil will on the bodies or the souls of men. St. Paul, though he refers only once to “demons,” in this sense, and then apparently as the authors of false doctrines claiming divine authority, but coming really from “seducing spirits” (1Timothy 4:1), seems to see in some forms, at least, of bodily disease the permitted agency of Satan, as in the case of the chastisement inflicted on the incestuous Corinthian (1Corinthians 5:5; 2Corinthians 2:11), his own “thorn in the flesh” (2Corinthians 12:7), and possibly in other like hindrances to his work (1Thessalonians 2:18).

(3.) The belief bore its natural fruit among the Jews of our Lord’s time. The work of the exorcist became a profession, as in the case of the sons of Sceva at Ephesus (Acts 19:13). Charms and incantations were used, including the more sacred forms of the divine name. The Pharisees appear to have claimed the power as one of the privileges belonging to their superior holiness (Matthew 12:27). Josephus narrates that a herb grew at Machærus, the root of which had the power of expelling demons (whom he defines as the spirits of wicked men), and that he had himself beheld, in the presence of Vespasian, a man possessed with a demon, cured by a ring containing a root of like properties. As a proof of the reality of the dispossession, a vessel of water was placed at a little distance from the man, which was overthrown by the unseen demon as he passed out from the man’s nostrils (Wars, vii. 6, § 3; Ant. viii. 2, § 5). The belief as to the demons being “the souls of the dead,” lingered in the Christian Church, was accepted by Justin, who, coming from Samaria, probably received it from the Jews (Apol. I., i., p. 65), and was recognised as at least a common belief by Chrysostom (De Lazaro, I., p. 728).

(4.) Our Lord’s treatment of the cases of men thus “possessed with demons” stands out partly as accepting the prevailing belief in its highest aspects, partly as contrasted with it. He uses no spells or charms, but does the work of casting out as by His own divine authority, “with a word.” He delegates to the Twelve the power to “cast out demons,” as well as to cure diseases (Matthew 10:8); and when the Seventy return with the report that the devils (i.e., demons) were subject unto them in His name, He speaks of that result as a victory over Satan (Luke 10:17-18). He makes the action of the demons the vehicle for a parable, in which first one and then eight demons are represented as possessing the same man (Matthew 12:43-45). It may be noted that He nowhere speaks of them, in the language of the later current beliefs of Christendom, as identical with the “fallen angels,” or as the souls of the dead, though they are evil spirits subject to the power of Satan.

(5.) It is obvious that many hard questions rise out of these facts. Does our Lord’s indirect teaching stamp the popular belief with the seal of His authority? or did He, knowing it to be false, accommodate Himself to their belief, and speak in the only way men were able to understand of His own power to heal, teaching them as they were “able to hear it?” (Mark 4:33). If we answer the former question in the affirmative, are we to believe that the fact of possession was peculiar to the time and country, and that the “demons” (either as the souls of the dead, or as evil angels) have since been restrained by the influence of Christendom or the power of Christ? or may we still trace their agency in the more obscure and startling phenomena of mental disease, in the delirium tremens of the drunkard, in the orgiastic frenzy of some Eastern religions, in homicidal or suicidal mania? And if we go as far as this, is it a true theory of disease in general to assign it, in all cases, to the permitted agency of Satan? and how can we reconcile that belief either with the temper which receives sickness as “God’s visitation,” or with that which seeks out its mechanical or chemical causes? Wise and good men have answered these questions very differently, and it may be that we have not the data for an absolutely certain and exhaustive answer. It is well to remember, on the one hand, that to speak of the phenomena of the Gospel possessions as mania, hysteria, or the like, is to give them a name, but not to assign a cause—that science, let it push its researches into mental disease ever so far, has to confess at last that it stands in the presence of unknown forces, more amenable often to spiritual influences than to any medical treatment; and on the other, that our Lord came to rescue men from the thraldom of frenzy and disease, and so to prepare them for the higher work of spiritual renovation, rather than rudely to sweep away the traditional belief of the people as to their source, or to proclaim a new psychological theory.



Matthew 8:28-34

Matthew keeps to chronological order in the first and second miracles of the second triplet, but probably His reason for bringing them together was rather similarity in their contents than proximity in their time. For one cannot but feel that the stilling of the storm, which manifested Jesus as the Peace-bringer in the realm of the Natural, is fitly followed by the casting out of demons, which showed Him as the Lord of still wider and darker realms, and the Peace-bringer to spirits tortured and torn by a mysterious tyranny. His meek power sways all creatures; His ‘word runneth very swiftly.’ Winds and seas and demons hearken and obey. Cheap ridicule has been plentifully flung at this miracle, and some defenders of the Gospels have tried to explain it away, and have almost apologised for it, but, while it raises difficult problems in its details, the total effect of it is to present a sublime conception of Jesus and of His absolute, universal authority. The conception is heightened in sublimity when the two adjacent miracles are contemplated in connection.

There is singular variation in the readings of the name of the scene of the miracle in the three evangelists. According to the reading of the Authorised Version, Matthew locates it in the ‘country of the Gergesenes’; Mark and Luke, in the ‘country of the Gadarenes’; whereas the Revised Version, following the general consensus of textual critics, reads ‘Gadarenes’ in Matthew and ‘Gerasenes’ in Mark and Luke. Now, Gadara is over six miles from the lake, and the deep gorge of a river lies between, so that it is out of the question as the scene of the miracle. But the only Gerasa known, till lately, is even more impossible, for it is far to the east of the lake. But some years since, Thomson found ruins bearing the name of Khersa or Gersa, ‘at the only portion of that coast on which the steep hills come down to the shore’ {Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land, p. 459}. This is probably the site of the miracle, and may have been included in the territory dependent on Gadara, and so have been rightly described as in ‘the country of the Gadarenes.’

Matthew again abbreviates, omitting many of the most striking and solemn features of the narrative as given by the other two evangelists, and he also diverges from them in mentioning two demoniacs instead of one. That is not contradiction, for if there were two, there was one, but it is divergence, due to more accurate information. Whether they were meant so or no, the abbreviations have the striking result that Jesus speaks but one word, the permissive ‘Go,’ and that thus His simple presence is the potent spell before which the demons cower and flee. They know Him as ‘the Son of God’; a name which, on their lips, must be taken in its full significance. If demoniacal possession is a fact, there is no difficulty in accounting for the name here given to Jesus, nor for the sudden change from the fierce purpose of barring an intruder’s path to abject submission. If it is not a fact, to make a plausible explanation of either circumstance will be a task needing many contortions, as is seen by the attempts to achieve it. For example, we are told that the demoniacs were afraid of Jesus, because He ‘was not afraid of them,’ and they knew Him, because ‘men with shattered reason also felt the spell, while the wise and the strong-minded often used their intellect, under the force of passion or prejudice, to resist the force of truth.’ Possibly the last clause goes as far to explain some critics’ non-recognition of demoniacal possession as the first does to explain the demoniacs’ recognition of Jesus!

To the demonic nature Christ’s coming brought torture, as the sunbeam, which gives life to many, also gives death to ugly creatures that crawl and swarm in the dark. Turn up a stone, and the creeping things hurry out of the penetrating glare so unwelcome. ‘What maketh heaven, that maketh hell,’ and the same presence is life or death, joy or agony. The dear perception of divine purity and the shuddering recoil of impotent hatred from it are surely of the very essence of the demonic nature, and every man, who looks into the depths of his own spirit, knows that the possibilities of such a state are in him.

Our Lord discriminated between healing the sick and casting out demons. He distinguished between forms of disease due to possession and the same diseases when dissociated from it, as, for example, cases of dumbness. His whole attitude, both in His actual dealing with the possessed and in His referring to the subject, gave His complete adhesion to the reality of the awful thing. It is vain to say that He humoured the delusions of insanity in order to cure them. That theory does not adequately explain any of the facts and does not touch some of them. It is perilous to try to weaken the force of the narrative by saying that the evangelists were under the influence of popular notions {which are quietly assumed to have been wrong}, and hence that their prepossessions coloured their representations. If the mirror was so distorted, what reliance can be placed on any part of its reflection of Jesus? There can be no doubt that the Gospel narrative asserts and assumes the reality of demoniacal possession, and if the representation that Jesus also assumed it is due to the evangelists, what trust can be reposed in authorities which misrepresent Him in such a matter? On the other hand, if they do not misrepresent Him, and He blundered, confounding mere insanity with possession by a demon, what reliance can be reposed in Him as our Teacher of the Unseen World? The issues involved are very grave and far-reaching, and raillery or sarcasm is out of place.

But the question is pertinent: By what right do we allege that demoniacal possession is an exploded figment and an impossibility? Do we know ourselves or our fellows so thoroughly as to be warranted in denying that deep down in the mysterious ‘subliminal consciousness’ there is a gate through which spiritual beings may come into contact with human personalities? He would be bold, to the verge of presumption or somewhat further, who should take up such a position. And have we any better right to assume that we know so much of the universe as to be sure that there are no evil spirits there, who can come into contact with human spirits and wield an alien tyranny over them? The Christian attitude is not that of such far-reaching denial which outruns our knowledge, but that of calm belief that Jesus is the head of all principality and power, and that to Him all are subject. It is taken for granted that the supposed possession is insanity. But may it not rather be that to-day some of the supposed insanity is possession? Be that as it may-and perhaps those who have the widest experience of ‘lunatics’ would be the least ready to dismiss the possibility,-Jesus recognised the reality that there were souls oppressed by a real personality, which had settled itself in the house of life, and none of us has wide and deep enough knowledge to contradict Him. Might it not be better to accept His witness in this, as in other matters beyond our ken, as true, and to ponder it?

The demons’ petition, according to the Received Text, takes the form, ‘Suffer us to go,’ while the reading adopted by most modern editors is ‘Send us.’ The former reading seems to be taken from Luke 8:32, while Mark has ‘Send’ {not the same word as now read in Matthew}. But Mark goes on to say, not that Jesus sent them, but that He ‘suffered them’ or ‘gave them leave’ {the same word as in Matthew, according to the Received Text}. Thus, Jesus’ part in the transaction is simply permissive, and the one word which He speaks is authoritative indeed in its curtness, and means simply ‘away,’ or ‘begone.’ It casts them out but does not send them in. He did not send them into the herd, but out of the men, and did not prevent their entrance into the swine. It should further be noted that nothing in the narrative suggests that the destruction of the herd was designed even by the demons, much less by Jesus. The maddened brutes rushed straight before them, not knowing why or where; the steep slope was in front, and the sea was at its foot, and their terrified, short gallop ended there. The last thing the demons would have done would have been to banish themselves, as the death of the swine did banish them, from their new shelter. There is no need, then, to invent justifications for Christ’s destroying the herd, for He did not destroy it. No doubt, keeping swine was a breach of Jewish law; no doubt the two demoniacs and the bystanders would be more convinced of the reality of the exorcism by the fate of the swine, but these apologies are needless.

The narrative suggests some affinity between the demoniac and the animal nature, and though it is easy to ridicule, it is impossible to disprove, the suggestion. We know too little about either to do that, and what we cannot disprove it is somewhat venturesome hardily to deny. There are depths in the one nature, which we cannot fathom though its possessors are close to us; the other is removed from our investigation altogether. Where we are so utterly ignorant we had better neither affirm nor deny. But we may take a homiletical use out of that apparent affinity, and recognise that a spirit in rebellion against God necessarily gravitates downwards, and becomes more or less bestialised.

No wonder that the swineherds fled, but, surely, it is a wonder that eagerness to be rid of Jesus was the sole result of the miracle. Perhaps the reason was the loss of the swine, which would bulk largest in their keepers’ excited story; perhaps the reason was a fear that He would find out and rebuke other instances of breach of strict Jewish propriety, perhaps it was simply the shrinking from any close contact with the heavenly, or apparently supernatural, which is so instinctive in us, and witnesses to a dormant consciousness of discord with Heaven. ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man,’ is the cry of the roused conscience. And, alas! it has power to send away Him whom we need, and who comes to us, just because we are sinful, and just that He may deliver us from our sin.

Matthew 8:28. And when he was come to the other side, &c. — This history is related by Mark 5:1-4, &c.; and by Luke 8:26-27, more at large than here by Matthew: and they report it to be done in the country of the Gadarenes, who, it is evident, were the same people with those called here Gergesenes; Gadara and Gergesa being towns near each other, and the country between them taking its name indifferently from either place. There met him two possessed with devils — St. Mark and St. Luke mention only one, who was probably the fiercer of the two, and the person who spoke to our Lord first. But this is no way inconsistent with the account which St. Matthew gives. The tombs — Doubtless those malevolent spirits love such tokens of death and destruction. Tombs were usually in those days in desert places, at a distance from towns, and were often made in the sides of caves, in the rocks and mountains. No one could pass — Safely. And behold, they cried out — Namely, the devils, using the man’s tongue, What have we to do with thee — Why dost thou concern thyself about us? — It is a Hebrew phrase, made use of when men wish not to be troubled with the company or importunity of others. Jesus, thou Son of God — The devils knew him to be the Son of God, though the Jews would not believe that he was. Art thou come to torment us before the time — Before the great day of judgment?

8:28-34 The devils have nothing to do with Christ as a Saviour; they neither have, nor hope for any benefit from him. Oh the depth of this mystery of Divine love; that fallen man has so much to do with Christ, when fallen angels have nothing to do with him! Heb 2:16. Surely here was torment, to be forced to own the excellence that is in Christ, and yet they had no part in him. The devils desire not to have any thing to do with Christ as a Ruler. See whose language those speak, who will have nothing to do with the gospel of Christ. But it is not true that the devils have nothing to do with Christ as a Judge; for they have, and they know it, and thus it is with all the children of men. Satan and his instruments can go no further than he permits; they must quit possession when he commands. They cannot break his hedge of protection about his people; they cannot enter even a swine without his leave. They had leave. God often, for wise and holy ends, permits the efforts of Satan's rage. Thus the devil hurries people to sin; hurries them to what they have resolved against, which they know will be shame and grief to them: miserable is the condition of those who are led captive by him at his will. There are a great many who prefer their swine before the Saviour, and so come short of Christ and salvation by him. They desire Christ to depart out of their hearts, and will not suffer his word to have place in them, because he and his word would destroy their brutish lusts, those swine which they give themselves up to feed. And justly will Christ forsake all that are weary of him; and say hereafter, Depart, ye cursed, to those who now say to the Almighty, Depart from us.The same account of the demoniacs substantially is found in Mark 5:1-20, and Luke 8:26-38.

Matthew 8:28

The other side - The other side of the Sea of Tiberias.

Country of the Gergesenes - Mark Mar 5:1 says that he came into the country of the "Gadarenes." This difference is only apparent.

"Gadara" was a city not far from the Lake Gennesareth, one of the ten cities that were called "Decapolis." See the notes at Matthew 4:25. "Gergesa" was a city about 12 miles to the southeast of Gadara, and about 20 miles to the east of the Jordan. There is no contradiction, therefore, in the evangelists. He came into the region in which the two cities were situated, and one evangelist mentioned one, and the other another. It shows that the writers had not agreed to impose on the world; for if they had, they would have mentioned the same city; and it shows. also, they were familiar with the country. No men would have written in this manner but those who were acquainted with the facts. Impostors do not mention places or homes if they can avoid it.

There met him two - Mark and Luke speak of only one that met him. "There met him out of the tombs a man," Mark 5:2. "There met him out of the tombs a certain man," Luke 8:27. This difference of statement has given rise to considerable difficulty. It is to be observed, however, that neither Mark nor Luke say that there was no more than one. For particular reasons, they might have been led to fix their attention on the one that was more notorious, and furious, and difficult to be managed. Had they denied plainly that there was more than one, and had Matthew affirmed that there were two, there would have been an irreconcilable contradiction. As it is, they relate the affair as other people would. It shows that they were honest witnesses. Had they been impostors; had Matthew and Luke agreed to write books to deceive the world, they would have agreed exactly in a case so easy as this. They would have told the story with the same circumstances. Witnesses in courts of law often differ in unimportant matters; and, provided the main narrative coincides, their testimony is thought to be more valuable.

Luke has given us a hint why he recorded only the cure of one of them. He says there met him "out of the city, a man, etc.; or, as it should be rendered, "a man of the city" a citizen. Yet the man did not dwell in the city, for he adds in the same verse, "neither abode he in any house, but in the tombs." The truth of the case was, that he was born and educated in the city. He had probably been a man of wealth and eminence; he was well known, and the people felt a deep interest in the case. Luke was therefore particularly struck with his case; and as his cure fully established the power of Jesus, he recorded it. The other person that Matthew mentions was probably a stranger, or one less notorious as a maniac, and he felt less interest in the cure. Let two persons go into a lunatic asylum and meet two insane persons, one of whom should be exceedingly fierce and ungovernable, and well known as having been a man of worth and standing; let them converse with them, and let the more violent one attract the principal attention, and they would very likely give the same account that Matthew and Luke do, and no one would doubt the statement was correct.

Possessed with devils - See the notes at Matthew 4:24.

Coming out of the tombs - Mark and Luke say that they lived among the tombs. The sepulchres of the Jews were frequently caves beyond the walls of the cities in which they dwelt, or excavations made in the sides of hills, or sometimes in solid rocks. These caves or excavations were sometimes of great extent. They descended to them by flights of steps. These graves were not in the midst of cities, but in groves, and mountains, and solitudes. They afforded, therefore, to insane persons and demoniacs a place of retreat and shelter. They delighted in these gloomy and melancholy recesses, as being congenial to the wretched state of their minds. Josephus also states that these sepulchres were the haunts and lurking-places of those desperate bands of robbers that infested Judea. For further illustration of this subject see my notes at Isaiah 14:9; Isaiah 22:16; Isaiah 65:4. The ancient Gadara is commonly supposed to be the present Umkeis. "Near there Burckhardt reports that he found many sepulchres in the rocks, showing how naturally the conditions of the narrative respecting the demoniacs could have been fulfilled in that region. Reliable writers state that they have seen lunatics occupying such abodes of corruption and death." - Hackett's "Illustrations of Scripture," p. 109.

Dr. Thomson, however ("The Land and the Book," vol. ii. pp. 34-37), maintains that Gadara could not have been the place of the miracle, since that place is about "three hours" (some 10 or 12 miles) to the south of the extreme shore of the lake in that direction. He supposes that the miracle occurred at a place now called "Kerza" or "Gersa." which he supposes was the ancient "Gergesa." Of this place he says: "In this Gersa or Chersa we have a position which fulfills every requirement of the narratives, and with a name so near that in Matthew as to be in itself a strong corroboration of the truth of this identification. It is, within a few rods of the shore, and an immense mountain rises directly above it, in which are ancient tombs, out of some of which the two men possessed of the devils may have issued to meet Jesus. The lake is so near the base of the mountain that the swine, rushing madly down it, could not stop, but would be hurried on into the water and drowned. The place is one which our Lord would be likely to visit, having Capernaum in full view to the north, and Galilee 'over against it,' as Luke says it was. The name, however, pronounced by Bedouin Arabs is so similar to Gergesa, that, to all my inquiries for this place, they invariably said it was at Chersa, and they insisted that they were identical, and I agree with them in this opinion."

Mt 8:28-34. Jesus Heals the Gergesene Demoniacs. ( = Mr 5:1-20; Lu 8:26-39).

For the exposition, see on [1238]Mr 5:1-20.

This history is related by Mark 5:1, &c. and by Luke 8:26, &c., more largely than by Matthew. The other two evangelists report it to be done in the country of the Gadarenes; Matthew,

in the country of the Gergesenes; they were the same people, sometimes denominated from one great city in their territories, sometimes from another: whoso readeth the story in all three evangelists will easily conclude it the same, though related with different circumstances. Matthew saith there were two of these demoniacs. Mark and Luke mention but one. Luke saith, the man had devils long time, that he wore no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. Mark saith, there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 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. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. Matthew saith he came out of the tombs, was exceeding fierce, so as none could pass that way. Divines agree, that the power of the evil angels was not abated by their fall, they were only depraved in their will. That the power of an angel is much more than is here mentioned is out of question. That the evil angels do not exert this power upon us is from the restraining power of God; we live in the air in which the devil hath a principality, Ephesians 2:2. Why God at that time suffered the devil more to exercise this power over the bodies of men, we probably showed before, upon Matthew 4:24. See Poole on "Matthew 4:24". The world was grown very ignorant, and wicked, and sottishly superstitious. Besides, he was now come who was to destroy the works of the devil, and was to show his Divine power in casting him out. The Jews buried their dead out of their cities; the richer of them had tombs hewed out of rocks, &c., and those very large, as may be learned from Isaiah 65:4 John 20:6. The devil chose these places, partly to affright persons through the horror of the places, and torment the possessed with the noisomeness of them; partly to cheat men, with an opinion they were the souls of the persons deceased that were there buried.

And when he was come to the other side,.... Of the lake, or sea of Tiberias, right over against Galilee,

into the country of Gergesenes, the same with the Girgashites, Genesis 15:21 whom Joshua drove out of the land of Canaan; and who, as a Jewish writer (l) says, left their country to the Israelites, and went to a country, which is called to this day, "Gurgestan", of which these people were some remains: both in Mark 5:1 it is called "the country of the Gadarenes"; and so the Syriac and Persic versions read it here; which is easily reconciled by observing, not that Gergesa and Gadara were one and the same city, called by different names; but that these two cities were near each other, in the same country, which was sometimes denominated from the one, and sometimes from the other. Origen (m) has a remarkable passage, showing the different situations of Gadara and Gergesa; and that the latter cannot be Gerasa in Arabia; and also the signification of the name, for the sake of which, I shall transcribe it.

"Gerasa (says he) is a city of Arabia, having neither sea nor lake near it; wherefore the evangelists, who well knew the countries about Judea, would never have said so manifest an untruth: and as to what we find in some few copies, "into the country of the Gadarenes", it must be said, that Gadara indeed was a city of Judea, about which were many famous baths; but there was no lake, or sea in it, adjacent with precipices; but Gergesa, from whence were the Gergasenes, is an ancient city about the lake; now called Tiberias; about which is a precipice adjacent to the lake, from whence is shown, that the swine were cast down by the devils. Gergesa is interpreted, "the habitation of those that cast out"; being called so perhaps prophetically, for what the inhabitants of those places did to the Saviour, beseeching him to depart out of their coasts.''

Dr. Lightfoot suggests, that this place might be so called, from which signifies "clay" or "dirt", and mentions Lutetia for an example. But to pass this, as soon as Christ was got out of the ship, and come to land in this country,

there met him two possessed with devils. Both Mark and Luke mention but one, which is no contradiction to Matthew; for they do not say that there was only one; and perhaps the reason why they only take notice of him is, because he was the fiercest, had a legion of devils in him, and was the principal one, that spake to Christ, and with whom he was chiefly concerned. This is to be understood, not of any natural disease of body, but of real possession by Satan. These possessed men met him, not purposely, or with design, but accidentally to them, and unawares to Satan too; for though he knows much, he is not omniscient: had he been aware of Christ's coming that way, and what he was about to do, he would have took care to have had the possessed out of the way; but so it was ordered by providence, that just as Christ landed, these should be

coming out of the tombs. Their coemeteria, or burying places, were at some distance from towns or cities; wherefore Luke says, the possessed met him "out of the city", a good way off from it; for the Jews (n) say, , "that the sepulchres were not near a city"; see Luke 7:12 and these tombs were built so large, that persons might go into them, and sit and dwell in them, as these "demoniacs" did, and therefore are said to come out of them. The rules for making them are (o) these;

"He that sells ground to his neighbour to make a burying place, or that receives of his neighbour, to make him a burying place, must make the inside of the cave four cubits by six, and open in it eight graves; three here and three there, and two over against them; and the graves must be four cubits long, and seven high, and six broad. R. Simeon says, he must make the inside of the cave six cubits by eight, and open within thirteen graves, four here, and four there, and three over against them; and one on the right hand of the door, and one on the left: and he must make "a court", at the mouth of the cave, six by six, according to the measure of the bier, and those that bury; and he must open in it two caves, one here and another there: R. Simeon says, four at the four sides. R. Simeon ben Gamaliel says, all is according to the nature of the rock.''

Now in the court, at the mouth, or entrance of the cave, which was made for the bearers to put down the bier or coffin upon, before the interment, there was room for persons to enter and lodge, as these possessed with devils did: which places were chosen by the devils, either because of the solitude, gloominess, and filthiness of them; or as some think, to confirm that persuasion some men had, that the souls of men after death, are changed into devils; or rather, to establish a notion which prevailed among the Jews, that the souls of the deceased continue for a while to be about their bodies; which drew persons to necromancy, or consulting with the dead. It is a notion that obtains among the Jews (p), that the soul for twelve months after its separation from the body, is more or less with it, hovering about it; and hence, some have been induced to go and dwell among the tombs, and inquire of spirits: they tell us (q),

"it happened to a certain holy man, that he gave a penny to a poor man, on the "eve" of the new year; and his wife provoked him, and he went , "and lodged among the tombs", and heard two spirits talking with one another.''

Or the devil chose these places, to render the persons possessed the more uncomfortable and distressed; to make them wilder and fiercer, by living in such desolate places, and so do more mischief to others: which was the case of these, who were

exceeding fierce, wicked, malignant, mischievous, and troublesome, through the influence of the devils in them;

so that no man might pass that way, without being insulted or hurt by them.

(l) Juchasin, fol. 135. 2.((m) Comment. in Joannem, T. 2. p. 131. Ed. Huet. (n) T. Bab. Kiddushin. fol. 80. 2. Gloss. (o) Misn. Bava Bathra, c. 6. sect. 8. (p) Nishmat Chayim, par. 2. c. 22. p. 81. 2. c. 24. p. 85. 1. & c. 29. p. 93. 1. p. 94. 1, 2.((q) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 18. 2.

{7} And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

(7) Christ came to deliver men from the miserable enslavement of Satan: but the world would rather go without Christ, than the vilest and least of their conveniences.

Matthew 8:28 ff. Comp. Mark 5:1 ff.; Luke 8:26 ff. Comp. Ewald, Jahrb. VII. p. 54 ff.

Γερασηνῶν] Since Gerasa, the eastern frontier town of Peraea (Joseph. Bell. iii. 3. 3, iv. 9. 1), which Origen and others look upon as even belonging to Arabia, stood much too far to the south-east of the Sea of Tiberias, as the ruins of the town also still prove (Dieterici, Reisebilder aus d. Morgenl. 1853, II. p. 275 ff.; Rey, Voyage dans le Haouran, 1860); since, further, the reading Γεργεσηνῶν has the preponderance of testimony against it, and since that reading has gained currency, if not solely on the strength of Origen’s conjecture (on John 1:28; John 2:12; Opp. iv. p. 140, ed. de la Rue), at least mainly on the strength of his evidence; since, again, no trace is found of a Gergesa either as town (Origen: πόλις ἀρχαία) or as village (Ebrard), Josephus, in fact, Antt. i. 6. 2, expressly stating that of the ancient Γεργεσαίοι (Genesis 15:21; Genesis 10:16; Deuteronomy 8:1; Joshua 24:11) nothing remains but their names; since, finally, the reading Γαδαρηνῶν has important testimony in its favour (see the critical remarks), being also confirmed by Origen, though only as found ἐν ὀλίγοις, and harmonizes with geographical facts,—we are therefore bound to regard that as the original reading, whilst Γερασηνῶν and Γεργεσηνῶν must be supposed to owe their origin to a confusion in the matter of geography. Even apart from the authority of Origen, the latter reading came to be accepted and propagated, all the more readily from the circumstance that we are made acquainted with actual Gergesenes through the Old Testament. On Gadara, at present the village of Omkeis, at that time the capital of Peraea (Joseph. Bell. iv. 7. 3), standing to the south-east of the southern extremity of the Sea of Tiberias, between the latter and the river Mandhur, consult Ritter, Erdk. XV. p. 375 ff.; Rüetschi in Herzog’s Encykl. IV. p. 636 f.; Kneucker in Schenkel’s Bibellex. II. p. 313 ff. According to Paulus, who defends Γερασηνῶν, the district of Gerasa, like the ancient Gilead, must have extended as far as the lake; the πόλις, however, Matthew 8:33-34, he takes to have been Gadara, as being the nearest town. The context makes this impossible.

δύο] According to Mark and Luke, only one. This difference in the tradition (Matthew 9:27, Matthew 20:30) is not to be disposed of by conjectures (Ebrard, Bleek, Holtzmann think that, as might easily enough have happened, Matthew combines with the healing of the Gadarenes that of the demoniacs in the synagogue at Capernaum, Mark 1:23 ff.), but must be allowed to remain as it is. At the same time, it must also be left an open question whether Matthew, with his brief and general narrative (Strauss, de Wette), or Mark and Luke (Weisse), with their lively, graphic representations, are to be understood as giving the more original account. However, should the latter prove to be the case, as is probable at least from the peculiar features in Mark (comp. Weiss, op. cit., p. 342), it is not necessary, with Chrysostom, Augustine, Calvin, to hit upon the arbitrary method of adjustment implied in supposing that there were no doubt two demoniacs, but that the one—whom Mark (and Luke) accordingly mentions—was far more furious than the other. According to Strauss and Keim, the change to the singular has had the effect of giving a higher idea of the extraordinary character of a case of possession by so many demons; Weisse and Schenkel hold the reverse; Weiss thinks the number two owes its origin to the fact of there having been a great many demons. Mere groundless conjectures.

The demoniacs are lunatics, furious to a high degree; they took up their abode among the tombs (natural or artificial grottoes in the rocks or in the earth) that were near by, driven thither by their own melancholy, which sought gratification in gloomy terrors and in the midst of impurity (Lightfoot in loc., and on Matthew 17:15; Schoettgen, p. 92; Wetstein in loc.), and which broke out into frenzy when any one happened to pass by. Many old burial vaults are still to be seen at the place on which Gadara formerly stood.

Matthew 8:28-34. The demoniacs of Gadara (Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39). This narrative raises puzzling questions of all sorts, among them a geographical or topological one, as to the scene of the occurrence. The variations in the readings in the three synoptical gospels reflect the perplexities of the scribes. The place in these readings bears three distinct names. It is called the territory of the Gadarenes, the Gerasenes, and the Gergesenes. The reading in Mark 5:1 in [54], and adopted by W.H[55], is Γερασηνῶν, and, since the discovery by Thomson (Land and Book, ii. 374) of a place called Gersa or Kersa, near the eastern shore of the lake, there has been a growing consensus of opinion in favour of Gerasa (not to be confounded with Gerasa in Gilead, twenty miles east of the Jordan) as the true name of the scene of the story. A place near the sea seems to be demanded by the circumstances, and Gadara on the Hieromax was too far distant. The true reading in Matthew (Matthew 8:28) nevertheless is Γαδαρηνῶν. He probably follows Mark as his guide, but the village Gerasa being obscure and Gadara well known, he prefers to define the locality by a general reference to the latter. The name Gergesa was a suggestion of Origen’s made incidentally in his Commentary on John, in connection with the place named in chap. John 1:28, Bethabara or Bethany, to illustrate the confusion in the gospel in connection with names. His words are: Γέργεσα, ἀφʼ ἧς οἱ Γεργεσαῖοι, πόλις ἀρχαία περὶ τὴν νῦν καλουμένην Τιβερίαδα λίμνην, περὶ ἣν κρημνὸς παρακείμενος τῇ λίμνῃ, ἀφʼ οὗ δείκνυται τοὺς χοιρούς ὑπὸ τῶν δαιμόνων καταβεβλῆσθαι (in Ev. Ioan., T. vi. c. 24). Prof. G. A. Smith, Historical Geography, p. 459, note, pronounces Gerasa “impossible”. But he means Gerasa in Decapolis, thirty-six miles away. He accepts Khersa, which he identifies with Gergesa, as the scene of the incident, stating that it is the only place on the east coast where the steep hills come down to the shore.

[54] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[55] Westcott and Hort.

28. Gergesenes] The readings vary between Gerasenes, Gadarenes and Gergesenes. Gerasa and Gergesa are forms of the same name. Gadara was some distance to the south of the Lake. It was, however, the capital of Peræa, and the more important place; possibly Gergesa was under its jurisdiction. Gergesa is identified with the modern Khersa; in the neighbourhood of which “rocks with caves in them very suitable for tombs, a verdant sward with bulbous roots on which the swine might feed” (Macgregor, Rob Roy), and a steep descent to the verge of the Lake, exactly correspond with the circumstances of the miracle. (See Map.)

tombs hewn out of the mountain-sides formed convenient dwelling-places for the demoniacs.

28–34. The Gadarene Demoniacs. St Mark 5:1-20; St Luke 8:26-39St Mark and St Luke make mention of one demoniac only. St Mark relates the incident at greater length and with more particularity. St Matthew omits the impossibility of binding him with chains, the absence of clothing, the wild cries night and day, the name “legion,” the prayer not to be sent into the “abyss” (Luke), the request of one of the demoniacs to be with Jesus, and the charge which Jesus gives him to tell his friends what great things the Lord had done for him.

Matthew 8:28. Γεργεσηνῶν,[384] of the Gergesenes) Gerasa (said for Gergescha) and Gadara were neighbouring cities.[385] See Hiller’s Onomata Sacra, pp. 807, 812.—ἐκ τῶν μνημείων, from the tombs) The possessed avoid human society, in which the exercises of piety flourish. Invisible guests also have their dwelling in sepulchres (See Mark 5:3); those which are malignant, especially, I believe in the sepulchres of the impious.—παρελθεῖν, pass by) not even pass by.

[384] This reading, which Michaelis supposed to rest on the mere conjecture of Origen, is estimated by the Margin of Beng. more highly in this passage than in the parallels, Mark 5:1, and Luke 8:26.—E. B.

[385] See Bloomfield’s Greek Testament in loc.—(I. B.)

BCΔ, Syr. (Peschito) and Harcl. (txt.) Syr. read Γαδαρηνῶν. Lachm. reads Γερασηνῶν with bcd Vulg. Hilar. 645, and D apparently (its Latin having this reading). Γεργεσηνῶν has but second-rate authorities, LX. etc. Memph. Goth. The variety probably arose from the parallel passages being altered from one another. Tregelles (Printed Text of N. T. p. 192) has shown Origen, iv. 140, Γαδαρηνῶν, does not refer to Matthew exclusively, but to the Gospel narration generally. It proves the name was sometimes read Γαδαρηνοὶ, sometimes Γερασηνοὶ, and that Γεργεσηνοὶ was not a then known reading, but was his mere conjecture.—ED.

Verses 28-34. - The Gadarene demoniacs. Parallel passages: Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39, where see full notes. Matthew is much less detailed. Matthew mentions two demoniacs; the parallel passages, one; the reason may be either that one was less fierce than the other, or that only one came from Gerasa (Nosgen). But in our present knowledge of the extent of inspiration, we cannot confidently affirm that the evangelists were kept from errors in numbers, and that the addition of the second demoniac is not due' to some misunderstanding, perhaps of the use of the plural in the demoniac's answer in the parallel passage, Mark 5:9 (cf. Weiss, 'Marcus-ev.,' p. 172). (For a similar difficulty, cf. the note on Matthew 9:27-31.) With regard to this mysterious narrative generally, the explanation of its details can be little more than empirical in our present knowledge of psychology and of spiritual influences. Verse 28. - And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes; Revised Version, Gadarenes, which is certainly right here, as is "Gerasenes" in the parallel passages (cf. Westcott and Hort, it. 'App.'). Gergesa (Textus Receptus here, and Alexandrian authorities in parallel passages) and Gerasa (unless, with Origen on John 1:28, we understand by this the Arabian Gerasa fifty miles away)are probably forms of the same name now represented by Khersa, a village discovered (? in 1857) by Thomson ('The Land and the Book,' pp. 375, sqq., edit. 1880) on the eastern side of the lake, and lying "within a few rods of the shore," with "an immense mountain" rising directly above it, "in which are ancient tombs, out of some of which the two men possessed of the devils may have issued to meet Jesus. The lake is so near the base of the mountain that the swine, rushing madly down it, could not stop, but would be hurried on into the water and drowned." To this Origen's description (loc. cit.) corresponds: "Gergesa, to which the Gergesenes belong, is an ancient city by what is now called the Lake of Tiberias, by which is a steep place adjacent to the lake, and down this, as is pointed out, the swine were cast headlong by the demons." Gadara, in some sense the capital of Peraea (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 4:07. 3), and one of the towns of the Decapolis confederacy (ch. 4:25), was some twelve miles distant from Khersa, and six miles from the nearest part of the lake, to which, in fact (as the stamp of a ship on its coins shows), its territory extended (cf. Schiirer, II. 1. p. 100, sqq.). St. Matthew describes the locality, not by the little-known village, but by the well-known city of the district, to which (as we may gather from the parallel passage, Mark 5:20) the news of the miracle afterwards spread. But since he leaves the expression, "the city," in vers. 33, 34 as he fontal it in his sources, i.e. Khersa, the result is at first misleading There met him (ὑπήντησαν; occurrerunt, Vulgate). St. Matthew (contrast vers. 2, 5, 19) omits the nearer approach recorded in the parallel passages, Mark 5:6 and Luke 8:28. Two (vide supra). Possessed with devils (Matthew 4:24, note), coming out of the tombs; Revised Version, coming forth out. The Greek shows that they did not merely come from among the tombs, but actually out of them (cf. the experience of Warburton, as quoted in Trench on this miracle). Exceeding fierce, so that no man might (Revised Version, could) pass by that way. Matthew only. It deepens the contrast to their present behaviour. Perhaps "that way" refers to the Roman road by the side of the lake (cf. Thomson, op. cit., p. 378). Matthew 8:28The tombs (μνημείων)

Chambers excavated in the mountain, which would afford a shelter to the demoniac. Chandler ("Travels in Asia Minor") describes tombs with two square rooms, the lower containing the ashes, while in the upper, the friends performed funeral rites, and poured libations through a hole in the floor. Dr. Thomson ("Land and Book") thus describes the rock-cut tombs in the region between Tyre and Sidon: "They are nearly all of the same form, having a small chamber in front, and a door leading from that into the tomb, which is about six feet square, With niches on three sides for the dead." A propensity to take up the abode in the tombs is mentioned by ancient physicians as a characteristic of madmen. The Levitical uncleanness of the tombs would insure the wretches the solitude which they sought. Trench ("Notes on the Miracles") cites the following incident from Warburton ("The Crescent and the Cross"): "On descending from these heights I found myself in a cemetery whose sculptured turbans showed me that the neighboring village was Moslem. The silence of night was now broken by fierce yells and howlings, which I discovered proceeded from a naked maniac who was fighting with some wild dogs for a bone. The moment he perceived me he left his canine comrades, and bounding along with rapid strides, seized my horse's bridle, and almost forced him backward over the cliff."

Fierce (χαλεποὶ)

Originally, difficult, hard. Hence hard to manage; intractable.

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