Matthew 8:32
And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
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(32) He said unto them, Go.—Men have asked sometimes, in scorn, why the word was spoken; why permission was given for a destructive work which seemed alike needless and fruitless. The so-called rationalistic explanation, that the demoniacs drove the swine down the cliff in a last paroxysm of frenzy, is no solution of the difficulty, for, even if that hypothesis were on other grounds tenable, it is clear that our Lord’s words sanctioned what they did. We are at least on the right track in suggesting that only in some such way could the man be delivered from the inextricable confusion between himself and the unclean spirits in which he had been involved. Not till he saw the demoniac forces that had oppressed him transferred to the bodies of other creatures, and working on them the effects which they had wrought on him, could he believe in his own deliverance. Those who measure rightly the worth of a human spirit thus restored to itself, to its fellow-men, and to God, will not think that the destruction of brute life was too dear a price to pay for its restoration. Other subordinate ends—such, e.g., as that it was a penalty on those who kept the unclean beasts for their violation of the Law, or that it taught men that it was through their indulgence of the swinish nature in themselves that they became subject to the darker and more demoniac passions—have been suggested with more or less plausibility.

Down a steep place.—Literally, down the cliff.

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.A herd of many swine - The word "herd," here applied to swine, is now commonly given to "cattle." Formerly, it signified any collection of beasts, or even of people.

The number that composed this "herd" was 2,000, Mark 5:13.

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.

Mark gives us much the same account, Mark 5:13, only adding, they were about two thousand. Luke differeth not, only what Matthew calls a sea Luke calls a lake; but the Jews called all great gatherings together of waters seas. The devil is naturally so fond of doing mischief, that he will rather play at a small game than stand out. This way of executing his malice, upon the beasts, we have often had experience of in the practice of witchcraft. And it may teach husbandmen, and those that trade in much cattle, to whom they are beholden for the preservation of their cattle, and how rightly God is styled, he that preserveth both man and beast; and what need they have to keep up daily prayer in their families, and to live so as they may not make God their enemy, who hath legions of devils, as well as many legions of less hurtful creatures, to revenge his quarrels.

And he said unto them, go, &c. He gave them leave, as God did to Satan, in the case of Job; for without divine permission, these evil spirits cannot do anything to the bodies, souls, or estates of men: they could not enter into the swine without leave, and much less do things of greater moment and consequence; and therefore are not to be feared, or dreaded by men, especially by the people of God. It may be asked, why did Christ suffer the devils to enter the herd of swine, and destroy them, which was a considerable loss to the proprietors? To which may be answered, that if the owners were Jews, and these creatures were brought up by them for food, it was a just punishment of their breach of the law of God; or if to be sold to others, for gain and filthy lucre's sake, it was a proper rebuke, both of the avarice and the contempt of the laws of their own country, which were made to be a hedge or fence for the law of God: or if they were Gentiles, this was suffered to show the malice of the evil spirits, under whose influence they were, and who would, if they had but leave, serve them as they did the swine; and to display the power of Christ over the devils, and his sovereign right to, and disposal of the goods and properties of men; and to evince the truth of the dispossession, and the greatness of the mercy the dispossessed shared in; and to spread the fame of the miracle the more.

And when they were come out of the men that had been possessed by them,

they went into the herd of swine; which shows the real existence of these spirits, the truth of possessions and dispossessions; and that by these devils cannot be meant the sins and corruptions of men's hearts, such as pride, covetousness, uncleanness, envy, malice, cruelty, &c. for these could never be said to enter into a herd of swine, or be the authors of their destruction:

and behold, the whole herd of swine, and which was a very large one, consisting of about two thousand,

ran violently down a steep place; a precipice of one of the rocks, by the sea side,

into the sea of "Tiberias", or lake of Genesareth, which were the same, and over which Christ had just now passed;

and perished in the waters of the sea, or lake, and not any other waters near Gadara, and afar off from hence.

And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
Matthew 8:32. Ἐξελθόντες ἀπῆλθον, κ.τ.λ.] therefore the demons who, quitting those who were possessed, enter the bodies of the swine. The idea that the demoniacs ran away among the swine is opposed to the narrative.

καὶ ἰδοὺ, ὥρμησε, κ.τ.λ.] in consequence of the demons taking possession of the animals, and thereby producing in them a state of fury corresponding to that which had been excited in the men.

Matthew 8:32. ὑπάγετε: Christ’s laconic reply, usually taken to mean: go into the swine, but not necessarily meaning more than “begone”. So Weiss, who holds that Jesus had no intention of expressing acquiescence in the demoniac’s request. (Matt. Evan. and Weiss-Meyer, “Hinweg mit euch”.)—οἱ δὲχοίρους: the entrance of the demons into the swine could not, of course, be a matter of observation, but only of inference from what followed.—ἰδοὺ, introducing a sudden, startling event—ὥρμησεν πᾶσα ἡ ἀγέλη—the mad downrush of the herd over the precipice into the lake. Assuming the full responsibility of Jesus for the catastrophe, expositors have busied themselves in inventing apologies. Euthy gives four reasons for the transaction, the fourth being that only thereby could it be conclusively shown that the devils had left the demoniacs. Rosenmüller suggests that two men are worth more than ever so many swine. The lowest depth of bathos in this line was touched by Wetstein when he suggested that, by cutting up the drowned swine, salting the meat or making smoke-dried hams (fumosas pernas), and selling them to Gentiles who did not object to eat suffocated animals, the owners would escape loss. But the learned commentator might be jesting, for he throws out the suggestion for the benefit of men whom he describes as neither Jews, Gentiles, nor Christians.

32. a steep place] Translate, the steep place. The slope of Gergesa, familiar to Matthew and to the readers of his Gospel.

Matthew 8:32. Ἀπῆλθον, they were come out) Our Lord performed one miracle by which He inflicted punishment on a tree, namely, a fig tree; another on swine; another on men buying and selling in the temple. A specimen of future vengeance. His other miracles were full of grace; and even in these benefit was produced, as, for example, in the present case, a road rendered safe, a region freed from spirits to which it was liable, by their being driven into the sea, the possessed liberated, an excessive quantity of animal existence removed which was forbidden to be eaten, and in this case liable to be possessed by devils. And the Gergesenes were guilty, and deserved to lose the herd. The circumstance shows indisputably the right and the authority of Jesus.—ἀπέθανον, died) It seems that a possessed brute cannot live long. That men who are possessed do not thus perish immediately, is an especial mercy of God.

Verses 32, 33. - And he said unto them, Go. As they asked; for he was not yet come to send them to their final home. He would not employ his inherent Divine power even against the kingdom of Satan, or forcibly disturb the conditions under which evil existed in the world. Notice further:

(1) That as regards the right to destroy the swine when they were the property of others, our Lord in no way destroyed them himself, but only did not interfere with the powers of the evil spirits in giving them permission to work out their own purposes. It is possible, too, though far from certain, that the owners of the swine were acting illegally in owning them (though even then our Lord was not constituted as judge, Luke 12:14); but this supposes first that they were Jews, and secondly that it was illegal for Jews to keep swine, of which suppositions not even the latter can be clearly proved either by Scripture or by early forms of tradition.

(2) The destruction of the swine might well be beneficial to the complete recovery of the men.

(3) It would fully arouse the Gerasenes, and bring home to them the holiness of the Lord from whom evil spirits fled, and the call to personal holiness that such a Presence demanded. The result of their being thus amused lay with themselves (John 3:19; 2 Corinthians 2:16).

(4) It would also prove an important element in attracting the attention both of the neighbouring district (e.g. Gadam, ver. 28; cf. parallel passage, Mark 5:20) and of all places to which the news would come. And when they were come out, they (Revised Version, and they came out and) went into the herd of (Revised Version omits "herd of") swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine (Revised Version omits "of swine") ran violently (Revised Version, rushed; emphatic; in the Greek it follows "behold") down a steep place (Revised Version, down the steep, κατὰ τοῦ κρημνοῦ) ; tide supra, ver. 28, note. Into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them (fed them, revised version; οἱ δὲ βόσκοντες. Those whose duty it was to drive the swine from place to place, that they might find food. Observe that the swine were "far" (ver. 30) from Jesus and the demoniacs, so that the swineherds need not have passed near the demoniacs' dwelling. Also they were on the mountain, and the demoniacs dwelt, as it seems, near the road at the bottom (ver. 28, end). Fled. Doubtless in terror. And went their ways; and went away (Revised Version); ἀπελθόντες. "Ways" is in this passage probably the old genitive singular (cf. 'Bible Word Book,' s.v.). Into the city. Khersa (ver. 28, note). The addition in the parallel passages of "and in the country (ἀπήγγειλαν εἰς τὴν, πόλιν καὶ εἰς τοὺς ἀγρούς) " seems to primarily refer to the news being carried also to those men of the city who were at their daily labour outside it. And told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils; Revised Version, them that were possessed with devils. Matthew repeats the plural (ver. 28, note). Observe: business first, philanthropy second. Matthew 8:32A steep place (τοῦ κρημνοῦ)

Much better the steep (Rev.). Not an overhanging precipice, but a steep, almost perpendicular declivity, between the base of which and the water was a narrow margin of ground, in which there was not room for the swine to recover from their headlong rush. Dr. Thomson ("Land and Book") says: "Farther south the plain becomes so broad that the herd might have recovered and recoiled from the lake." The article localizes the steep as in the vicinity of the pasture.

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