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Bible Commentaries

Lapide's Great Biblical Commentary

Mark 5

Verses 1-43

CHAPTER 5 1 Christ delivereth the possessed of the legion of devils , 13 they enter into the swine . 25 H e healeth the woman of the bloody issue , 35 and raiseth from death Jairus his daughter.

Ver. 7. I adjure thee by God. Because the devil knew that Christ would grant nothing to his prayers or deserts, he inter-poses the name of God, to which he knew Christ gave the highest reverence. It was as though he said, "I entreat Thee, by the authority of the Divine name, and as far as I can, I constrain Thee, that Thou wilt not cast me out of this body, and banish me to hell." For this was the greatest torment to a demon. Ver. 9 . My name is Legion ; Syriac, our name , &c., adding, by way of explanation, for we are many. A legion contained properly 6666 soldiers. See what is said in Matthew 26:53 . In this place a certain number is put for an uncertain. Observe, the devil is God's ape. Hence he imitates God, who is "the Lord of hosts," that is, of angels. In a like way the devil calls himself legion , because he leads out many companions into line of battle to fight against God and His faithful people. Wherefore me have a right to dread that battle, knowing that their warfare is not with men, but devils, and those many in number, who conspire for their destruction. Therefore they ought to implore the help of God and the holy angels, as Elisha did ( 2Ki 7:17 ). Ver. 25 . And a woman which had an issue of blood , &c. This woman was of Cæsarea Philippi, which was formerly called Dan, and afterwards Paneas. This is the celebrated woman who, being healed by Christ of her issue of blood, erected in memory of so great a benefit that statue to Christ at Cæsarea Philippi from whose base grew an herb which cured all diseases (Eus. H. E. vii. 14). Julian the Apostate threw the statue down, and set up one of himself in its place. But this was shivered to pieces by lightning, as S. Jerome testifies, and the Tripartite History ( l . vi. c . 19). Our innovators, who cast away, burn the relics of the saints, whilst they preserve and venerate the relics of their own leaders, act like Julian the Apostate. For the Zuinglians, or followers of Zuinglius, preserve with great devotion his heart, which was found among the ashes when he was burnt. So says Capito in his Life of Zuinglius.

It is not probable that this woman who had the issue of blood was Martha, the sister of Mary Magdalene, as S. Ambrose thinks ( lib. de Salom. c . v.). For Martha lived at Bethany, near Jerusalem, not at Cæsarea. The Gospel of Nicodemus says that her name was Veronica, the same who gave Christ a handkerchief to wipe the sweat when He was going to be crucified, and on which He left an impression of His face. Ver. 28. For she said, If I shall touch but His garment, I shall be whole. Matthew ( Mat 9:20 ), instead of garment , has the hem of His garment. This hem was a fringe of threads attached to the bottom of the robe, of a hyacinth or violet colour, which God commanded the Jews to wear, that it might put them continually in mind of God's precepts and of heaven itself. This Christ wore, according to the law, as a mark that He belonged to the Jewish race and religion.

There is here an example and proof of the use and efficacy of holy relics. For of such a nature was the hem or fringe of Christ which healed her that had the issue of blood. Calvin replies that the woman was superstitious, and that a certain amount of superstition was mingled with what she did. But Christ and Mark refute this; for they ascribe her healing not to superstition, but to her faith, and commend her for it. For in the 30th verse it is said, And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that virtue was gone out from Him ( de illo ), i.e ., from ( de ) His fringe. And 34, Daughter, thy faith hath saved thee, go in peace. Rightly says S. Hilary, "Like as the Author of nature has given to a magnet the power of attracting iron, so did Christ give to His garment the power of healing her who touched in faith." And if it were so with a garment, how much more with the Eucharist? Hence S. Gorgonia was healed of a severe disease by touching the Eucharist. (See Nazianzen, Orat . 11.) So, too, was S. Catherine of Sienna, and many others. (See Salmeron, tom . 6, tract . 15.)

Tropologically : The issue of blood, says Bede, is fleshly delight, as gluttony, luxury. The most pure flesh of Christ heals these when piously received in the Eucharist. Ver. 30 . And Jesus . . . had gone out of Him , and had healed her; not as if any quality had gone out from Christ's hem, or as if this virtue had gone from place to place, from the hem into the woman who had the issue of blood, but by reason of the effect which it produced in the woman. For the virtue abiding in Christ wrought the effect of healing in the woman. Like as, saith Theophylact, the learning of doctors is said to be communicated to their disciples, when, nevertheless, the learning itself remains in the doctors, and produces its effect only, that is, a like knowledge in the disciples.

Observe, this virtue of healing and working miracles conferred by the Word upon the humanity of Christ, was not a physical quality. For that would have been infinite, as having divine and infinite efficacy, of which the humanity of Christ was not capable, being created. But it was a moral quality, that is to say, an instrumental virtue. For the humanity of Christ did these things as an instrument of the divinity.

Who hath touched My garments? Christ asks this question, says Bede, that the healing which He had given to the woman, being declared and made known, might advance in many the virtue of faith, and draw them to believe in Christ. Ver. 33. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him all the truth. Fearing and trembling , not because she had been guilty of an act of superstition, as Calvin would have it, but because she had approached secretly, and, unclean, had touched Christ the clean, and had, as it were, stolen a gift of healing from Christ without His knowledge. Therefore she was afraid lest Christ should rebuke her, or lest He should recall the benefit, or afflict her with a worse evil. Hence it is plain that she had not perfect faith and hope in Christ, or she would not have thought that she could be hid from Him, nor would she have been afraid of Him. Wherefore Christ said, to reassure her, Daughter, be of good courage , as Matthew says. Ver. 34 . But He said to her , Daughter , thy faint hath made thee whole. Christ here confirms the healing which had been conferred upon this trembling woman. It was as though He said to her, "Not My mere fringe, which with great faith of obtaining, healing thou hast touched, hath saved thee, but chiefly My omnipotence, but secondarily thine own faith. For this, either as a disposition or a meritorious cause, has delivered thee from the issue of blood, which deliverance I ratify and confirm."

Go in peace. For God dwells in peace, that she may know that she is cleansed from her sins. For whom Christ healed in body, He likewise sanctified in soul. Ver. 39. The damsel is not dead , but sleepeth. For although she is really dead, yet she shall be forthwith awakened by Me from death as from sleep. Or, as the Scholiast in S. Jerome says, "To you she is dead, to Me she sleepeth."

Talitha cumi. In Hebrew a boy is called ieled , for which the Syrians and Chaldeans say tali, from whence comes the feminine talitha , that is, girl. Cumi means arise , that she being dead should arise from the bed. Moreover, that Mark might give greater emphasis, and express the sense of one who called and commanded, he added, I say unto thee , as S. Jerome says. Ver. 42 . And immediately the damsel rose up and walked , that she might show she was alive. Mystically , as Bede says, "The soul, when raised from sin, ought not only to arise from the filth of its wickedness, but should advance in good works." Ver. 43. And commanded that something should be given her to eat , that He might show that she not only had arisen, but was in good health and hungry. For boys and girls are wont, when they awake out of sleep, if they are well and strong, to ask for food. And death was to her in the place of sleep, as Christ says in the 39th verse. ( )

1 Zuinglius fell in battle. Does à Lapide refer to his body being burnt after his death? (Trans.) ( )

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Bibliographical Information
Lapide, Cornelius. "Commentary on Mark 5". The Great Biblical Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide. 1890.