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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Mark 5

A.M. 4035. A.D. 31.

In this chapter we have,

(1,) Christ’s casting a legion of devils out of a man possessed by them, and suffering them to enter into the swine, Mark 5:1-20 .

(2,) His healing the woman with the bloody issue, in the way, as he was going to raise Jairus’s daughter to life, Mark 5:21-43 . Of these three miracles we had an account before, Matthew 8:28 , &c., and Mark 9:18 ; but they are more fully related here.

Verses 1-17

Mark 5:1-17. They came into the country of the Gadarenes Called Gergesenes, Matthew 8:28. Gadara and Gergasa being towns near each other, and their inhabitants, and those of the country adjacent, taking their name indifferently from either. There met him a man with an unclean spirit Matthew mentions two. Probably this, so particularly spoken of here, was the most remarkably fierce and ungovernable. This whole story is explained at large, Matthew 8:28-34. My name is Legion, for we are many But all these seem to have been under one commander, who accordingly speaks, all along, both for them and for himself. They that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city The miracle, issuing in the destruction of the swine, was immediately reported in the town and country by the affrighted keepers, who as they fled had fallen in, it seems, with Jesus and his company, and learned from them the cause of what had happened. And they went out to see what was done Thus the whole people had ocular demonstration of the power of Jesus, and were rendered inexcusable in not believing on him; and they see him that was possessed of the devil sitting At the feet of Jesus, to receive his instructions; and clothed With the raiment that had been given him; and in his right mind Perfectly composed and restored to the use of his reason; and they were afraid Instead of rejoicing that a human being was delivered from so great an evil as had long afflicted him, they were thrown into the utmost consternation, and, being conscious of their wickedness, dreaded the further effects of Christ’s power, which, probably, if they had not done, they would have offered some rudeness, if not violence, to him.

Verses 18-20

Mark 5:18-20 . He that had been possessed, prayed that he might be with him To enjoy the further benefit of his instructions. Perhaps he feared lest, if Jesus left him, he should relapse into his former condition, the terrors of which he dreaded. Howbeit, Jesus suffered him not Judging it proper to leave him in that country as a witness of the power and goodness of his deliverer, and of the folly and wickedness of these Gadarenes, who rejected such a Saviour. Go home to thy friends To thy relations and neighbours; and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee This was peculiarly needful there, where Christ did not go in person. He began to publish in Decapolis, &c. Not only at home, but in all that country where Jesus himself did not come.

Verses 22-28

Mark 5:22-28. There cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue Probably that at Capernaum. The rulers of the synagogue were three persons chosen out of ten, who were obliged constantly to attend the public worship over which they presided, and determined such disputes as happened in the synagogue. For an explanation of this whole paragraph, see notes on Matthew 9:18-26.

Verses 29-30

Mark 5:29-30. She felt in her body that she was healed of that plague Or distemper, with which she had been chastised; for this is the plain meaning of the word μαστιγος here used, which properly means a stroke, scourge, or correction. And Jesus turned about in the press, and said, Who touched, &c. The woman, having obtained her wish, would have retired unobserved: but Jesus, who had secretly performed the cure, by the concurring efficacy of his will, which sent forth the healing virtue, thought fit, on this occasion, to show that it had not escaped his notice, and to take the opportunity of illustrating and commending the faith of the woman for the encouragement of others to confide in his power and love.

Verse 37

Mark 5:37. John, the brother of James John is thus described here, because, when Mark wrote his gospel, not long after our Lord’s ascension, the memory of James, lately beheaded, was so fresh, that his name was more known than that of John himself.

Verses 38-42

Mark 5:38-42. He seeth the tumult The crowd of people that wept and wailed greatly Greek αλαλαζοντας πολλα , howling much, as some render the word. “From several passages of Scripture, (see Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 16:6-7; Ezekiel 24:17,) it appears that the people of the East used to bewail the dead by tearing their hair, and cutting their flesh, and crying most bitterly. Nor did the relations of the deceased content themselves with these expressions of violent grief. They hired persons of both sexes, whose employment it was to mourn over the dead in the like frantic manner, and who besides sung doleful ditties, in which honourable mention was made of the age, the beauty, the strength, the courage, the virtues, and the actions of the deceased, with an intention to increase the sorrow of the afflicted relations. In process of time they accompanied these lamentations with music, particularly of flutes, (Josephus, Bell., Mark 3:8,) a custom which prevailed likewise in the West. Ovid, Fast., lib. 6, Cantabant mæstis tibia funeribus. But the Jews were forbidden to tear their hair and cut their flesh in mourning for the dead, (Leviticus 19:28; Deuteronomy 14:1,) because such expressions of grief were inconsistent with resignation to the divine will, and looked as if they had no hope of their friends’ resurrection. Hence the apostle’s precept, 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Sorrow not as others which have no hope. Besides, these rites were practised by the heathen, as a kind of sacrifices to the manes of the dead.” Macknight.

Verse 43

Mark 5:43. He charged them that no man should know it That he might avoid every appearance of vain-glory, might prevent too great a concourse of people, and might not further enrage the scribes and Pharisees against him; the time for his death, and for the full manifestation of his glory, not being yet come. He commanded that something should be given her to eat So that when either natural or spiritual life is restored, even by immediate miracle, all proper means are to be used in order to preserve it.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Mark 5". Benson's Commentary. 1857.