Legion (demon)

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See Legion (disambiguation) for other concepts with this name.
Jesus healing the man from Gadara. Medieval illumination

"Legion" are a group of demons referred to in the Christian Bible. The New Testament outlines an encounter where Jesus healed a man from Gadara possessed by demons while traveling, known as "the exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac".

In the Bible[edit]

The Gospel of Mark, 5:9, describes the following in the country of the Gadarenes:

And He (Jesus) asked him (the man), "What is thy name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion: for we are many."[1]

The Gospel of Luke, Luke 8:30, describes the following in the country of the Gadarenes:

And Jesus asked him, saying, "What is thy name?" And he said, "Legion": because many devils were entered into him.[2]

The Gospel of Matthew, Matthew 8:28–34, has a unique version of the story:

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.[3]

The demons comprising the Legion are given the appearance of fearing Jesus in the King James Version, Mark 5:10:

And he besought Him much that He would not send them away out of the country.[4]

The Greek word chora (χώρα) is used in the original Greek, translated "country" in the King James Version, but it can also be defined as meaning "the space lying between two places or limits" or "an empty expanse".[5] In Luke 8:31, the word abyssos (άβυσσος) is used, meaning "bottomless pit".[6] Although none of the words translated as "Hell" in the Bible (being sheol, Gehenna, Haides, tartaros) were used in the passage, one interpretation is that they begged to be spared from being sent back to Hell. Jesus casts the demons out of the man, granting their request, and allows them to dwell in a herd of pigs.[7] The pigs then drowned themselves in the Sea of Galilee.[8]

Location[edit]

The Decapolis with the location of Gadara and Gerasa.

Some authors give the ruins of Umm Qais as the location of Gadara. Based upon the Gospel accounts, the location of the miracle had to have a nearby port, tombs for the men to live in, an area for pigs to graze, a nearby city to which the men could flee, and most importantly, a steep bank for the herd to rush down.

The site's topography has high ridges and steep slopes down which the pigs “ran violently down into the sea” (Matthew 8:32). Above the port there are multiple hills which could potentially match up with the biblical account. The most likely site is found at the end of a chain of hills that has a bank descending into the sea. The bank is the modern site of Tell es S’alib located near the New Testament Gadaran suburb of es-Samrah.[9] A visual representation of the location of this tell can be seen in Mendel Nun’s work The Land of the Gadarenes.[10] Although this tell may not have had as steep a slope as that found at Kursi, it does have a hill that runs into the sea and could accommodate a “large herd of swine numbering about 2,000” (Mark 5:11). In addition to the slope, other features of the site make it match up well with the biblical account of the miracle. In excavations by B. De Vries completed in 1973, a Roman tomb from the time of Jesus was found in a valley nearby es-Samrah.[11] This could account for the tombs in which the demoniacs lived. Also, there is needed a nearby site where the swine would have grazed and “the groves of oak trees on the plateau above would have provided the acorns they favored” (Walking in their Sandals: 2[verification needed]). Thus, the site of Gadara can align both textually and geographically with the Biblical account of the demoniacs and the herd of swine.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mark 5 - Passage Lookup - King James Version". BibleGateway.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  2. ^ "Luke8; - Passage Lookup - King James Version". BibleGateway.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  3. ^ "Matthew 8; - Passage Lookup - King James Version". BibleGateway.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  4. ^ "Mark 5:10; - Passage Lookup - King James Version". BibleGateway.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  5. ^ "Chora - Greek Lexicon". Studylight.org. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  6. ^ "Abussos - Greek Lexicon". Studylight.org. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  7. ^ "Mark 5:12; - Passage Lookup - King James Version". BibleGateway.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  8. ^ "Mark 5:13; - Passage Lookup - King James Version". BibleGateway.com. Retrieved 2010-08-07. 
  9. ^ Laney, J. Carl Geographical Aspects of the Life of Christ, p. 141, Th.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977
  10. ^ Nun, Mendel Gergesa (Kursi), p. 5, Kibbutz Ein Gev, 1989
  11. ^ Holm-Nielson, Svend, Gadarenes in Anchor Bible Dictionary vol. 2, p. 867, ed. D.N. Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992

Further reading[edit]

  • Newheart, Michael Willett (2004). My name is Legion: the story and soul of the Gerasene demoniac. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press. ISBN 0-8146-5885-7. OCLC 55066538. 

External links[edit]

Legion (demon)
Preceded by
Parable of Drawing in the Net
Parables of Jesus
New Testament
Events
Succeeded by
Daughter of Jairus
Miracles of Jesus