The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleMatthew 8:28
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) (Deuteronomy 7:1) (Joshua 3:10) whom Joshua drove out of the land of Canaan;
and who, as a Jewish writer F12 says, left their country to the
Israelites, and went to a country, which is called to this day,
(Najoygrwg) , "Gurgestan", of which these people were some remains:
both in (Mark 5:1) (Luke 8:26) 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 F13 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, (paroikia)
(ekbeblhkotwn) , "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
(atvgrg) , 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 F14 say, (ryel Nykwmo twrbqh ytb wyh alv) , "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 F15 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 (rux) , "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 F16, 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 F17,
``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 (twrbqh tybb Nlw) , "and lodged
among the tombs", and heard two spirits talking with one
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
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
F12 Juchasin, fol. 135. 2.
F13 Comment. in Joannem, T. 2. p. 131. Ed. Huet.
F14 T. Bab. Kiddushin. fol. 80. 2. Gloss.
F15 Misn. Bava Bathra, c. 6. sect. 8.
F16 Nishmat Chayim, par. 2. c. 22. p. 81. 2. c. 24. p. 85. 1. & c. 29.
p. 93. 1. p. 94. 1, 2.
F17 T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 18. 2.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 8:28". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=008&verse=028>. 1999.