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Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, [1831], at

Mark Chapter 5


mar 5:0

The man possessed with a legion of demons cured, vv. 1-20. He raises Jairus's daughter to life, and cures the woman who had an issue of blood, vv. 21-43.

Mark 5:1

mar 5:1

The Gadarenes - Some of the MSS. have Gergasenes, and some of them Gerasenes. Griesbach seems to prefer the latter. See the note on Mat 8:28.

The Gadarenes were included within the limits of the Gergasenes. Dr. Lightfoot supposes that, of the two demoniacs mentioned here, one was of Gadara, and consequently a heathen, the other was a Gergesenian, and consequently a Jew; and he thinks that Mark and Luke mention the Gadarene demoniac because his case was a singular one, being the only heathen cured by our Lord, except the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman.

Mark 5:2

mar 5:2

A man with an unclean spirit - There are two mentioned by Matthew, who are termed demoniacs. See on Mar 1:23 (note).

Mark 5:3

mar 5:3

Who had his dwelling among the tombs - See Mat 8:28.

Mark 5:4

mar 5:4

With fetters and chains - His strength, it appears was supernatural, no kind of chains being strong enough to confine him. With several, this man would have passed for an outrageous madman, and diabolic influence be entirely left out of the question; but it is the prerogative of the inspired penman only, to enter into the nature and causes of things; and how strange is it, that because men cannot see as far as the Spirit of God does, therefore they deny his testimony. "There was no devil; there can be none." Why? "Because we have never seen one, and we think the doctrine absurd." Excellent reason! And do you think that any man who conscientiously believes his Bible will give any credit to you? Men sent from God, to bear witness to the truth, tell us there were demoniacs in their time; you say, "No, they were only diseases." Whom shall we credit? The men sent from God, or you?

Mark 5:5

mar 5:5

Crying and cutting himself with stones - In this person's case we see a specimen of what Satan could do in all the wicked, if God should permit him; but even the devil himself has his chain; and he who often binds others, is always bound himself.

Mark 5:6

mar 5:6

Worshipped him - Did him homage; compelled thereto by the power of God. How humiliating to Satan, thus to be obliged to acknowledge the superiority of Christ!

Mark 5:7

mar 5:7

What have I to do with thee - Or, What is it to thee and me, or why dost thou trouble thyself with me? See on Mar 1:24 (note), and Mat 8:29 (note), where the idiom and meaning are explained.

Jesus - This is omitted by four MSS., and by several in Luk 8:28, and by many of the first authority in Mat 8:29 (note). See the note on this latter place.

Mark 5:9

mar 5:9

Legion: for we are many - Could a disease have spoken so? "No, there was no devil in the case; the man spoke according to the prejudice of his countrymen." And do you think that the Spirit of God could employ himself in retailing such ridiculous and nonsensical prejudices? "But the evangelist gives these as this madman's words, and it was necessary that, as a faithful historian, he should mention these circumstances." But this objection is destroyed by the parallel place in Luke, Luk 8:30, where the inspired writer himself observes, that the demoniac was called Legion, because many demons had entered into him.

Mark 5:10

mar 5:10

Out of the country - Strange that these accursed spirits should find it any mitigation of their misery to be permitted to exercise their malevolence in a particular district! But as this is supposed to have been a heathen district, therefore the demons might consider themselves in their own territories; and probably they could act there with less restraint than they could do in a country where the worship of God was established. See on Mar 5:1 (note).

Mark 5:11

mar 5:11

A great herd of swine - See the notes on Mat 8:30.

Mark 5:12

mar 5:12

All the devils - Παντες, all, is omitted by many MSS. and versions; Griesbach leaves it out of the text. Οἱ δαιμονες is omitted also by several: Griesbach leaves it doubtful. Probably it should be read thus, And they besought him, saying.

Mark 5:13

mar 5:13

Gave them leave - For επετρεψεν, DH, three others, and three copies of the Itala have επεμψεν, sent them.

Mark 5:14

mar 5:14

The swine - Instead of τους χοιρους, BCDL, three others, Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Vulgate, and Itala, read αυτους, them - And they that fed Them fled. Griesbach has adopted this reading.

Mark 5:15

mar 5:15

That - had the legion - This is omitted by D, and two others, Ethiopic, Persic, Vulgate, and all the Itala but one. Mill, Bengel, and Griesbach, think it should be omitted.

Mark 5:19

mar 5:19

Suffered him not - Ὁ δε Ιησους, Howbeit Jesus, is omitted by ABKLM, twenty-seven others, both the Syriac, both the Persic, Coptic, Gothic, Vulgate, and one of the Itala. Mill and Bengel approve of the omission, and Griesbach leaves it out of the text.

Go home to thy friends, etc. - This was the cause why Jesus would not permit him to follow him now, because he would not have the happiness of his relatives deferred, who must exceedingly rejoice at seeing the wonders which the Lord had wrought.

Mark 5:20

mar 5:20

Decapolis - See on Mat 4:25 (note).

Mark 5:23

mar 5:23

My little daughter - Το θυγατριον μου, that little daughter of mine. The words express much tenderness and concern. Luke observes, Luk 8:42, that she was his only daughter, and was about twelve years of age.

At the point of death - Εσχατως εχει, in the last extremity, the last gasp.

See on Mat 9:18 (note).

Mark 5:25

mar 5:25

A certain woman - See Mat 9:20.

Mark 5:26

mar 5:26

Had suffered many things of many physicians, - and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse - No person will wonder at this account, when he considers the therapeutics of the Jewish physicians in reference to hemorrhages, especially of the kind with which this woman was afflicted.

Rabbi Jochanan says: "Take of gum Alexandria, of alum, and of crocus hortensis, the weight of a zuzee each; let them be bruised together, and given in wine to the woman that hath an issue of blood. But if this fail, "Take of Persian onions nine logs, boil them in wine, and give it to her to drink: and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this fail, "Set her in a place where two ways meet, and let her hold a cup of wine in her hand; and let somebody come behind and affright her, and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this do no good, "Take a handful of cummin and a handful of crocus, and a handful of faenu-greek; let these be boiled, and given her to drink, and say, Arise from thy flux. But should this also fail, "Dig seven trenches, and burn in them some cuttings of vines not yet circumcised (vines not four years old); and let her take in her hand a cup of wine, and let her be led from this trench and set down over that, and let her be removed from that, and set down over another: and in each removal say unto her, Arise from thy flux." Dr. Lightfoot gives these as a sample, out of many others, extracted from Bab. Shabb. fol. 110.

And from some of these nostrums it is evident the woman could not be bettered, and from some others it is as evident that she must be made worse; and from all together it is indubitably certain that she must have suffered many things; - and from the persons employed, the expense of the medicaments, and the number of years she was afflicted, as she was not a person of great opulence, it is most perfectly credible that she spent all that she had. She was therefore a fit patient for the Great Physician.

The case of this woman was a very afflicting one:

1. Because of the nature of her malady; it was such as could not be made public, without exposing her to shame and contempt.

2. It was an inveterate disorder; it had lasted twelve years.

3. It was continual; she appears to have had no interval of health.

4. Her disorder was aggravated by the medicines she used - she suffered much, etc.

5. Her malady was ruinous both to her health and circumstances - she spent all that she had.

6. She was now brought to the last point of wretchedness, want, and despair; she was growing worse, and had neither money nor goods to make another experiment to procure her health.

7. She was brought so low by her disorder as to be incapable of earning any thing to support her wretched life a little longer.

It has been said, and the saying is a good one, "Man's extremity is God's opportunity." Never could the power and goodness of God be shown in a more difficult and distressful case. And now Jesus comes, and she is healed.

Mark 5:27

mar 5:27

Came in the press behind - She had formed her resolution in faith, she executes it, notwithstanding her weakness, etc., with courage; and now she finds it crowned with success.

Mark 5:31

mar 5:31

Thou seest the multitude thronging then, etc. - Many touch Jesus who are not healed by him: the reason is, they do it not by faith, through a sense of their wants, and a conviction of his ability and willingness to save them. Faith conveys the virtue of Christ into the soul, and spiritual health is the immediate consequence of this received virtue.

Mark 5:33

mar 5:33

Fearing and trembling - See Mat 9:22.

Mark 5:34

mar 5:34

Be whole of thy plague - Rather, continue whole, not, be whole, for she was already healed: but this contains a promise, necessary to her encouragement, that her disorder should afflict her no more.

Mark 5:35

mar 5:35

Why troublest thou the Master - These people seem to have had no other notion of our Lord than that of an eminent physician, who might be useful while there was life, but afterwards could do nothing.

Mark 5:36

mar 5:36

Jesus - saith - These words were spoken by our Lord to the afflicted father, immediately on his hearing of the death of his child, to prevent that distress which he otherwise must have felt on finding that the case was now, humanly speaking, hopeless.

Mark 5:38

mar 5:38

He cometh - But ερχονται, they come, is the reading of ABCDF, four others, and several versions.

Wept and wailed - See on Mat 9:23 (note).

Mark 5:40

mar 5:40

The father and the mother - Prudence required that they should be present, and be witnesses of the miracle.

And them that were with him - That is, Peter, James, and John, Mar 5:37. It is remarkable that our Lord gave a particular preference to these three disciples, beyond all the rest, on three very important occasions:

1. They were present at the transfiguration.

2. At the raising of Jairus's daughter.

3. At his agony in the garden of Gethsemane.

Where the damsel was lying - Ανακειμενον, lying. This word is very doubtful. BDL, one other, Coptic, and later Arabic, with five of the Itala, omit it. Other MSS. express the same idea in five different words: Griesbach leaves it out of the text. See his Testament.

Mark 5:41

mar 5:41

Talitha cumi - , This is mere Syriac, the proper translation of which the evangelist has given. The Codex Bezae has a very odd and unaccountable reading here, ῥαββι. θαβιτα κουμι, My master. Damsel arise. Suidas quotes this place under the word Αββακουμ thus ταληθα κουμ. Κουμ is the reading of several ancient MSS., but it is certainly a faulty one.

Mark 5:43

mar 5:43

Something should be given her to eat - For though he had employed an extraordinary power to bring her to life, he wills that she should be continued in existence by the use of ordinary means. The advice of the heathen is a good one: -

Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus Inciderit.


"When the miraculous power of God is necessary, let it be resorted to: when it is not necessary, let the ordinary means be used."

To act otherwise would be to tempt God.

While Christ teaches men the knowledge of the true God, and the way of salvation, he at the same time teaches them lessons of prudence, economy, and common sense. And it is worthy of remark, that all who are taught of him are not only saved, but their understandings are much improved. True religion, civilization, mental improvement, common sense, and orderly behavior, go hand in hand.

Next: Mark Chapter 6