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Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time. The reading is from Gospel of Matthew 8:28-34.

The Healing of the Gadarene Demoniacs – Matthew 8:28-34

When he came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.

They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”

Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.

The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”

And he said to them, “Go then!”

They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned.

The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs.

Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

The account of the healing of the Gadarene demoniacs is found in Mark and Luke also but have one demoniac only.

The Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac – Mark 5:1-20

Jesus meeting with a demoniac in the country of the Gadarenes by William Brassey Hole, 1846-1917.

They came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes.

When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him.

The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.

In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.

Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.

Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!”

(He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”)

He asked him, “What is your name?”

He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.”

And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory.

Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside.

And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.”

And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned.

The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened.

As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear.

Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine.

Then they began to beg him to leave their district.

As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him.

But he would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.”

Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

The Healing of the Gerasene Demoniac – Luke 8:26-39

Then they sailed to the territory of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.

When he came ashore a man from the town who was possessed by demons met him. For a long time he had not worn clothes; he did not live in a house, but lived among the tombs.

When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him; in a loud voice he shouted, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me!”

For he had ordered the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (It had taken hold of him many times, and he used to be bound with chains and shackles as a restraint, but he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into deserted places.)

Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?”

He replied, “Legion,” because many demons had entered him.

And they pleaded with him not to order them to depart to the abyss.

A herd of many swine was feeding there on the hillside, and they pleaded with him to allow them to enter those swine; and he let them.

The demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

When the swineherds saw what had happened, they ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside.

People came out to see what had happened and, when they approached Jesus, they discovered the man from whom the demons had come out sitting at his feet. He was clothed and in his right mind, and they were seized with fear.

Those who witnessed it told them how the possessed man had been saved.

The entire population of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them because they were seized with great fear. So he got into a boat and returned.

The man from whom the demons had come out begged to remain with him, but he sent him away, saying, “Return home and recount what God has done for you.”

The man went off and proclaimed throughout the whole town what Jesus had done for him.

Where is Gadarenes

There is a confusion over the phrase “territory of the Gadarenes” in Matthew’s recounting of this story.

  • When he came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could 
  • travel by that road. (Matthew 8:28)

The above is the reading from Codex Vaticanus, supported by other important textual witnesses.

The original reading of Codex Sinaiticus was Gazarenes, later changed to Gergesenes, and a few versions have Gerasenes. Each of these readings points to a different territory connected, respectively, with the cities Gadara, Gergesa, and Gerasa (modern Jerash).

There is the same confusion of readings in the parallel texts,

  • They came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. (Mark 5:1)

and

  • Then they sailed to the territory of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. (Luke 8:26)

And the best reading seems to be “Gerasenes,” whereas “Gadarenes” is probably the original reading in Matthew.

The town of Gadara was about five miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee. Flavius Josephus (Life 9:42) refers to this town as possessing territory that extended to the sea coast . This side of the Sea of Galilee was composed of mostly Gentile communities. Gadara was one of the Greek culture cities of the Decapolis.

Before the appointed time

The phrase “before the appointed time” in

  • They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29)

has the notion that evil spirits were allowed by God to afflict human beings until the time of the final judgment is found in Enoch and Jubilees.

  • From the days of the slaughter and destruction and death of the giants, from the souls of whose flesh the spirits, having gone forth, shall destroy without incurring judgement–thus shall they destroy until the day of the consummation, the great judgement in which the age shall be consummated, over the Watchers and the godless, yea, shall be wholly consummated.” (Enoch 16:1)
  • And the Lord our God bade us to bind all. And the chief of the spirits, Mastêmâ, came and said: ‘Lord, Creator, let some of them remain before me, and let them harken to my voice, and do all that I shall say unto them; for if some of them are not left to me, I shall not be able to execute the power of my will on the sons of men; for these are for corruption and leading astray before my judgment, for great is the wickedness of the sons of men.’ And He said: Let the tenth part of them remain before him, and let nine parts descend into the place of condemnation.’ And one of us He commanded that we should teach Noah all their medicines; for He knew that they would not walk in uprightness, nor strive in righteousness. (Jubilees 10:7–10)

The Book of Enoch (also 1 Enoch[1]) is an ancient Jewish religious work, traditionally ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. It is not part of the biblical canon as used by Jews, apart from Beta Israel. It is regarded as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church, but no other Christian group.

The Book of Jubilees (Hebrew: ספר היובלים Sepher hayYobelim), sometimes called Lesser Genesis (Leptogenesis), is an ancient Jewish religious work. Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox Churches consider it as one of the pseudepigrapha. However, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church considers Jubilees as canonical and also by the Jews in Ethiopia, where it is known as the Book of Division (Ge’ez: Mets’hafe Kufale).

The Swine

The phrase “many swine was feeding” in

Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. (Matthew 8:30)

indicates that the population of thar region was Gentile. The tending of pigs, animals was considered unclean by Mosaic law. Chapter 11 of Leviticus lists out the various animals and birds that are loathsome and unclean. One such loathed and unclean animal is the pig.

  • and the pig, which does indeed have hoofs and is cloven-footed, but does not chew the cud and is therefore unclean for you. (Leviticus 11:6–7)

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