Mark 5:9

9 Then Jesus asked the demon, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied. "There are many of us."

Mark 5:9 Meaning and Commentary

Mark 5:9

And he asked him, what is thy name?
&c.] Which question Christ put, not for his own sake; for he was not ignorant of his name, nor of the number of the unclean spirits which were in the man; but partly, that it might be known what a miserable condition this poor man was in, being infested, and vexed with such a large company of devils; and partly, that his own pity and power in delivering him, might be more manifest;

and he answered, saying, my name is Legion:
the Syriac version renders it, "our name is Legion"; the reason of which name is given,

for we are many:
as a Roman legion did consist of many, though its number was not always alike: in the time of Romulus, a legion consisted of three thousand foot, and three hundred horse; afterwards, when the city was, increased, of six thousand foot, and six hundred horse; sometimes it was six thousand and two hundred foot, and three hundred horse; sometimes four thousand foot, and three hundred horse; sometimes five thousand foot, and three hundred horse F24. Some make a legion to consist of six thousand six hundred sixty six; and others make it much larger, even twelve thousand five hundred: however, the number in a legion was many; hence the word is retained among the Jews, and is used for a large number, either of persons or things; as, (Mytyz lvm dxa Nwygl) , "a legion of olives" {y}: that is, a large number of them; though sometimes it is used of a single person, who has others under him, as the general of an army: thus it is said F26 that one man should say to another,

``from whence art thou? he replies, from such a "legion" am I;--the man went to the legion--the legion heard, and was afraid--the man said, woe unto me! now will the legion slay me--the legion heard''

And again F1,

``a certain legion asked R. Abba, is it not written''

Once more F2,

``Lo! such a legion shall go with thee, to keep thee''

Upon which the gloss is, (abuh rv) , "the general of an army"; so called, because he had a legion, or a large number of soldiers under his command: and just so this unclean spirit is called by this name, because he had a great many more with him, and under him, in that man; sometimes it is only used of a single person himself, as of a king's servant sent into a foreign country, to collect his F3 tax: a legion was reckoned by the Jews unclean and defiled, whatsoever place they entered into F4; how much more unclean must this man be, that had a legion of unclean spirits in him! From hence it appears, that the devils are very numerous; for if there was a legion of them in one man, how many must there be in all the children of disobedience, to maintain their ground, and support their interest among them? As there is an innumerable company of holy angels to encamp about the saints, and do them all the service they can, and axe appointed to; so there is undoubtedly an innumerable company of devils, who do all the hurt they can, or are permitted to do, unto the sons of men: hence they are expressed by words, which signify number as well as power; as principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places, the power or posse of the air, the angels of Satan, the angels that sinned and left their habitations As also that they are in a body, and in the form of an army; with a general at the head of them, the prince of devils, and king of the bottomless pit: there are whole squadrons and regiments of them, yea, even legions; which are formed in battle array, and make war against Christ, the seed of the woman; as they did when he was in the garden, and hung upon the cross, which was the hour and power of darkness; and against his members; as they did in Rome pagan against the Christian church, and in Rome papal, against the same, ( Revelation 12:7 Revelation 12:8 Revelation 12:17 ) , and what a mercy it is for the saints, that besides twelve legions of good angels and more, which are ready to assist and protect them, they have God on their side, and therefore it signifies not who is against them; and they have Christ with them, who has spoiled principalities and powers; and greater is the Holy Spirit that is in them, than he that is in the world.


F24 Alexander ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 1. c. 5. Liv. Hist. l. 8. c. 8.
F25 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 20. fol. 17. 4.
F26 Zohar in Gen. fol. 96. 4. & Ivare Binah in ib.
F1 Ib. in Exod. fol. 50. 2.
F2 Zohar in Exod. fol. 51. 4.
F3 Vajikra Rabba, sect. 30. fol. 170. 4. & Mattanot Cehuna in ib.
F4 T. Bab. Cholin, fol. 123. 1.

Mark 5:9 In-Context

7 He shouted at the top of his voice, "Jesus, Son of the Most High God, what do you want with me? Promise before God that you won't hurt me!"
8 This was because Jesus had said to him, "Come out of this man, you evil spirit!"
9 Then Jesus asked the demon, "What is your name?" "My name is Legion," he replied. "There are many of us."
10 And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.
11 A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.
Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version® Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by Biblica.   All rights reserved worldwide.