5 Feb. Mark 5:1-15

5 Feb. Evil spirits enter 'unclean' animals

"Jesus and his followers went to the other side of the lake to the area of the Gerasene people. When Jesus got out of the boat, instantly a man with an evil spirit came to him from the burial caves... Day and night he would wander around the burial caves and on the hills, screaming and cutting himself with stones..."

"The man shouted in a loud voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I command you in God's name not to torment me!' He said this because Jesus was saying to him, 'You evil spirit, come out of the man.'"

"A large herd of pigs was feeding on a hill near there. The demons begged Jesus, 'Send us into the pigs, let us go into them.' So Jesus allowed them to do this. The evil spirits left the man and went into the pigs. Then the herd of pigs - about 2,000 of them - rushed down the hill into the lake and were drowned."

"The herdsmen ran and went to the town and to the countryside, telling everyone about this. So people went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man who used to have the many evil spirits, sitting, clothed and in his right mind. And they were frightened."

          (Mark 5:1-15)

 

 

In today's passage, Jesus and his disciples arrived on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee in the non-Jewish territory of Gerasa (or Gadara). Jesus cast out a whole ‘legion’ of evil spirits from a man and they entered a herd of pigs. The pigs rushed down the steep slope into the lake and were drowned.

Afterwards, the man who had been dramatically healed, sat, fully clothed and in his right mind, calmly listening to Jesus's teachings. No wonder the local people who worshipped the Greek gods Zeus and Aphrodite were stunned and frightened!

The healing of the man with a ‘legion’ (a large number) of evil spirits took place in the Decapolis - an area of ten semi-autonomous Greek cities on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee which had been given the freedom, by the Romans, to conduct most of their own affairs. Gerasa (modern-day Jerash in Jordan) was one of these ten cities.

The healing could only have taken place in a Gentile (non-Jewish) area as the herd of pigs (into which the evil spirits were sent) would not have been found in a Jewish territory such as Galilee. This is because orthodox Jews consider pigs to be ritually ‘unclean’ (see Leviticus 11:7) and therefore don’t rear pigs or eat pork.

The steep slope above the Sea of Galilee where this healing is believed to have occurred is on the eastern shore of the lake in the Kursi National Park to the north of Ein Gev (see the photo). It's the only place on the eastern shore where a steep hillside is found immediately next to the water's edge.

In 1970, archaeologists uncovered the remains of a large Byzantine monastery and church built here in the 5th century AD to commemorate the healing of the Gadarene man. Today, visitors can sail across the Sea of Galilee from Tiberias to Ein Gev before catching a local bus to see the mosaics and reconstructed remains of the church building at Kursi.

The photo shows the steep slope above the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee in the territory of Gerasa in the Decapolis.

You can read more about the ten Greek cities of the Decapolis @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/…/jesus-upsets-the-pharise…/


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