look!: See study note on Mt 1:20.
a leper: A person suffering from a serious skin disease. The leprosy referred to in the Bible is not restricted to the disease known by that name today. Anyone diagnosed with leprosy became an outcast from society until he was cured.—Le 13:2, ftn., 45, 46; see Glossary, “Leprosy; Leper.”
did obeisance to him: Or “bowed down to him; honored him.” People mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures also bowed down when meeting prophets, kings, or other representatives of God. (1Sa 25:23, 24; 2Sa 14:4-7; 1Ki 1:16; 2Ki 4:36, 37) This man evidently recognized that he was talking to a representative of God who had power to heal people. It was appropriate to bow down to show respect for Jehovah’s King-Designate.—Mt 9:18; for more information on the Greek word used here, see study note on Mt 2:2.
he touched him: The Mosaic Law required that lepers be quarantined to protect others from contamination. (Le 13:45, 46; Nu 5:1-4) However, Jewish religious leaders imposed additional rules. For example, no one was to come within four cubits, that is, about 1.8 m (6 ft) of a leper, but on windy days, the distance was 100 cubits, that is, about 45 m (150 ft). Such rules led to heartless treatment of lepers. Tradition speaks favorably of a rabbi who hid from lepers and of another who threw stones at them to keep them at a distance. By contrast, Jesus was so deeply moved by the leper’s plight that he did what other Jews would consider unthinkable—he touched the man. He did so even though he could have cured the leper with just a word.—Mt 8:5-12.
I want to: Jesus not only acknowledged the request but expressed a strong desire to respond to it, showing that he was motivated by more than just a sense of duty.
tell no one: See study note on Mr 1:44.
show yourself to the priest: In accord with the Mosaic Law, a priest had to verify that a leper had been healed. This would require that the cured leper travel to the temple and bring as an offering, or gift, two live clean birds, cedarwood, scarlet material, and hyssop.—Le 14:2-32.
Capernaum: See study note on Mt 4:13.
army officer: Or “centurion,” that is, one in command of about 100 soldiers in the Roman army.
my servant: The Greek term here rendered “servant” literally means “child; youth” and could be used of a slave who was regarded with some degree of affection, possibly a personal servant.
many from east and west: An indication that non-Jews would have a part in the Kingdom.
recline at the table: Or “dine.” In Bible times, couches were often placed around a table at banquets or large meals. Those partaking of the meal reclined on a couch with their head toward the table, often resting their left elbow on a cushion. Food was usually taken with the right hand. To recline at a table with someone indicated close fellowship with that person. Jews at that time would normally never have done so with non-Jews.
gnashing of their teeth: Or “grinding (clenching) their teeth.” The expression can include the idea of anguish, despair, and anger, possibly accompanied by bitter words and violent action.
in order to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: See study note on Mt 1:22.
carried: Or “carried away; removed.” Under inspiration, Matthew here applies Isa 53:4 to the miraculous cures performed by Jesus. The greater fulfillment of Isa 53:4 will occur when Jesus carries away sin completely, just as the goat “for Azazel” carried the sins of Israel into the wilderness on Atonement Day. (Le 16:10, 20-22) By carrying away sin, Jesus would eliminate the root cause of sickness for all who exercise faith in the value of his sacrifice.
the other side: That is, the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Son of man: Or “Son of a human.” This expression occurs about 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used it to refer to himself, evidently emphasizing that he was truly human, born from a woman, and that he was a fitting human counterpart to Adam, having the power to redeem humankind from sin and death. (Ro 5:12, 14-15) The same expression also identified Jesus as the Messiah, or the Christ.—Da 7:13, 14; see Glossary.
nowhere to lay down his head: That is, no residence that he could call his own.
great storm: Such storms are common on the Sea of Galilee. Its surface is about 210 m (690 ft) below sea level, and the air temperature is warmer on the sea than in the surrounding plateaus and mountains. Those conditions result in atmospheric disturbances and strong winds that can quickly whip up waves.
region of the Gadarenes: A region on the other (the eastern) shore of the Sea of Galilee. It may have been the region extending from the sea to Gadara, which was 10 km (6 mi) from the sea. Supporting this idea, coins from Gadara often depict a ship. Mark and Luke call the area “the region of the Gerasenes.” (See study note on Mr 5:1.) The different regions may have been overlapping.—See App. A7, Map 3B, “Activity at the Sea of Galilee,” and App. B10.
tombs: Or “memorial tombs.” (See Glossary, “Memorial tomb.”) These tombs were evidently caves or chambers cut into the natural rock and usually located outside the cities. These burial places were avoided by the Jews because of the ceremonial uncleanness connected with them, making them an ideal haunt for crazed or demonized people.
What have we to do with you, . . . ?: Or “What is there in common between us and you?” Literally translated, this rhetorical question reads: “What to us and to you?” This Semitic idiom is found in the Hebrew Scriptures (Jos 22:24; Jg 11:12; 2Sa 16:10; 19:22; 1Ki 17:18; 2Ki 3:13; 2Ch 35:21; Ho 14:8), and a corresponding Greek phrase is used in the Christian Greek Scriptures (Mt 8:29; Mr 1:24; 5:7; Lu 4:34; 8:28; Joh 2:4). The exact meaning may vary, depending on context. In this verse, it expresses hostility and repulsion, and some have suggested a rendering such as: “Do not bother us!” or “Leave us alone!” In other contexts, it is used to express a difference in viewpoint or opinion or to refuse involvement in a suggested action, without indicating disdain, arrogance, or hostility.—See study note on Joh 2:4.
torment us: A related Greek term is used of “the jailers” at Mt 18:34, so in this context, the “torment” would seem to refer to a restraining or a confining to “the abyss” mentioned in the parallel account at Lu 8:31.
swine: Pigs were unclean according to the Law but were raised in this area. Whether “the herders” (Mt 8:33) were Jews violating the Law is not stated. However, there was a market for pork among the many non-Jews living in the Decapolis region, since both Greeks and Romans considered pork a delicacy.