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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Legion

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LEGION. This term, which means literally ‘a gathering,’ looks back to the early days of the Roman citizen army. In the time of the Empire it indicated a force of about 6000 infantry, together with complements of other arms. The infantry proper were divided into ten cohorts (the word is tr. [Note: translate or translation.] ‘ band ’ [wh. see] in Matthew 27:27 , Mark 15:16 , John 18:3; John 18:12 , Acts 10:1; Acts 21:31; Acts 27:1 ), each containing about 600 men, and each commanded on occasion by a military tribune. Of these tribunes there were six to a legion. A cohort was itself subdivided into ten centuries, each commanded by a centurion. It is not necessary to remember all these facts in studying the NT use of the word ‘legion’ ( Matthew 26:53 , Mark 5:9; Mark 5:15 , Luke 8:30 ). What chiefly impressed Semites was apparently the size of the legion, and ‘legion’ appears to have become a proverb among them for a large number of persons in orderly combination.

A. Souter.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Legion'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/hdb/l/legion.html. 1909.

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