Mark 5:6 When the man saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees before Him. 7And he shouted in a loud voice, “What do You want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God not to torture me!” 8For Jesus had already declared, “Come out of this man, you unclean spirit!”

9“What is your name?” Jesus asked.

“My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.” 10And he begged Jesus repeatedly not to send them out of that region.

11There on the nearby hillside a large herd of pigs was feeding. 12So the demons begged Jesus, “Send us to the pigs, so that we may enter them.”

13He gave them permission, and the unclean spirits came out and went into the pigs, and the herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the water.

Does this mean that there were at least 2000 demons infested the man?

3 Answers 3


Here is a quote from Wikipedia, specifically, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_legion

The Roman legion was the largest military unit of the Roman army. A legion was roughly of brigade size, composed of 4,200 infantry and 300 cavalry in the republican period, extended to 5,200 infantry and 120 auxilia in the imperial period.

Thus, there might have been 4000 to 5000 demons in the man if the legion is any indication. However, I would not press the number too literally, except what the record explicitly states, namely, that there were "many" (Mark 5:9).

I am sure that just a few demons would enough drive 2000 pigs over a cliff so I do not think that gives us any real indication of the number. The Roman legion is a better indicator but the exact number is not stated.

Ellicott suggests that there might have been perhaps 6000 (see his comment on Matt 8:29) -

“My name is Legion, for we are many.” The irresistible might, the full array of the Roman legion, with its six thousand soldiers, seemed to the demoniac the one adequate symbol of the wild, uncontrollable impulses of passion and of dread that were sweeping through his soul. It would hardly have seemed possible that the force of literalism could have led any interpreter to infer the actual presence of six thousand demons, each with a personality of His own, and to calculate accordingly the number that must have entered into each of the two thousand swine: and yet this has been done.

Barnes agrees with my comment above:

Mark and Luke say that Jesus inquired the name of the principal demoniac, and that he called his name "Legion, for they were many." The name legion was given to a division in the Roman army. It did not always denote the same number, but in the time of Christ it consisted of 6,000 to 3,000 foot soldiers and 3,000 horsemen. It came, therefore, to signify "a large number," without specifying the exact amount.


Not sure if we can assume that each demon possessed a single pig.

They used the term 'Legion' and said they were 'many'. Unless they were referring to the Roman Legion, it would be safe to assume at least 2.


We don't really know how many demons were. Like Dottard and MoonBrew said, it could be more than 2000 and it could be less than 2000: the fact that the whole herd rushed down into the water and drowned, does not mean that every pig must have been possessed. Like every herd of animals, it's enough that a few animals to become agitated in order to provoke a stampede.

I think that the number of soldiers in a roman legion is not an indication of the number of demons. For example, after a battle, the number of soldiers in a legion could fall to few hundreds, or even less than 100. Here the term "Legion" is the same as the term "Army", like in an "army of demons", which simply means "many demons".

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