And certain women, who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven demons,
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Cornelius a Lapide
And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils. These women followed Christ (1.) out of gratitude, because He had healed their diseases, and cast out the devils which possessed them. (2.) For safety, lest if they were away from their physician, their former ills might again overtake them. (3.) From pious motives, that from His companionship and preaching they might advance in holiness.
Mary. In Hebrew, Mary signifies a "bitter sea" of repentance. Bede.
Called Magdalene. As we have before explained, from the castle or fort near Bethsaida and Capernaum. S. Augustine infers that she was a married woman (Hom33), and therefore calls her not a harlot but an adulteress. But according to S. Jerome, the author of the commentary on S. Mark calls her a widow, which is much the same thing; so also Jansenius, Luke and others. That she was an inhabitant of Juda, and like Lazarus and Martha lived at Bethany, is clear from S. John xii1. Adricomius, in his description of the Holy Land, tells us that the Magdalene"s home was situated on the shore of the sea of Galilee, and towards the north-east looks out on an extensive plain, and that it was called Magdala from the battlements and towers, wherewith it was fortified. Hence Jerome asserts that she was rightly called Magdalene, that is to say, "turreted" because of her zeal and love. Josephus makes mention of this castle, and tells us that Agrippa fruitlessly sent an expedition against it.
In the Hebrew then Magdalene signifies (1.) turreted, or tower-bearing, from the root Î¾Î²ÏˆÎ¼ migdol, a tower; for she was tall of stature, and of a yet loftier mind. "Thy neck is like the tower of David," Song of Solomon 4:4. (2.)Or "magnificent" (Origen), or "magnified," according to Pagninus, because, says Origen, she followed Jesus, ministered unto Him, and beheld the mystery of His Passion. For the root Ï†ÏˆÎ¼ gadal, means, "to be great and magnificent," and the Magdalene was greatly exalted by Christ. (3.) Pagninus says that Magdalene means, "remarkable for the standard," "bearing, or raising the standard," from the root ÏˆÏ†Î¼ deghol, which, when the letters ghimel and daleth are transposed, signifies a standard. For the Magdalene raised the standard of penitence and love, and of the contemplative life. Like as we read, "His banner over me was love," Song of Solomon 2:4. (4). Or otherwise, as the same writer remarks, the name means, "brought up, nourished," i.e. led by the teaching of Christ to a holy and a virtuous life. For the Hebrew Î±ÏˆÎ¼ gadal means the same thing as to nourish and bring up.
Out of whom went seven devils, i.e. seven capital sins, pride, avarice, gluttony, luxury, anger, envy, and careless living. Bede, Theophylact and S. Gregory. For in a literal sense we are to understand that she had been possessed by devils or evil spirits, as I have before said, and that they had gone out of her, or (S. Mark 16:9) been cast out. So teach S. Ambrose, Euthymius, Jansenius, and others.
We may conclude, therefore, that the Magdalene, because of her wickedness and sins, had been possessed by seven devils, and that with other demoniacs she had been made whole by Christ; that on her repentance she had obtained pardon and forgiveness, and, no longer under the power of Satan, but filled with the spirit of God, she devoted her whole after life to the service of Christ. John of Rochester and others.
Seven devils, either seven in actual number, or "seven" in the sense of many, or all; for, as I have often pointed out, "seven" is the sign of multitude or totality.