(λεγεών, Graecized from the Latin legio), a main division of the Roman army, corresponding nearly to the modern regiment. It always comprised a large body of men, but the number varied so much at different times that there is considerable discrepancy in the statements with reference to it. The legion appears to have originally contained about 3000 men, and to have risen gradually to twice that number, or even more. In and about the time of Christ it seems to have consisted of 6000 men. aned this was exclusive of horsemen, who usually formed an additional body amounting to one tenth of the infantry. As all the divisions of the Roman army are noticed in Scripture, we may add that each legion was dividedl into ten cohorts or battalions, each cohort into three maniples or bands, and each maniple into two centuries or companies of 100 each. This smaller division into centuries or hundreds, from the form in which it is exhibited as a constituent of the larger divisions, clearly shows that 6000 had become at least the formal number of a legion. See Smith's Dict. of Class. Ant s.v. Army, Roman.

The word legion came to be used to express a great number or multitude (e.g. of angels, Mt 26:53). Thus the unclean spirit (Mark v. 9; compare 15), when asked his name, answers, "My name is Legion, for we are many." Many illustrations of this use of the word might be cited from the Rabbinical writers, who even apply it (לַגיוֹן לֶגיוֹן) to inanimate objects, as when they speak of "a legion of olives," etc. (see Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. et Talm.; Buxtorf, Lex. Talm. s.v.). — Kitto. SEE ARMY.

Bible concordance for LEGION.

Definition of legion

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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