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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Legion, a division of the Roman army. 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; but 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 divided into ten cohorts or regiments, each cohort into three maniples or bands, and each maniple into three 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.

The word legion came to be used to express a great number or multitude. Thus, the unclean spirit (), when asked his name, answers, 'My name is Legion, for we are many.'





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Legion'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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