MADNESS AND DEMON POSSESSION
While not all persons afflicted with madness or insanity are possessed by the wicked demons, logically persons possessed by the demons may be expected to manifest an unbalanced mental state. In the country of the Gerasenes, Jesus encountered a madman who was demon possessed. His haunt was among the tombs, and though he had often been bound with fetters and chains, “the chains were snapped apart by him and the fetters were actually smashed; and nobody had the strength to subdue him.” Further, “continually, night and day, he was crying out in the tombs and in the mountains and slashing himself with stones.” After Jesus cast out the demons, the man had a “sound mind.” (Mark 5:1-17; Luke 8:26-39) However, Christians are kept safe from demon invasion that produces madness if they put on and keep on “the complete suit of armor from God.”—Eph. 6:10-17.
On one occasion, while he was outlawed by King Saul, David sought refuge with Achish the king of Gath. Upon discovering who he was, the Philistines suggested to Achish that David was a security risk, and David became afraid. Consequently, he disguised his sanity by acting insane. He “kept making cross marks on the doors of the gate and let his saliva run down upon his beard.” Thinking David was crazy, Achish let him go with his life, as a harmless idiot. David was later inspired to write Psalm 34, in which he thanked Jehovah for blessing this strategy and delivering him.—1 Sam. 21:10–22:1.
MADNESS OF OPPOSITION TO JEHOVAH
The prophet Balaam foolishly wanted to prophesy against Israel in order to receive money from King Balak of the Moabites, but Jehovah overruled and prevented his efforts. The apostle Peter wrote about Balaam that “a voiceless beast of burden, making utterance with the voice of a man, hindered the prophet’s mad course.” For Balaam’s madness the apostle used the Greek word pa·ra·phro·niʹa, which has the thought of “being beside himself.”—2 Pet. 2:15, 16; Num. 22:26-31.
Regarding the false prophets of Israel the prophet Hosea wrote: “The prophet will be foolish, the man of inspired expression will be maddened on account of the abundance of your error, even animosity being abundant.” (Hos. 9:7) Jehovah brings madness to his opposers and those who reject his wisdom, identifying himself as “the One that makes diviners themselves act crazily,” that is, by making their forecasts prove false. (Isa. 44:24, 25) Job said, concerning worldly judges, that Jehovah “makes judges themselves go crazy.”—Job 12:17.
Paul compared men who resisted the truth and who tried to corrupt the Christian congregation to Jannes and Jambres, who resisted Moses. He assured: “They will make no further progress, for their madness will be very plain to all, even as the madness of those two men became.”—2 Tim. 3:8, 9.
MADNESS FROM OPPRESSION, FEAR AND CONFUSION
Among the dire consequences the Israelites would suffer for disobedience to Jehovah was being stricken with madness. Due to the oppressive measures of their conquerors, they would become maddened, responding in an unreasoning way because of frustration. (Deut. 28:28-34) Indeed, King Solomon stated that “mere oppression may make a wise one act crazy.”—Eccl. 7:7.
In prophecy Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar was likened to the ‘cup of the wine of Jehovah’s rage.’ This the nations would have to drink and it would cause them to “shake back and forth and act like crazed men because of the sword that I [Jehovah] am sending among them.” (Jer. 25:15, 16) Later, in Babylon herself madness would be brought about, her idolaters having horrifying visions, “and because of their frightful visions they [would] keep acting crazy.” (Jer. 50:35-38) She, too, would have to drink the cup of Jehovah’s rage.—Jer. 51:6-8.
Madness, as used Biblically, can also denote extreme rage. On a sabbath day Jesus cured a man with a withered right hand. The observing scribes and Pharisees thereupon “became filled with madness, and they began to talk over with one another what they might do to Jesus.” (Luke 6:6-11) To describe their state of mind, Luke used the Greek word aʹnoi·a, meaning, literally, senselessness (the English word “paranoia” is derived from this term). Paul evidently had in mind extreme rage or fury when he admitted that in persecuting Christians he had been “extremely mad against them.”—Acts 26:11.
CONTRASTED WITH WISDOM
In the book of Ecclesiastes the congregator reveals that he gave his heart “to knowing wisdom and to knowing madness.” (Eccl. 1:17) His investigation did not restrict itself to considering wisdom, but also took into account its opposite as manifested by men. (Eccl. 7:25) At Ecclesiastes 2:12, Solomon again reveals that he weighed wisdom, madness and folly. In this way he could determine their contrast in value. He recognized inordinate frivolity as madness, saying, “I said to laughter: ‘Insanity!’” for, as compared with wisdom, it was senseless, not producing real happiness.—Eccl. 2:2.
Commenting on the stupid one’s condition of mind, Solomon said: “The start of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end afterward of his mouth is calamitous madness.” (Eccl. 10:13) Foolishness may take the form of a trick, which can sometimes be so harmful to its victim that the trick player is likened to a madman armed with deadly weapons.—Prov. 26:18, 19.
Some have no hope in the resurrection of the dead, thinking that death ends all for everyone. Giving evidence of their unbalanced outlook, they seek only to satisfy their fleshly inclinations and show no concern about doing God’s will. Solomon also took note of them, saying: “Because there is one eventuality to all, the heart of the sons of men is also full of bad; and there is madness in their heart during their lifetime, and after it—to the dead ones!”—Eccl. 9:3.
The apostle Paul’s authority and apostleship were challenged by some in Corinth whom he sarcastically terms “superfine apostles.” (2 Cor. 11:5) In order to bring the Corinthian congregation to their senses, Paul “boasted” about his credentials, his blessings and the things he had experienced in Jehovah’s service, proving his claim. This boasting was contrary to the usual speech of a Christian, but Paul had to do it in this case. Hence he spoke of himself as though being ‘out of his mind,’ and said of the so-called “superfine apostles”: “Are they ministers of Christ? I reply like a madman, I am more outstandingly one.”—2 Cor. 11:21-27.
(Maʹdon [contention, strife].
A royal Canaanite city that leagued itself with Hazor against the Israelites and was subsequently defeated. (Josh. 11:1-12; 12:19) Madon is usually identified with Qarn Hattin, about five and a half miles (9 kilometers) NW of Tiberias. Khirbet Madin, about half a mile (.8 kilometer) to the S, seems to preserve the ancient name “Madon.” However, some geographers question the identification.
An area near the Sea of Galilee to which Jesus withdrew after his miraculous feeding of four thousand men. (Matt. 15:39; manuscripts of more recent date here read “Magdala.”)