|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
This word is used in its proper sense in Deuteronomy 28:34, John 10:20, 1 Corinthians 14:23. It also denotes a reckless state of mind arising from various causes, as over-study (Ecclesiastes 1:17; 2:12), blind rage (Luke 6:11), or a depraved temper (Ecclesiastes 7:25; 9:3; 2 Peter 2:16). David feigned madness (1 Samuel 21:13) at Gath because he "was sore afraid of Achish."
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) The condition of being mad; insanity; lunacy.
2. (a.) Frenzy; ungovernable rage; extreme folly.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
halal, shagha`; mania):
1. In the Old Testament:
These words, and derivatives from the same roots are used to express various conditions of mental derangement. Though usually translated "mad," or "madness" they are often used for temporary conditions to which one would scarcely apply them today except as common colloquial inaccuracies. The madness coupled with folly in Ecclesiastes is rather the excessive frivolity and dissipation on the part of the idle rich (so in 1:17; 2:2-12; 7:25; 9:03; 10:13). The insensate fury of the wicked against the good is called by this name in Psalm 102:8. In Deuteronomy 28:28-34 it is used to characterize the state of panic produced by the oppression of tyrannical conquerors, or (as in Zechariah 12:4) by the judgment of God on sinners. This condition of mind is metaphorically called a drunkenness with the wine of God's wrath (Jeremiah 25:16; Jeremiah 51:7). The same mental condition due to terror-striking idols is called "madness" in Jeremiah 50:38. The madman of Proverbs 26:18 is a malicious person who carries his frivolous jest to an unreasonable length, for he is responsible for the mischief he causes. The ecstatic condition of one under the inspiration of the Divine or of evil spirits, such as that described by Balaam (Numbers 24:3 f), or that which Saul experienced (1 Samuel 10:10), is compared to madness; and conversely in the Near East at the present day the insane are supposed to be Divinely inspired and to be peculiarly under the Divine protection. This was the motive which led David, when at the court of Achish, to feign madness (1 Samuel 21:13-15). It is only within the last few years that any provision has been made in Palestine for the restraint even of dangerous lunatics, and there are many insane persons wandering at large there.
This association of madness with inspiration is expressed in the name "this mad fellow" given to the prophet who came to anoint Jehu, which did not necessarily convey a disrespectful meaning (2 Kings 9:11). The true prophetic spirit was, however, differentiated from the ravings of the false prophets by Isaiah (44:25), these latter being called mad by Jeremiah (29:26) and Hosea (9:7).
The most interesting case of real insanity recorded in the Old Testament is that of Saul, who, from being a shy, self-conscious young man, became, on his exaltation to the kingship, puffed up with a megalomania, alternating with fits of black depression with homicidal impulses, finally dying by suicide. The cause of his madness is said to have been an evil spirit from God (1 Samuel 18:10), and when, under the influence of the ecstatic mood which alternated with his depression, he conducted himself like a lunatic (1 Samuel 19:23 f), his mutterings are called "prophesyings." The use of music in his case as a remedy (1 Samuel 16:16) may be compared with Elisha's use of the same means to produce the prophetic ecstasy (2 Kings 3:15).
The story of Nebuchadnezzar is another history of a sudden accession of insanity in one puffed up by self-conceit and excessive prosperity. His delusion that he had become as an ox is of the same nature as that of the daughters of Procyus recorded in the So of Silenus by Virgil (Ecl. vi.48).
2. In the New Testament:
In the New Testament the word "lunatic" (seleniazomenoi) (the King James Version Matthew 4:24; Matthew 17:15) is correctly rendered in the Revised Version (British and American) "epileptic." Undoubtedly many of the demoniacs were persons suffering from insanity. The words "mad" or "madness" occur 8 times, but usually in the sense of paroxysms of passion, excitement, and foolishness. Thus in Acts 26:11 Paul says that before his conversion he was "exceedingly mad" (emmainomenos) against the Christians. In 1 Corinthians 14:23, those who "speak with tongues" in Christian assemblies are said to appear "mad" to the outsider. Rhoda was called "mad" when she announced that Peter was at the door (Acts 12:15). The madness with which the Jews were filled when our Lord healed the man with the withered hand is called anoia, which is literally senselessness (Luke 6:11), and the madness of Balaam is called paraphronia, "being beside himself" (2 Peter 2:16). Paul is accused by Festus of having become deranged by overstudy (Acts 26:24). It is still the belief among the fellahin that lunatics are people inspired by spirits, good or evil, and it is probable that all persons showing mental derangement would naturally be described as "possessed," so that, without entering into the vexed question of demoniacal possession, any cases of insanity cured by our Lord or the apostles would naturally be classed in the same category.
See also LUNATIC.
See MAD, MADNESS.
Madness (13 Occurrences)
Luke 6:11 And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. (KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Acts 26:24 And as he answered for his defence with these things, Festus says with a loud voice, Thou art mad, Paul; much learning turns thee to madness. (DBY)
2 Peter 2:16 but he was rebuked for his own disobedience. A mute donkey spoke with a man's voice and stopped the madness of the prophet. (WEB KJV WEY ASV WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 28:28 Yahweh will strike you with madness, and with blindness, and with astonishment of heart; (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 9:20 And the watchman declareth, saying, 'He came unto them, and he hath not returned, and the driving 'is' like the driving of Jehu son of Nimshi, for with madness he driveth.' (YLT)
Psalms 34:1 <Of David. When he made a change in his behaviour before Abimelech, who sent him away, and he went.> I will be blessing the Lord at all times; his praise will be ever in my mouth. (See RSV)
Ecclesiastes 1:17 I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 2:2 I said of laughter, Madness! and of mirth, What availeth it? (DBY NAS)
Ecclesiastes 2:12 I turned myself to consider wisdom, madness, and folly: for what can the king's successor do? Just that which has been done long ago. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 7:25 I turned around, and my heart sought to know and to search out, and to seek wisdom and the scheme of things, and to know that wickedness is stupidity, and that foolishness is madness. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 9:3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one event to all: yes also, the heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live, and after that they go to the dead. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV NIV)
Ecclesiastes 10:13 The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Zechariah 12:4 In that day," says Yahweh, "I will strike every horse with terror, and his rider with madness; and I will open my eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)