The town of Madmen

In Jeremiah’s condemnation of Moab, he mentions a number of its cities along the length of the nation, which lay to the east of the Dead Sea. Among them, this one:

City of Madmen, you will also be destroyed.
A destructive army will march against you.
Jer 48.2b

Madmen is a Hebrew word, not English. It is not where mad men live.

Even the Portuguese versions show us it’s not an English word: Madmém.

Probably, not a few version add a footnote of explanation here, as do NET, NRSV, NLT, and NKJV. REB spells it Madhmen, and ERV as Madmenah, to escape the confusion. They are to be commended for saving some preachers and teachers from an expositional mistake. (Though I have yet to hear a sermon or class based on Jer 48.)

Strangely enough, CEB translates it as “madmen.” Maybe an auto-corrector goofed?

NLT’s note says the name sounds like the Hebrew word for “silence,” so we have a play on words: “The town of Madmen, too, will be silenced”. IOVC thinks Jeremiah might have distorted the name to bring out poetic justice.

The location of the town has not been identified in modern times.

Lessons?

  • The text of Scripture deserves a careful reading.
  • The use of a number of Bible versions is a helpful blessing.
  • Knowledge of the original languages of the Bible is a great advantage.
  • The noise of the wicked that today bursts the eardrums will be silenced by God’s judgment.