These are clearly distinguished in Mt 4:24 from those possessed by demons. The word is ??????????????, which, like the word lunatic, is derived from 'the moon,' and is thought to embrace epileptics as well as those of unsound mind. The lad in Mt 17:15 is called a lunatic, but he was also possessed by a demon: in Mr 9:25 it is called a 'dumb and deaf spirit.'
(from the Latin Luna, the moon, because insane persons, especially those who had lucid intervals, were once supposed to be affected by the changes of the moon). This word is used twice in the New Testament--
Translated epileptic in the Revised Version.) It is evident that the word itself refers to same disease affecting both the body and the mind, which might or might not be a sign of possession By the description of
it is concluded that this disease was epilepsy.
LUNATICS, ???????????????, lunatici, Mt 4:24. Thus those sick persons were called, who were thought to suffer most severely at the changes of the moon; for example, epileptical persons, or those who have the falling sickness, insane persons, or those tormented with fits of morbid melancholy. Mad people are still called lunatics, from an ancient, but now almost exploded, opinion, that they are much influenced by that planet. A sounder philosophy has taught us, that, if there be any thing in it, it must be accounted for, not in the manner the ancients imagined, nor otherwise than by what the moon has in common with other heavenly bodies, occasioning various alterations in the gravity of our atmosphere, and thereby affecting human bodies. However, there is considerable reason to doubt the fact; and it is certain that the moon has no perceivable influence on our most accurate barometers. It has been the fashion to decry and ridicule the doctrine of demoniacal possessions, and to represent the patients merely as lunatics or madmen. And some think that this is countenanced by the calumny of the unbelieving Jews concerning Christ, "He hath a demon, and is mad," Joh 10:20; both possession and madness often producing the same symptoms of convulsions, paralysis, &c, Mt 17:15-18. But that they were distinct diseases, may be collected from the following considerations:
1. The evangelists, enumerating the various descriptions of patients, distinguish ??????????????, demoniacs, ??????????????, lunatics, and ???????????, paralytics, from persons afflicted with other kinds of diseases, Mt 4:24; Mr 1:34; Lu 6:17-18.
2. That a real dispossession took place, seems to follow from the number of these impure inmates. Mary of Magdala, or the Magdalene, was afflicted with seven demons, Mr 16:9. "A legion" besought Christ's permission to enter into a numerous herd of two thousand swine; which they did, and drove the whole herd down a precipice into the sea, where they were all drowned. This remarkable case is noticed by the three evangelists most circumstantially, Mt 8:28; Mr 5:1; Lu 8:26.
3. The testimony of the demoniacs to Christ was not that of madmen or idiots. It evinced an intimate knowledge both of his person and character, which was hidden from the "wise and prudent" of the nation, the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees. Their language was, "What hast thou to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to torment us before the time?" "I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God:" "thou art the Christ, the Son of God, the Son of the most high God," Mt 8:29; Mr 1:24; 3:11; Lu 4:34-41. And they repeatedly besought him not to torment them, not to order them to depart into the abyss, Lu 8:28-31. See DEMONIACS.