But the People of Israel were feeling sorry for Benjamin, their brothers. Judges 21:6 (MSG)
In her book, The Artist's Way, Julie Cameron talks about people who can be labeled "crazymakers" and their destructive effect on people around them. Crazymakers are individuals who, by their own self-centered actions, wreak havoc on the lives and family system. She describes them:
Crazymakers are those personalities that create storm centers. They are often charismatic, frequently charming, highly inventive, and powerfully persuasive. And, for the creative person in their vicinity, they are enormously destructive. You know the type: charismatic but out of control, long onproblems and short on solutions. Crazymakers are the kind of people who can take over your whole life.
I thought of this description of crazymakers as I read the insanity of the events described in today's chapter. I would suggest that crazymakers can exist on a national level as well as a personal level. The tribes of Israel ostracize the tribe of Benjamin for the shameless act of rape and murder carried out against a woman of Bethlehem a few chapters ago. Then, the whole nation starts feeling sorry for the folks of Benjamin as they turn their scorn on the tribe of Jabesh Gilead for not showing up to the national riots. They turn their anger on that tribe and commit bloody atrocities. By the end of the chapter, they are justifying the kidnapping of foreign women for the men of Benjamin to marry (wait a minute, wasn't this whole calamity started by the men of Benjamin forcibly taking a woman and raping her?!).
As I scratch my head, I'm reminded of how crazy things can get when we walk away from God's path. When, as the end of the chapter describes, people do whatever they feel like doing, then craziness is not far behind.