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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

Medicine Palestine was probably a comparatively healthy country in Bible times, as it is now. Its natural features in most localities would protect it from the usual endemic diseases of Oriental lands, and its want of harbours would to a great extent prevent the importation of epidemics (contrast the reputation of Egypt, as attested by   Deuteronomy 7:15;   Deuteronomy 28:50 ,   Amos 4:10 ); moreover, the legislation of the Priestly Code, if it was ever observed, would have operated to prevent the spread of disease, and the existence of far-reaching destitution. These provisions, and the common occurrence of external and internal warfare, must also have tended to eliminate overcrowding as a cause of disease; but the ratio of population to area in ancient times is very difficult to estimate; the figures in   1 Chronicles 21:5 and   2 Samuel 4:9 are clearly untrustworthy.

1. Jews believed in a definite connexion between health and virtue (cf.   Isaiah 58:8 ,   Jeremiah 8:15;   Jeremiah 8:22 ). Disease was popularly regarded as penal (  John 9:2 ), and as sent by God either directly (  Exodus 4:11 ,   Deuteronomy 32:39 ) or permissively by means of others (  Job 2:7 ,   Mark 9:17;   Mark 9:25 ). It might also be caused by human envy (  Job 5:2 ), or by bodily excess ( Sir 37:30-31 ), but even so its vera causa was God’s direct authorization.

Under these circumstances healing was treated as a token of Divine forgiveness (  Exodus 15:26 ). And the connexion of priest with physician was correspondingly close. On the whole, the medical knowledge of the Bible peoples was very defective; nor are there any traces of medical education in Palestine. Jacob was embalmed by Egyptian physicians (  Genesis 50:2 ), but there must probably have been some Jewish practitioners at the time when   Exodus 21:19 was compiled. The word in   Jeremiah 8:22 means a ‘bandager.’ The writer of   2 Chronicles 16:12 seems to take the extreme view that it was a sin to consult physicians, but saner ideas are represented in Sir 38:2 . Still, it may be doubted whether medical duties were not usually performed by priests (as in early Egypt), at any rate in the earlier OT times; certainly the priests had the supervision in the case of certain diseases, e.g . leprosy; and prophets also were applied to for medical advice (cf.   1 Kings 14:2;   1 Kings 17:18 ,   2 Kings 4:22;   2 Kings 20:7 ). And even in Sir 38:14 the physician is regarded as having certain priestly duties, and the connexion between religion and medicine is seen in the counsel, given in that same chapter, that repentance and an offering shall precede the visit of the physician. In the NT we have St. Luke described as a physician (  Colossians 4:14 ), and a somewhat depreciatory remark on physicians in   Matthew 5:26 , which, however, is much toned down in   Luke 8:43 .

It is therefore probable that up till late times medicine was in the charge of the priests, whose knowledge must have been largely traditional and empirical. The sacrificial ritual would give them some knowledge of animal morphology, but human anatomy can scarcely have existed as a science at all, since up to about a.d. 100 the ceremonial objections to touching or dissecting the dead prevailed. Thus Bible references to facts of anatomy and physiology are very few in number. Blood was tabooed as food (  Genesis 9:4 ,   Leviticus 17:11 ) a highly important sanitary precaution, considering the facility with which blood carries microbes and parasites. A rudimentary embryology can be traced in   Job 10:10 ,   Psalms 139:15-16 (cf.   Ecclesiastes 11:5 ). But most of the physiological theories adverted to in the Bible are expressed in language of poetry and metaphor. On the whole, however, we may infer that the Jews (like other ancient peoples) regarded the heart as the seat of mental and moral activity (exceptions to this view are   Daniel 2:28;   Daniel 4:5;   Daniel 7:1 ), the reins or kidneys as the seats of impulse, affection, conscience (  Jeremiah 11:20;   Jeremiah 12:2 ,   Psalms 7:9 ), the bowels as the organs of sympathy (  Psalms 40:8 ,   Job 30:27 ). Proverbs about physicians seem to be alluded to in   Matthew 9:12 ,   Luke 4:23 , Sir 38:1 . Except in the case of certain diseases, visitation of the sick is enjoined in the Talmud (though not in the OT), and enforced by Christ in   Matthew 25:36 .

2 . General terms for disease . The words ‘sick,’ ‘sickness,’ ‘sicknesses,’ ‘disease,’ ‘diseased,’ ‘diseases,’ are of the most frequent occurrence, though they are not always used as the tr. [Note: translate or translation.] of the same words in the original. Sometimes the term is qualified, e.g . ‘sickness unto death’ (  Isaiah 38:1 ), ‘sore sickness’ (  1 Kings 17:17 ), ‘evil disease’ (  Psalms 41:8 ), ‘incurable disease’ (  2 Chronicles 21:18 ). We also have ‘ infirmity ’ three times in the OT, in   Leviticus 12:2 meaning periodic sickness, in   Psalms 77:10 as weakness from sickness, in   Proverbs 18:14 as weakness generally. The term plague is sometimes used of a specific epidemic, at other times of sickness in general. There are also various figurative expressions for disease, and in some places it is described as inflicted by the angel of God, e.g .   2 Samuel 24:16 . In the NT, again, various Gr. words are translated by ‘sickness,’ ‘disease,’ ‘infirmity’; the allusion in   1 Corinthians 11:30 may be to mental weakness, and in   Romans 15:1 to weakness of conscience.

Some diseases, e.g . leprosy, were regarded as unclean, and those suffering from them were excluded from cities. But in general the sick were treated at home. As to the treatment we know very little. It is possible that in earlier times bleeding was not resorted to because of the taboo on blood, though in later times the Jews followed the universal practice.   Proverbs 30:15 has been supposed to show a knowledge of the medicinal use of leeches  ; but this inference can by no means be drawn with any certainty from the context.

3. Specific diseases . As a rule the Bible references to specific diseases are general and vague; and even where we find concrete mention of particular ailments, it is not always easy to decide what the exact nature of the maladies was. In some cases the symptoms are given, though sometimes very indefinitely.

In  Deuteronomy 28:22 a group of terms is used for diseases which appear to resemble each other in the fact that they are sudden, severe, epidemic, and fatal. The first is called consumption . This may be phthisis, but more probable it means a kind of wasting fever, characterized by weakness and anæmia, often of long duration, and perhaps not unlike Mediterranean or Malta fever. The same word is used in   Leviticus 26:16 . The ‘consumption’ mentioned in   Isaiah 10:22;   Isaiah 28:22 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] does not appear to be a specific disease at all. This is followed in Deut. by fever  ; the same word in   Leviticus 26:16 is rendered ‘burning ague ’ by the AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , and the LXX [Note: Septuagint.] translates it by the Greek word for ‘jaundice.’ Its symptoms are given in the passage of Lv.; it may be a sort of malarial fever which occurs in certain parts of Palestine, and is occasionally accompanied by jaundice. This may be the disease alluded to in   John 4:26 and   Luke 4:38 , both instances at Capernaum. Then comes inflammation (  Deuteronomy 28:22 EV [Note: English Version.] , LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ague ). This may be ague, or even typhoid, which is common in Palestine. Next we have ‘extreme burning’ (  Deuteronomy 28:22 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘fiery heat,’ LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ‘irritation’); either some unspecified kind of irritating disease, or erysipelas  ; but this latter disease is not of frequent occurrence in Palestine. The ‘sword’ (  Deuteronomy 28:22 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] , RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘drought’) may be a form of disease, or more probably, like the next two words, may refer to a destruction of the earth’s fruits. The same word ‘sword’ in   Zechariah 11:17 seems, from the symptoms described, to refer to a wasting paralysis. The descriptions given in   Psalms 39:11 ,   Zechariah 14:12 ,   Leviticus 26:39 ,   Ezekiel 24:23;   Ezekiel 33:10 ,   Psalms 38:5 are largely figurative; but the imagery may be taken from an attack of confluent smallpox, with its disfiguring and repulsive effects. It seems highly probable that smallpox was a disease of antiquity; perhaps the sixth plague of Egypt was of this character.

Allusions to pestilence or plague are exceedingly common in the OT. Thus at least four outbreaks took place among the Israelites during their wanderings in the wilderness, viz.   Numbers 11:33 (it has been suggested that the quails here mentioned may have come from a plague-stricken district)   Numbers 14:37;   Numbers 16:46;   Numbers 25:9 (in this last case it may have been communicated by the Moabites). For other references to plague, cf.   2 Samuel 24:15 ,   2 Chronicles 21:14 ,   Psalms 91:3;   Psalms 91:6 ,   Jeremiah 21:9;   Jeremiah 42:17 , perhaps   2 Kings 19:35 . The bubonic plague was the periodic scourge of Bible lands. It has but a short period of incubation, spreads rapidly and generally, and is very fatal, death ensuing in a large proportion of cases, and nearly always within three days. No precautions against it are prescribed in the Levitical Code, because it was regarded as a special visitation of God. As the plague is not endemic in Palestine, the Jews probably incurred it by mixing with their neighbours. The emerods of   1 Samuel 5:6 were tumours of a definite shape, and may therefore be the buboes of the plague. The tumours appeared somewhere in the lower part of the abdomen. Some have supposed them to be hæmorrhoids, by comparison with the phrase in   Psalms 78:66 , but this is doubtful. The same word occurs in   Deuteronomy 28:27 .

Of diseases in the digestive organs the case in   2 Chronicles 21:19 is one of chronic dysentery in its worst form. That in   Acts 28:8 (AV [Note: Authorized Version.] bloody flux ) is also dysentery, which is very prevalent in Malta. The mention of hæmorrhage in this case shows that it was of the ulcerative or gangrenous type, which is very dangerous.

The results of intemperance are mentioned in  Proverbs 23:29 ff.,   Isaiah 19:14 .

The liver . The Hebrew physicians regarded many disorders as due to an alteration in the bile (cf.   Job 16:15 ,   Proverbs 7:23 ,   Lamentations 2:11 ). The disorders alluded to in   1 Timothy 5:23 were probably some kind of dyspepsia , apparently producing lack of energy (cf.   1 Timothy 4:13-16 ); the symptoms are often temporarily relieved by the use of alcohol. In   Psalms 69:3 allusion is made to the dryness of throat produced by mental emotions of a lowering character; and in   Isaiah 16:11 ,   Jeremiah 4:10 to the flatulent distension of the colon due to the same cause.

Heart. There are few references to physical diseases affecting it.   Proverbs 14:30 may be one. Cases of syncope seem to be recorded in   Genesis 45:26 ,   1 Samuel 4:18;   1 Samuel 28:20 ,   Daniel 8:27 . The allusions to a ‘broken heart’ in Scripture are always metaphorical, but the theory that our Lord’s death was due to rupture of the heart deserves mention.

Paralysis or palsy . This is a disease of the central nervous system, which comes on rapidly as a rule, and disappears slowly, if at all. Such cases are mentioned in the NT, e.g .   Matthew 4:24 ,   Luke 4:18 , perhaps   Acts 9:33 . The case in   Matthew 8:6 may have been one of acute spinal meningitis, or some other form of especially painful paralysis. In the case of the withered hand of   Matthew 12:10 ,   Mark 3:1 ,   Luke 6:8 a complete atrophy of the bones and muscles was probably the cause. The case in   Acts 3:2 was possibly of the same nature. Such cases are probably intended also in   John 5:3 . The man in   John 5:7 can hardly have been suffering from locomotor ataxia , as he could move himself, and his disease had lasted 38 years. Therefore this also was, in all likelihood, a case of withered limbs. The sudden attack mentioned in   1 Kings 13:4 was probably due to sudden hæmorrhage affecting some part of the brain, which may under certain circumstances be only temporary.

Apoplexy. A typical seizure is described in   1 Samuel 25:37 , due to hæmorrhage in the brain produced by excitement, supervening, in this particular instance, on a drinking bout (cf. also 1Ma 9:55 ). The same sort of seizure may be referred to in   2 Samuel 6:7 ,   Acts 5:6-10 .

Trance is mentioned in   Genesis 2:21;   Genesis 15:12 . But the cases in   1 Samuel 26:12 ,   Judges 4:21 ,   Matthew 8:24 were probably of sleep due to fatigue. Prophetic frenzy is alluded to in Num 24:3-4 ,   2 Kings 9:11 (cf.   Isaiah 8:18 ). Saul is an interesting psychical study: a man of weak judgment, violent passions, and great susceptibility, eventually succumbing to what seem to be recurring paroxysms of mania, rather than a chronic melancholia. A not uncommon type of monomania seems to be described in   Daniel 4:1-37 (the lycanthropy of Nebuchadnezzar ). In the NT various nervous affections are probably included among the instances of demoniac possession, e.g .   Luke 11:14 ,   Matthew 12:22 . In   Luke 1:22 ,   Acts 9:7 are apparently mentioned cases of temporary aphasia due to sudden emotion. (Cf. also   Daniel 10:15 .)

Deafness and dumbness. Many of the NT cases of possession by dumb spirits were probably due to some kind of insanity or nervous disease, e.g .   Matthew 9:32 ,   Mark 9:25 . In   Mark 7:32 stammering is joined to deafness.   Isaiah 28:11;   Isaiah 32:4 (cf.   Isaiah 33:19 ) probably refer to unintelligible rather than defective speech. Moses’ slowness of speech and tongue (cf.   Exodus 4:10 ) was probably only lack of oratorical fluency. Patience with the deaf is recommended in   Leviticus 19:14 .

Epilepsy. The case in   Matthew 17:15 ,   Mark 9:18 ,   Luke 9:38 is of genuine epileptic fits; the usual symptoms are graphically described. Like many epileptics, the patient had been subject to the fits from childhood. The ‘pining away’ mentioned in the Markan account is characteristic of a form of the disease in which the fits recur frequently and cause progressive exhaustion. The word used in Mt. to describe the attack means literally ‘to be moon-struck’; the same word is found in   Matthew 4:24 , and an allusion to moon-stroke occurs in   Psalms 121:6 . It was a very general belief that epilepsy was in some way connected with the phases of the moon. Such a theory is put forward by Vicary, the physician of Henry VIII., at so late a date as 1577.

Sunstroke. This is mentioned in   Psalms 121:6 ,   Isaiah 49:10 , and cases of apparently genuine siriasis are described in   2 Kings 4:10 and Jdt 8:2 . This seizure is very rapid and painful, accompanied by a great rise in temperature, passing speedily into coma, and resulting as a rule in death within a very short space of time. The cure effected in   2 Kings 4:1-44 was plainly miraculous. Heat syncope , rather than sunstroke, seems to have been the seizure in Jonah’s case (  Jonah 4:8 ). He fainted from the heat, and on recovery was conscious of a severe headache and a feeling of intense prostration.

Dropsy is common in Jerusalem. The cure of a case of dropsy is recorded in   Luke 14:2 .

Pulmonary disease as such finds no mention in Scripture. The phrase used in   1 Kings 17:17 , ‘there was no breath left in him,’ is merely the ordinary way of stating that he died.

Gout. This disease is very uncommon among the people of Palestine; and it is not, as a rule, fatal. The disease in his feet from which Asa suffered (  1 Kings 15:23 ,   2 Chronicles 16:12 ) has usually been supposed to be gout, though one authority suggests that it was articular leprosy, and another that it was senile gangrene. The passages quoted give us no clue to the nature of the disease in question, nor do they state that it caused his death. Josephus describes Asa as dying happily in a good old age. The OT records remark only that he suffered from a disease in the feet, which began when he was advanced in years.

Under the heading surgical diseases may be classed the spirit of infirmity , affecting the woman mentioned in   Luke 13:11;   Luke 13:13 , who, though she could attend the synagogue meetings, was bowed together and unable to lift herself. This was probably a case of senile kyphosis , such as not infrequently occurs with aged women, and sometimes with men, who have spent their lives in agricultural or horticultural labour, which necessitates constant curvature of the body.

Crook-backedness (  Leviticus 21:20 ) disqualified a man for the priesthood. This disease is one which can occur in youth, and is due to caries of the vertebræ. The collections of bones found in Egypt justify the inference that such curvatures must have been fairly common in Egypt.

Fracture of the skull. A case is recorded in   Judges 9:53 , where insensibility did not immediately supervene, showing the absence of compression of the brain. In   Acts 20:9 fatal compression and probably a broken neck were caused by the accident. The fall in   2 Kings 1:2 was the cause of Ahaziah’s ultimate death.

Lameness. Mephibosheth’s lameness was due to an accident in infancy (  2 Samuel 4:4 ), which apparently produced some sort of bone disease, necessitating constant dressing, unless the phrase in   2 Samuel 19:24 refers merely to washing. Lameness was a disqualification for the priesthood (  Leviticus 21:18 ); Christ healed many lame people in the Temple (  Matthew 21:14 ) as well as elsewhere. Jacob’s lameness (  Genesis 32:31 ) may also be mentioned.

Congenital malformations. Cf. 2Sa 21:20 ,   1 Chronicles 20:6 . The possession of superfluous parts was held to disqualify a man for the priesthood (  Leviticus 21:18 ), as did also dwarfishness (  Leviticus 21:20 ), unless the reference there is to emaciation from disease. The word in   Leviticus 21:18 , which is translated ‘that hath a flat nose,’ may refer to the deformity of a hare-lip.

Skin diseases are of common occurrence in the East. The most important of them was leprosy (wh. see). But there are many minor diseases of the skin recognized in Bible enactments under various terms.

Baldness (  Leviticus 13:40-43 ) was not looked upon as causing ceremonial uncleanness, nor apparently was it common; it seems to have been regarded not as a sign of old age, but as the result of a life spent in excessive labour with exposure to the sun (cf.   Ezekiel 29:18 ), and so in   Isaiah 3:24 it is threatened as a mark of degradation and servitude.

Itch (  Deuteronomy 28:27 ) is probably the parasitic disease due to a small mite which burrows under the skin, and, if neglected, sometimes spreads all over the body; this disease is very easily communicated, and is not uncommon in Syria at the present time. It was a disqualification for the priesthood (  Leviticus 21:20 ).

Scab (  Deuteronomy 28:27 ) or scurvy (  Leviticus 21:20 ) is a kindred disease in which a crust forms on the skin; it is most common on the head, but sometimes spreads all over the body, and is most difficult to cure. ‘Scab’ in   Leviticus 21:20 is the tr. [Note: translate or translation.] of a different word, but is probably another form of the same disease (cf.   Isaiah 3:17 ).

Scall or scurf of the head and beard (  Leviticus 13:30 ) is another parasitic disease of similar nature.

Freckled spot (  Leviticus 13:39 , RV [Note: Revised Version.] tetter ) may be psoriasis , a non-contagions eruption.

The botch of Egypt (  Deuteronomy 28:27;   Deuteronomy 28:35 ). The same word is used in   Job 2:7 , Exo 9:9 ,   2 Kings 20:7 ,   Isaiah 38:21 . It is probably a general term for a swelling of the skin. In   Exodus 9:10 blains , perhaps pustules containing fluid, are stated to have accompanied the boils . The disease in   Deuteronomy 28:35 affected especially the knees and legs. Job’s disease appears to have been one of itching sores or spots all over the body, which disfigured his face (  Job 2:11 ), caused great pain and a feeling of burning (  Job 6:4 ), made his breath fetid (  Job 19:17 ), and were infested with maggots (  Job 7:5 ). Various names for the exact nature of the disease have been suggested, such as elephantiasis, leprosy, smallpox, etc. Some authorities, however, suppose the symptoms to agree better with those or the ‘Biskra button’ or Oriental sore, sometimes called ‘Aleppo sore’ or ‘Baghdad sore,’ which begins with papular spots, which ulcerate, become crusted over, are slow in granulation, and often multiple. This complaint is probably due to a parasite. Lazarus’ sores (  Luke 16:20 ) were probably old varicose ulcers of the leg.

Spot (  Deuteronomy 32:5 ,   Job 11:15 ,   Song of Solomon 4:7 ) and blemish (  Leviticus 21:17 ,   Daniel 1:4 ) seem to be general terms for skin disease. Wen (  Leviticus 22:22 ) means a suppurating sore.

The bloody sweat of our Lord (  Luke 22:44 ) is difficult to explain. Some regard the passage as meaning merely that His sweat dropped, as blood drops from a wound. Instances of bloody sweat have been quoted in comparison, but it seems that none is satisfactorily authenticated.

Poisonous serpents are mentioned in   Numbers 21:6 (where they are miraculously cured by the erection of a brass model of a serpent),   Deuteronomy 32:33 ,   Job 20:14-15 ,   Isaiah 11:8;   Isaiah 14:29;   Isaiah 30:8;   Isaiah 59:5 ,   Jeremiah 8:17 ,   Matthew 3:7 (metaphorically, as also in   Matthew 12:34;   Matthew 23:33 ,   Luke 3:7 ),   Mark 16:18 ,   Luke 10:19 ,   Acts 28:3 . There are several poisonous serpents in the desert of the Exodus narrative, whose bites are often fatal; but it has been suggested that the fiery serpents of   Numbers 21:6 were really the parasitic worms called guinea-worms, which are not uncommon in the desert region. Scorpion bites are common and often fatal to children in Egypt, but not in Palestine.

Worms (  Acts 12:23 ) is the description of the disease of which Herod died. One authority suggests that it was acute peritonitis set up by the perforation of the bowel by an intestinal worm. Josephus states that Herod suffered from a violent abdominal pain which in a few days proved fatal. Thus it cannot have been a case of phthiriasis . The death of Antiochus Epiphanes ( 2Ma 9:5-9 ) is described as preceded by a violent pain of the bowels; then he was injured by a violent fall, and ‘worms rose up out of his body’ in all probability a case of compound fractures, in which blow-flies laid their eggs and maggots hatched, owing to neglect of the injuries.

The third plague of Egypt ( Exodus 8:16 ) is called one of lice , but the margin of the RV [Note: Revised Version.] suggests ‘sand-flies’ or ‘fleas.’ It is possible that they were mosquitoes or sand fleas, the latter of which generate in the dust.

Discharges or issues of a certain nature caused ceremonial impurity; cf.   Leviticus 15:2-25 . Some of these were natural (  Deuteronomy 23:10 ), others probably were the result of impure practices, but it is doubtful how much the ancients knew of the physical consequences of vice. Cf., however,   Psalms 107:17-18 ,   Proverbs 2:18;   Proverbs 5:11-22;   Proverbs 7:23;   Proverbs 7:26 .

Blindness is exceedingly common among the natives of Palestine; the words describing this affliction are of frequent occurrence in the Bible, sometimes in the literal, sometimes in the metaphorical, sense. Apparently only two forms of blindness were recognized: (1) that which arose from the ophthalmia so prevalent in Oriental lands, a highly infectious disease, aggravated by sand, sun-glare, and dirt, which damages the organs, and often renders them quite useless; (2) that due to old age, as in the case of Eli (  1 Samuel 3:2 ), Ahijah (  1 Kings 14:4 ), Isaac (  Genesis 27:1 ). Cf. also   Deuteronomy 34:7 . Blindness was believed to be a visitation from God (  Exodus 4:11 ), it disqualified a man for the priesthood (  Leviticus 21:18 ); but compassion for the blind was prescribed (  Leviticus 19:14 ), and offences against them were accursed (  Deuteronomy 27:18 ). Leah probably suffered from a minor form of ophthalmia (  Genesis 29:17 ). In   Leviticus 26:16 we see ophthalmia accompanying malarial fever. The blinding of Elymas in   Acts 13:11 may have been hypnotic, as also possibly the blinding of the Syrian soldiers in   2 Kings 6:18 .

The cases of blindness which were cured by our Lord are usually given without special characterization; the two of most interest are that of the man born blind ( John 9:1 ), and that of the man whose recovery was gradual (  Mark 8:22 ). In the latter case we do not know whether the man was blind from birth or not; if he was, the stage in which he saw ‘men as trees walking’ would be that in which he had not yet accustomed himself to interpret and understand visual appearances. Our Lord’s cures as described were all miraculous, in the sense that the influence of a unique personality must be postulated in order to explain the cure; but He used various methods to effect or symbolize the cure in various cases.

St. Paul’s blindness ( Acts 9:8 ) was probably a temporary amaurosis , such as may be caused by looking at the sun. The ‘scales’ (  Acts 9:18 ) need not necessarily have been material; the words suggest a mere simile. One of the theories as to his ‘ thorn in the flesh ’ is that it was a permanent ‘weakness of eye’ remaining after his experience (cf.   Galatians 4:15 ). But other explanations have been suggested. The blindness of Tobit and its cure may also be mentioned ( Tob 2:10; Tob 11:11 ); the remedy there adopted has a parallel in Pliny ( HN xxxii. 24). Eye-salve is recommended in   Revelation 3:18 , but the context is metaphorical.

Old age. Under this heading should be mentioned the famous passage in   Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 , where the failure of powers consequent on growing years is described in language of poetic imagery.

Child-birth. The special cases of child-bearing which are mentioned in the Bible are mostly quoted to illustrate the ‘sorrow’ of conception, which was regarded as the penalty of Eve’s transgression (  Genesis 3:16 ). There are two cases of twins, that of Esau and Jacob (  Genesis 25:22 ), and that of Perez and Zerah (  Genesis 38:29 ff.). The latter was ‘a case of spontaneous evolution with perineal laceration, probably fatal to the mother.’ Rachel’s case (  Genesis 35:18 ) was one of fatal dystocia , and the phrase in   Genesis 31:35 may hint at some long-standing delicacy. Phinehas’ wife (  1 Samuel 4:19 ) was taken in premature labour, caused by shock, and proving fatal. Sarah (  Genesis 21:2 ), Manoah’s wife (  Judges 13:24 ), Hannah (  1 Samuel 1:20 ), the Shunammite woman (  2 Kings 4:17 ), and Elisabeth (  Luke 1:67 ) are instances of uniparæ at a late period. Barrenness was regarded as a Divine judgment (  Genesis 20:18;   Genesis 30:2 ), and the forked root of the mandrake was used as a charm against it (  Genesis 30:10 ); fertility was correspondingly regarded as a proof of Divine favour (  1 Samuel 2:5 ,   Psalms 113:9 ), and miscarriage is invoked as a token of God’s displeasure in   Hosea 9:14 . The attendants at birth were women (  Genesis 35:17 ,   Exodus 1:15 , midwives ). The mother was placed in a kneeling posture, leaning on somebody’s knees (  Genesis 30:3 ), or on a labour-stool, if such be the meaning of the difficult passage in   Exodus 1:10 . After child-birth the mother was unclean for 7 days in the case of a male, for 14 days in the case of a female, child. After this she continued in a state of modified uncleanness for 33 or 66 days, according as the child was boy or girl, during which period she was not allowed to enter the Temple. The reason for the different lengths of the two periods was that the lochia was supposed to last longer in the case of a female child. Nursing continued for 2 or 3 years ( 2Ma 7:27 ), and in   1 Kings 11:20 a child is taken by a relative to wean.

The legislation for the menstrual period and for menorrhagia is given in   Leviticus 15:19 ff. A rigid purification was prescribed, including everything which the woman had touched, and everybody who touched her or any of those things (see Clean and Unclean). Menorrhagia ( EV [Note: English Version.] issue of blood ) was considered peculiarly impossible of treatment (  Matthew 9:20 ,   Mark 5:26 ,   Luke 8:43 ), and magical means were resorted to for its cure. In   Ezekiel 16:4 Is a description of an infant with undivided umbilical cord, neither washed nor dressed. The skin of Infants was usually dressed with salt to make it firm. The metaphorical use of terms derived from child-labour is exceedingly common in the Bible.

Infantile diseases seem to have been very severe in Palestine in Bible times, as at the present day. We hear of sick children in   2 Samuel 12:15 ,   1 Kings 17:17 , and Christ healed many children.

Among cases of unspecified diseases may be mentioned those of Abijah ( 1 Kings 14:1 ), Benhadad (  2 Kings 8:7 ), Elisha (  2 Kings 13:14 ), Joash (  2 Chronicles 24:25 ), Lazarus (  John 11:1 ), Dorcas (  Acts 9:37 ), Epaphroditus (  Philippians 2:27 ), Trophimus (  2 Timothy 4:20 ).

4. Methods of treatment . The Bible gives us very few references on this point. We hear of washing (  2 Kings 5:10 ); diet perhaps (  Luke 8:55 ); the application of saliva (  John 9:6 ); unction (  James 5:14 ); the binding of wounds and the application of soothing ointment (  Isaiah 1:5 ); the use of oil and wine for wounds (  Luke 10:34 ); a plaster of figs for a boil (  Isaiah 38:21 ); animal heat by contact ( 1Ki 1:2;   1 Kings 17:21 ,   2 Kings 4:34 ).

Balm of Gilead or balm is mentioned in   Genesis 37:25;   Genesis 43:11 ,   Jeremiah 8:22;   Jeremiah 46:11;   Jeremiah 51:8 ,   Ezekiel 27:17 . It appears to be regarded as a sedative application, and was probably an aromatic gum or spice (see art. Balm).

Mandrakes ( Mandragora officinalis ) were used as a stimulant to conception (  Genesis 30:16 ), and the fruit as a medicine. Mint ( Mentha silvestris ), anise ( Anethum graveolens ), cummin ( Cuminum sativum ) were used as carminatives; salt for hardening the skin, nitre (  Jeremiah 2:22 ) to cleanse it. The caper-berry ( Capparis spinosa ) is mentioned in   Ecclesiastes 12:5; it was regarded as an aphrodisiac. The wine offered to Christ at His crucifixion was probably intended as a narcotic (  Matthew 27:34;   Matthew 27:48 ,   Mark 15:23;   Mark 15:36 ,   Luke 23:3 b,   John 19:29 ). Most of the remedies were dietary in the Jewish as in the Egyptian pharmacopÅ“ia, e.g . meal, milk, vinegar, wine, water, almonds, figs, raisins, pomegranates, honey, etc.

We have a mention of amulets in   Isaiah 3:20 and perhaps   Genesis 35:4 . The apothecary’s art is mentioned in   Exodus 30:25-35;   Exodus 37:29 ,   Ecclesiastes 10:1 ,   2 Chronicles 16:14 ,   Nehemiah 3:8 , Sir 38:8; Sir 49:1 . But in all these passages the reference is to makers of perfumes rather than compounders of medicines. It is probable that medicines were compounded by those who prescribed them.

Hygienic enactments dealing with food, sanitation, and infectious diseases are common in the Levitical Code. With regard to food, herbivorous ruminant animals were permitted to be eaten; all true fishes also were allowed; but birds which lived on animal food were forbidden, and all invertebrates except locusts. The fat and the blood of animals were prohibited as food, and regulations were given for the inspection of animals slaughtered for eating. The origin, however, of many of these regulations probably lies in primitive taboo laws (see Clean and Unclean). Fruits could not be used for food until the tree had been planted for four years (  Leviticus 19:23-25 ). The provisions repeated in   Exodus 12:19;   Exodus 13:7 ,   Deuteronomy 16:3 for the periodic destruction of leaven, whatever their historical origin, must have been of service for the maintenance of pure bread-stuffs.

The agricultural sanitary laws are directed chiefly to prohibit the mixing of different species, e.g . the sowing of different seeds in a field at the same time, the cross-grafting of fruit-trees, the cross-breeding or yoking together of dissimilar cattle. And periodic rest for man and beast was prescribed. No mixture of linen and woollen materials in garments was permitted (  Leviticus 19:19 ,   Deuteronomy 22:11 ), as such garments cannot be so easily or thoroughly cleansed as those of one material. There were also various regulations as to domestic sanitation; thus the covering with earth of excreta and of blood was ordered; possibly the fires of the Valley of Hinnom were intended to consume the offal of the city. Houses were to be built with parapets to prevent accident (  Deuteronomy 22:8 ). Isolation in suspected cases of Infectious disease was prescribed (  Leviticus 13:4 ), and the washing of body and clothes (  Numbers 19:11 ) was obligatory on those who had touched unclean things.

Uncleanness was in many cases merely ceremonial in nature. But the regulations must often have served to diminish the chances of propagating real infection. Various grades of uncleanness are recognized in the Talmud, and different periods of lustration and isolation were ordained, in accordance with the different grade of uncleanness contracted.

5. Surgical instruments . A flint knife was used for circumcision (  Joshua 5:8 ), but in later times steel knives were employed. An awl for boring the ear is mentioned in   Exodus 21:8 .

The most important surgical operation was the performance of circumcision . Its original idea may have been that of imposing a tribal mark on the infant (unless it was at first performed in early manhood and subsequently transferred to the time of infancy); but it came to be regarded as an operation of purification. The exclusion of eunuchs from the service of God (  Deuteronomy 23:1 ) may have been due to the dread of importing heathen rites into Israel. But they were important officials in the time of the kingdom, as in Oriental courts generally (  1 Kings 22:9 ,   2 Kings 8:6;   2 Kings 9:32;   2 Kings 24:16 ,   Jeremiah 29:2;   Jeremiah 34:19;   Jeremiah 38:7;   Jeremiah 41:16 ), and there were eunucbs at the court of the Herods, as elsewhere (cf.   Acts 8:27 ). The passage in   Isaiah 56:4 implies that eunuchs were then under no special religious disability; cf. also our Lord’s reference in   Matthew 19:12 .

Of course we must admit that in many cases the use of remedies, the sanitary laws, the prescriptions as to food, the regulations as to uncleanness, and so forth, did not necessarily originate in any theory as to their value for the preservation of public health. Primitive taboo customs, folk-lore, magic, superstition, are no doubt responsible for the existence of much that has been here placed under the heading of medicine. And it is quite likely, too, that up to a late period the popular Jewish view of the majority of these rules and customs was enlightened by no very clear conception of their hygienic value. The more educated minds of the nation may possibly in time have come to see that enactments which had originated in crude or mistaken notions of religion might yet be preserved, and valued as important precautions for the prevention of disease and its cure. But it may be doubted whether, even in late times, the vulgar opinion about them was at all scientific. At the same time, it is necessary to recognize that many of the laws, begotten, perhaps, of primitive superstition, did nevertheless serve a medical purpose, and so may without untruthfulness be included in a treatment of Bible medicine.

A. W. F. Blunt.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

Medicine. Egypt was the earliest home of medical and other skilld for the region of the Mediterranean basin, and every Egyptian mummy, of the more expensive and elaborate sort, involved a process of anatomy. Still we have no trace of any philosophical or rational system of Egyptian origin; still medicine in Egypt was a mere art or profession. Compared with the wild countries around them, however, the Egyptians must have seemed incalculably advanced. Representations of early Egyptian surgery apparently occur on some of the monuments of Beni-Hassan. Those who have assisted at the opening of a mummy have noticed that the teeth exhibited a dentistry, not inferior in execution to the work of the best modern experts. This confirms the statement of Herodotus that every part of the body was studied by a distinct practitioner.

The reputation of Egypt's practitioners, in historical times, was such that both Cyrus and Darius sent to that country for physicians or surgeons. Of midwifery, we have a distinct notice,  Exodus 1:1, and of women as its Practitioners, which fact may also be verified from the scriptures. The scrupulous attention paid to the dead was favorable to the health of the living. The practice of physic was not among the Jews, a privilege of the priesthood. Any one might practice it, and this publicity must have kept it pure. Rank and honor are said to be the portion of the physician, and his office to be from the Lord.  Sirach 38:1;  Sirach 38:3;  Sirach 38:12.

To bring down the subject to the period of the New Testament, St. Luke, "the beloved physician," who practiced at Antioch, whilst the body was his care, could hardly have failed to be convenient, with all the leading opinions current down to his own time. Among special diseases named in the Old Testament is Ophthalmia ,  Genesis 29:17, which is perhaps, more common in Syria and Egypt, than anywhere else in the world; especially in the fig season, the juice of the newly-ripe fruit having the power of giving it. It may occasion partial or total blindness.  2 Kings 6:18.

The "burning boil,"  Leviticus 13:23, is merely marked by the notion of an effect resembling that of fire, like our "carbuncle." The diseases rendered "scab" and "scurvy" in  Leviticus 21:20;  Leviticus 22:22;  Deuteronomy 28:27, may be almost any skin disease. Some of these may be said to approach the type of Leprosy . The "botch ( shechin ) of Egypt,"  Deuteronomy 28:27, is so vague a term as to yield a most uncertain sense. In  Deuteronomy 28:35, is mentioned a disease attacking the "knees and legs," consisting in a "sore botch which cannot be healed," but extended, in the sequel of the verse, from the "sole of the foot to the top of the head."

The Elephantiasis gracorum is what now passes under the name of " leprosy ;" the lepers, for example, of the huts near the Zion gate of modern Jerusalem are Elephantissiacs . See Leprosy .

The disease of King Antiochus,  2 Maccabees 9:5-10, etc., was that of a boil breeding worms. The case of the widow's son restored by Elisha,  2 Kings 4:19, was probably one of sunstroke. The palsy meets us in the New Testament only, and in features, is too familiar to need special remark. Palsy, gangrene and cancer were common, in all the countries, familiar to the scriptural writers, and neither differs from the modern disease of the same name. Mention is also made of the bites and stings of poisonous reptiles.  Numbers 21:6.

Among surgical instruments or pieces of apparatus, the following only are alluded to in Scripture: A cutting instrument, supposed a "sharp stone,"  Exodus 4:25, the "knife" of  Joshua 5:2, The "awl" of  Exodus 21:6 was probably a surgical instrument. The "roller to bind" of  Ezekiel 30:21 was for a broken limb, and is still used. A scraper, for which the "potsherd" of Job was a substitute.  Job 2:8;  Exodus 30:23-25 is a prescription in form. An occasional trace occurs of some chemical knowledge, for example, The calcination of the gold by Moses,  Exodus 32:20, the effect of "vinegar upon natron,"  Proverbs 25:20; compare  Jeremiah 2:22. The mention of "the apothecary,"  Exodus 30:35;  Ecclesiastes 10:1, and of the merchant in "powders,"  Song of Solomon 3:6, shows that a distinct and important branch of trade was set up in these wares, in which, as at a modern druggist's, articles of luxury, etc., are combined with the remedies of sickness.

Among the most favorite of external remedies has always been The Bath . There were special occasions on which the bath was ceremonially enjoined. The Pharisees and Essenes aimed at scrupulous strictness in all such rules.  Matthew 15:2;  Mark 7:5;  Luke 11:38. River-bathing was common, but houses soon began to include a bathroom.  Leviticus 15:13;  2 Samuel 11:2;  2 Kings 5:10.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

The physicians in Genesis 1 were Egyptian embalmers. Physic was often associated with superstition; this was Asa's fault, "he sought not unto Jehovah but to the physicians" ( 2 Chronicles 16:12). Luke "the beloved physician" practiced at Antioch, the center between the schools of Cilicia (Tarsus) and Alexandria. Ecclesiastes ( Ecclesiastes 12:6) uses language which under the Spirit (Whatever Solomon Knew Or Did Not Know) expresses scientific truth: "the silver cord" is the spinal marrow, white and precious as silver, attached to the brain which is "the golden bowl." The "fountain" may mean the right ventricle of the heart, the "cistern" the left, the "pitcher" the veins, the "wheel" the Aorta or great artery. The "wheel"' however may mean life in its rapid motion, as  James 3:6, "the wheel of nature." The circulation of the blood is apparently expressed.

The washing's, the restriction in diet to clean animals and the prohibition of pork, the separation of lepers, the laws of marriage and married intercourse (Leviticus 15), the cleanliness of the camp ( Deuteronomy 23:12-14), and the comprehension of all varieties of healthful climate in Palestine, account for Israel's general exemption from epidemics and remarkable healthiness. The healing art in the Old Testament seems mainly to consist in external applications for wounds, etc. balm abounded in Gilead, and therefore many physicians settled there.  Jeremiah 8:22, "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health (lengthening out) of the daughter of my people gone up (Hebrew)?" i.e., why is not the long bandage applied? or why is not the health come up again, as skin coming up over a wound in healing? (See Balm .)

Webster's Dictionary [4]

(1): ( n.) Intoxicating liquor; drink.

(2): ( n.) Hence, a similar object or agency among other savages.

(3): ( n.) Short for Medicine man.

(4): ( n.) The science which relates to the prevention, cure, or alleviation of disease.

(5): ( n.) Any substance administered in the treatment of disease; a remedial agent; a remedy; physic.

(6): ( n.) A philter or love potion.

(7): ( n.) A physician.

(8): ( v. t.) To give medicine to; to affect as a medicine does; to remedy; to cure.

(9): ( n.) Among the North American Indians, any object supposed to give control over natural or magical forces, to act as a protective charm, or to cause healing; also, magical power itself; the potency which a charm, token, or rite is supposed to exert.

Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types [5]

 Jeremiah 30:13 (a) The Scriptures are used as a type in this place because they heal the broken heart, they mend the wounds that sin makes, they bind up the bruises that are incurred in wandering away from GOD's path.

 Jeremiah 46:11 (a) The many means and methods used by Israel to help in their troubles and

sorrows are described by this type. Men are still evading GOD's remedy and trying by legislation and by religious programs and by social service plans to relieve the wickedness and sin of men. None of these remedies are successful. Every one fails. Only that which is provided by GOD through Jesus Christ and administered by the Holy Spirit will succeed in curing the ills of society.

King James Dictionary [6]

MED'ICINE, n. L. medicina, from medeor, to cure vulgarly and improperly pronounced med'sn.

1. Any substance, liquid or solid, that has the property of curing or mitigating disease in animals, or that is used for that purpose. Simples, plants and minerals furnish most of our medicines. Even poisons used with judgment and in moderation, are safe and efficacious medicines. Medicines are internal or external, simple or compound. 2. The art of preventing, curing or alleviating the diseases of the human body. Hence we say, the study of medicine, or a student of medicine. 3. In the French sense, a physician. Not in use.

MED'ICINE, To affect or operate on as medicine. Not used.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [7]

On the banks of the future river that will flow from the sanctuary, trees will grow, of which it is said, "The fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine."  Ezekiel 47:12 . This agrees with  Revelation 22:2 . The prophet Jeremiah twice observes that when God brings His judgements upon a people, no medicine will cure them.  Jeremiah 30:13;  Jeremiah 46:11 .  Proverbs 17:22 says, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine," or 'promoteth healing.'

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]


Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

( תְּרוּפָה , Teruphahh a medical powder,  Ezekiel 47:12; Sept. Ὑγίεια , comp. Θεραπεία of  Revelation 22:2; Vulg. Medicina ; also the plur. רְפֻאוֹת , Rephuoth ', Medicaments , or remedies for wounds,  Jeremiah 30:13;  Jeremiah 46:11; "healed,"  Ezekiel 30:21; but גֵּהָה , Gehah' , in  Proverbs 17:12, is properly the removal of the bandages from a sore, hence its healing; therefore render, " a joyful heart perfects a cure "). ‘‘ In the following article we endeavor as far as possible to treat the subject from the modern scientific point of view. (See Heal)

I. Sources Of Medical Science Among The Hebrews .-

1. Natural . Next to care for food, clothing, and shelter, the curing of hurts takes precedence even among savage nations. At a later period comes the treatment of sickness; and recognition of states of disease, and these mark a nascent civilization. Internal diseases, and all for which an obvious cause cannot be assigned, are in the most early period viewed as the visitation of God, or as the act of some malignant power, human as the evil eye or else superhuman, and to be dealt with by sorcery, or some other occult supposed agency. The Indian notion is that all diseases are the work of an evil spirit (Sprengel, Gesch. Der Arzeneikunde , 2:48). But among a civilized race the pre-eminence of the medical art is confessed in proportion to the increased value set on human life, and the vastly greater amount of comfort and enjoyment of which civilized man is capable.

2. Egyptian . It would be strange if their close connection historically with Egypt had not imbued the Israelites with a strong appreciation of the value of this art, and with some considerable degree of medical culture. From the most ancient testimonies, sacred and secular, Egypt, from whatever cause, though perhaps from necessity, was foremost among the nations in this most human of studies purely physical. Again, as the active intelligence of Greece flowed in upon her, and mingled with the immense store of pathological records which must have accumulated under the system described by Herodotus, Egypt, especially Alexandria, became the medical repertory and museum of the world. Thither all that was best worth preserving amid earlier civilizations, whether her own or foreign, had been attracted, and medicine and surgery flourished amid political decadence and artistic decline. The attempt has been made by a French writer (Renouard, Histoire de' Medicine depuis son Origine, etc.) to arrange in periods the growth of the medical art as follows

1st . The Primitive or Instinctive Period, lasting from the earliest recorded treatment to the fall of Troy.

2dly . The Sacred or Mystic Period, lasting till the dispersion of the Pythagorean Society, BC. 500.

3dly . The Philosophical Period, closing with the foundation of the Alexandrian Library, BC. 320.

4thly . The Anatomical Period, which continued till the death of Galen, AD. 200.

But these artificial lines do not strictly exhibit the truth of the matter. Egypt was the earliest home of medical and other skill for the region of the Mediterranean basin, and every Egyptian mummy of the more expensive and elaborate sort involved a process of anatomy. This gave opportunities. of inspecting a vast number of bodies, varying in every possible condition. Such opportunities were sure to be turned to account (Pliny, N. H. 19:5) by the more diligent among the faculty, for the physicians" embalmed (Genesis 1, 2). The intestines had a separate receptacle assigned them, or were restored to the body: through the ventral incision (Wilkinson, v. 468); and every such process which we can trace in the mummies discovered shows the most minute accuracy of manipulation. Notwithstanding these laborious efforts, we have no trace of any philosophical or rational system of Egyptian origin, and medicine in Egypt was a mere art or profession. Of science the Asclepiadae of Greece were the true originators. Hippocrates, who wrote a book on "Ancient Medicine," and who seems to have had many opportunities of access to foreign sources, gives no prominence to Egypt. It was no doubt owing to the repressive influences of her fixed institutions that this country did not attain to a vast and speedy proficiency in medical science, when post mortem examination was so general a rule instead of being a rare exception. Still it is impossible to believe that considerable advances in physiology could have failed to be made there from time to time, and similarly, though we cannot so well determine how far, in Assyria. Recent researches at Kuyunjik have given proof, it is said of the use of the-microscope in minute devices, and yielded up even specimens of magnifying lenses. A cone engraved with a table of cubes, so small as to be unintelligible without a lens, was brought home by Sir H. Rawlinson, and is now in the British Museum. As to whether the invention was brought to bear on medical science, proof is wanting. Probably such science had not yet been pushed to the point at which the microscope becomes useful. Only those who have quick keen eyes for the nature world feel the want of such spectacles. The best guarantee for the advance of medical science is, after all, the interest which every human being has in it, and this is most strongly felt in large gregarious masses of population. Compared with the wild countries around them, at any rate, Egypt must have seemed incalculably advance. Hence the awe with which Homer's Greeks speak of her wealth, resources, and medical skill (II 9:3 1; Od. 4:229. See also Herod. 2:84, and 1:77). The simple heroes had reverence for the healing skill which extended only to wounds. There is hardly Any recognition of disease in Homer. There is sudden death, pestilence, and weary old age, but hardly any fixed morbid condition, save in a simile (Od. v. 395). See, however, a letter De rebus ex Homnero medicis, D. G. Wolf (Wittenberg, 1791). So likewise even the visit of Abraham, though prior to this period, found Egypt no doubt in advance of other countries. Representations of earl, Egyptian surgery apparently occur on some of the monuments of Beni-Hassan. Flint knives used for embalming have been recovered; the "Ethiopic stone" of Herodotus (2. 86; comp. Ezekiel 4:25) was probably either black flint or agate (See Knife) , and those who have assisted at the opening of a mummy have noticed that the teeth exhibit a dentistry not inferior in execution to the work of the best modern experts. | This confirms the statement of Herodotus that every part of the body was studied by a distinct practitioner. Pliny (7. 57) asserts that the Egyptians claimed the invention of the healing art, and (26. 1) thinks them subject to many diseases. Their" many medicines" are mentioned ( Jeremiah 46:11). Many valuable drugs may be derived from the plants mentioned by Wilkinson (iv. 621). and the senna of the adjacent interior of Africa still excels all other. Athothmes II, king :of the country, is said to have written on the subject of anatomy. Hermes (who may perhaps be the same as Athothmes, intellect personified, only disguised as a deity instead of a legendary king), was said to have written six books on medicine, in which an entire chapter was devoted to diseases of the eye (Rawlinson's Herod . note to 2:84), and the first half of which related to anatomy. The various recipes known to have been beneficial were recorded, with their peculiar cases, in the memoirs of physic, inscribed among the laws, and deposited in the principal temples of the place (Wilkinson, 3:396, 397). The reputation of its practitioners in historical times was such that both Cyrus and Darius sent to Egypt for physicians or surgeons (Herod. 3:1, 129-132); and by one of the same country, no doubt, Cambyses's wound was tended, though not, perhaps, with much zeal for his recovery.

Of midwifery we have a distinct notice ( Exodus 1:15), and of women as its practitioners, which fact may also be verified from the sculptures (Rawlinson's note on Herod, 2:84). The sex of the practitioners is clear from the Hebrews grammatical forms. The names of two, Shiphrah and Puah are recorded. The treatment of new-born Hebrew infants is mentioned ( Ezekiel 16:4) as consisting in washing, salting, and swaddling-this last was not used in Egypt (Wilkinson). The physicians had salaries from the public treasury, and treated always according to established precedents, or deviated from these at their peril, in case of a fatal termination if, however, the patient died under accredited treatment, no blame was attached. They treated gratis patients when travelling or on military service. Most diseases were by them ascribed to indigestion and excessive eating (Diod. Sicul. 1:82), and when their science failed them magic was called in. On recovery it was also customary to suspend in a temple an exvoto, which was commonly a model of the part affected; and such offerings doubtless, as in. the Coan Temple of Esculapius, became valuable aids to the pathological student. The Egyptians who lived in the corn-growing region are said by Herodotus (ii. 77) to have been specially attentive to health. The practise of circumcision is traceable on monuments certainly anterior to the age of Joseph. Its antiquity is involved in obscurity, especially as all we know of the Egyptians makes it. unlikely that they would have borrowed such a practice, so late as the period of Abraham, from any mere sojourner among' them. Its beneficial effects in the temperature of Egypt and Syria have often been noticed, especially as a preservative of cleanliness, etc. The scrupulous attention paid to the dead was favorable to the health of. the living. Such powerful drugs as asphaltum, natron, resin, pure bitumen, and various, aromaticgums, suppressed or counteracted all noxious effluvia from the corpse; even the saw-dust of the floor, on which the body had been cleansed, was collected in small linen bags, which, to the number of twenty or thirty, were deposited in vases near the tomb (Wilkinson, v. 468, 469). For. the extent to which these practices were imitated among the Jews, (See Embalming).

At any rate, the uncleanness imputed to contact with a corpse was a powerful preservative against the inoculation of the livings frame with morbid -humors: But, to pursue to later times this merely general question, it appears (Pliny, N. H. 19:5) that the Ptolemies themselves practiced dissection, and that, at a period when Jewish intercourse with Egypt was complete and reciprocal, there existed in Alexandria a great deal for anatomical study. The only influence of importance which would tend to check the Jews from sharing this was the ceremonial law, the special reverence of Jewish feeling towards human remains, and the abhorrence of "uncleanness." Yet those Jews and there were, at all times since the Captivity, not a few, perhaps who tended to foreign laxity, and affected Greek. philosophy and. culture, would assuredly, as we shall have further occasion to notice that they in fact did, enlarge their anatomical knowledge from sources which repelled their stricter brethren, and the result would be apparent in the general elevated standard of that profession, even as practiced in Jerusalem. The diffusion of Christianity in the 3d and 4th centuries exercised a similar but more universal restraint on the dissecting-room; until anatomy as a pursuit became extinct, and, the notion of profaneness quelling everywhere such researches, surgical science became stagnant to a degree to which it had never previously sunk within the memory of human records.

3. Grecian .-In comparing the growth of medicine in the rest of the ancient world, the high rank of its practitioners princes and heroes-settles at once the question as to the esteem in which it was held in the Homeric and preHomeric period. To descend to the historical, the story of Democedes at the court of Darius illustrates the practice of Greek surgery before the. period of Hippocrates anticipating, in its gentler waiting upon nature, as compared (Herod. 3:130) with that of the Persians and Egyptians, the methods, and maxims of that father of physic, who wrote against the theories and speculations of the so-called Philosophical school, and was a true empiricist before that sect was formularized. The Dogmatic school was founded after his time by his disciples,. who departed from his eminently practical and inductive method. It recognized hidden causes of health and sickness arising from certain supposed principles or elements, out of which bodies were composed, and by virtue of which all their parts and members were tempered together and became sympathetic. Hippocrates has some curious remarks on the sympathy of men with climate, seasons, etc. He himself rejected supernatural accounts of disease, and especially demoniacal possession.

He refers, but with no mystical sense, to numbers as furnishing a rule for cases. It is remarkable that he extols the discernment of Orientals above Westerns, and of Asiatics above Europeans, in medical diagnosis. The Empirical school, which arose in the 3d century BC., under the guidance of Acron of Agrigentum, Serapion of Alexandria, and Philinus of Cos, waited for the symptoms of every case, disregarding the rules of practice based on dogmatic principles. Amongits votaries was a Zachalias (perhaps Zacharias, and possibly a Jew) of Babylon, who (Pliny, N. H 37:10; comp. 36:10) dedicated a book on medicine to Mithridates the Great; its views were also supported by Heroddotus of Tarsus, a place which, next to Alexandria, became distinguished for its schools of philosophy and medicine; as also by a Jew named Theodas, or Theudas, of Laodicea (see Wunderbar, Biblisch- Talmudische Medicin, 1:25), but a student of Alexandria, and the last, or nearly so, of the empiricists whom its schools produced. The remarks of Theudas on the right method of observing, and the value of experience, and his book on medicine, now lost, in which he arranged his subject under the heads of indicatoria, curatoria, and salubris, earned him high reputation as a champion of empiricism against the reproaches of the dogmatists, though they were subsequently impugned by Galen and. Theodosius of Tripoli. His period was that from Titus to. Hadrian., The empiricists held that observation and the application of known remedies in one case to others presumed to be similar constitute the whole art of cultivating medicine. Though their views were narrow, and their information scanty when compared with some of the chiefs of the other sects, and although they rejected as useless and unattainable all knowledge of the causes and recondite nature of diseases, it is undeniable that, besides personal experience, they freely availed themselves of historical detail, and of a. strict analogy founded upon observation and the resemblance of phenomena" (Dr. Adams, Paul. AEgin. ed. Sydenham Soc.).

This school, however, was opposed by another, known as the Methodic, which had arisen under the leading of Themison, also of Laodicea, about the period of Pompey the Great. Asclepiades paved the way for the "method" in question, finding a theoretic basis in the corpuscular or atomic theory of physics which he borrowed from Heraclides of Pontus. He had passed some early years in Alexandria, and thence came to Rome shortly before Cicero's time (Quo nos medico amicoque usi sumus," Cicero, de Orat. 1:14).: He was a transitional link between the Dogmatic arid Empiric schools and this :later, or. Methodic (Sprengel, ut sup. pt. v. 16), that sought to rescue medicine from the bewildering mass of particulars into which empiricism had plunged it. He reduced diseases to: two classes, chronic arid acute, and endeavored likewise to simplify remedies. In the meanwhile, the most judicious of medical theories since Hippocrates, Celsus, of the Augustan period had reviewed medicine in the light which all these schools afforded, land, not professing any distinct teaching, but borrowing from all, may be viewed as eclectic. He translated Hippocrates largely verbatim; quoting in a less degree Asclepiades and others. Antonius Musa, whose "cold-water cure," after its successful trial on Augustus himself, became generally popular, seems to have had little of scientific basis, but by the usual method, or the usual accidents, became merely the fashionable practitioner of his day in Rome. Attalia, near Tarsus, furnished also, shortly after the period of Celsus, Athenaeus, the leader of the last of the schools of medicine which divided the ancient world, under the name of the "Pneumatic," holding the tenet "of an ethereal principle ( Πνεῦμα ) residing in the microcosm, by means of which the mind performed the functions of the body." This is also traceable in Hippocrates, and was an established opinion of the Stoics. It was exemplified in the innate heat, Θερμὴ Ἔμφυτος (Aret . De Caus. Et Sign. Morb. Chron . ii; 13), and the Calidum Innatum of modern physiologists, especially in the 17th century (Dr. Adams, Pref. Aretceus , ed. Sydelh. Soc.).

4. Effect Of These Systems .-It is clear that all these schools may easily have contributed to form the medical opinions current at the period, of the N.T.; that the two earlier among them may have influenced rabbinical teaching on that subject at a much earlier period; and that, especially at the time of Alexander's visit to Jerusalem, the Jewish people, whom he favored and protected, had an opportunity of largely gathering from the medical lore of the West. It was necessary, therefore, to pass in brief review the growth of the latter, and especially to note the points at which it intersects the medical progress of the Jews. Greek Asiatic medicine culminated in Galen, who was, however, still but a commentator on his Western predecessors, and who stands literally without rival, successor, or disciple of note, till the period when Greek learning was reawakened by the Arabian intellect. The Arabs, however, continued to build wholly upon Hippocrates and Galen, save in so far as their advance in chemical science improved their pharmacopoeia: this may be seen on reference to the works of Rhazes, AD. 930, and Haly Abbas. AD. 980. The first mention of small-pox is ascribed to Rhazes, who, however, quotes several earlier writers on the subject. Mohammed himself is said to have been versed in medicine, and to have compiled some aphorisms upon it; and a herbalist literature was always extensively followed in the East from the days of Solomon downwards (Freind's History of Medicine, 2:5,:27). Galen himself belongs to the period of the Antonines, but he appears to have been acquainted with the writings of Moses, and to have travelled in quest of medical experience over Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, as well as Greece, and a large part of the West, and, in particular, to have visited the banks of the Jordan in quest of opobalsamum, and the coasts of the Dead Sea to obtain samples of bitumen. He also mentions Palestine as producing a watery wine, suitable for the drink of feeble patients.

II. Historical Notices . Having thus described the external influences which, if any, were probably most potent in forming the medical practice of the Hebrews, we may trace next its internal growth. The cabalistic legends mix up the names of Shem and Heber in their fables about healing, and ascribe to those patriarchs a knowledge of simples and rare roots, with, of course, magic spells and occult powers, such as have clouded the history of medicine from the earliest times down to the 17th century.

1. In The Old Testament . So to Abraham is ascribed a talisman, the touch of which healed all disease. We know that such simple surgical skill as the operation for circumcision implies was Abraham's; but severer operations than this are constantly required in the flock and herd, and those who watch carefully the habits of animals can hardly fail to amass some guiding principles applicable to man and beast alike. Beyond this, there was probably nothing but such ordinary obstetrical craft as has always been traditional among the women of rude tribes, that could be classed as medical lore in the family of the patriarch, until his sojourn brought him among the more cultivated Philistines and Egyptians. The only notices which Scripture affords in connection with the subject are' the cases of difficult midwifery in the successive households of Isaac, Jacob, and Judah ( Genesis 25:26;  Genesis 24:17;  Genesis 38:27), and so, later, in that of Phinehas 2 Samuel 4:19). :Doubts have been raised as to the possibility of twins being born, one holding the other's heel; but there does not seem to be any such limit to the operations of nature as an objection on that score would imply. After all it was perhaps only just such a relative position of the limbs of the infants at the. mere moment of birth as would suggest the "holding by the heel." The midwives, it seems, in case of twins, were called upon to distinguish the first-born, to whom important privileges appertained. The tying on of a thread or ribbon was an easy way of preventing mistake, and the assistant in the case of Tamar seized the earliest possible moment for doing it. "When the hand or foot of a living child protrudes, it is to be pushed up, and the head made to present" (Paul. AEgin. ed Sydenh. Soc. 1:648, Hippocr. quoted by Dr Adans). This probably the midwife did, at the same time marking him as first-born in virtue of being thus "presented" first. The precise meaning of the doubtful expression in  Genesis 38:27 and mag. is discussed by Wunderbar, Ut Sup . p. 50, in reference both to the children and to the mother. Of Rachel a Jewish commentator says, "Multis etiam ex itinere difficultatibus praegressis,viribusque post diu protractos dolores exhaustis, atonia uteri, forsan quidem hemorrhagia in pariendo mortua est" ( Ibid .). The traditional value ascribed to the mandrake, in regard to generative functions, relates to the same branch of natural medicine; but throughout this period there occurs no trace of any attempt to study, digest, and systematize the subject.

But, as Israel grew and multiplied in Egypt, they doubtless derived a large mental cultivation from their position until cruel policy turned it into bondage; even then Moses was rescued from the lot of his brethren, and became learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, including, of course, medicine and cognate sciences (Clem. Alex. i, p. 413), and those attainments, perhaps, became suggestive of future laws. Some practical skill in metallurgy is evident from  Exodus 32:20. But, if we admit Egyptian learning as an ingredient, we should also notice how far exalted above it is the standard of the whole Jewish legislative fabric, in its exemption from the blemishes of sorcery and juggling pretences. The priest, who had to pronounce on the cure, used no means to advance it, and the whole regulations prescribed exclude the notion of trafficking in popular superstition. We have no occult practices reserved in the hands of the sacred caste. It is God alone who doeth great things, working by the wand of Moses, or the brazen serpent; but the very mention of such instruments is such as to expel all pretence of mysterious virtues in the things themselves. Hence various allusions to God's "healing mercy," and the title "Jehovah that healeth" ( Exodus 15:26;  Jeremiah 17:14;  Jeremiah 30:17;  Psalms 103:3;  Psalms 147:3;  Isaiah 30:26). Nor was the practice of physic a privilege of the' Jewish priesthood. Any one might practice it, and this publicity must have kept it pure. Nay, there was no scriptural bar to its practice by resident aliens. We read of "physicians," "healing," etc.,  Exodus 21:19;  2 Kings 8:29; : 2 Chronicles 16:12;  Jeremiah 8:22. At the same time the greater leisure of the Levites and their other advantages would make the the students of the nation, as a rule, in all science, and their constant residence in cities would give. them the opportunity, if carried out in fact, of a far wider field of observation.

The reign of peace in Solomon's days must have opened, especially with renewed. Egyptian intercourse new facilities for the study. He himself seems to have included in his favorite natural history some knowledge of the medicinal uses of the creatures. His works show him conversant with the motion of; remedial treatment ( Proverbs 3:8;  Proverbs 6:15;  Proverbs 12:18;  Proverbs 12:22;  Proverbs 20:30;  Proverbs 29:1;  Ecclesiastes 3:3); and one passage ( Ecclesiastes 12:3-4) indicates considerable knowledge of anatomy. His repute in magic is the universal theme of Eastern story. It has even been thought he had recourse to the shrine of Esculapius at Sidon, and enriched his resources by its records-or relics; but there is some doubt whether this temple was of such high antiquity. Solomon, however, we cannot doubt, would have turned to the account, not only of wealth but of knowledge, his peaceful reign, wide dominion, and wider renown, and would have sought to traffic in learning as well as in wheat and gold. To him the Talmudists ascribe all volume of cures" ( ספר רפואות ), of which they make frequent mention (Fabricius, Cod. Pseudep. V. T . p. 1043). Josephus (Ant . 8:2) mentions his knowledge of medicine, and the use of spells by him to expel daemons who cause sicknesses," which is continued among us," he adds, "to this time." The dealings of. various prophets with quasimedical agency cannot be' regarded as other than the mere accidental torn which their miraculous gifts took ( 1 Kings 13:6;  1 Kings 14:12;  1 Kings 17:17;  2 Kings 1:4;  2 Kings 20:7;  Isaiah 38:21). Jewish tradition has invested Elisha it would seem, with a function more largely medicinal than that of the other servants of God; but the scriptural evidence on the point is scanty, save that he appears to have known at once the proper means to apply to heal the waters, and temper the noxious pottage ( 2 Kings 2:21;  2 Kings 4:39-41).

His healing the Shinammite's son has been discussed as a case of suspended animation and of animal magnetism applied to resuscitate it; but the narrative clearly implies that the death was real As regards the lepros, had the Jordan commonly possessed the healing power which Naaman's faith and obedience found in it, would there have been "many lepers in Israel in the days of Eliseus the prophet," or in any other- days? Further, if our Lord's words ( Luke 4:27) are to

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [10]

med´i - sin , med´i - s'n ( גּהה , gēhāh , תּרוּפה , terūphāh , רפאה , rephu'āh ): These words are used in the sense of a remedy or remedies for disease. In  Proverbs 17:22 the King James Version, a merry heart is said to do good "like a medicine." There is an alternative reading in the King James Version margin, "to a medicine," the Revised Version (British and American) "is a good medicine"; the Revised Version margin gives another rendering, "causeth good healing," which is the form that occurs in the Septuagint and which was adopted by Kimchi and others. Some of the Targums, substituting a waw for the first h in gēhāh , read here "doeth good to the body," thus making this clause antithetic to the latter half of the verse. In any case the meaning is that a cheerful disposition is a powerful remedial agent.

In the figurative account of the evil case of Judah and Israel because of their backsliding (  Jeremiah 30:13 ), the prophet says they have had no rephu'āh , or "healing medicines." Later on ( Jeremiah 46:11 ), when pronouncing the futility of the contest of Neco against Nebuchadrezzar, Jeremiah compares Egypt to an incurably sick woman going up to Gilead to take balm as a medicine, without any benefit. In Ezekiel's vision of the trees of life, the leaves are said (the King James Version) to be for medicine, the Revised Version (British and American) reads "healing," thereby assimilating the language to that in  Revelation 22:2 , "leaves of the tree ... for the healing of the nations" (compare  Ezekiel 47:12 ).

Very few specific remedies are mentioned in the Bible. "Balm of Gilead" is said to be an anodyne ( Jeremiah 8:22; compare  Jeremiah 51:8 ). The love-fruits, "mandrakes" ( Genesis 30:14 ) and "caperberry" ( Ecclesiastes 12:5 margin), myrrh, anise, rue, cummin, the "oil and wine" of the Good Samaritan, soap and sodic carbonate ("natron," called by mistake "nitre") as cleansers, and Hezekiah's "fig poultice" nearly exhaust the catalogue. In the Apocrypha we have the heart, liver and gall of Tobit's fish (Tobit 6:7). In the Egyptian pharmacopoeia are the names of many plants which cannot be identified, but most of the remedies used by them were dietetic, such as honey, milk, meal, oil, vinegar, wine. The Babylonian medicines, as far as they can be identified, are similar. In the Mishna we have references to wormwood, poppy, hemlock, aconite and other drugs. The apothecary mentioned in the King James Version (  Exodus 30:25 , etc.) was a maker of perfumes, not of medicines. Among the fellahı̂n many common plants are used as folk-remedies, but they put most confidence in amulets or charms, which are worn by most Palestinian peasants to ward off or to heal diseases.