The Pentateuch & Modern Medicine (7) – Final/Endnotes


 The uniqueness of the medical benefits from the Mosaic laws transcends generations and centuries, supporting theism belief in God. Some scholars term these laws as a ceremonial function of the priests but have prevented infectious and epidemic transmission of diseases. In essence, obedience to God’s laws confers health benefits. Humankind will continue to enjoy spiritual and physical fitness as long as they obey God’s laws. Therefore, the duty of the priest included the protection of the community from infectious disease.

Similarly, the priests also possessed some knowledge of medicine, as witnessed in the treatment by Elijah of the dead son of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:17-23). On restoring her son, the widow acknowledged Elijah as a man of God in whose mouth “the word of the Lord is the truth” (v. 24). Whether these miracles resulted from natural phenomena or not, they were carried out by God’s agents, the priests, and prophets, whose function was to act on the Lord’s behalf. Modern medicine agrees to the prophylactic and curative dimensions of the Pentateuch laws. That is the Truth of the Christian Scriptures.


End Notes:

Note 1. law-or-pentateuch/

Note 2. Leprosy (Lev. 13), secretions of bodily fluids (Lev. 15), physical defects (Lev. 21: 16-24) were unacceptable to the priests that served the Lord (Hab. 1:13).

Note 3. Microorganisms are tiny single-celled living organism too small to be seen by the naked eye. Microorganisms that cause diseases are called bacteria.

Note 4. In miasma theory, diseases were caused by the presence in the air of a miasma, a poisonous vapor in which were suspended particles of decaying matter that was characterized by its foul smell. The theory originated in the middle ages and endured for several centuries. That a killer disease like malaria is so named – from the Italian mala “bad” and aria “air” – is evidence of its suspected miasmic origins. In 19th-century England the miasma theory made sense to the sanitary reformers. Rapid industrialization and urbanization had created many poor, filthy and foul-smelling city neighborhoods that tended to be the focal points of disease and epidemics. By improving the housing, sanitation and general cleanliness of these existing areas, levels of disease were seen to fall, an observation that lent weight to the theory.


Note 5. Glossary: Contagion is a historic expression referring to the transmission of disease between people by means of direct contact.

Note 6. Waller, J. (2004). Discovery of the Germ (London: Icon Books); Worboys, M. (2008). Spreading Germs: Disease Theories and Medical Practice in Britain, 1865-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, new edition).

Note 7. James, Hastings. (2001). Hastings Dictionary of the Bible (346). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc.

Note 8. James, Hastings, 2001, 346.

Note 9. James, Hastings, 2001, 532.

Note 10. See Gesenius’s Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures, translation. S. P. Tregelles, London, Samuel Bagster, 1859, pp. 829-830; L Koehler and

W Baumgartner, Hebraisches und aramaisches Lexikon zum Alten Testament, Leiden, E J Brill, 1990, 1418-1425.

Note 11. Since it was not considered appropriate to receive payment from the study or teaching of the Scriptures (Pirke Aboth 4:7) the practice of medicine often provided the rabbi with an income. Many Talmudic sages were accomplished physicians, e.g., R Hanina Ben Dosa (first century) or R Ishmael Ben Elisha (second century). See F Rosner, Medicine in the Bible and the Talmud: selections from classical Jewish sources, Hoboken, NJ, KTAV Publishing House, and New York, Yeshiva University Press, 1995, 15.

Note 12. It was during this period that many Jewish physicians were engaged in the translation and transmission to the west of the corpus of classical Greek medicine preserved and augmented by the Arabs. See S. W. Baron, “A social and religious history of the Jews”, vol. 4, Meeting of East and West (New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1957- 1967), 3, 32-33.

Note 13. Roth, C. The Jewish contribution to Civilization, (London: Macmillan, 1938), 191-216, and Cohen, H. & I. Carmin (Eds.), Jews in the world of science: A biographical dictionary of Jews eminent in the natural and social sciences (New York: Monde, 1956).

Note 14. Pathology is the medical specialty concerned with the determining causes of disease and the structural and functional changes occurring in abnormal conditions. Early efforts to study pathology were often stymied by religious prohibitions against autopsies, but these gradually relaxed during the late middle Ages, allowing autopsies to determine the cause of death, the basis for pathology. The resultant accumulating anatomical information culminated in the publication of the first systematic textbook of morbid anatomy by the Italian Giovanni Battista Morgagni in 1761, which located diseases within individual organs for the first time. The correlation between clinical symptoms and pathological changes was not made until the first half of the 19th century.

Note 15. Bacteriology is a branch of microbiology dealing with the study of bacteria.

Note 16.

Note 17.

Note 18. medicine/Medicine-in-the- 20th-century

Note 19. Michael J. Behe. (2006). Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.

New York: Free Press, 232.

Note 20. Phelps, E. (2006). Emotion and cognition: Insights from studies of the human amygdala. Annu Rev Psychol, 57, 27-53.

Note 21. Salzman, C., & Fusi, S. (2010). Emotion, cognition, and mental state representation in amygdala and prefrontal cortex. Annu Rev Neurosci, 33, 173-202. Schiller, D., Freeman, J., Mitchell, J., Uleman, J., & Phelps, E. A. (2009). Neural mechanism of first impressions. Nature Neuroscience, 12, 508-514. Gilbert, D. (1998). Ordinary Personology. The handbook of social psychology (Vol. 2, 89-150).

Note 22. Bergdolt, K. (1999). History of medicine and concepts of health. Croat Med Journal, 40, 119-122.

Note 23. William R. Vis, M.D., is a member of the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians.

Note 24. William R. Vis, M.D. (1950). Medical Science and the Bible. In Modern Science and Christian Faith (2nd ed., 238). Wheaton, IL: Van Kampen Press.

Note 25. Vis, 1950, 244.

Note 26. Dr. Edward Neufeld was a Professor of Ancient Cultures at Fairleigh Dickenson University in New Jersey.

Note 27. Neufeld, Edward. (1970). Hygiene Conditions in Ancient Israel (Iron Age).

Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 25. Reprinted in E. Campbell, &

  1. Freedman (Eds.), The Biblical Archaeologist Reader. Sheffield: The Almond Press, 1983.

Note 28. Edward Neufeld, 1983, 172

Note 29. Donald J. Wiseman. (1996). In I. Howard Marshall, A. R. Millard, & J. I. Packer (Eds.), New Bible Dictionary (3rd ed.). Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press. s.v. Health, Disease and Healing.

Note 30. Late Dr Rendel-Short was a Professor of surgery and lecturer in physiology at the University of Bristol in England, as well as examiner and Hunterian Professor of the Royal College of Surgeons

Note 31. Rendle Short, A. M.D. (1949). Modern Discovery and the Bible (2nd ed. rev., 120).

London: Inter-varsity Fellowship.

Note 32. The Egyptians believed drinking the milk of a pig, perhaps an animal sacred to them, produced scale disease. Analogies occur in other cultures across the world where people are believed to descend from certain animals or plants, which are then deemed sacred or totemic. Eating these animals or plants would allegedly likewise produce skin diseases. Touching a sacred and therefore dangerous object often requires washing oneself and the clothes worn during the act before entering society, a city or a house, all symbols of

the body in the collective sphere. Frazer, J. G. (1944). The golden bough: A study in magic and religion (473). New York: Macmillan.

Note 33.

Note 34. Hartley, J. E. (1992). Leviticus (200). Dallas, TX: Word Books.

Note 35. Milgrom, J. (1991). Leviticus, [1], 1-16: A new translation with introduction and commentary. New York: Doubleday.

Note 36. Milgrom, 1991, 773.

Note 37. Milgrom, 1991, 773.

Note 38. Anzieu, D. (1995). Le moi-peau (170). Paris: Dunod.

Note 39. Douglas, M. (1999). Leviticus as literature (189-190). Oxford: University Press.

Note 40. Josephine O., Soboyejo. (2004). Pause! Talking Sex: God’s Perspective (44). Lagos: Vicod Press.

Note 41. A comment by G. Alan Marlatt, Ph.D., director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington.


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