Modern Medicine Is Not So Modern -- By: David A. Wise

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 06:2 (Spring 1993)
Article: Modern Medicine Is Not So Modern
Author: David A. Wise


Modern Medicine Is Not So Modern

David A. Wisea

The earliest evidence we have of public health and sanitary practices is found in the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. In these writings, the Israelites were instructed to isolate, and if necessary, quarantine those who were sick (Lv 13:1–14:57; Nm 5:2–4; Dt 23:10). They were to destroy contaminated objects (Lv 11:33, 15:12), to burn used dressings (Lv 13:47, 50–54, 58), and to bury fecal waste outside of the camp (Dt 23:12–13). The Israelites were prohibited from eating animals that had died of natural causes (Dt 14:21; Lv 22:8). They were also admonished to practice personal hygiene by hand washing and general cleanliness, and to take certain precautions when touching the infected or deceased (See also Nm 19:11, 14–16, 19, 22; Lv 11:24–28, 40).

When a man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean...Every bed, whereon he lieth...is unclean...And whosoever toucheth his bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water...And if he who hath the issue spit upon him that is clean, then he shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water...And whomsoever he toucheth who hath the issue, and hath not rinsed his hands in water, he shall wash his clothes and bathe in water...(Lv 15:2, 4, 5, 8, 11).

These same regulations apparently applied to a woman for a specific number of days following childbirth (Lv 12:2–3). Furthermore, it was clearly forbidden for the

Israelites to engage in any sexual relationships outside of marriage (...

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