Good Health Through The Bible!

Josef Holman.

The Bible includes many commonsense principles of good health. The Old Testament contains many injunctions which relate to health. If they had been put into practice, the world's disease toll would have been drastically cut.

Until the close of the 17th century, however, hygienic conditions in cities were generally deplorable. Excrement and filth were often dumped into the streets. Flies, breeding in the filth, spread and carried disease to millions.

The principle of burying excrement and filth was given by the Scriptures over 1400 years before Christ. In Deuteronomy, God told Moses and the children of Israel:

"You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it; and you shall have a stick with your weapons; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement" (23:12-13, RSV)

One medical historian, Arturo Castiglioni, said:

"The regulations in Deuteronomy as to how soldiers should prevent the danger of infection coming from their excrement by covering it with earth constitute a most important document of sanitary legislation".

Castiglioni continued:

"Study of Biblical texts appears to have demonstrated that the ancient Semitic peoples, in agreement with the most modern tenets of epidemiology, attributed more importance to animal transmitters of disease, like the rat and the fly, than to the contagious individual."

Three thousand years later, when the bubonic plague devastated Europe, this knowledge had generally been lost. Some blamed noxious fumes in the air; some thought it was caused by a conjunction of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn; yet others blamed the Jews, and many blamed God. The world did not wake up to the importance of hygiene and cleanliness until about the end of the 18th century. Yet vital principles of sanitation and cleanliness were expounded by God to Moses almost 3,500 years ago. The biblical laws of cleanliness, washings and purification were not all merely customs or rituals. They protected the camp of Israel from the dangers of contagious diseases and deadly plagues.

In the Bible greater stress was placed upon PREVENT1ON of disease than was given to the treatment of bodily ailments, and in this no race of people, before or since, has left us such a wealth of laws relative to hygiene and sanitation as the Hebrews.

One has but to read the book of Leviticus carefully and thoughtfully to conclude that the admonitions of Moses contained therein are, in fact, the groundwork of most of today's sanitary laws. As one closes the book, he must, regardless of his spiritual leanings, feel that the wisdom therein expressed regarding the rules to protect health are superior to any which then existed in the world and that to this day they have been little improved upon.

As we read in chapter two, proper diet is important in the prevention of disease. Leviticus 11 enumerates the dietary laws which God gave ancient Israel. Among other things, He forbade them to eat the flesh of pigs (swine), rabbits and shellfish. (Lev. 11:6-12)

Many of these make good sense. The prohibition of hare and swine as sources of food certainly must have diminished the incidence of disease in view of the capacity of these animals to transmit tularemia (an infectious disease) and trichinosis, respectively. The transmission of gastrointestinal infections (including typhoid fever) via polluted shellfish or water also testifies to the apparent wisdom of the Hebrews in warning against such sea food and impure water.

Another interesting Old Testament law forbade the eating of animal fat. This also has proven a valuable health practice. President Eisenhower while he was in the White House, once quoted Leviticus 7:23: "You shall eat no fat of ox, or sheep, or goat". As we know, animal fats are high in cholesterol, a fatty, waxy material which the body needs in limited amounts. The body's inability to properly metabolize cholesterol in some cases, however, may be a contributing factor in some forms of heart disease.

The fastest-spreading contagious diseases in the Western world today are sexually transmitted diseases. As long as there is promiscuity and "free sex", there is bound to be venereal disease. But the solution to this terrible global curse is as simple as it is ancient: "Shun immorality! Any other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body" (I Cor. 6:18, Moffat translation). The growing incidence of this growing epidemic speaks eloquently of the need for prevention.

Thousands of years ago, biblical standards of morality safeguarded against this plague that can blight the lives of yet unborn generations. Some of these diseases still cannot be cured—prevention is the best strategy.

When God created mankind He said: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). If this one basic scriptural principle of faithful monogamy were followed today, the world would see the end of venereal disease. If the Bible's scriptural wisdom were faithfully followed today by all Christians and non-Christians alike, the world would see the end of many other diseases!

Strictly speaking, of course, the Bible is not a health text book or medical manual. But it does lay the foundation of knowledge, and reveals many health laws which mankind has required thousands of years to rediscover.

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