the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature
The terms pestilence and plague are used with much laxity in our Authorized Version. The latter, however, is by far the wider term, as we read of 'plagues of leprosy,' 'of hail,' and of many other visitations. Pestilence is employed to denote a deadly epidemic. In our time however, both these terms are nearly synonymous; but plague is, by medical writers at least, restricted to mean the glandular plague of the East. There is indeed no description of any pestilence in the Bible, which would enable us to form an adequate idea of its specific character. Severe epidemics are the common accompaniments of dense crowding in cities, and of famine; and we accordingly often find them mentioned in connection (;;;; ). But there is no better argument for believing that 'pestilence' in these instances means the glandular plague, than the fact of its being at present a prevalent epidemic of the East. It is also remarkable that the Mosaic law, which contains such strict rules for the seclusion of lepers, should have allowed a disease to pass unnoticed, which is above all others the most deadly, and, at the same time, the most easily checked by sanitary regulations of the same kind.
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Pestilence'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​kbe/​p/pestilence.html.