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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(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 ῥ (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
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Medicine'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/medicine.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19