“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.”
The first five books of the Old Testament, including Leviticus, were written by Moses, who had been trained under the most advanced Egyptian educational system of his day. With this in mind, let’s hypothesize that God doesn’t exist. Thus, Moses was NOT in fact inspired by Him as Scripture claims (2 Timothy 3:16-17). That would mean that Moses wrote using his own prowess and mental faculties. That being the case, it would have been only natural for Moses to include in his writings some of the Egyptian wisdom he had obtained in his education, right?
If one looks at the medical practices commanded and described by Moses and compares them with the medical practices historically recorded from ancient Egypt, it’s clear Moses did not necessarily rely on the so-called wisdom of the Egyptians from whom he received his education. The Egyptians were renowned in the ancient world for their supposed progress in medicine. Ancient historian Herodotus wrote that Persian King Darius would “keep in attendance certain Egyptian doctors, who had a reputation for the highest eminence in their profession.” Dr. S.E. Massengill in his 1943 book A Sketch of Medicine and Pharmacy noted that “Egypt was the medical center of the ancient world.” Yet, the Egyptians’ “medical practices” were hardly that. In many cases, it would be considered life-threatening malpractice today.
The Ebers papyrus, one of the best sources for ancient Egyptian medicinal knowledge, records many medical remedies which were said back then to heal. While writing about the Ebers papyrus in his 1930 work Ancient Egyptian Medicine: The Papyrus Ebers, Cyril Byran said, “Among the hundreds of prescriptions in the papyrus, there are some pretty disgusting treatments that we know now caused much more harm than good.” For example, the ancient Egyptians would prescribe a remedy consisting of worm blood, mole and donkey dung in order to take out a splinter. Massengill wrote that early Egyptian doctors would use excrement and urine as remedies, also noting, “It is said that the urine of a faithful wife was with them effective in the treatment of sore eyes.” I love my wife, but…gross.
In comparison, Moses wrote the most advanced, flawless medical prescriptions that up to that time had ever been recorded. Every statement he wrote which pertained to the health and medical wellbeing of the Israelites could theoretically still be implemented today and be in complete accord with every fact learned by modern medicine about how germs are spread, the control of epidemic diseases, communal sanitation and a host of other medical facts which were not discovered by men until thousands of years later. In addition to the example found in Numbers mentioned in last week’s column, note the above passage from Leviticus which is one example of many in that book in which an ancient Israelite was told what to do when he came in contact with germs. Those with diseases such as leprosy were told to “live alone,” “outside the camp.” If one with leprosy got close to someone, they were to “cover their mustache” while crying out, “Unclean, unclean!” Why cover the mustache? It’s for the same reason we cover our mouths when we cough today, in order to prevent spit and spray to pass freely through the air.
Massengill wrote, “In the prevention of disease, however, the ancient Hebrews made real progress. The teachings of Moses, as embodied in the Priestly Code of the Old Testament, contain two clear conceptions of modern sanitation – the importance of cleanliness and the possibility of controlling epidemic disease by isolation and quarantine.” Dr. Roderick McGrew, in The Encyclopedia of Medical History, wrote, “The idea of contagion was foreign to the classic medical tradition and found no place in the voluminous Hippocratic writings. The Old Testament, however, is a rich source for contagionist sentiment, especially in regard to leprosy and venereal disease.”
If there is no God, who taught Moses such advanced medical knowledge for his day?