5) Medicine

The bible abounds with still actual medical rules. Some subjects seem to be very modern because they involve contemporary ethical subjects such as “the carrying mother”. Rachel, the wife of Jacob, who is infertile, brings about this subject. Her maid Bilhah will carry the child for her and will deliver between her legs in order to give away the child symbolically to Rachel, mimicking the delivery of the first of Jacob’s 12 sons: Dan. Sex related subjects are very modern and humane in this episode.Without knowing the origin of infections, Hebraic terminology introduced a word to define every contaminated thing. This word is “touma” which is derived from the word “meth” or death. Touma means something that leads to death.The liquid pouring out of a lesion is “touma”, so everything that has been touched by these liquids is touma and cannot be used anymore.

This notion of “touma” does not only apply to men but also to houses. A cohen (priest) has to check a patch on a wall with an interval of one week. If he notices growing of the patch he can ask for the demolishing of that house. The stones of that house are not allowed to be reused but have to be thrown away at a “touma” place.

It is only with the invention of the microscope and the work of Pasteur and Koch that the abstract meaning of “touma” acquired a visible reality explaining all the notions of washing, quarantine, ritual bathing, etc…

A remarkable thing was the transmission of those elementary hygiene rules from generation to generation preserving the life of so many people during epidemics.

Here follow a few elementary medical principles from the bible:

a) The week-end at the 7th day (SABBATH)


Today the weekend or sabbatical or better the Sabbath holiday is a universal notion found back in all western cultures. It is a time with several functions: time for social activities, spiritual activities, affective activities, and familial activities. Whether we talk about the Sunday of the Christians, the Friday of the Muslims or the All-American weekend, all western societies practice a weekly sabbatical.

Even Ovidius who was not a Jew but Roman gave the following advice in his book “Ars amatoria”: “Choose the day of Sabbath from the Syrian Jews to courtship young girls”.

In spite of this the application of the resting day became a stress day due to the prohibitions derived from the interdiction to work and create. The litteral application of the rabbinical rules prevents the mind and the body to blossom on that day. This is completely in contradiction with the first aim of this day. This same ctiticism of the way of performing the sabath rest is also found back in the gospels with the known phrase: “Men are not made for sabath, but Sabbath is made for men” .The bible asks only one thing, to respect the 7th day, the resting day. Compared to the actual notions of chronobiology, this corresponds completely with our biological cycles (the menstrual cycle of women for example).

Creation in six days according to genesis installs the base of the sabbatical system (Sabbath = seventh) present in Europe and Asia. American cultures know another system in their calendar, the decimal system (Maya calendar). The decimal system is also mentioned in the bible, but is introduced by Jethro, the father in Law of Moses. It was introduced in order to organise the judges under the authority of Moses: 10 judges under the authority of one and so on in order to delegate the judiciary system under Moses.

The sabbatical system seems to be correlated to the natural capacity of human neurones to remember spontaneously 7 digits.




1. Food Hygiene rules (cacherouth) take a big part in biblical commands although they don’t make part of the 10 most important commands. Sometimes tradition is more important than commands. A difficult command to be put in practice is the interdiction to mix meat and milk. And yet, the bible doesn’t ask that. The bible says that you are not supposed to boil the lamb in her mother’s milk. To me personally this feels as a very cruel act against the animal. To me this interdiction relies more to the mere presence of the mother of the lamb witnessing the cruel fate of her offspring than to the trivial mixing of milk and meat.

Another explanation for the interdiction of mixing milk and meat is the medical fact that Mediterranean people stop digesting milk sugars (lactose) at the age of 2 years.

This could be interpreted as following: from the moment children start eating meat it is better to stop feeding them with milk. If not, severe digestive problems could develop.

A next explanation could be that milk, not being sterile, could contaminate the sterile meat. This is also true for the intestines of the animal, which are not allowed to touch the meat.

A last explanation could be that a society that is prone to famine considers that the accumulation of two sources of proteins such as milk and meat are actually a kind of waste. The combination of protein and carbo-hydrates give a much more efficient quantity/quality ratio hence the dissociated diet to lose weight.



So tradition became law including cheese and butter in the ruling, which as we know are not that good neither for the cholesterol level.

An anecdote that happened in our city illustrates this reasoning:

A Jewish butcher opened a pizzeria where only kosher dairy meals were served. They served also self-made ice cream. One day several people having consumed their ice cream had to be hospitalised for Salmonella food poisoning. One must know that Salmonella is an omnipresent germ present in animal excrements. A butcher manufacturing ice cream can easily contaminate this ice cream by carrying Salmonella germs on his hands. So had the spirit of the bible been respected asking to butchers not to manipulate milk instead of avoiding the serving of milk and meat according to the strict interpretation of rabbinical laws, this accident would not have happened.


The interdiction to consume meat from non-ruminant animals is especially known for pork meat.

Pork are known to be very parasitogenic and allergenic. Besides that, pork is immunologically very identical to men. This allows us to use pork extracts as medicine, for example insulin and allografts.

Another reason for the reluctance to eat pork is the inherent reluctance of men to consume human meat. Both kind of meat seems to have similar taste. Cannibalism is a known cause of transmission of prions causing Kuru disease, a degenerative disease of the brain in Papua cannibals. Closer to us we know the disease of Creutzfeld-Jacob that was caused by the injection of human pituitary extracts used for the treatment of growth hormone deficiency (but prohibited today) that contained prions causing a degenerative disease of the brain. And last but not least, cow’s cannibalism causes bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad-cow’s disease… By the way, as men are not ruminating they are not kosher…

Molluscs and crustaceans (non-kosher) are known today for their allergenic proprieties but also for the frequent presence of Salmonella germs, hepatitis viruses and toxins.

What is less known is that fish without scales (non-kosher) often contain toxic viscera. A well-known example is the Japanese Fugu fish causing dead within an hour if not properly eviscerated.

Fasts and abstinences give a better insight and empathy with poor and hungry people. This interpretation of the fasting traditions is the one used by the prophet Isaiah and read on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.


2. Mikwa or Ritual bathing is frequently described in the bible. Whether for the cure of skin diseases, after sexual contact, before the Sabbath and holydays, after a journey or after a burial.Ritual bathing is not permitted in stagnant water. A ritual bath has to be filled with running water.Washing of hands after toilet or before meals are part of the commands of the bible.

Contact with menstruating women is discouraged, and a ritual bath is proposed before new intercourse. The risk of infection of the Fallopian trump leading to sterility is one of the severe complications of intercourse during menstruation. Another severe complication of intercourse during menstruation is the risk of transmitting blood carried vectors like AIDS and hepatitis.

After delivery sexual intercourse can only resume after ritual bathing.

These are a few examples of elementary hygiene, which was only generally admitted since the 19th century.

Before the 19th century bathing was considered to be depraving and responsible for weakening of the body.

During the inquisition bathing before the Sabbath could result on being burned alive during an autodafe.

Washing after touching corpses was considered ridiculous by doctors in Semmelweiss’ time and resulted in many cases of puerperal fever.

3. Circumcision is a little surgical intervention that was already known by ancient Egyptians as witnessed by the Hieroglyphs.Abraham and Sarah were childless until an advanced age. Three malachim (“angels” but actually messengers) came to Abraham’s’ tent. They ate and drunk and after the meal announced merrily that Sarah would become pregnant. So Sarah started laughing (= tso’hek, which is the root of the name Its’hak). My interpretation is that those three messengers were probably medicine men advising to Abraham that circumcision would be the way to have children with Sarah. The fact that those three men ate and drunk shows they were no angels but malachim (messengers).And the message they brought was that Abraham would become a father. And as Abraham was a very important man, his descendents would count nations and kings amongst them.

We know that foreskin problems can cause impotence. The simple surgical procedure that consists of removing the foreskin can relieve this problem as was known by the Egyptians. And indeed, Abraham and Sarah had a son called Its’hak (= laughed at) better known in the English spelling as Isaac.

The decision was thus made to circumcise everybody, as this little intervention was able to increase fertility. And so circumcision became the hallmark of a nation.

The bible is very precise as to the age of circumcision i.e. the 8th day. We know today that this is the ideal moment. The first reason is that 8 days after birth hepatic function as related to coagulation returns to normal. The second reason is that at that age psychic trauma equals almost zero as the genitals are not yet recognized in the body projection. Myelinisation involves only the head at that age and circumcision does not remain in your memory (I can personally confirm this).

One could argue that circumcision is a remnant from pagan sacrifices in fertility rites. Maybe, But this little sacrifice is compensated by so many advantages that it survived and was accepted by other religions and even by some medical academies.

Once the foreskin is removed, the glans becomes less sensitive. This can become an advantage because it takes longer to reach orgasm. In sexual relations where women need more time to reach an orgasm this becomes a way to develop more harmonious relations between men and women.

Another advantage is the diminished risk of developing sexually transmitted diseases. Research made because of the AIDS epidemic showed that a dry skin as results of circumcision offers less possibility to viruses to fix themselves on the cells. So HIV, Herpes and papilloma viruses, to give some examples of transmissible viruses causing AIDS, sores and tumours, can less be transmitted. Don’t forget that advice given by the bible was aimed at polygamist men.

The only ethic critic one can give is that informed consent is not given to the baby. But this critic is the same for any surgical procedure in infants.

4. Interdiction of homosexualityThe interdiction of homosexuality in the bible can also be related to elementary hygiene rules. Normally children have a natural anxiety for their excrements. They are afraid to sit on the toilet for that reason and will spontaneously try to hide away when defecating. This is a normal anxiety that will be overcome by laughing about caca and pipi stories. This anxiety protects people from contact with bacterial bombs that faeces are actually. Faeces contain 80% bacteria. In military academies one is thought to shoot in the enemies belly to be sure to let him die because intestinal injury gives always fatal peritonitis and sepsis.Faeces contain also a high amount of viruses, which can give several kinds of infections. Fortunately the anal region is very antiseptic thanks to a good blood perfusion and anal relations are not that damaging if a limited number of partners are involved and hygienic precautions are taken. Anyway anal relations with several partners are like Russian roulette, it can give fatal surprises especially in this AIDS epidemic we know today.


c) INCEST INTERDICTIONWe know that incest was current behaviour at the pharaonic court in ancient Egypt.Akhnaton the bad shaped – Moses, the heavy tongued Egyptian prince. Did they realise the consequences of incest?

This could explain the severe interdiction of incest in the Mosaic bible and the cases of incest in pre-Mosaic episodes: Abraham married with his half sister and Lot having children with his own daughters.

d) THE PESSA’H (EASTER) CLEANINGThe tradition to clean houses before Easter (pessa’h) frees the whole house of any last tiny crumble of leavened bread. We know that yeasts and fungi are very important in the food chain of insects especially in hot climates. So this practice helps to avoid insects in houses. The 8 days of unleavened bread helps change the intestinal flora that offers interesting perspectives in nowadays notions of prebiotic equilibriums in the gut. To me the rabbinical practice of selling warehouses containing leavened bread is an example of a blind biblical lecture of senseless rules instead of trying to understand what is the real sense of biblical rules. e) THE DEFENSE OF BLOODThe interdiction to eat blood, i.e. raw meat, avoids the risk to be contaminated by germs in the blood and meat of the animal.h) THE DEFENSE OF MIXING VEGETAL AND ANIMAL FIBRES (Shatness)I have no explanation for the interdiction of mixing vegetal and animal fibres. A possibility would be that this mix increases the risk of allergic reactions to tissue.

Published in: on 24/10/2006 at 09:34  Comments (1)  

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