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Issue Features
Discovery Magazine 2/1/1998

Egyptian Medical Superstition and Bible Accuracy

 The ancient Egyptians were proud of their medical skill. In a world of superstition, some of their practices were quite amazing.

Several Egyptian medical writings have been discovered in modern times. One of these is called the Papyrus Ebers. "Papyrus" was the first form of paper. It was made from reeds growing along the Nile River. This "medical book" contained a surprising description of the "vessels" in the body leading from the heart to various organs. However, it also included a great deal of false information that was pretty silly.

For example: "To prevent the hair from turning gray, anoint it with the blood of a black calf which has been boiled in oil, or with the fat of a rattlesnake." The remedy obviously did not work, for Egyptian mummies have the remains of gray hair! Another magical treatment was supposed to change an old man into a boy again! Are any of the Pharaohs still alive?

Here is an important point to remember. Even though the doctors in Egypt were fairly smart for their day, they still made plenty of mistakes, and these mistakes are found often in their writings.

In contrast to that, when the writers of the Bible comment on medical things, they never include the kind of "magical" superstitions that are common in the Egyptian papyri. This is an important point, because Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Old Testament, was raised in Egypt (see Acts 7:22). The fact is, the writers of Scripture were guided by God, and that sort of foolishness was not allowed to come into the divine record.

The Old Testament dealt with medical situations in a very accurate and dignified way. A number of sound health principles are set forth in the Scriptures. Several of these are: sanitation (for the prevention of disease—Deuteronomy 23:14); sterilization (to eliminate and slow the spread of germs—Leviticus 11:32,39-40); quarantine (keeping sick people away from others—Numbers 5:4; 31-22-23); diet (the restriction of certain foods that could cause illness in ancient times—Leviticus 11); and recuperation (a period of rest—Exodus 31:17).

These laws were given to help the nation of Israel enjoy good health. We can learn from them, too. Also, these laws bear witness to the fact that the Scriptures were far ahead of their times. This supports their claim of coming from God.



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