Monday, March 24, 2014

Dr. Semmelweis & the Bible

By Bert Thompson

Anyone who has ever taken an introductory course in microbiology has heard the name of Ignaz Semmelweis. A medical doctor who taught at the prestigious Allegemeine Frankenhaus (a renowned teaching hospital) in Vienna. Semmelweis was appalled at the mortality rate of women who gave birth there. One of every six women died of "child bed fever." The doctor set out to discover why, and in so doing uncovered an "old" new truth.

The problem was that doctors were not washing their hands or utensils between patients. When Dr. Semmelweis instituted this simple but effective procedure, mortality rates fell to almost zero, practically overnight. His discovery altered the course of medical history!

Yet, Moses, millennial earlier, had instructed the Israelites on these matters (Numbers 19:14-19; Leviticus 13-15). Those coming into contact with the dead or diseased were considered "unclean," and had to be washed. Both the people and their clothing were to be purged in clear, running water. But more that this, they were to take hyssop branches, wet them, and use them to sprinkle water on them and their clothing for cleansing. Interestingly, we know that hyssop is a type of marjoram plant, the oil of which contains 50% carvacrol, a powerful antibacterial and anti fungal agent (similar to thynol, which we use today).

Even toady doctors "scrub" prior to surgery, because there is no better practical deterrent to the spread of disease. While the Israelites' neighbors were putting worm blood mixed with animal waste on injuries, Moses was giving laws that were light-years ahead of their time, and that would remain correct and relevant as long as the Earth stands. The Bible was right - again!

The Sower, Sharpe Church of Christ, Benton, KY, March 25, 2001.

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