Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The birth of the Hebrew Devil

So I explained how the Hebrews survived as long as they did when they were nearly eliminated as a society, facing many hardships for many years, while other societies, other groups of people, other religions disappeared.  I explained it had to do with a monotheistic God and the belief in the afterlife, and the desire to be good as a group, a united group, in order to reach heaven.

A problem that evolved with this strict monotheistic religion was that if God created all good, then he must have created all that is bad.  In much of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) this is exactly what happened.  God rewarded and God punished.  

This dilemma was solved in the Middle Ages with the creation of a devil.  He is in a position of godly-like powers like god, although he was created by God.  Those who are evil, those who choose to to bad, will be punished by the Devil, or live eternally with him.  Some may even present the Devil as eternal nothingness, or the loss of the soul.

Regardless, the Devil of the Middle ages is similar to the one we imagine.  He is responsible for the ills of mankind and God alleviates the ills.  

The truth is, the Ancient Hebrew, in ancient Israel, the figure who was the Devil did not have the power of the Devil of the Middle Ages.  God created all good and all bad.  God made people sick and God made them well.  God build nations and God destroyed nations.  

This kind of effected medicine in the Hebrew world because God was viewed as almighty, any attempt to interfere by medicine would be considered as not necessary or even blasphemy.  God created sickness and God alone made them well.  

Although this view changed eventually, and medicine was considered to be created by God to make people well.  It worked by mystical means because that's what God wanted.  Yet this was not the original view.  

It's for this reason that most medicine mentioned in the Bible is supernaturalistic in the version of prayers, sayings, Psalms, Proverbs, and songs.  To get well you lived well.  To stay healthy you lived clean and did clean things.  You didn't touch the dead.  Those who touched a dead body were believed to be dirty, and they must bathe before moving on.  

So while many people interpret "cleanliness" in the Bible as sanitation, this might be true, although it might not be. They may have associated the dead as having a disease that may be spread to other people.  Although this in all likelihood may not be true.  Yet to create "purity" to get to Heaven, to stay healthy, sounds like a viable thing.

While medicine may have been frowned upon in Ancient Israel, when prayer didn't work some may have sought out a physician, which are many mentioned in the Bible, so we know they existed.  Medicine was sought by some, and even beneficial.  Yet as a top  line therapy for health God was worshiped, and medicine was a mere after-thought.

This may explain why the Bible mentions medicine hardly at all.  

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