The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Deuteronomy 23

Deu 23:12

Vv 12-14: "One has but to read the Bible carefully and thoughtfully to conclude that the wisdom expressed therein regarding health, hygiene and sanitation form the groundwork of today's public health rules. As one closes the book he must realise that these biblical rules on health and hygiene were far in advance of, and superior to, any which then existed in the world. Many of these hygienic precepts have been little improved upon to this day, and are as worth following now as when they were first promulgated" (Wain, "History of Preventive Medicine", 1970).

"Moses has been characterised as the greatest sanitary engineer that the world has ever seen. His doctrines laid down in that fine treatise on hygiene, the book of Leviticus, could be summed up by the objects of sanitation today -- pure food, pure water, pure air, pure bodies, and pure dwellings" (RH Major, "A History of Medicine", 1954).

"Recently medical historians have become sceptical about these sorts of conclusions made by an earlier more God-fearing generation. It has been pointed out that the reasons given for keeping the 'sanitary' rules are explicitly to do with religion and not health. This is indeed the case, but it makes the insights all the more remarkable. How was it possible that an overtly religious code could, as it were in passing, capture such fundamental insights, essential for the health of a huge and mobile 'refugee' camp?" (SP, Tes 71:202).

Deu 23:13

EXCREMENT: Lit, "that which comes out". Cp Mar 7:15,20,21 and Mat 15:18,19 -- where sin is equated with excrement.

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