Manners & Customs : Physicians


Modern Eastern Physicians Physicians among Orientals today. Orientals have two names for their men who practice the art of healing. They call him "the wise man," and also term him, "the holy man." The first title indicates the skill they think necessary in him, and the second shows their belief that a holy man has power from GOD to heal. Often one after another doctors are summoned, which reminds one of the poor woman who "had suffered many things of many physicians" (Mark 5:26), before she was healed by JESUS. The most common ailments from which the people of the East suffer include: eye infections, skin diseases, consumption, and malarial and typhoidal fevers. The Orientals have a proverb which emphasizes the importance they attach to faith: "Have faith, though it be only in a stone, and you will recover." They have a strong conviction that, although they believe it a duty to use what means are available, the real power to heal is Divine.

Physicians and Healing The Bible recognizes the presence of physicians, but does not give a prominent place to them. GOD's power to heal sickness is emphasized in both the Old and New Testaments.

Physicians and Healing WHAT OLD TESTAMENT JEWS DID IN TIME OF SICKNESS Ordinarily, the ancient Hebrews did not go to physicians when they were sick. There are surprisingly few references to physicians in Old Testament days. Job mentions the existence of such when he says, "Ye are all physicians of no value" (Job 13:4). King Asa was criticized by the sacred writer who says of him, "He sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians" (l Chronicles 16:12). The prophet Jeremiah asked the question, "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?" (Jeremiah 8:22). It is quite probable, that any physicians referred to in these days were foreigners, and not Jews of the land.1 (cf. Jeremiah 5:14-16) There are many examples of prayer to GOD for healing of sickness under the dispensation of law. Moses prayed for the healing of the Israelites bitten by the snakes (Numbers 21:7). The Sixth Psalm is David's prayer in time of sickness, and one which GOD heard. One of the great thanksgiving Psalm has a section in it dealing with gratitude to GOD for healing of the sick (Psalm 107:17-21). King Solomon in his dedicatory prayer for the temple, encouraged the people to expect GOD to answer their prayer for healing of sickness (II Chronicles 6:28-30). And King Hezekiah was healed in answer to prayer (II Kings 20). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

Physicians in the New Testament Physicians in New Testament times. In New Testament times there were many physicians. Among them were, no doubt, many who were not worthy of the name. Concerning the poor woman who had been to many doctors, Mark adds, "and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse" (Mark 5:26), indicating that these physicians had harmed her rather than helped her. But there were sincere practicing physicians, and Luke was a notable example. In his Epistle to the Colossians, Paul called him: "Luke, the beloved physician" (4:14). In the ruins of the city of Pompeii, there "was found a number of instruments exactly such as our best surgeons now use."

Physicians in the Old Testament Physicians in Old Testament times. Physicians were present from early Bible times. The Code of Hammurabi, under which Abraham grew up as a young man in Babylonia, specified that if a surgeon should operate on a man's eye, using a copper lancet, and the man should lose his eye because of the operation, then the doctor's eye should be put out with a copper lancet.56 Job talks of "physicians of no value" (Job 13:4) when referring to his friends who were trying to comfort him. The law of Moses contained an ordinance providing that a man wounded in a brawl should have his loss of time paid for by the one responsible for his wounds, and adds, "and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed" (Exodus 21:19). Circumcision was an operation in surgery. The Sacred Writer indicates that King Asa put his confidence in physicians instead of the LORD when he reports: "And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers" (II Chronicles 16:12, 13).