Manners & Customs: Physicians
Physicians in the Ancient World
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.
Physician in Easton's Bible Dictionary
Asa, afflicted with some bodily malady, "sought not to the
but to the physicians" (2 Chr. 16:12). The
those who "practised heathen arts of magic, disavowing
recognized methods of cure, and dissociating the
from dependence on the God of Israel. The sin of Asa
therefore, in seeking medical advice, as we understand
phrase, but in forgetting Jehovah."
Physician in Naves Topical Bible
General scriptures concerning
2Ch 16:12; Mt 9:12; Mr 5:26; Lu 8:43
Mr 2:17; Lu 4:23
-Luke, a physician
Job 13:4; Jer 8:22; Lu 5:31
Physician in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
fi-zish'-an (rophi; iatros): To the pious Jew at all times
God was the healer (Dt 32:39): "It was neither herb nor
mollifying plaister that cured them, but thy word, O Lord,
which healeth all things" (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:12). The
first physicians mentioned in Scripture are those of Egypt.
Long before the sojourn of the Hebrews in that land, Egypt
had a priestly class of physicians (snu) and a god of
healing (Imchtp). From the ancient medical papyri which have
been preserved, the largest of which is the Papyrus Ebers,
we know that the medical knowledge of these physicians was
purely empirical, largely magical and wholly unscientific.
In spite of their ample opportunities they knew next to
nothing of human anatomy, their descriptions of diseases are
hopelessly crude, and three-fourths of the hundreds of
prescriptions in the papyri are wholly inert. Even their art
of embalming was so imperfect that few of their mummies
would have remained in any other climate than that of Egypt.
Physicians of this kind who were Joseph's servants embalmed
Jacob (Gen 50:2) and Joseph (Gen 50:26). It was not until
the foundation of the School of Alexandria, which was purely
Greek, that Egypt became a place of medical education and
There is no evidence that at any time the priests of Israel
were reputed to be the possessors of medical knowledge or
tradition. In the ceremonial law they had explicit
instructions as to the isolation of those suffering from
skin eruptions, so that they might recognize certain
obstinate and infectious forms which caused ceremonial
uncleanness, but with this duty as sanitary police their
function ended and they used no means to cure these
diseases. There is, as far as I know, no record or tradition
of a priest-physician in Bible times. The records of cure by
the prophets, especially Elisha, are mostly recorded as
miracles, not as cures by treatment. The salt which cured
the noxious water at Jericho and the meal by which the
poisonous gourds were rendered innoxious, like the
manipulation of the Shunammite's son, can scarcely be
regarded as adequate remedies. There is an implied reference
to a healer of wounds in Ex 21:19, as also in Isa 3:7, and
it is recorded in Pesachim, iv.9 that there was in existence
in the time of the monarchy a book of cures, cepher
rephu'oth, supposed to have been written by Solomon, but
withdrawn from public use by Hezekiah. The first specific
mention of Hebrew physicians is 2 Ch 16:12, but Asa is
obviously regarded by the Chronicler as reprehensible in
trusting to their skill. In 2 Ki 8:29 Joram, king of Israel,
is said to have gone to Jezreel to be healed. Not far from
this, across the Jordan, was Gilead, which possibly may also
have been a place resorted to by those needing medical
treatment, as indicated by Jeremiah's query: "Is there no
balm in Gilead? is there no physician there?" (Jer 8:22).
Job, irritated by the platitudes of his friends, calls them
physicians of no value (13:4).
In the New Testament our Lord's saying, "They that are whole
have no need of a physician," etc., shows that there were
physicians in Galilee (Mt 9:12; Mk 2:17; Lk 5:31), and in
Nazareth He quotes what seems to have been a proverb:
"Physician, heal thyself" (Lk 4:23). There were...
Physician Scripture - Colossians 4:14
Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.
Physician Scripture - Jeremiah 8:22
[Is there] no balm in Gilead; [is there] no physician there?
why then is not the health of the daughter of my people
Physician Scripture - Luke 4:23
And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this
proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard
done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
Physician Scripture - Luke 5:31
And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need
not a physician; but they that are sick.
Physician Scripture - Mark 2:17
When Jesus heard [it], he saith unto them, They that are whole
have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came
not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Physician Scripture - Matthew 9:12
But when Jesus heard [that], he said unto them, They that be
whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
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).
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