How the Old Testament could stop the spread of Ebola
If we followed the Old Testament commands, the world would soon be nearly free of Ebola.
These commands are:
- Don’t eat bats, pigs, rats, selfish, etc.
- Don’t eat, or even touch animals that died of natural causes
- If an unclean animal (rat, mouse, bat, lizard, frog, etc.) – dead or alive – falls into your food, you must throw the food out. If it falls into a cooking pot, you must smash, wash, or sterilise the pot with fire (depending on whether the animal is dead, what kind of pot, etc.)
- Quarantine people with obvious, contagious diseases (such as leprosy – perhaps we could include ebola here, but that is an admitted interpretive addition)
- Do not touch dead people
- If you are in some way obligated to touch dead animals, feces, mould, or any number of other “dirty” (unclean) things, you are “ceremonially unclean until evening.” What that means is that you must: a) wash yourself immediately, b) avoid public areas, c) not touch anyone else (if they are touched, they too become unclean, and must wash and quarantine themselves until sunset) d) not touch any household items (utensils, beds, chairs, etc.): if touched, they too must be cleaned. Touching dead people makes one especially unclean, and must be avoided at all costs especially by priests (cultural leaders).
Of course, internet atheists are always delighted to read the Old Testament and mock at the commandments that they see as strange or irrelevant. But consider the following facts about ebola:
- Although there are outbreaks in humans, scientists believe the ebola virus stays alive in African bat populations
- Bats are brought close to humans by pig farms, as fruit-bats eat the pig feed at night, and may spread the disease to pigs
- Some tribes eat bats, contracting the disease directly (especially if they touch or eat bats found dead of natural causes – aka ebola)
- Ebola is not contagious until symptoms of high fever and vomiting appear
- Many African tribes gather around their sick, and practice communal care
- Many African tribes also mourn their dead communally, often touching, kissing, and wailing over their dearly departed
- The most effective defence against Ebola is still the simple bar of soap, water and a towel. When going to new cultures – be it in Africa, South America, or Oceana – missionaries and health-care workers often bring as one of their first and most life-saving message the simple rule: “Wash your hands before you eat.” Yes, that is common sense to us in our post-Christian society: but it is not common sense to the world. What could clean hands possibly have to do with a sick tummy? The two are so far apart!
As I said – the internet atheists may mock. But one doesn’t have to be too “bright” to put these two lists together, and to realise that if one avoided all unclean animals (especially bats, pigs, clams, etc.) they would rule out not only ebola but also limit contact with cholera, the bubonic plague, and the common cold. Sterilisation and germs were only discovered by Louis Pasteur in the late nineteenth century – and for years the scientific community mocked and derided his claims that tiny little germs, too small to see, caused sickness. But almost 3,000 years before, God revealed the basic principles for how to deal with and contain germs in His Law. Far from outdated, these are the very principles that the World Health Organisation and others are rushing to share with West Africa.
So is the Old Testament really so outdated? Or is it infused with surprising insights and medical advice which is millennia ahead of it’s time?