God gave guidelines in the Torah to prevent diseases. The priest could declare people temporarily unclean. Isolation followed until the symptoms passed. Because of all the COVID-19 measures, modern man must consider his fellow man to be unclean. It is a harmful view of man.
BY DRS. ESTHER NOORDERMEER
God is quite clear about the why of His Law. It is meant for life. We repeatedly read 'that you may live' and 'that you may prosper'(1). Man is not an orphan in life, but is guided by the Creator.
“I gave them My ordinances and made My provisions known to them: the man who does them shall live by them.” (Ezek. 20:11)
The Creator knows
In Deuteronomy 24 verse 8-9 it says:
“Be on your guard against the disease of leprosy by acting very carefully according to what the Levitical priests teach you. You must act carefully as I have commanded them.”
God says: “Do exactly what I say, then leprosy will be controllable.” The priests served as first-line doctors. They played an important role in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. But not because they were wise, God had taught them. The priests simply applied God's wisdom.
Especially in these COVID times, the rules concerning diagnosis and treatment of leprosy, a well-known contagious disease in the Bible, are interesting. People, clothes and bricks could all have this outbreak (2). If something or someone had a suspicious rash, a diagnostic examination by the priest followed (3). If there was a clear case of leprosy, then the person, garment or house was immediately labelled 'unclean'. If the results were not conclusive, then a quarantine of seven days followed. A person was isolated, a suspicious piece of clothing was isolated or kept apart, a suspicious house was emptied and closed up (4). The quarantine could be extended by another seven days. After 14 days at the most, the final diagnosis followed. Either it was an innocent rash or it was leprosy. Quarantine in the Bible is the time it takes to see whether vague symptoms become pathological or not. Preventive quarantine as applied during this COVID-19 crisis, where it concerns people without symptoms, does not exist in the Bible.
The unclean status
The ruling of the priest led to a clean or unclean declaration. The unclean declaration meant 'beware, this person, object or house is contagious'. Then measures followed: clothing was burned, bricks removed and replaced, and people were placed outside the community.
Unclean is a general term for a contagious status. Leprosy could be the cause, but also something else. The unclean explanation was the same. The difference in diseases was reflected in the duration of the unclean status. It lasted as long as there were symptoms. Sometimes it was only one day. Anyone who was unclean was put outside of the community.
“Command the Israelites that they send away from the camp every leper, and everyone who has a discharge, and everyone who is unclean because of a dead person.” (Num.5:2)
Note that only unclean people -people who had been diagnosed on the basis of symptoms-were isolated.
Isolation leads to mourning
Lepers often had the unclean status for life. It meant permanently living outside the community. This had a deep impact on them. Lepers lived in mourning:
“The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease; he is unclean; he shall dwell alone in a habitation outside the camp.” (Lev.13:45-46 RSV)
Torn clothes, untidy hair and covering the face partially. These are normal expressions of mourning in the Bible. To live outside the community for a long time is to live in mourning. For example, during COVID-19 people experience prolonged isolation, the absence of visitors and not being able to touch loved ones as grief. However, there is a big difference with the Bible: there are no symptoms! Placing people outside the community without clear symptoms is unlawful in the Bible. In fact, it is also cruel. You would not wish such a life on anyone.
Responsibility for prevention
The leper had to warn others by shouting "unclean, unclean". The responsibility for not infecting others lay with the leper. This is logical. The sick person knows what is going on, but unsuspecting passers-by do not. If others approached despite the warning, they were taking a conscious risk under their own responsibility. In the COVID-19 policy, the responsibility of not infecting others lies with everyone, including those who are healthy and have no symptoms. A strange policy choice, not based on the wisdom of the Bible.
People who had fully recovered from an infectious disease could again participate in the community. Healing of leprosy was possible if the skin irritation was completely eradicated. Sometimes this happened. Then, too, the priest stepped in to declare someone pure again. When Jesus healed a group of leprous men, He said, “Go and show yourself to the priests.”(5). Jesus did not say this because he doubted the healing, but without an official declaration of purity by a priest the men could not reintegrate. With the clean declaration the period of isolation was over.
Why is it that in the prevention of COVID-19, no distinction is made between healthy and sick people? It stems from the supposition that healthy people without symptoms can still make others sick. This supposition justifies all measures taken by the government. The supposition that you can infect others before you have symptoms is not seen in the Bible. As soon as there are symptoms, someone visits a priest. And only when he declares him or her unclean, is that person considered infectious. Not before. And then only the sick person is isolated. How logical that is! To combine healthy and sick people together is extremely strange.
The supposition bends … no, it spoils our image of humanity. It says that we are all potential carriers of COVID-19. Instead of seeing my fellow human beings as peers to associate with, I must now see them as sources of infection to be avoided. My neighbour is now a walking zoo with potentially scary bugs. This is how I must also see myself. I am dangerous to others, to my old mother, my asthmatic sister, my friend with sugar, my overweight brother-in-law. In the Biblical sense, we have all been declared unclean!
Global and national priests - whoever they may be - have usurped the right to label the whole population as unclean. Who gave them that right? Likewise, the promised vaccine will declare the recipients clean. The vaccination certificate gives access to ... fill in the blank: international flights, big meetings? The vaccination certificate acts as a declaration of purity. Those who are clean can participate in society. Those who are unclean cannot. In the Bible you only needed a declaration of purity after the unclean status. All people without infectious symptoms are clean anyway.
The fact that a person can be a carrier of a disease without ever developing symptoms is very common in hereditary diseases. Virtually all recessively inherited disorders are passed on by carriers. Zoonoses (*) also involve an animal carrier. The pig can infect people and make them sick without having any symptoms itself. However, you cannot project the genetic and animal carriers onto interpersonal infectious diseases. If you do, you end up in the world in which we now find ourselves. A society in which people are afraid of each other, in which we accuse each other and check for compliance with RIVM (Dutch governmental) protocol. Families, colleagues, friends are scattered. All social structures in which friendships are normally experienced, including the churches, have been destroyed. A completely disrupted society. Torah guidelines are much better than RIVM guidelines.
*) diseases or infections that are transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans
It is not at all proven that people without symptoms can infect others to such an extent that serious illness follows. There is an alternative and more likely model of infection. Someone with clear symptoms is unclean in the Biblical sense and can infect others. The motto then is to be cured at home and stay away from people. Someone with mild symptoms can infect others only slightly. And someone who has no symptoms at all can hardly transmit the disease. A normal immune system can cope with these kinds of 'attacks'. It is perfectly responsible for symptomless - in fact healthy - people to associate with each other without any limitations. And dealing with someone who has few or no symptoms is a responsible risk that we can take. Any new infection will often be mild or sub-clinical. Any risk of contracting infectious diseases is the normal price that humanity is willing and able to pay to be and remain human.
Reactions to this new image of man
People who support the rules set by the government probably do not realise that their image of man has changed as a result. In time, many will not be able to bear this new image of man and, like lepers, will live in mourning. It will turn against them. Loneliness, depression and mental disorders such as fear of contamination and anxiety will increase with all their consequences. The number of Corona deaths will be followed by more deaths as a result of this distorted view of mankind. A sad prognosis.
An ever-growing group no longer accepts the package of COVID measures. Their gut feeling tells them that something is not right. In fact, they are opposed to the new image of man, but perhaps they are not aware of that either. These people will become frustrated and that will lead to riots, which will further disrupt society. Both groups suffer in their own way from the measures. In the first group it turns inwards, in the second it turns outwards.
This new image of man is not consistent with the Bible. Considering each other and yourself as infectious creatures, unclean, while there are no symptoms. Is this still a view of humanity or does it go beyond human? For me it is clear. As a child of God, I cannot embrace this new image of humanity. Government, be sober, change your policy!
© Sola Scriptura - August 2020 - www.enoordermeer.nl
This is a translation of a Dutch article “Hoe de Bijbel COVID-19 zou aan pakken”
Original author Drs. E. Noordermeer, biologist, author/publisher
Translator L. Seguin
2) Lev.13:47 ff, Lev.14:33 ff
3) The method is described in detail in Leviticus 13 and 14
5) Luke 17:14