The Jewish diet was generally good for health. (For instance, Daniel and his friends looked far healthier on a vegetarian diet than did their companions who ate meat, Daniel 1:5-16.) The Jewish food laws gave a good degree of protection from food poisoning when cooking temperatures were low. The biggest health problem concerned the water, which

was easily polluted through animal usage, washing, sewerage, and plain dirt. When water was collected in a cistern, it had run off the mud and brushwood roof where all manner of things had been stored. For this reason, wine was a staple drink. Paul probably had water problems in mind when he recommended that Timothy should take “a little wine because of your stomach” (1 Tim 5:23)


     Sickness was not linked in thought with food and drink. It was normally attributed to the will (even the judgement) of God (Deut 28:60-61), and for this reason doctors were not approved. Prayer was believed to be more effective than medicine, and Hezekiah was a prime example (2 Kings 20). Doctors could therefore cause loss of faith in God (2 Chron 6:29). But by New Testament time, Luke’s skill as a doctor was appreciated by Paul (Col 4:14), although Peter’s scepticism, recorded by Mark, concerning the woman with the haemorrhage is clear to see (Mk 5:26).


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