Recently, as we have been teaching Leviticus in our Sunday school class, I have been pointing out how much of the laws were actually laws of health, now “scientific” facts. If we had simply been following scripture, we would have made all these “discoveries” a few thousand years ago.
This is one of my favorite stories:
Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (July 1, 1818 – August 13, 1865) (born Ignác Fülöp Semmelweis)
He was a Hungarian physician now known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. Described as the “savior of mothers”,Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics.
Puerperal fever was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal, with mortality at 10%–35%. Semmelweis postulated the theory of washing with chlorinated lime solutions in 1847 while working in Vienna General Hospital’s First Obstetrical Clinic, where doctors’ wards had three times the mortality of midwives’ wards. He published a book of his findings in Etiology, Concept and Prophylaxis of Childbed Fever.
Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community.
Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings.
Semmelweis’s practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister, acting on the French microbiologist’s research, practiced and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success.
In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died at age 47 after being beaten by the guards, only 14 days after he was committed.
So how does this relate to scripture?
Numbers 8:7 To purify them, do this: Sprinkle the water of cleansing on them; then have them shave their whole bodies and wash their clothes. And so they will purify themselves NIV
b. And the priest shall take cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet, and cast them into the midst of the fire burning the heifer: When the heifer was burnt, the priest would also put cedar wood and hyssop and scarlet into the fire.
i. In Leviticus 14:4-6, each of these three items are used in the cleansing ceremony for a leper. Each of these items has a special significance.
ii. Cedar is extremely resistant to disease and rot, and is well known for its quality and preciousness. These properties may be the reason for including it here – as well as a symbolic reference to the wood of the cross. Some even think the cross Jesus was crucified on was made of cedar.
iii. Hyssop was used not only with the cleansing ceremony for lepers, but also Jesus was offered drink from a hyssop branch on the cross (Matthew 27:48), and when David said purge me with hyssop in Psalm 51:7, he was admitted he was a bad as a leper.
iv. Scarlet, the color of blood, pictures the cleansing blood of Jesus on the cross. Scarlet was used in the veil and curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:31), in the garments of the high priest (Exodus 28:5-6), the covering for the table of showbread (Numbers 4:8), the sign of Rahab’s salvation (Joshua 2:21), and the color of the mocking “king’s robe” put on Jesus at His torture by the soldiers (Matthew 27:28).
c. They shall be kept for the congregation of the children of Israel for the water of purification; it is for purifying from sin: The residue from the burning of the carcass, the cedar, the hyssop, and the scarlet fabric together would produce a lot of ash, and the ash was to be gathered and sprinkled in water bit by bit to make water fit for purification.
If you haven’t figured it out, they were making lye soap.
How to Make Soap from Ashes
Soap making in the woods can be almost automatic. Hardwood ashes are some of the best producers of lye. Add a bucket of rain water and some left-over cooking fat and you can easily brew up enough soap to clean everybody and everything. Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/how-to-make-soap-from-ashes-zmaz72jfzfre.aspx#ixzz35kNDSk00