Israel's Divine Healer

Overview

Israel's Diving Healer is the first complete, systematic treatment of the biblical motif of God as "Divine Healer." It traces the theme of the Divine Healer from the Old to the New Testament, showing the continuity and discontinuity between the Testaments, particularly in Jesus' miracles that reveal God as the world's Divine Healer. Israel's Divine Healer begins with a study of various Hebrew words on healing. It then explores, within the larger context of the Ancient Near Eastern religions, the roles of ...

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Overview

Israel's Diving Healer is the first complete, systematic treatment of the biblical motif of God as "Divine Healer." It traces the theme of the Divine Healer from the Old to the New Testament, showing the continuity and discontinuity between the Testaments, particularly in Jesus' miracles that reveal God as the world's Divine Healer. Israel's Divine Healer begins with a study of various Hebrew words on healing. It then explores, within the larger context of the Ancient Near Eastern religions, the roles of medicine, magic, and the physician-priest together with their possible influences upon Israel's beliefs and practices regarding healing. Against this background, the remaining chapters examine, from the Torah to the Gospels, how Yahweh progressively revealed himself as Divine Healer to Israel and ultimately, through Jesus, to the whole of humanity.

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Meet the Author

Michael L. Brown, (Ph D, New York University) is president and professor of practical theology at Fellowship for International Revival and Evangelism School of Ministry. He has also served as adjunct professor of Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield and adjunct professor of Jewish apologetics at Fuller Theological Seminary School of World Mission. He has contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of Jewish Religion, and the Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament.

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Preface

My interest in Israel's divine Healer is long-standing, both spiritually and academically. The origins of that interest, however, are unique and worth recounting. Raised in a Conservative Jewish home on Long Island, New York, I can only explain my teenage foray into the world of drugs and hard rock music as symptomatic of the times--those turbulent years of the late 60s and early 70s, the years of Woodstock idealism, the so-called Age of Aquarius. For me, a pleasure-seeking youth of just fifteen or sixteen, the rock/drug world was full of allure and temptation, and I plunged into that world with reckless abandon.

Little did I know that by the end of 1971, while still sixteen, I would experience a radical conversion in a small Italian Pentecostal church in Queens, New York. Drawn there with the sole purpose of pulling my two best friends (and fellow band members) out of the church and back to "reality," I was confronted instead with the love of God emanating from a sincere people who simply believed. Their testimony of God's life-changing power, their acceptance of this young, proud, stubborn rebel, and their eyewitness stories of miracles, healings, and deliverances seemed totally genuine. Soon enough, my resistance melted, faith came alive, and I surrendered. In a moment of time, I was free.

In the present context, there are two key events from those early days that are especially relevant. First, I experienced a sudden and dramatic healing of a bad and persistent case of hives, which had tormented me for days. The remission came in immediate answer to prayer after a frustrating week. Now I was an eyewitness. Second, at the behest of my dear father, I met the local rabbi. Pleased beyond words that I had given up my destructive ways, my father wanted me to "return" to my traditions. Although I did not take the route they had envisioned, the relationship formed with that rabbi has endured for almost twenty-five years, and it was in direct response to his persistent prodding that I began to study Hebrew in college. At that time, I had not the faintest inkling that those studies would lead to serious Semitic scholarship.

But that is only part of the story. Life was not always so simple in my Pentecostal church. Why were many prayers for the sick not answered? Why was it that the more I read and learned, the more I questioned some of our doctrinal distinctives? By 1977, a separation came, and I became active in a church that was theologically and academically much more broad-minded, albeit certainly lacking in terms of those early, miraculous testimonies of which I had by now become skeptical. Then, in 1982-83, I and many others in the congregation experienced a dramatic spiritual renewal, prompting me to reconsider the relevance of what was then my working dissertation topic, "Abbreviated Verbal Idioms in the Hebrew Bible." In the light of eternity, was such a project worth the time and effort?

Along with this was a new problem: People were getting healed again in answer to prayer, but their theology, so far as I could tell, was askew, and their use of Scripture to support their position seemed amiss. The same held true, I thought, in even more pronounced fashion among the leading figures in public healing ministry. How could this be? Was it my view that needed adjustment? Or was God simply honoring honest, trusting hearts in spite of doctrinal error?

I was determined to understand as best I could the biblical views of God as Healer, and as one specializing in Old Testament and Semitics, the study of the Hebrew root rampam' seemed logical. Thus I began my exegetical and comparative philological study of rampam', completed as a New York University dissertation in 1985 under the tutelage of Baruch Levine. At the same time, I began to teach on the subject of healing in various popular and academic settings here and abroad, often praying for the sick as well. I can now add further eyewitness accounts of supernatural answers to prayer, along with some difficult stories of suffering, pain, and death, all in connection with seeking to minister to those in need.

In 1990, the idea of turning my rather technical (and not particularly edifying) dissertation into a book began to gel, and, at the request of a potential publisher, in 1991 I drafted a chapter on "Israel's Divine Healer in the Prophetic Books," greatly expanding and revising relevant portions of my thesis for a theological and biblical audience. It was to the credit of Len Goss at Zondervan Publishing House that the projected volume was deemed suitable for the nascent series, Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology. The bulk of this present monograph was written from June 1992 to April 1994, with roughly 20 percent of the material drawn from my thesis. That which was used, of course, has been thoroughly reworked, and I am amazed to see just how much I have learned personally through a fresh, wide-ranging encounter with the biblical text. It is liberating to derive one's theology and beliefs from the Scriptures, without having a prefabricated mold into which every passage and book must be squeezed. The reader can make his or her own judgment as to how faithful I have been to the task of honest interpretation.

When preparing the chapter on the prophetic literature, I regularly used my own translations of the Hebrew text. This has been retained in what is now chapter 4. However, as the project wore on, I felt that, for the most part, my own renderings added little to the argument, hence my primary use of the NIV elsewhere. When appropriate, I have suggested corrections to the NIV, and for comparison, I have made reference in particular to the New Jewish Version, since its overall approach and methodology often vary greatly from "Christian" versions.

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Table of Contents

Contents
Preface to Series
Preface
Abbreviations
Introduction
0.1. Purpose
0.2. Methodology
0.3. The Old Testament Language of Healing
0.3.1. The Root rampam’: Lexical and Etymological Discussion
0.3.2. The Root rampam’: Old Testament Usage and Meaning
0.3.3. The Old Testament Language of Healing: Additional Vocabulary
0.4. The Old Testament Terminology for Sickness
0.5. A Note on the Literature Cited
1. Human Physicians and Healing Deities
1.1. Introduction and General
1.2. Human Physicians
1.2.1. Human Physicians in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
1.2.2. Human Physicians in Canaan and Israel
1.3. Healing Deities
1.3.1. Healing Deities in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
1.3.2. Healing Deities in Ancient Syria-Canaan
1.3.3. Asklepios/Aesculapius
1.4. A Sampling of Jewish and Christian Views on Human and Divine Healing
1.4.1.Jewish Views
1.4.2. Christian Views
2. Israel’s Divine Healer in the Torah and Historical Books
2.1. Introduction: One God, One Healer
2.2. Foundations in the Torah
2.2.1 Exodus 15:26
2.2.2. Blessings and Curses
2.2.3.The Promise of Long Life
2.2.4. The Promise of Fertility
2.2.5. Deuteronomy 32:39 and Divine Smiting and Healing in the Torah
2.2.6. Infectious “Scale Diseases” and Sin in the Torah and Historical Books
2.2.7. Exodus 4:10–12
2.3. Divine Smiting and Healing in the Historical Books
2.3.1. Sickness as a Curse/Judgment Act in the Historical Books
2.3.2. Prophetic Healing in the Historical Books
2.3.3. 2 Kings 18:4 and neh.umshtamn
2.3.4.The Root rampam’ in 1 Kings 18:30; 2 Kings 2:21–22; 2 Chronicles 7:14; 30:20
3. Israel’s Divine Healer in Poetry and Wisdom Literature
3.1. The Book of Psalms
3.1.1. Sickness and Healing in the Psalms: Overview
3.1.2. The Classification of the Psalms of Sickness and Healing
3.1.3. Characteristic Elements of the Psalms of Sickness and Healing
3.1.4. The Physical, Emotional, Spiritual, and Social Condition of the Seriously Ill Petitioner
3.1.5. Sin, Sickness, and the “Enemies”
3.1.6. “One Foot in the Grave”
3.1.7. “The Living, the Living—They Praise You” (Isaiah 38:19a)
3.1.8. Sickness as Chastisement
3.1.9. The Healer of All Diseases (Psalms 103; 146; 147)
3.1.10. Psalm 91: A Psalm of Divine Protection
3.1.11. The Psalms of Sickness and Healing in the Life and Liturgy of Israel
3.2. The Book of Proverbs
3.2.1. Wisdom as the Path of Life and Health
3.2.2. Proverbs 3:7–8
3.2.3. marpem’ and ’ên marpem’: “Healing, Remedy, Cure” and “Without Healing, Remedy, Cure”
3.2.4. Further Psychosomatic Observations
3.3. The Book of Job
3.3.1. Overview
3.3.2. The Main Players
3.3.3. Epilogue: The Moral of the Story
3.4. The Book of Ecclesiastes
4. Israel’s Divine Healer in the Prophetic Books
4.1. The Prophets and the Restoration of Israel
4.1.1. “Sin-Sick” Israel and Its “Healing”
4.1.2. “Healing” in Hosea
4.1.3. “Healing” in Jeremiah
4.1.4. “Healing” in Isaiah
4.1.5. Faithless Shepherds and the “Healing” of the Flock
4.2. The Final “Healing” of the Nations and Israel
4.2.1 The Prophets and the Nations
4.2.2. Israel’s Eschatological “Healing”
5. Israel’s Divine Healer in the New Testament
5.1. Old Testament Healing and New Testament Healing
5.1.1. Continuity and Discontinuity
5.1.2. The New Testament Vocabulary of Healing
5.2. Aspects of the Healing Ministry of Jesus the Messiah
5.2.1. Healing and the Kingdom of God
5.2.2. Healing and the Eschatological Jubilee
5.2.3. Healing and the Holy Spirit
5.2.4. Healing and the Sabbath
5.2.5. Healing and Compassion
5.2.6. Healing and Faith
5.2.7. Healing and the Authentication of Jesus as Messiah
5.3.Sickness, Satan, Sin, and Suffering
5.3.1. Sickness an

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First Chapter

Preface
My interest in Israel's divine Healer is long-standing, both spiritually and academically. The origins of that interest, however, are unique and worth recounting. Raised in a Conservative Jewish home on Long Island, New York, I can only explain my teenage foray into the world of drugs and hard rock music as symptomatic of the times---those turbulent years of the late 60s and early 70s, the years of Woodstock idealism, the so-called Age of Aquarius. For me, a pleasure-seeking youth of just fifteen or sixteen, the rock/drug world was full of allure and temptation, and I plunged into that world with reckless abandon.
Little did I know that by the end of 1971, while still sixteen, I would experience a radical conversion in a small Italian Pentecostal church in Queens, New York. Drawn there with the sole purpose of pulling my two best friends (and fellow band members) out of the church and back to 'reality,' I was confronted instead with the love of God emanating from a sincere people who simply believed. Their testimony of God's life-changing power, their acceptance of this young, proud, stubborn rebel, and their eyewitness stories of miracles, healings, and deliverances seemed totally genuine. Soon enough, my resistance melted, faith came alive, and I surrendered. In a moment of time, I was free.
In the present context, there are two key events from those early days that are especially relevant. First, I experienced a sudden and dramatic healing of a bad and persistent case of hives, which had tormented me for days. The remission came in immediate answer to prayer after a frustrating week. Now I was an eyewitness. Second, at the behest of my dear father, I met the local rabbi. Pleased beyond words that I had given up my destructive ways, my father wanted me to 'return' to my traditions. Although I did not take the route they had envisioned, the relationship formed with that rabbi has endured for almost twenty-five years, and it was in direct response to his persistent prodding that I began to study Hebrew in college. At that time, I had not the faintest inkling that those studies would lead to serious Semitic scholarship.
But that is only part of the story. Life was not always so simple in my Pentecostal church. Why were many prayers for the sick not answered? Why was it that the more I read and learned, the more I questioned some of our doctrinal distinctives? By 1977, a separation came, and I became active in a church that was theologically and academically much more broad-minded, albeit certainly lacking in terms of those early, miraculous testimonies of which I had by now become skeptical. Then, in 1982--83, I and many others in the congregation experienced a dramatic spiritual renewal, prompting me to reconsider the relevance of what was then my working dissertation topic, 'Abbreviated Verbal Idioms in the Hebrew Bible.' In the light of eternity, was such a project worth the time and effort?
Along with this was a new problem: People were getting healed again in answer to prayer, but their theology, so far as I could tell, was askew, and their use of Scripture to support their position seemed amiss. The same held true, I thought, in even more pronounced fashion among the leading figures in public healing ministry. How could this be? Was it my view that needed adjustment? Or was God simply honoring honest, trusting hearts in spite of doctrinal error?
I was determined to understand as best I could the biblical views of God as Healer, and as one specializing in Old Testament and Semitics, the study of the Hebrew root rampam' seemed logical. Thus I began my exegetical and comparative philological study of rampam', completed as a New York University dissertation in 1985 under the tutelage of Baruch Levine. At the same time, I began to teach on the subject of healing in various popular and academic settings here and abroad, often praying for the sick as well. I can now add further eyewitness accounts of supernatural answers to prayer, along with some difficult stories of suffering, pain, and death, all in connection with seeking to minister to those in need.
In 1990, the idea of turning my rather technical (and not particularly edifying) dissertation into a book began to gel, and, at the request of a potential publisher, in 1991 I drafted a chapter on 'Israel's Divine Healer in the Prophetic Books,' greatly expanding and revising relevant portions of my thesis for a theological and biblical audience. It was to the credit of Len Goss at Zondervan Publishing House that the projected volume was deemed suitable for the nascent series, Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology. The bulk of this present monograph was written from June 1992 to April 1994, with roughly 20 percent of the material drawn from my thesis. That which was used, of course, has been thoroughly reworked, and I am amazed to see just how much I have learned personally through a fresh, wide-ranging encounter with the biblical text. It is liberating to derive one's theology and beliefs from the Scriptures, without having a prefabricated mold into which every passage and book must be squeezed. The reader can make his or her own judgment as to how faithful I have been to the task of honest interpretation.
When preparing the chapter on the prophetic literature, I regularly used my own translations of the Hebrew text. This has been retained in what is now chapter 4. However, as the project wore on, I felt that, for the most part, my own renderings added little to the argument, hence my primary use of the NIV elsewhere. When appropriate, I have suggested corrections to the NIV, and for comparison, I have made reference in particular to the New Jewish Version, since its overall approach and methodology often vary greatly from 'Christian' versions.
Read More Show Less

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