Covid-19 is a worldwide killer pandemic. The Bible is a worldwide instruction manual. Here’s practical advice, revealed 3000 years ago.
Covid-19 and Bible quarantine. What a daunting subject. The Explanation has hesitated approaching this subject because Covid-19 is a real vicious killer disease, if not a plague from God, as the Bible would refer to it. Since it’s human-caused, what’s the human remedy? Yes, there’s the ultimate vaccination, but what about an intermediary solution? How can we stop, or at least slow down, the pandemic?
Covid-19 has reached such worldwide proportions and widespread impact that it is probably the biggest threat to humankind at the moment. Not only from a health point-of-view, but economically and socially it has plunged many people back into poverty and strife.
This is a very serious matter and you can’t open up a publication, or look on social media, or listen to radio without someone offering advice about covid-19. Be it scientific, medical, political, rumor, speculation, or grandmother’s remedy. In the end, we have confusion with neither authoritative advice nor reliable solutions.
To prepare for this article, I searched on Google for “Covid-19 Bible and Covid-19 Bible quarantine.” Do that exercise for yourself. The results reflect the shallowness of religion and spiritual organizations to rise to the occasion and support people, even beyond their congregation. Although The Explanation does not put a stamp of approval on anything, that’s not its role, I found one article with some sound advice. Terris King, a Pastor in Baltimore with many years of experience in the Health Field.
On the other hand, Religion has received a lot of bad press because of blatant decisions made by their leaders regarding negligence of covid-19. One major gathering In France resulted in 2500 positive cases, 17 deaths and infection around the world, Burkina Faso, Corsica, Guyana, Switzerland… the result of just one group.
The New York Times reported covid-19 virus infiltration of services throughout the USA. Hundreds of Covid-19 cases resulted from religious meetings that have respected no rules.
The virus has infiltrated Sunday sermons, meetings of ministers and Christian youth camps in Colorado and Missouri. It has struck churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers.
Pastors and their families have tested positive, as have church ushers, front-door greeters and hundreds of churchgoers. In Texas, about 50 people contracted the virus after a pastor told congregants they could once again hug one another. In Florida, a teenage girl died last month after attending a youth party at her church.
Here’s a report about how an ultra-orthodox religious community in Jerusalem is handling, or rather, mis-handling Covid-19.
More than a way of life, prayer and study are the means for protecting life itself. According to Jewish sages, “One who engages in Torah study also protects the entire world.” Indeed, “without Torah the world falls.”
The importance of engaging with the Torah explains why one prominent rabbi in Israel insisted even in March that “canceling Torah study is more dangerous than the coronavirus.”
Ultimately, the Israeli government intervened to enforce its coronavirus restrictions. On March 22, police were sent into Me’a She’arim, a Haredi neighborhood in Jerusalem, to end public gatherings, close synagogues and shutter schools.
They were met with curses, slurs and thrown stones. Some Haredim even called the Israeli police “Nazis.”
With all due respect, one point I don’t understand is that they are very attached to the 613 mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah, the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible. These laws include Leviticus 13, which recommends, if not, commands distancing or isolation. Applicable to Covid-19.
Whichever way you slice it, when it comes to contagion, mixing healthy and unhealthy is harmful.
The Principle of Separation
To understand the Bible’s approach to quarantine, health safety, and hence how to deal with epidemics and Covid-19, we must grasp a fundamental principle that underlies God’s entire approach to handling human beings. This might sound drastic, but there’s no middle ground. It’s yes or no, do or don’t, in or out, up or down.
In an age, in the 21st century, when the keyword is COMPROMISE, God’s outlook appears fundamentalist or extremist. You can’t help that feeling, you can only explain why it is so. God is not an adept of straddling the fence. Please, please keep in mind that The Explanation is discussing this ‘no middle ground’ in relation to quarantine and Covid-19. I don’t want to expand this subject but you know God also says, “love your enemy.” Now, that’s opposition and God favors that. Understand The Old and New Testament concepts, how they are not contradictory but complementary. That’s another subject.
Back to Covid-19 quarantine and this basic principle of separating two entities that should not be mixed. God addresses this principle on the first day of Creation in Genesis 1. That’s how vital it is. Understand the figurative meaning of night and day and the separation gulf between them. Read this article from the book Origin of the Universe. You know the term It was good, pronounced by God at the end of each day of creation, at the end of the first day when He separated light from dark. Well, that was is contrast to the it was bad state of affairs before God’s creative intervention.
God cuts through the Gordian Knot and calls a spade a spade.
Quarantine the meaning.
The definition of quarantine comes from forty days and dates back to the mid-14th century Bubonic plague in Europe. States established a cordon-sanitaire, a restricted sanitary area to restrain the movement of people. The area of Dubrovnik in Croatia was the first to do this on an island for 30 days. Later the Venetians extended it to 40 days because, for that plague, from infection to death was 37 days. They isolated ships, arriving from around the world, and particularly China for 40 (quarante) days. From which we get quarantine.
The scientific and medical concept of isolating people with infectious diseases is a common, if not a widespread phenomenon. The Bible story of Lazarus, covered with sores (Luke 16:20) lends his name to Lazarettos which were houses, ships or islands reserved for incurably sick people. One such is Lazaretto island, near Corfu, Greece. In the 16th century, it had a monastery that took care of the lepers confined there. Note that these colonies were not just people lying around on beds. Some had communities with their own currency for internal commerce. Something like a closed village. Among the earliest records of the establishment of a hospital for lepers is the Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, founded by Catholic crusaders around 1119.
Isolation and seclusion are not a recent phenomenon. Probably the oldest document to reveal this practice is the Bible. Leviticus 13 details what to do in case of contagion. This is a very exhaustive, descriptive account.
45 And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.
46 All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.
47 The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment, or a linen garment;
Read the entire chapter at UnlockBibleMeaning.com. Note that the Priests, specially appointed people from the tribe of Levi, who were descendants of the first Priest, Aaron, had the responsibility to oversee the proper functioning of this confinement. Priests have scientific and medical know-how. At least enough to identify boils. They also have decisional discretion to isolate people and houses. Even order the destruction of a house based on visible evidence (Lev. 14).
The events of the book of Leviticus take place in the Sinai desert where the Israelites camped for 40 years. Hence the reference to INside and OUTside the camp. Two distinct locations. Contagious people had to go OUT of the normal area into a specially reserved place for the contagious period of the disease. They were not outcasts left in a pitiful state with no sustenance. This place OUTSIDE the camp was equipped and livable. Not necessarily 5-star, as we’d say today, but sufficiently equipped and supplied to continue an appropriate existence. There would’ve been all the facilities to take care of the sick, in whatever state they were.
You can do a study at UnlockBibleMeaning.com on the phrase, “without the camp.” You’ll also find this term in the New Testament, In Hebrews 11, regarding an aspect of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice.
Contagious people are not necessarily bedridden. They can be just as active as any healthy individual. In which case, they can take part in the life and animation of their camp. This can include all the trades, professions, services needed for the village to function. These people were not lazy lie around, worthless individuals. According to their health, they could contribute their skills and know-how to the contagious community. They took part diligently until the Priest, upon examination, found they were no longer contagious, in which case, they went back IN the camp to continue their regular functions.
God cares for the healthy and the sick.
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan and settled in the land now called Israel, there was sickness and other reasons to separate certain people from the main dwelling centers. God instructed Moses, who passed on the information to future leaders. This instruction included the construction and reservation of three cities set apart to receive special justice cases. The Explanation will elaborate on this retention system to show how the Bible handles criminal issues.
The point is, criminals live SEPARATED from the general population. And putting OUT of the camp, removal from normal citizenship and life took place promptly after an infraction. There are practical ways of taking care of wrong-doers. I only bring it up here to point out that these three cities were separate, withIN the boundaries of the country but SEPARATE in their administration and contact with the rest of the country. This is another type of quarantine although, not for health purposes.
Quarantine is only efficient if acted on SWIFTLY. Nip the problem in the bud. This is where communication from the street-level, so to speak, has to filter its way to top governmental officials who have both the know-how to evaluate the situation and the authority to make rapid decisions to solve national problems. Only a global system can bring results.
You can read this article about Duke University in the USA. It understands that everyone, from top to bottom and bottom to top, must get involved. Testing, tracing, quarantine: How Duke will fight the coronavirus on campus this fall.
From daily symptom monitoring to isolation procedures, Duke is implementing testing, tracing and quarantining to combat the spread of the coronavirus on campus this fall.
All students living in the Durham area and faculty and staff (Sam: everyone) who regularly visit campus will also be required to complete a daily symptom-monitoring survey on an app.
Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, wrote that students will receive a daily text message at noon if they have not yet submitted the survey and will then have two hours to complete it before their DukeCard access is turned off (Sam: it’s on or off, no middle-ground). Once the survey is completed, their DukeCard will automatically turn back on or trigger clinical outreach depending on their survey answers.
Schoenfeld wrote in a message to The Chronicle that students who live in Duke housing and need to be quarantined will be transported and housed in East House and Jarvis residence halls on East Campus.
That last paragraph reveals that Duke has allocated two SEPARATE dorms to quarantine positively tested students. Total isolation, no if, buts or maybes. They remain in this confined space where they can continue their studies and follow all lectures remotely. Food and medical care, along with all other amenities, take place within those confines.
- Competent management and organization
- Swift massive testing and results
- Swift separation into adequately prepared quarters
- Swift quarantine under proper circumstances and supervision
These are the practical ways to contain the covid-19 pandemic.
This takes organization from top-level to ground-level. It is difficult, especially if you don’t have the proper organizational skills and authority in place and the ability to enforce the rules. But, as they say, that’s the cost of doing business.
You’re in or you’re out
In the study of Genesis 3, in Agony of Humankind, I pointed out how God put the man and woman out of the Garden of Eden. Sounds very negative, but God is planning long-term, not short-term, and this expulsion, under the right circumstances, is necessary. It’s a positive step to help them reclaim their spiritual health.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Let’s look at the deeper meaning of the Biblical Hebrew for drove out.
גָּרַשׁ gârash gaw-rash’; a primitive root; to drive out (H1644) from a possession; especially to expatriate or divorce:
KJV – cast up (out), divorced (woman), drive away (forth, out), expel, ⨯ surely put away, trouble, thrust out.
Adam and Eve became spiritually unhealthy, Their behavior altered their minds. They were no longer in harmony with the Garden’s proper spiritual attitude that characterizes God and His Garden. He expelled them, cast them out. You might think that sounds horrible coming from God. But the Bible makes it clear. If you’re not in conformity with the ethics, environment, behavior, health of a particular place, you don’t belong there. God quarantined, so-to-speak, Adam and Eve to Eden, still a beautiful location and He continued to take care of them. They were OUT of the Garden.
Later we find the same expulsion of Cain from Eden. “Behold, you (God) have driven me (Cain) out (H1944) this day from the face of the earth,” (Genesis 4:14).
Be it physical or spiritual, the result it the same. A separation takes place. We find exactly the same principle in the New Testament, “But them that are without God judges. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person,” (1 Corinthians 5:13).
God put out Adam, Eve and Cain. Identical for the wicked person. But the goal is always to bring people back into the fold, INto the camp. You maybe have never thought about it, or never received instruction about it, but Adam, Eve, and Cain are not on the OUTside forever. If God put them out DEFINITIVELY for eating one fruit from the forbidden tree then, where’s His mercy? They will come out of spiritual quarantine just like billions of others. Again, that’s another story. The point here is not spiritual but physical health covid-19 quarantine.
The goal is to find out who is contagious and to isolate and treat them as quickly as possible. And, once over this period, remove them from quarantine. That’s exactly the role of the Priests in Leviticus 13. They see evidence for putting people in quarantine, just as they see evidence for removing those same people from quarantine and re-immersing them in full life with their family and loved ones.
Practicality of the Bible for the 21st century
Having read this far, realize the sensibility of this delicate but oh so important subject that is timely and global. Not only does the Bible address this issue, but it is the first book to do so. There have been leper colonies historically, but it is not until the 14th century, over 2000 years since Leviticus was written, that we see quarantine mentioned in literature.
Realize that in Leviticus you have a Leader governing a full-fledged nation. There is a group of designated and trained leaders who oversee this nation and who receive down-to-earth guidelines to follow and apply in the specific case of contagious diseases. This is just one aspect of the Health Ministry, (if I may call it that to make you realize how up-do-date this instruction is) for taking care of this nation.
It’s not just a description of quarantine. Leviticus and elsewhere are all about a governmental system with procedures to follow. Old Testament Israel was a nation of hundreds of thousands of people, men, women and children. They were just like all other nations. Hard-headed, stiff-necked, and difficult to govern. Their advantage was they received ALL the PRACTICAL laws and regulations to run that nation efficiently and successfully.
One of the most important and overlooked passages of scripture is about national government.
4 But you that did cleave to the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day (Sam: Just before entering the Promised Land).
5 Behold, I (Moses) have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who has God so near to them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
This is the common sense of scripture. Read those verses again. God, through Moses, about 3,500 years ago gave His nation laws that are valid for ALL nations at ALL times. God never abandoned His people, ALL the people in the world. It is all the people in the world that abandoned God. He clothed Adam and Eve, gave Moses all the procedures for running a nation, gave Solomon Proverbs so all people can know how to run their lives. Yes, there’s a certain adaptability over time, but ALL the practical basics are there. Quarantine in the Covid-19 crisis is just one of them. These Bible laws are VALID in today’s society.
During the Covid-19 crisis, more and more people are turning to the Bible for answers. One goal of The Explanation is to show you that the Bible is relevant for the 21st century. It’s a manual with practical solutions to current problems. The answers are there; it shows us how to fight Covid-19; we need to learn how to dig out the gems of wisdom.
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