The woman with flowing blood (Lk 8:43-8:43)

“A woman

Had been suffering

From flowing blood

For twelve years.

Although she had spent

All that she had

On physicians,

No one

Could cure her.”

 

καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος ἀπὸ ἐτῶν δώδεκα, ἥτις οὐκ ἴσχυσεν ἀπ’ οὐδενὸς θεραπευθῆναι

 

This episode about the woman with flowing blood interrupted the story about the synagogue leader and his dying daughter.  However, it can be found in Matthew, chapter 9:20, Mark, chapter 5:25, and Luke here.  Thus, Mark might be the source.  Luke said that a woman had been suffering from flowing blood (καὶ γυνὴ οὖσα ἐν ῥύσει αἵματος) for 12 years (ἀπὸ ἐτῶν δώδεκα).  Although she had spent all that she had on physicians (ἰατροῖς προσαναλώσασα ὅλον τὸν βίον), no one could cure her (ἥτις οὐκ ἴσχυσεν ἀπ’ οὐδενὸς θεραπευθῆναι).  This phrase about spending all her money on physicians was only in the Byzantine text.  Mark, like Luke, who probably followed him, said that she had suffered from flowing blood, rather than hemorrhages.  All agree that she had been suffering for 12 years with this bleeding.  Mark and Luke had a more elaborate story, about her background.  Mark said that she had endured or greatly suffered much under many physicians.  Thus, she had spent all her money.  Instead of helping her get better, she had actually become worse.  She was in a desperate situation.  Interesting enough, the word that Matthew used for hemorrhages (αἱμορροοῦσα) is only found there, but nowhere else in the biblical literature.  Mark and Luke said that she had flowing blood.  All agree that she had been suffering for 12 years with this bleeding.  Could you suffer something for 12 years?

Who will heal them? (Jer 8:21-8:22)

“I am hurt

For the hurt

Of my poor people.

I mourn.

Dismay has taken hold on me.

Is there no balm in Gilead?

Is there no physician there?

Why then has the health

Of my poor people

Not been restored?”

Jeremiah is hurting for his poor people. He is mourning because he is dismayed. There is no healing with the balm from Gilead, on the other side of the Jordan River. There were no physicians to help them. The health of his poor people was not being restored. In fact, it was deteriorating instead of getting better.

Physicians (Sir 38:1-38:8)

“Honor physicians

For their services!

The Lord created them.

Their gift of healing

Comes from the Most High.

They are rewarded by the king.

The skill of the physicians

Makes them distinguished.

In the presence of the great men,

They are admired.

The Lord created medicines

Out of the earth.

The sensible ones

Will not despise them.

Was not water made sweet

With a tree?

Thus its power might be known.

He gave skill to human beings.

Thus he might be glorified

In his marvelous works.

By them,

The physician heals.

He takes away pain.

The pharmacist makes a mixture

From them.

God’s works

Will never be finished.

From him,

Health spreads over all the earth.”

Were physicians thought of as witch doctors or a kind of false idol worship? Sirach has a strong defense of these physicians. They are actually continuing the creative work of the Most High God with his gift of healing to the people. These distinguished and admired medical doctors are honored by kings because of their skills. The Lord has created healing medicines from the earth. Do not despise their human skills that heal and take away pain. The pharmacists make these mixtures to help the work of God, whose work is never finished. Thus health will spread over all the earth. Sirach has a definite pro-physician and pro-pharmacist attitude, unlike some Christian Scientists who are against medical doctors.

Pride (Sir 10:6-10:13)

“Do not get angry

With your neighbor

For every injury!

Do not resort to acts of insolence!

Arrogance is hateful to the Lord.

Arrogance is hateful to mortals.

Injustice is outrageous to both also.

Sovereignty passes

From nation to nation.

This happens

On account of injustice,

On account of insolence,

On account of wealth.

How can dust be proud?

How can ashes be proud?

Even in life,

The human body decays.

A long illness baffles the physician.

The king of today

Will die tomorrow.

When one is dead,

He inherits

Maggots,

Vermin,

And worms.

The beginning of human pride

Is to forsake the Lord.

The heart has withdrawn

From its Maker.

The beginning of pride

Is sin.

The one who clings to it

Pours out abominations.”

You should not get mad with your neighbor over any perceived injuries. Do not become insolent! Arrogance is hateful to God and humans. Injustice is outrageous to the Lord and your neighbor. Sovereignty passes from one country to another because of injustice, insolence, and wealth. This is not a pretty picture. How can humans made of dust and ashes be proud? Their body will decay no matter what. Sometimes it is a baffling long illness that even physicians do not know how to cure. Even the king of today will be dead and gone tomorrow. When you die, the maggots, the vermin, and the worms will take over your body. Pride starts when you give up on the Lord and Creator. Sin is the beginning of pride. If you cling to it, there will be abominations all over the place.

The blinding of Tobit (Tob 2:9-2:10)

“That same night I washed myself. I went into my courtyard. I slept by the wall of the courtyard. My face was uncovered because of the heat. I did not know that there were sparrows on the wall. Their fresh droppings fell into my eyes. The droppings produced white films. I went to physicians to be healed. However, the more they treated me with ointments the more my vision was obscured by the white films, until I became completely blind. All my kindred were sorry for me. Ahikar took care of me for two years before he went to Elymais.”

Washing was important for ritual purity after touching dead bodies. After Tobit washed himself, he lay out in the courtyard because it was hot. He slept by the wall of the courtyard. Somehow he left his eyes open so that sparrow droppings fell into his eyes, the way that sparrow droppings fall on modern parked cars. He had some kind of white film on his eyes that led to blindness. Although he went to physicians, they only made the situation worse. This is the first biblical mention of an attempt at a cure that does not have a religious base. Everyone felt sorry for him. However, it was nephew, the well connected Ahikar who took care of him. There is no mention of his wife or son helping him. After 2 years, Ahikar had an assignment to go to Elymais, a rich city in Persia, south of Media and north of Susiana.