Six items appear below:
1   Good Health Through The Bible  J Holman
2    Re: Josef Holman's article…  Atheist
3    Jews, Assyrians, Minoans and Germans Anonymous
4    Food for Thought  H Edwards
5    Faeces – For Food, Fuel or Fags? J Holman
6    Faeces for Fuel or Food in Ezekiel 4? H Edwards


Josef Holman.

(Investigator 89, 2003 March)

The Bible includes many commonsense principles of good health. The Old Testament contains many injunctions which relate to health. If they had been put into practice, the world's disease toll would have been drastically cut.

Until the close of the 17th century, however, hygienic conditions in cities were generally deplorable. Excrement and filth were often dumped into the streets. Flies, breeding in the filth, spread and carried disease to millions.

The principle of burying excrement and filth was given by the Scriptures over 1400 years before Christ. In Deuteronomy, God told Moses and the children of Israel:

"You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it; and you shall have a stick with your weapons; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement" (23:12-13, RSV)

One medical historian, Arturo Castiglioni, said:

"The regulations in Deuteronomy as to how soldiers should prevent the danger of infection coming from their excrement by covering it with earth constitute a most important document of sanitary legislation".

Castiglioni continued:

"Study of Biblical texts appears to have demonstrated that the ancient Semitic peoples, in agreement with the most modern tenets of epidemiology, attributed more importance to animal transmitters of disease, like the rat and the fly, than to the contagious individual."

Three thousand years later, when the bubonic plague devastated Europe, this knowledge had generally been lost. Some blamed noxious fumes in the air; some thought it was caused by a conjunction of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn; yet others blamed the Jews, and many blamed God. The world did not wake up to the importance of hygiene and cleanliness until about the end of the 18th century.

Yet vital principles of sanitation and cleanliness were expounded by God to Moses almost 3,500 years ago. The biblical laws of cleanliness, washings and purification were not all merely customs or rituals. They protected the camp of Israel from the dangers of contagious diseases and deadly plagues.

In the Bible greater stress was placed upon PREVENTION of disease than was given to the treatment of bodily ailments, and in this no race of people, before or since, has left us such a wealth of laws relative to hygiene and sanitation as the Hebrews.

One has but to read the book of Leviticus carefully and thoughtfully to conclude that the admonitions of Moses contained therein are, in fact, the groundwork of most of today's sanitary laws. As one closes the book, he must, regardless of his spiritual leanings, feel that the wisdom therein expressed regarding the rules to protect health are superior to any which then existed in the world and that to this day they have been little improved upon.

Unfortunately, even in our modern world we sometimes ignore the vital importance of sanitation and hygiene in combating and preventing illness and contagion. Our modern cities are becoming increasingly congested, polluted, filthy and dirty. Garbage strikes pose serious health problems. Our air is becoming unfit to breathe because of pollution. Our water is becoming increasingly contaminated with industrial chemicals, urban wastes and a host of modern pollutants unheard of even thirty years ago.

As we read in chapter two, proper diet is important in the prevention of disease. Leviticus 11 enumerates the dietary laws which God gave ancient Israel. Among other things, He forbade them to eat the flesh of pigs (swine), rabbits and shellfish. (Lev. 11:6-12)

Many of these make good sense. The prohibition of hare and swine as sources of food certainly must have diminished the incidence of disease in view of the capacity of these animals to transmit tularemia (an infectious disease) and trichinosis, respectively. The transmission of gastrointestinal infections (including typhoid fever) via polluted shellfish or water also testifies to the apparent wisdom of the Hebrews in warning against such sea food and impure water.

Another interesting Old Testament law forbade the eating of animal fat. This also has proven a valuable health practice. President Eisenhower while he was in the White House, once quoted Leviticus 7:23: "You shall eat no fat of ox, or sheep, or goat". As we know, animal fats are high in cholesterol, a fatty, waxy material which the body needs in limited amounts. The body's inability to properly metabolize cholesterol in some cases, however, may be a contributing factor in some forms of heart disease.

The fastest-spreading contagious disease in the Western world today is venereal disease. Medical authorities know that V.D. is spread through sexual contact. As long as there is promiscuity and "free sex", there is bound to be venereal disease. But the solution to this terrible global curse is as simple as it is ancient: "Shun immorality! Any other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body" (I Cor. 6:18, Moffat translation). The growing incidence of this growing epidemic speaks eloquently of the need for prevention.

Thousands of years ago, biblical standards of morality safeguarded against this plague that can blight the lives of yet unborn generations. There is no safe, reliable cure for this disease – except prevention.

When God created mankind He said: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). If this one basic scriptural principle of faithful monogamy were followed today, the world would see the end of venereal disease. If the Bible's scriptural wisdom were faithfully followed today by all Christians and non-Christians alike, the world would see the end of many other diseases!

Strictly speaking, of course, the Bible is not a health text book or medical manual. But it does lay the foundation of knowledge, and reveals many health laws which mankind has required thousands of years to rediscover.

Re: Josef Holman's article
"Good Health Through The Bible"


(Investigator 90, 2003 May)

It is an interesting exercise to compare this article with others contributed by the author. Distinct differences in grammar, syntax and style are noticeable suggesting more than one writer. However, some of the misconceptions contained therein need be addressed.

Paras 2 & 3. While it is true that hygienic conditions in past centuries left much to be desired it must not be overlooked that many ancient civilisations had sophisticated water reticulation and drainage systems.

The Harappans at Mohenjo-daro in the Indus River Basin for example had excellent brick lined sanitary drainage systems in 2,500 BC. The Minoans in Crete (circa 2000-1400 BC) also had highly developed sanitary facilities flushed with water. God didn't pass out plans for their construction nor make injunctions. For bodies of people in transit such as soldiers on the march and nomadic tribes such as the Tuaregs and Moors it was not practical nor viable to build permanent sewage systems.

As for burying the crap, I would have thought it self-evident without having to be told. However it is more desirable than God’s other command to "eat it" (Ezek. 4.12).

Paragraph 5. Rather than knowing that disease was transmitted by animals and flies I was under the impression that the ancients thought that disease was possession by evil spirits. Malaria for instance, one of the most ancient infections known to man, was identified in the 5th century BC by Hippocrates. The exact roles of the mosquito and the malarial parasite were not known until the beginning of' the 20th century however. This killer of nearly 3,000,000 people annually was only one of many diseases whose method of transmission the ancients could not possibly have been aware.

Page 2, paragraphs 3, 4 & 5. Evidently the writer is not acquainted with the laws governing pollution otherwise he would know of the stringent measures taken to counter pollution and contamination and to protect the environment. I sometimes think that we live in a world almost too hygienic for our own good – we don't get the chance to develop natural immunity.

Page 3, paragraphs 3 & 4. These appear to have been taken straight from a Bible lesson – and not a particularly recent one. They refer to venereal disease (syphilis and gonorrhoea), promiscuity and ‘free sex’ – buzzwords in the '60s and '70s. No mention of AIDS. To say "that thousands of years ago biblical standards of morality safeguarded against this (VD) plague" is hardly bourn out when one ploughs through the litany of immoral acts enumerated in the Bible and recalls the ignorance and sexual taboos fostered by religious zealots during the Dark Ages.

Page 3, paragraph 6. The Bible is not a font of health or medical information nor does it lay the foundation of knowledge. To put to rest the claim that mankind is "rediscovering" health laws enumerated in the Bible one needs only to consider the advances in medicine we make almost on a daily basis. They represent the results of modern medical research and development – not "rediscovery". This evidences the writer’s deplorable lack of awareness of the health aspects of the society in which we live.



(Investigator 91, 2003 July)

90 page 46 says, "As for burying the crap [human excrement]…it is more desirable than God’s other command to eat it."

Ezekiel 4:12 says the Jews would use human dung – not to "eat" but as fuel to bake bread. It wasn’t a command but a prophecy of their future desperation.

On another occasion the Assyrians warned besieged Jews they would "eat their own dung" unless Jerusalem surrendered. (Isaiah 36:12) This probably referred to starving people picking undigested grain from human excrement and re-using it. This has happened in modern times too. In 1943 after the Battle of Stalingrad some starving German prisoners survived by retrieving undigested millet and corn from latrine ditches, washed it and re-ate it. (Craig, W 1973 Enemy At The Gates, Page 392)

The Mosaic Law required the burial of human excrement. This was sanitary compared to numerous cities where, until recent centuries, it was thrown into the streets.

The Minoans had a "highly developed sanitary system" but built it in the wrong place – a volcano exploded and wiped out their civilization in 1628 BC. The "promised land" of the Jews has suffered no comparable natural disaster in 4,000 years and, in that sense, was a better choice!



H Edwards

(Investigator 92, 2003 September)

In #91 p5 Anonymous alleges that God did not command the Jews to eat crap (human excrement/dung). But to use it as a fuel. While he quotes Ezek 4:12 he omits verse 13 which reads:

"And the Lord said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them."
As 'Defile' means 'debase by making impure' there can be no doubt that the command refers to polluted bread and not fuel.

Harry Edwards


Josef Holman,

(Investigator 93, 2003 September)

In Investigator No. 92, page 6, Harry Edwards writes: "…Anonymous alleges that God did not command the Jews to eat crap (human excrement/dung). But to use it as fuel."

Harry claims Anonymous quoted Ezekiel 4:12 but omitted verse 13 which reads: "And the Lord said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them".

He then explains: "As ‘Defile’ means ‘debase by making impure’ there can be no doubt that the command refers to polluted bread and not fuel."

I read Ezekiel from 4:3 to 4:17 and agree with Anonymous that God DID NOT command the Jews to eat human excrement or cow dung. Rather they would use the cow droppings in dry form as fuel.

The religious Jews believed the bread to be "polluted" if baked over the fumes from burning dung. They were convinced their bodies and spirit therefore must be "defiled" or they will suffer condemnation after eating such "debased" food. As part of their punishment that God imposed on the people of Israel they were not permitted to use any other type of fuel normally used for baking bread. Bread was an essential part of most meals.

Even if the bread was actually "polluted" by the fumes from burning dry cow dung it would still be quite eatable and certainly better than dying from starvation which clearly threatened the Jewish exiles. (Ezekiel 4: 16, 17)

The fumes from burning dry cow dung are unlikely to adversely affect the nutritional value of the bread or the taste of the soft, moist dough before it is baked and removed from the oven.

Fresh cow dung has been used in folk medicine as an application on lesions to reduce the pain or swelling of sprains, sore muscles, bruises, and even broken bones. Cows graze on grass, plants, herbs and roots, some of which contain proven medicinal (healing or curative) properties!

Cow dung, unlike the dung from many other animal species, doesn't smell too unpleasantly to most human noses.

It seems that the established traditions of the Jewish people prevented Ezekiel and the exiled people of Israel from feeling anything but "impure" or "defiled". In contrast, people of non-Jewish religion did not seem to consider themselves physically or spiritually "polluted" when they had to use cow or camel dung because of poverty or shortage of oil and wood for cooking or heating.

During the last century it was fairly common in some poor countries to see farm labourers, who worked for board and lodging only, rolling their own cigarettes in pieces of old newspaper, or filling their pipes hand-carved from oak or chestnut tree branches, with sun-dried cow droppings mixed with a little pulverised hay.

Obviously, the peasants did not give one hoot about being "defiled" by using this stuff. So long as they had SOMETHING to inhale and pollute their lungs with in place of true tobacco, they were quite happy. They were ignorant of the fact that this was a health hazard similar to smoking real tobacco and they were inviting a premature demise from some respiratory disease.

Back to Ezekiel 4:12. If Harry Edwards was suggesting the Jews were forced to eat "crap" (human excrement/dung), not bread of mixed grains and dried legumes "polluted" from fumes of burning dry cow dung, he is wrong.


Harry Edwards

(Investigator 94, 2004 January)

Josef Holman’s interpretation of Ezekiel 4:12-13 is quite persuasive and he may be correct. (#93 p21). The exchange simply highlights one of the principal objections to the alleged accuracy of the Bible – so much is open to interpretation.

Take for example Anonymous v Dowling (#93 p24) regarding the translation of "almah". Who is to be the final arbiter?

Dozens of Bible debates, investigating the accuracy of the Bible are on this website: