Levitical hand washing & the CoronaVirus

I was speaking to a friend at church who teaches Theology at a Catholic High school a few days ago and one of the things that she usually opens with are ways to verify the existence of God.

One of my favorite arguments for the existence of God came to mind when I saw piece after piece reminding you that one of the easiest ways to retard the Corona or other virus and flu is to simply wash your hands.

When it comes to preventing viral infections — especially those that spread via droplets from coughs and sneezes — washing the hands is always the first-line measure.

Now, in the midst of the recent coronavirus outbreak, correctly washing the hands remains public health officials’ top advice when it comes to controlling infection rates.

In their guidelines on how to prevent infection with the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) state that people should “[w]ash [their] hands frequently with soap and water.”

My “chapter old/new/psalms/Gospel a day or seven of each a week” system recently had me in Leviticus and one of the things that you see all over the place is in Levitical law is WASHING.

Washing cups, washing clothes, washing utensils, washing washing washing. And if you did any of the things that made you “unclean” (and thus needing to separate yourself from others) from touching a dead body to women in their periods, one of the things involved in becoming clean was you guessed it, washing. I tell you whoever had the washing concession among the people of Israel was going to make a fortune.

Why does this matter? Well consider that these are bronze age people who had a bronze age knowledge of Virus, disease, infection and microbes, which means practically none.

Yet somehow they were given a set of laws that mirrors basic advice on how to avoid the spread of germs. As I wrote ten years ago concerning Moses, the author of these books acting as God’s Stenographer concerning these laws:

Imagine him in the 21st century. Explain germs to him. Explain microbes to him, Explain the internal combustion engine, heart transplants and the internet to him. To say they would go over his head is the understatement of the year.

Leviticus doesn’t have God explaining to Moses what a virus was or how the spread of germs works. Instead he gives Moses laws and he accepts them, not because he has the eyes of modern man and understands that all of these rules concerning washing, avoiding blood, being “unclean”, becoming “clean” and avoiding things like promiscuity will help avoid disease among the hundreds of thousands of people packed together that he is managing, he accepts them simply as God’s laws because he is God’s man.

I submit it’s no coincidence that the Jews are one of the few ancient people whose cultural existence as they were still survives. Furthermore it seems to me that this would be a strong proof of the existence of God, after all if you were going to “choose” a people through whom the world would be blessed might you not give those people laws that give them an edge on survival?

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