Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stroke in Bible

The book of Psalm was one of my favorite books of the Bible as a child. Many of those passages have been made into songs, extolling and praising the omnipotence of God. 
Image: uncyclopedia.wikia.com
But there are some chapters in Psalm that are less sympathetic; warning the people of the punishment that awaits them should they stray away from righteousness.

For instance, Psalm 137 reads:

If I forget you, Jerusalem, 
may my right hand forget its skill. 
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth 
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem 
my highest joy.

A group of researchers from the School of Medicine, Sao Paulo State University thinks that the passage actually refers to the symptoms of stroke.
Image: examiner.com
Stroke is the rapid loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. As a result, a stroke patient is unable to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, unable to formulate speech, etc. Hippocrates (460B.C~370B.C), the father of medicine, recognized stroke over 2,400 years ago. But the record in psalm dates to almost 600 B.C. In fact, the disease is called "stroke" because people originally believed that it was a result of being ‘struck down’ by God.
Image: freewebs.com
The researchers looked at Spanish, English, German, Dutch, Russian, Greek, and Hebrew versions to examine the consistency of the text and the variations in description of these curious physical effects. The combined description includes:

If I forget of you, oh Jerusalem, my right hand (my right side) shall dry, be paralyzed, loose its ability, its dexterity… 
That my tongue shall stick (shall be weakened, arrested) to my palate (in my throat), 
if I remember you, if I do not permit Jerusalem to be my greatest joy (if I do not sing of Jerusalem as my greatest joy) 

Both right-sided paralysis and loss of expressive speech are clear symptoms of a stroke of the left middle cerebral artery, where the blood flow is blocked – leading to the death of the surrounding brain tissue, suggesting that the Psalm may be wishing these effects on people who forget the importance of Jerusalem--mindhacks.com

So did the Hebrews know about stroke 600 years before Christ? Or is it just a matter of wrong interpretation?


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