slideshow widget

Saturday, April 4, 2015

870 B.C.: The first description of artificial resuscitation

Elijah resuscitating a child 
Similar to other ancient civilizations, the Jews believed life and death, and health and sickness, were the result of the desires of their God, the Lord. Likewise, in the rare cases when a person was believed to be dead and then brought back to life, this was due to the wishes of their God, the Lord.

No one knows what they called it, although by the 18th century it was referred to as reanimation, and by the mid 20th century it was referred to as resuscitation. Both terms work equally well, as animate comes from the Latin term anamatus which comes from anima, meaning "to give life to" or to breathe. It may also come from the Greed word anemos for wind. Likewise, suscitate is a Latin term for "to stir up or rouse." (1)

The first description of an animation or a suscitation was when, through Adam, God created Eve: 
Adam was all alone in the garden with no one to help him. So, God put Adam into a deep sleep and took one of his ribs and formed it into a woman to be Adam's wife. Adam named her "Eve."
The work of the Lord could also be done through a prophet.  The Lord God had many prophets over the years covered in the Bible, among the first was a prophet named Elijah.  He is believed to have lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel sometimes around 870 or 850 B.C.  

He is described as performing many miracles through the assistance of the Lord. In the First Book of Kings he is described as resuscitating (or reanimating). A Sidonian widow woman was taking care of him during a drought when her son fell ill and became apparently dead. She approached Elijah with the body of her son: 
Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
“Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”
Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” (Kings 1: 17-24)
The Sidonian widow at first appears to be angry at Elijah and his God for allowing her child to become sick and to die. Perhaps she doubts Elijah because she is a Sidonian widow and not an Israelite. Once the miracle is performed, she no longer has any doubts that he is a prophet of the Lord, and that he is a healer.

Elijah "stretched himself out on the boy three times." Why is this such a vague description? It was perhaps because the authors of the Bible were not concerned with what Elijah did, as all the Jewish people needed to know about medicine was that the Lord brings sickness and health. By obeying the Lord, the Lord will heal. By disobeying the Lord, the Lord will not heal. That's all people needed to know.

They did not need to know that Elijah was educated in all the wisdom of the land. They did not need to know that among his education involved knowledge of physics, chemistry, philosophy, mathematics, and medicine. They did not need to know that the procedure he performed on the boy was a method of artificial resuscitation. What he did, the method he used, was only eluded to because it did not matter. 

  1. Definitions come from, and, accessed 9/26/2013
RT Cave Facebook Page
RT Cave on Twitter
Print Friendly and PDF

No comments: