By Dana Ullman MPH
The homeopathic principle of similars is recognized in several places in The Bible, as well as in many other writings from various religious traditions. Homeopathy has a history of appreciation and advocacy, including from SEVEN different popes in the 19th and 20th century (as cited in Dana Ullman’s book The Homeopathic Revolution: Why Famous People and Cultural Heroes Choose Homeopathy, North Atlantic Books/Random House, 2007).
Numbers xxi: The law of similars and the origins of the cadeusus:
6. And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
7. Therefore, the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
8. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.
9. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
After Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, he saw the people of Israel idolizing a golden calf:
20. And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
This chapter deals with the duties in which a religious person should clear or purify the unclean and those who have touched or cleaned the dead. The material that purifies is made from the burnt ashes of the Red Heifer (cow).
Ex. 15:23-25 and II Kings 2:19-22
Scripture gives us two specific descriptions of purifying bitter water, from which we can learn about the healing process. The first instance describes the arrival of the Children of Israel at Mara after three days in the Shur Desert without water:
…but they could not drink any water there because the water was bitter…and the people complained to Moses. “What shall we drink?” they demanded. When [Moses] cried out to G-d, He showed him a certain tree. [Moses] threw [a small branch of] it into the water, and the water became drinkable.
It was here that [G-d] taught them a decree and a law, and there He tested them. He said, “If you obey G-d your Lord and do what is upright in His eyes, carefully heeding all His Commandments and keeping all His decrees, then I will not strike you with any of the sicknesses that I brought on Egypt. I am the G-d Who heals you. (Ex. 15:23-25)
In his commentary on the Torah, Rabbeinu Bachya quotes the Talmud Sages who say that originally the water had been fresh. It turned bitter (as an additional test in the series of trials in the desert) and then was made sweet again by a bitter branch.
Another example that Rabbeinu Bechayeh gives of water desalination is found when Elisha comes to Jericho after the miracles of Elijah ascending to Heaven and the Jordan River splitting open:
And the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord may see; but the water is bad, and the ground causes untimely births.”
And [Elisha] said, “Bring me a new flask and put salt in it.”
And they brought it to him. And they went out to the spring of waters, and cast salt in there, and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; there shall not be from there any more death or miscarriages.” So the water was healed to this day, according to the saying of Elisha… (II Kings 2:19-22)
Human beings heal bitterness by sweetening it, but G-d heals bitterness with bitterness.