Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Word of the Day: Emerods

It's King Jameslish for "haemorrhoids". They're mentioned in the Old Testament three times.

The first mention of emerods is in Deuteronomy 28, where Moses spells out the dire consequences that will befall the Israelites if they did not keep The Lord's commandments:
15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
27 The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.
There's an impressive list of other curses between verses 16 and 27 - and an equally impressive list of curses to follow, starting with "madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart". Madness and blindness are pretty serious shit, so it seems reasonable to infer that emerods, and the other curses listed in verse 27 are fairly dire divine punishments - more so than the pestilence which heads up the list (at verse 21 - verses 17 to 20 specify where and when the curses will apply).

Emerods are next mentioned - twice - in the first book of Samuel. Chapter 5 describes how the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant and placed it in the temple of their god, Dagon in Ashdod. This brought upon the inhabitants of Ashdod the wrath of the lord:
6 But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof.
7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god.
The Ark was transferred to Gath where:
... the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
Naturally, the citizens of Gath decided that they didn't want the Ark in their city, so it was sent on to Ekron, where:
... there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
12 And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
In Chapter 6, the Philistines decide to rid themselves of the Ark, in the hope that The Lord will stop piling on the punishments. However the return of the Ark, in itself, was judged insufficient:
2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords.
5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
Once the images of the emerods and mice were made they were to be placed in a coffer and taken, with the Ark, on a cart drawn by two milk cows to Beth-Shemesh. This suggests that the images of the emerods, at least, were not life size (if they were they would hardly have made much of an offering) but scaled up to some degree. And likewise, no doubt the mice.

In the New Testament there are several accounts of Jesus performing remarkable cures - on a dead man, a lunatic and sundry lepers. I can't recall ever hearing, or reading, that he ever cured a man stricken with the emerods. If I were a Bible-believing Christian, with emerods, I'd be a little concerned about that.

Hat tip to Voltaire, for the story of the golden images.