Plagues and People Chapter Notes:
Chapter 14: Leprosy, the Striking Hand of God:
•Job from the Old Testament probably suffered from leprosy, considered
the patron of lepers.
•Arose in the Far East around 1400 BC, description sin Hindu writings
and in Chinese literature.
•Claimed that it was brought from India to Greece in the 4 century BC
by soldiers of Alexander the Great OR spread from Far East to the
west along trade routes.
•Emperor Constantine suffered from leprosy and believed that bathign
in the blood of sacrificed children would cure him…
•Hebrew word saraath, was translated into Greek it became lepros, then
the Latinized version was lepra, and the English translation was
translated into leprosy.
•Leprosy became accepted as a divine punishment for the sins of the
•1179, lepers were told not to mix with crowds and use own contained to
draw water, not touch anything unless it was paid for first, where a
distinctive garment and announce presence with a bell or clapper.
•Henry II and Phillip V strapped lepers to a post and burned them
•Edward I was considered kinder he buried them alive instead.
•Refugee houses were established for them, called lazar houses or
lazarets (after Lazarus of Bethany who suffered from leprosy)
•Epidemic in the 12th century and peaked in Europe in the 13th and 14th
•In the 1300s leprosy may have retreated because of the rising incidence
of pulmonary tuberculosis, which led to resistance to leprosy.
•Leprosy spread from Spain and Africa to the Americas in the 16th and
•1860s Americans and Europeans who lived in Hawaii feared the
disease, so lepers were loaded onto ships and went to a settlement at
•1865 a leper colony was established on Molokai
•Father Damien joined the colony (stayed for 16 years) provided comfort
and compassion to them, did not avoid contact with them, and died in
1889 after contracting the disease.
•In 1894 in the state of Louisiana they established a home for lepers,
and was a neglected asylum.