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Michael Brown: Israel’s Divine Healer

978031020029Israel’s Divine Healer. Michael Brown. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995. Pp. 462.

For those who believe that God miraculously heals today, this book is a decisive argument in their favor. I am not aware of any other book that so thoroughly offers a theological and exegetical foundation for divine healing, especially from the Hebrew Scriptures and the perspective of Messianic fulfillment in the New Testament.

Part of the Studies in Old Testament Biblical Theology series edited by William VanGemeren and Tremper Longman III, the author of this work has come to be well known to many classical Pentecostals in recent years. Dr. Michael Brown finished this book before his tenure as the Messianic Jewish scholar of the “Brownsville Revival” in Pensacola, Florida.

Brown begins with a detailed word study of various roots associated with “healing” in the Hebrew Scriptures. Even those unfamiliar with Hebrew will see quickly the holistic understanding of “healing” in the Jewish mind. Just as salvation is not mere fire insurance, healing—as understood in Hebrew—includes all aspects of restoration to “full” life.

Next, Brown looks at human physicians and ancient healing deities to establish the similarities and distinction between Israel and its ancient neighbors. He notes that minor injuries (cuts, fractures) were taken care of by natural means while internal and serious conditions (fevers, severe pain) were always seen as an attack from something outside of man. Brown uses numerous examples to demonstrate that it was “normal” to have physicians in ancient times that set bones and treated wounds, and (at least in Israel) without necessarily invoking magic or the supernatural. One point of interest in this chapter is the debunking of 2 Chron. 16:12 as a general critique of physicians and modern medical practice. Brown argues that the context of Asa’s reign and early major victory demands that Asa languished in his disease of the feet not because he made inquiry (Brown says that the word for the “inquiry” Asa made always has a spiritual connotation—this was more a visit to a witchdoctor than a family practitioner) of physicians but because he relied on the arm of flesh and not God. Godless trust in man was Asa’s sin, not trust in doctors. Brown says “To the ancient and Near Eastern—and biblical!—mind, it was impossible to countenance a major god/God who did not heal” (p. 53, emphasis his). Even the Greeks combined doctor and savior as complimentary (p. 59). There are also numerous explanations of rabbinic thought, as diverse as it was, on the subjects of healing and physicians.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Fall 2001

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996, working with Information Services and Supply Chain Management for more than two decades. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. LinkedIn

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