Does Exodus 15:26 promise supernatural healing or that obedience to the Torah would bring health?

Exo 15:26 He said, "If you will carefully obey the LORD your God, do what is right in his eyes, listen to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, then I won't inflict on you all the diseases that I inflicted on the Egyptians, because I am the LORD your healer."

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1 Answer 1


Charles-Edward Amory Winslow (The Conquest of Epidemic Disease: A Chapter in the History of Ideas, pages 36-37) explains How the ancient Israelites viewed the occurrence of disease:

Among the Semitic peoples, the concept of disease as punishment for sin reaches its apogee ... In sharpest contrast with the prevailing demonology of the New Testament, as well as with Babylonian and Persian ideology, the overwhelming mass of references to disease in the Old Testament, from beginning to end, involve the higher concept of punishment for sin and the nobler gospel of righteousness as its only remedy.

In that context, Exodus 15:26 does not just promise supernatural healing or that obedience to the Torah would bring health, as we understand health today. Instead, this passage promises that God will not inflict disease on those who obey him. A parallel passage in Deuteronomy 7:15 does more clearly suggest supernatural healing, but once again the promise is that God will not inflict disease on those who obey him.

Deuteronomy 7:15: And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.

  • I was focused more on "I am YHVH your healer".
    – user10231
    Sep 4, 2016 at 3:07
  • I don't see where you updated the answer yet. I'm thinking you are saying that it is referring to supernatural healing, rather than the benefit of the Torah's instructions, yes?
    – user10231
    Sep 4, 2016 at 11:02
  • Yes, supernatural healing. As Winslow states, throughout the OT the overwhelming mass of references to disease involve punishment for sin; righteousness is its only remedy. So, for the Pentateuch in particular, diseases are a punishment from God, who chooses whether to inflict a disease. If diseases come from God, he also heals what he causes. My edit was just the addition of about two words, to clarify that God's powers include healing and not just infliction of disease. <Just noticed I did not link Winslow, so I'll do that now> Sep 4, 2016 at 21:47
  • Would you say that you are equating "not afflicting" with "healing"? Is "healer" being used in the sense of "the one who preserves your health" or something like that?
    – user10231
    Sep 5, 2016 at 1:08
  • No, because I say, "A parallel passage in Deut 7:15 does more clearly suggest supernatural healing." Deut 7:15 says "take away from thee all sickness." Though by a different author, the combined intent does seem clear: that God actually heals. After all, in OT terms disease comes from God as a punishment (in NT terms, disease is also supernatural, with Jesus forgiving the sins that resulted in this punishment). I can't say that the Ex or Deut passage attributes preservation of good health to God, in the broader sense of general well-being, because there is nothing there to suggest this. Sep 5, 2016 at 2:28

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