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To the Editor:—
In The Journal, March 23, page 1106, Dr. Otto Neustatter takes issue with the view that the "emerods" referred to in I Samuel represent a syphilitic infection. It is interesting that this passage is usually cited by the historians of bubonic plague as one of the first recorded instances of that disease (Simpson, W. J.: Treatise on Plague, Cambridge, England, 1905). In support of this assumption is the more literal rendering of the Hebrew "ophlim" as "swellings." This term has been taken as implying the buboes of plague. An epidemic and highly fatal disease associated with swellings is descriptive of plague.Furthermore, the God of Israel was to be appeased by the making of "images of your mice that mar the land" (I Samuel 6:5). A preceding or concurrent murine epizootic has been frequently noted in the epidemics of the Black Death. It would seem that
Beck IA. EMERODS. JAMA. 1940;114(19):1950. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810190112026