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Bible meets pandemic: Thou shalt not COVID thy neighbour’s ox? | Marcel Strigberger

Friday, June 25, 2021 @ 2:36 PM | By Marcel Strigberger

Marcel Strigberger %>
Marcel Strigberger
The waning COVID-19 pandemic might be becoming history. However, as we have seen, plagues have ways of repeating history. Were there plagues in biblical times? Could the nasty events in the Bible have been different had the times also experienced a viral pandemic? How would the characters have handled the legal ordinances?

How for example would Adam and Eve have eaten the forbidden fruit in the midst of a pandemic; OK, a pandemic for two? To entice them to take the nibbles, the serpent would have had to be even more convincing: “Thou mayest eat of the tree of knowledge. Thou shalt not die. I’ve followed the Garden Guidelines. For your information, the fruit has been washed. And look, it’s all individually boxed.”   

Then we have the incident of Cain slaying his brother Abel. I suggest Abel may have sensed Cain’s hostility and he was likely watching his back. Cain would have had to lure him out into the open. 

“Hey Abel. Come out of the cave and let’s chat. We’re all legal; I’m wearing a mask.”

Fast forward to Methuselah. He lived to the ripe old age of 971 years. Had there been a pandemic I’m sure there must have been some sort of health-care system of the day to deal with it. No doubt they would come up with a magic potion. The healers would discuss administration:

“Hey Zoshi, let’s first give it to Methuselah. After all he is a senior; over 565 years old.”

“Hold on Egad. What if he gets an allergic reaction? He’s high risk; I heard he’s allergic to eggs.”

“No problem there. We’ll get him to first sign a release.”

And how would Noah have dealt with a pandemic? Firstly, as it was, it took him many decades to even build the ark. With a pandemic, would he have been able to even procure all his building materials in a timely manner? Then again, supposedly the local government would not have hindered him or his helpers, noting that construction is deemed to be an essential service.

One thing for sure, we can all agree given Noah’s presence in the ark for months, virus or no virus, the flood incident constituted the first ever official lockdown. He certainly spent his time on the ark within his social bubble. And certainly, there was zero risk of him getting ticketed for violating any curfew.

I would feel sorry for him, actually, as there was not much he could do to leisurely pass the time. I doubt he would tell Mrs. Noah in the evening, “How about we binge watch the hippos.”

When finally he did exit the ark, what did he see? A rainbow. Maybe had there been a pandemic then, would he have said something like, “Shem, Ham and Japheth? I wonder if we’ll soon see a flattening of that curve?”

Hey, I’m speculating.

Let’s not forget the story of Joseph and his brothers, who almost killed him out of jealousy over his coat of many colours. Instead, given the intervention of one remorseful brother, they decided to sell him to some passing caravan. Genesis does not give us too many details, but I doubt government rules or restrictions would not have been breached, as this was a clear sale via curbside pickup.

Which brings me to Moses. Interestingly, of the 10 plagues which descended upon Pharaoh and the Egyptians, not one really resembled COVID-19. I’m not saying there is anything to rave about with fleas, frogs and boils. But these plagues were all short lived and they did not require daily diagnostic testing.

Had the departing Hebrews have to face what we have now, things would have been messier. I can imagine the tension before the Red Sea splitting.

ANGRY MOB: Hey Moses, not enough graves in Egypt? Where to now? Did you bring us out here to die?

MOSES: Stop shouting. You’re all emitting droplets.

And once the sea splits:

MOSES: OK all. Let’s go. This thing won’t remain split forever … Hey, you guys there with the open wine bottles. You’re clustered too closely. Keep apart 6 cubits. Remember the 1,000 shekels penalty for failing to social distance.

Although the Bible rings very solemnly as is, at least nobody was ordered to stay home. I do wonder however, pandemic or none, what did the people do for toilet paper?

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

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