It is written:
“But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the assembly, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the LORD. The water of purification has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean. 21 It shall be a perpetual statute for them. He who sprinkles the water of purification shall wash his clothes; and he who touches the water of purification shall be unclean until evening. 22 Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean; and the person who touches it shall be unclean until evening.’” (Numbers 19:20-22)
One of the proofs of the inspiration of the Bible is found in the scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers. We find throughout Scripture numerous examples of the Bible writers writing of advanced scientific truths and practices which were far beyond the medical and scientific knowledge of their day and age.
One example of this is found in Moses, and his formula for antibacterial soap.
Moses lived around the fifteenth century B.C., and the Bible reminds us that he was trained in all the knowledge of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22). When we study the medical knowledge of that nation during his time, we find something very disturbing: often in Egypt, the cure was more likely to kill a patient then his ailment!
Consider the famous Ebers Papyrus as an example:
“Among the ancient documents that detail much of the Egyptian medicinal knowledge, the Ebers Papyrus ranks as one of the foremost sources. This papyrus was discovered in 1872 by a German Egyptologist named Georg Ebers (the name from which the papyrus acquired its moniker) (Bryan, 1930, p. 1). It consists of a host of medical remedies purported to heal, enhance, and prevent. “Altogether 811 prescriptions are set forth in the Papyrus, and they take the form of salves, plasters, and poultices; snuffs, inhalations, and gargles; draughts, confections, and pills; fumigations, suppositories, and enemata” (p. 15). Among the hundreds of prescriptions in the papyrus, there are disgusting treatments that caused much more harm than good. For instance, under a section titled “What to do to draw out splinters in the flesh,” a remedy is prescribed consisting of worm blood, mole, and donkey dung (p. 73). [NOTE: Doctors S.I. McMillen and David Stern note that dung “is loaded with tetanus spores” and “a simple splinter often resulted in a gruesome death from lockjaw” (2000, p. 10).] Remedies to help heal skin diseases included such prescriptions as: “A hog’s tooth, cat’s dung, dog’s dung, aau-of-samu-oil, berries-of-the-xet-plant, pound and apply as poultice” (Bryan, 1930, p. 92). As medical doctor S.E. Massengill stated: The early Egyptian physicians made considerable use of drugs. Their drugs were of the kind usually found in early civilizations; a few effective remedies lost in a mass of substances of purely superstitious origin. They used opium, squill, and other vegetable substances, but also excrement and urine. It is said that the urine of a faithful wife was with them effective in the treatment of sore eyes (1943, p. 15). In addition, it seems that the Egyptians were among the first to present the idea of “good and laudable pus” (McMillen and Stern, 2000, p. 10). Due to the idea that infection was good and the pus that resulted from it was a welcomed effect, “well-meaning doctors killed millions by deliberately infecting their wounds” (p. 10). Needless to say, the modern-day reader would not want to be a patient in an ancient Egyptian clinic!” (Wayne Jackson, Kyle Butt, Eric Lyons, Surveying the Evidence, 1512-1534 (Kindle Edition); Montgomery, Alabama; Apologetics Press)
The first five Books of the Old Testament (often referred to as the Pentateuch) were written by Moses, and contain some incredible scientific knowledge, well beyond the scope of the Egyptian knowledge that he was trained in. One such example is found in the water of purification (recorded in Numbers 19). A study of the passage reveals that Moses actually provided a detailed formula for antibacterial soap!
Two scholarly physicians have written of this:
“Let’s compare modern hand washing with the biblical method in Numbers 19: • Running water: to rinse off germs. Biblical Method: Water was showered from a hyssop branch. • Time: to assure a thorough job. Biblical Method: The washings were repeated over a period of seven days. Between washings germs were killed by the sun and by drying. • Antiseptic soap: to kill germs. Biblical Method: Hyssop contains the antiseptic thymol, 8 the active ingredient in Listerine. • Vigorous scrubbing: to dislodge germs from crevasses. Biblical Method: The soap contained cedar oil, a skin irritant to encourage scrubbing. The soap also contained wool fibers, making it the ancient equivalent of Lava soap. Once the soap was on you, you had to scrub to get it off. Centuries before Semmelweis, God had already detailed the most effective method of washing. To prevent the spread of disease, modern science has merely rediscovered the biblical method.” (S. I. M.D. McMillen, David E. M.D. M.D. Stern, None of These Diseases: The Bible’s Health Secrets for the 21st Century, 425-437 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group)
This formula is a powerful example of how the Bible writers were guided by the by the Spirit, writing of things which were beyond their ability to know given the scientific and medical limitations of their day and age. Indeed, scientific foreknowledge of the Bible writers is one of the many evidences that the Bible is truly the Word of God (cf. 2 Timothy 3:16-17).