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Murrain

MURRAIN

mur'-in, mur'-en, mur'-an] (debher):

This name is given to a fatal cattle-disease, which was the fifth of the plagues of Egypt (Exodus 9:3), and which affected not only the flocks and herds, but also the camels, horses and asses. The record of its onset immediately after the plague of flies makes it probable that it was an epizootic, whose germs were carried by these insects as those of rinderpest or splenic fever may be. Cattle plagues have in recent years been very destructive in Egypt; many writers have given descriptions of the great devastation wrought by the outbreak in 1842. In this case Wittmann noted that contact with the putrid carcasses caused severe boils, a condition also recorded in Exodus as following the murrain. The very extensive spread of rinderpest within the last few years in many districts of Egypt has not yet been completely stamped out, even in spite of the use of antitoxic serum and the most rigid isolation. The word "murrain" is probably a variant of the Old French morine. It is used as an imprecation by Shakespeare and other Elizabethan writers, and is still applied by herdsmen to several forms of epidemic cattle sickness. Among early writers it was used as well for fatal plagues affecting men; thus, Lydgate (1494) speaks of the people "slain by that moreyne."nt that at least two witnesses must concur in any capital question (Numbers 35:19-30; Deuteronomy 17:6-12; 19:12,17). Under the monarchy the duty of executing justice on a murderer seems to have been assumed to some extent by the sovereign, who also had power to grant pardon (2 Samuel 13:39; 14:7,11; 1 Kings 2:34).

Alexander Macalister


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'MURRAIN'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.