And Asa in the thirty ninth year of his reign was diseased
This was about two years before his death, and his disease is generally thought to be the gout in his feet, and a just retaliation for putting the prophet's feet into the stocks:
until his disease was exceeding great;
it increased upon him, and became very severe and intolerable, and the fits were frequent, as well as the pain sharper; though the sense of the Hebrew F13 phrase may be, that his disease got upwards, into a superior part of his body, head, or stomach, which, when the gout does, it is dangerous. A very learned physician F14 is of opinion, that not the gout, but what he calls an "aedematous" swelling of the feet, is meant, which insensibly gets up into the bowels, and is successively attended with greater inconveniences; a tension of the abdomen, difficulty of breathing, very troublesome to the patient, and issues in a dropsy, and death itself:
yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord;
his seeking to physicians for help in his disease, perhaps, would not have been observed to his reproach, had he also sought unto the Lord, whom he ought to have sought in the first place; and when he applied to the physicians, he should have implored the blessing of God on their prescriptions; but he so much forgot himself as to forget the Lord: this is the first time we read of physicians among the Jews, and some think these were Heathens, and a sort of enchanters: the Jews entertained a very ill opinion of physicians; the best of them, they say F15, deserve hell, and they advise F16 men not to live in a city where the chief man is a physician; but the author of the book of Ecclesiasticus gives a great encomium of them, and exhorts to honour and esteem them,
``1 Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him. 2 For of the most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honour of the king. 3 The skill of the physician shall lift up his head: and in the sight of great men he shall be in admiration. 4 The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them. 5 Was not the water made sweet with wood, that the virtue thereof might be known? 6 And he hath given men skill, that he might be honoured in his marvellous works. 7 With such doth he heal [men], and taketh away their pains. 8 Of such doth the apothecary make a confection; and of his works there is no end; and from him is peace over all the earth,'' (Sirach 38)
Julian F17 the emperor greatly honoured them, and observes, that it is justly said by the philosophers, that the art of medicine fell from heaven.