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The hands of the gods: Disease names, and divine anger

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Chapter Summary

"The god's hand was heavy upon me, I could not bear it". With these words the righteous sufferer tells about the consequences of divine displeasure. He is suffering and does not know the reason for it or how to improve his predicament. This is exactly the kind of situation that the complex Mesopotamian system of healing the sick person tried to overcome. This chapter outlines some of the ways that were used to achieve this. It investigates three "hands" that appear in diagnostic as well as therapeutic texts. The scarcity of cases in the Diagnostic Handbook where a human sin is referred to, about 30 references in all, demonstrates that the editor of the Diagnostic Handbook was not much interested in the cause of a disease, but in identifying the divine being involved in the sickness of the patient.

Keywords: Diagnostic Handbook; disease names; divine anger; gods; human sin; Mesopotamian system; sick person; therapeutic texts



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