Wouldn’t it be great if there was a Bible for preppers, a comprehensive book that contains useful information that we really need to know? Well, there is such a book! And it is The Bible.
For those of you who are neither Jewish nor Christian, I ask you to look at the following examples that I’ve compiled, and decide for yourself whether the Bible is a worthwhile source of information, regardless of who you think wrote it.
Aspects of Biblical wisdom are often hidden from the readers. We’re told to do something, or not to do something, but we’re rarely told why, except in the most general terms: “…that you may live long in the land.” So let’s look at a few specific examples.
In the first five books of the Bible (The Pentateuch), Jews are commanded not to eat any animal that does not have both a split hoof and chews its cud. (See: Deuteronomy 14:4–20.) That means that they weren’t supposed to eat pigs, rabbits, horses, camels, or dogs, all of which were on the menu for societies around them at that time. It was discovered in the 1800s that trichinosis, a parasitic worm infection, is spread to humans by handling and/or consumption of undercooked pork. More recently, it’s been documented that bear meat may also contain the Trichina parasite. Given access to modern pharmaceuticals, trichinosis can be effectively treated, but if we no longer have access to a supply of rubber gloves with which to handle carcasses that we’re butchering and anthelmintics, perhaps it would be better to look for other sources of meat. What looked initially like an arbitrary command starts to look more like a guideline set by a caring and knowledgeable person.
In the same five books of the Bible, clear guidelines are set down to establish “clean” and “unclean” animals. (Again, see; Deuteronomy 14:4–20.) Observant Jews, both then and now, don’t eat unclean animals, or even touch them without going through a prescribed purification ritual involving washing with clean water. For example, dogs are unclean animals. Despite the many benefits that dogs bring to our households as guardians, livestock control, and companions, they carry parasites, both internal and external, that will readily transfer to a human host. For a long time, they were a vector of rabies. Given access to modern pharmaceuticals, both we and our dogs can be treated for parasites pretty easily. The invention of the rabies vaccine, and the subsequent requirement that dogs receive it to be licensed in a municipality, has been a public health game changer. Take away those things, and it may be necessary to rethink how we relate to our dogs if we want to stay healthy. Again, what looked like a somewhat mean designation of the dog as “unclean” makes a lot more sense when seen in this light.
The Jewish faith is the only one that I know of that commands its people to go camp outside for eight days, each year. What is not to love about that? (To me, that’s evidence that there is a Creator who knows me and loves me. You may feel differently.) The Jews were told to observe the feast of Succoth by constructing shelters (called “tabernacles” or “booths”) and to live in them for eight days to commemorate the time when they lived in the wilderness after leaving Egypt. But, as you might guess, there’s more to it. We now know that by leaving their homes and beds for eight days, it interrupts the life cycle of the human body louse, which spreads typhus and other lethal illnesses. Because the developed world has access to washing machines and high-heat driers for clothing and bedding, louse-borne illnesses are mostly confined to rural Third World areas. But in large-scale natural disasters or in wars, these diseases ravage populations and add to the misery. If we’re dealing with TEOTWAWKI, we would do well to build a shelter outside our home and live in it for eight days, once every year.
Jewish law required all men to go to the temple in Jerusalem several times a year to celebrate certain feasts. For the Jews, no explanation was given. But what we’re learning about the human immune system makes this measure truly remarkable. If the people just stayed in their villages (and back then, a “city” of 7,000 was considered big), their immune systems would not get the challenges needed regularly to fight off viral illnesses. By having all the men (who often brought their wives and children with them) go spend eight days or so in the same city together, their immune systems were stimulated appropriately to work as intended. (Like us, our immune systems need to “train the way they fight and fight the way they train”.)
In another passage in the first five books of the Bible, men serving in the military are commanded to go outside of their camp to relieve themselves, and to bury their waste in a hole. They were to do this to avoid offending God, who was present in their camp. Given how many diseases can be spread by contact with human waste, we would do well to take similar measures when we don’t have modern plumbing.
In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus admonishes the Pharisees for polishing only the outside of their cups. I have not been able to find any specific reference to that practice in the first five books, which suggests that it was an important tradition, not a command. But Jesus instructed them, “First cleanse the inside of the cup, and then the whole cup will be clean.” Jesus wasn’t just talking about dishes in that discourse; he was making the point that evil usually comes from inside us, not from anything external. But even taking his words literally, it is important to clean the inside of a cup, dish, or cooking vessel. Many backpackers learn this the hard way, and have an epic trip become a lot less than epic due to the onset of diarrhea after a day or two. They can easily get an over-the-counter (OTC) anti-diarrheal when they get back, but imagine the impact of a bad case of diarrhea on us when we’re struggling to survive. Dehydration due to emesis and diarrhea is a killer in the Third World.
Perhaps most importantly of all, the Bible exhorts us, in several different places, to “give thanks” and to “rejoice before the Lord God in everything that you put your hand to”. Our ability to cope with TEOTWAWKI will depend greatly on our mental attitudes. Recent studies show that by focusing on things that we’re thankful for, we can improve our physical and mental health. While a positive mental attitude does not replace physical preparations (like getting in a supply of winter wood), no physical preparation will work as well for us when we’re depressed and discouraged. It pays to learn to rejoice in that twisted, gnarled-up hunk of elm that just doesn’t want to split. (Rejoice, because as long as it fits in the stove, you don’t have to split it, and it will burn all night long!)
I have given seven examples above of Biblical commands that, if followed, will make our lives better and healthier. These commands were given to people who were living in conditions that weren’t that different from what we may face in TEOTWAWKI. New knowledge shows us the scientific basis for following those commands. I invite you to find for yourself many more examples of Biblical commands that will help us no matter what our environment is like.