Hebrew Medical Ethics and the Oath of Asaph

Sussmann Muntner, MD
JAMA. 1968;205(13):912-913. doi:10.1001/jama.1968.03140390036009.
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Documentation is not exact, but it may be assumed that Asaph the physician (Asaph Harofe) lived in the Middle East in the sixth century.1-6 Several chapters of Asaph's Book of Medicine were based upon classical Hebrew texts written several hundred years before his time. These sources were edited and combined by Asaph and included in one comprehensive book to which he added several chapters, translations, and commentaries in Hebrew.7,8 There is no indication of Arabic influence in this text.9 The book, however, does contain reference to pagan physicians who employed modified forms of witchcraft forbidden in the biblical literature.10 It has been determined without doubt that the book was written in the Near East, ie, Palestine or Babylonia.11 Thus it becomes evident that the text was compiled at a period prior to the conquest of these countries by Islam, which occurred approximately 650 AD.12 Asaph


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