PESTILENCE (pes'ti-lens), (Heb. deh' ber, plague or pestilence).
The terms pestilence and plague are used with much laxity in our Authorized Version. The lat ter, however, which generally represents the He brew word is by far the wider term, as we read of 'plagues of leprosy."of hail,' and of many other visitations. Pestilence is employed to de note a deadly epidemic, and is the word by which eleh'ber, (Sept. than'ah-tos,Ociparos, death, and occasionally /ov-mos, ?tombs), filague is translated. In our time, however, both these terms are nearly synonymous; but /Vague is, by medical vvriters at least, restricted to mean the glandular plague of the East. There is indeed no description ot any pestilence in the Bible, which would enable us to form an adequate idea of its specific character. Severe epidemics arc the common accompaniments of dense crowding in cities, and of famine; and we accordingly often find them mentioned in connection (Lev. xxvi:25;
Jer. xiv:r2; xxix:18 ; Matt. xxiv:7 ; Luke xxi: ii). But there is no better argument for be lieving that 'pestilence' in these instances means the glandular plague, than the fact of its being at present a prevalent epidemic of the East. It is also remarkable that the Mosaic law, which con tains such strict rules for the seclusion of lepers, should have allowed a disease to pass unnoticed, which is above all others the most deadly, and, at the same time, the most easily checked by sanitary regulations of the same kind. The de struction of Sennacherib's army (2 Kings xix 35) has also been ascribed to the plague. (Heck er's Hist. of the Epidemics of the Middle Ages; Dr. Brown, art. 'Plague,' in Cyelop. of Pract. Aled.; Dr. Russell, Hist. of Aleppo.) W. A. N.