The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia
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The rendering, in the English versions of the Scriptures, of the Hebrew word "sheḥin," which comes from a root meaning "to warm," and indicates an inflamed spot. In the Bible it is used to describe two distinct forms of disease, each characterized by a local swelling, exceedingly painful and accompanied by a discharge of pus: (1) the simple boil, limited to one spot and not contagious (Lev. xiii. 23); and (2) the loathsome eruptions characteristic of endemic elephantiasis, a form of leprosy so called because the feet of the victim swell to a great size and resemble the feet of an elephant.

This seems to have been the form of disease with which Job was afflicted (Job ii. 7), although the suddenness with which he was "smitten with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown" is more suggestive of plague.

That the Jews distinguished between the first and the second type—which latter seems to have been known as the "botch [or boil] of Egypt" (Deut. xxviii. 27)—is clearly demonstrated by the law set forth in Lev. xiii. 18-23. Doubtful cases were brought before the priests. If the scar left by a boil was lower than the skin, and the hair upon it was white, the case was pronounced one of leprosy. In the absence of these signs the afflicted one was shut up for seven days. If at the end of that time the disease had spread it was a case of leprosy; if not, the scar was recognized as that of a simple boil, and the man was declared clean. See Leprosy.

J. Jr.C. F. K.
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