The history of nephrology in the Talmudic corpus

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The kidneys, the bladder and nephrology in general were discussed in the Talmudic literature from their anatomical, pathological and philological aspects. The Sages' deliberations were based on the Biblical texts. The characteristic phraseology of the scriptures uses the kidneys as symbols of the human emotions, contrary to the heart, which is regarded as the location of wisdom. The kidney is considered to be the individual's seat of their deepest desires - perhaps because it is an 'internal' organ, well hidden, surrounded by a capsule and by a layer of perinephric fat. The Talmudic corpus considers the kidneys to be the origin of secret counsels - 'the kidneys advise'. An injury to the kidneys is used symbolically as an example of a cruel and serious injury. The sages were concerned with nephrological problems such as a diseased kidney of small size, fluid and pus in the kidney, injuries, perforations and more. Fascinating advice is given regarding micturition, its timing, characteristics and significance. The Halakhah is concerned with the kidneys during the examination of an animal after slaughter for the fitness for its ritual consumption. The paper presents various nephrological diseases from the Talmudic corpus. Among them are, for example, 'Tzemirtha' - urolithiasis; 'Hydrakon' - hydronephrosis; 'Suskhinta' - urinary retention; 'Tzinit' - podagra, gout, and 'Yerakon' - icterus. A survey of some Talmudic personalities will exemplify the existence of these conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-129
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Nephrology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Bible
  • Celsus
  • Dioscorides
  • Galen
  • Gout
  • Hippocrates
  • Hydronephrosis
  • Icterus
  • Kidney
  • Midrash
  • Mishnah
  • Morality
  • New Testament
  • Talmud
  • Urea
  • Urinary retention
  • Urolithiasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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