When I was a medical student at the University of Moscow (1915-1921),
we were taught the art or reviving the drowned or suffocated, or people
in shock, by artificial breathing. The patient who had stopped breathing
was put in the proper position (in the case of drowning on his stomach,
with his tongue pulled out and held by a cloth) and his arms were lifted
and then pressed to his ribs, pressure thus being rhythmically applied
to his chest.
Once, years later,
on a crowded beach, the body of a drowned man was brought from the sea
surf. I happened to be in the crowd, and together with another doctor
we desperately toiled for almost an hour, until an ambulance arrived.
The doctor in the ambulance pronounced him deadhe did not breathe,
nor did his heart beat.
After that incident
I thought of Elishas method of artificial breathing; but many years
passed before I read in the American press of a new methodresuscitation
by mouth-to-mouth breathing. Since then, the method of mouth-to-mouth
breathing has become widely known, and in very many cases people were
revived who otherwise would be dead. Only yesterday (of my writing this)
I read of a boy of ten who was discovered by his father with his neck
caught by the sling of a rope; the father cut the rope and the mother,
who happened to be a nurse, applied mouth-to-mouth breathing, keeping
him alive until the ambulance arrived. The boy was saved.
In the time of
Elijah there lived in Shunem a great woman. After years of
childlessness she bore a boy.
And when the
child was grown, it fell on a day that he went out to his father to
the reapers. And he said unto his father. My head, my head. And he said
to the lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him and brought
him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died.1
The mother put
him on a bed and hurried on a donkey driven by a servant, and came to
the man of God, Elisha, and begged him to hurry with her to her son. Elisha
followed to Shunem, entered the house.
A staff brought
in by the seers servant, Gehazi, who arrived first, and put it on
the child, did not produce any effect. Gehazi went again to meet
him [his master], and told him, saying. The child is not awakened.
Then Elisha entered the house and found the child was dead.
And he went
up, and lay upon the child and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his
eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and he stretched himself
upon the child; and the flesh of the child vexed warm. Then he returned
and walked in the house to and fro; and went up and stretched himself
upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his
He called the
Shunamite and said: Take up thy son.
of Elishas miracle makes clear that he did not resurrect the child
by a gesture or a word, but by a prolonged procedure, with the seers
mouth upon the childs mouth; the exercise was interrupted, the seer,
after straightening his body by walking in the house, repeated the procedure,
and then the child repeatedly sneezed and the breathing reflex was re-established,
and the child was alive again.
of the childs sudden illness makes it appear that he suffered from
sun-stroke when in the field with the reapers. A strong headache preceded
the lapse into unconsciousness.
breathing accompanied by rhythmic movements of the body of the healer
stretched out on the childs body, who kept his hands on the childs
hands, and also warmed him by his own body warmth (and the flesh of the
child vexed warm), is an even better method than mouth-to-mouth
breathing alone, and should be recommended in emergencies.
The story is
apparently not fiction. In Ages in Chaos I have quoted from two
letters of the great lady of Shunem. These two letters of the el-Amarna
collection are the only ones written from Israel by a woman; she must
have been a great lady if she corresponded directly with the
pharaon. As I could show conclusively, these two letters were written
from Shunem; and the woman signed them Baalat-Ness, or she to whom
a miracle happened. From the appellation used in her letters to
the pharaon it appears that the fame of the healing reached also the palace