- (? 6th century)Mesopotamian physician. Asaf was known by various names: Asaf ha-Yehudi; Asaf the Wise; Asaf ben-Berechiah; and Asaf ha-Yarchoni.Until recently scholars were uncertain as to Asaf’s dates or even if he was Jewish. It now seems that he lived in Mesopotamia before the Arab conquest, probably in the 6 century. He was presumed to be the author of a work on medicine, Sefer Asaf ha-Rofe (also called Sefer ha-Refuot, ‘Book of Remedies’), of which sixteen manuscripts are extant, but it is now accepted that it was compiled by his disciples. The works of the great physicians - Hippocrates, Dioscorides and Galen - are mentioned by the editor and Asaf is accepted as their equal. But Asaf also followed the Talmud and was in line with its approach to diets and hygiene. He also mentions the spinal bone, which he said is indestructible, obtains its food from the meal eaten after the Sabbath, and will be the basis for the reconstruction of the body in the messianic resurrection of the dead. Asaf was the first physician to identify certain diseases as being hereditary. The oath he made his students swear shows his own high ethical standards and his faith in God. The military hospital at Sarafand near Tel Aviv carries his name.
Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. Joan Comay . 2012.
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