The title “Typhoid Mary” entered the cultural lexicon in 1908 via the Journal of the American Medical Association. Today the name refers to anyone who knowingly or accidentally spreads a disease to others. But “Typhoid Mary” originally referred to a specific person: Mary Mallon.
Mallon was born in Ireland and in the early 1880s migrated to America, where she embarked on a career as a cook for well-to-do families in New York City. She was good at her job and had no trouble finding work. Yet, strangely, medical authorities noticed something peculiar about her: wherever she worked, members of the household came down with typhoid fever — and some died. Mallon herself was completely asymptomatic and resisted the idea that the illnesses and deaths were connected to her.
Eventually, Mallon was investigated and quarantined in isolation for three years at a New York clinic where she was forced to undergo medical testing. Upon her release, she agreed to stop working as a cook and to take extreme cautions to prevent infecting others. But the same pattern developed when she found employment as a laundress; she was arrested and quarantined again in 1915. She died under quarantine some twenty-three years later.
Forced quarantines are not unusual in medical history. But the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 introduced a relatively new term: “self-quarantine,” also known as social distancing. Around the world, hundreds of millions of people voluntarily confined themselves to their homes for dual reasons: to avoid contracting the coronavirus known as COVID-19, or to avoid spreading the virus to others until it was certain that they were not a carrier.
Self-quarantining has had many unanticipated consequences, including feelings of isolation, abandonment, fear, loneliness, and despondency. Human beings truly were designed to experience life together.
In the Bible, we learn that David experienced a period of self-quarantine in his own life. Seemingly without warning, he was forced to flee from Jerusalem — including the temple and the palace court — because of a rebellion led by his own son Absalom. Right under the nose of his father, the king, Absalom convinced a strong coalition of citizens that the son should take the place of the father in the palace of Jerusalem.
Keep in mind that we’re talking about David, the people’s choice — king by popular demand as well as divine appointment. This was the hero who had slain the giant, outlasted the tyrant, and multiplied the kingdom! The very idea of a coup was in itself unthinkable, a poison-tipped sword to his heart. But this rumor that the source of a coup was his own precious son — well, that was enough to send a father to an early death by broken heart. He deeply loved Absalom. And Absalom was set on destroying everything that David had fought and survived and perspired to build.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, David Jeremiah