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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Murrain (pronounced /ˈmɜrɪn/) is a highly infectious disease of cattle and sheep. [1] It literally means "death" and was used in medieval times to represent just that. [2] The population of that era had no way of identifying specific diseases in their livestock so they simply put all illnesses under one heading. There were major sheep and cattle murrains in Europe during the 14th century, which combined with the Little Ice Age resulted in widespread famine during the Great Famine of 1315-1317, weakening the population of Europe before the onset of the Black Death in 1348.[3]

Murrain is also mentioned once in the Bible relating to the fifth plague brought upon Egypt. [4]

Exodus 9:3: "Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain."

"Pestilence", which is mentioned 47 time in 46 verses of the Bible, can be translated "murrain" [Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon]. see Psalms 91:3 KJV

The word in Hebrew is דֶּבֶר "deber" (Strong's # 01698), derived from the primitive root "dabar" in the sense of "to destroy".

In some parts of Scotland, force-fire was believed to cure it and in some remote regions of Cumbria, England, murrain is still used as a term for a curse, specifically a curse placed upon land or livestock. It is believed that the medieval term has, by a process of syncreticism become synonymous with witchcraft.[5] This usage inspired the ATV television play, Murrain, written by Nigel Kneale, which was broadcast on 27 July 1975 as part of the channel's Against the Crowd drama strand.


  1. ^ Scott, Gordon. "The Murrain Now Known As Rinderpest". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  2. ^ "murrain -". Retrieved 2008-10-15.  
  3. ^ Jordan, William C (1996). The Great Famine: Northern Europe in the Early Fourteenth Century. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691058911.  
  4. ^ "Murrain (WebBible Encyclopedia) - ChristianAnswers.Net". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  5. ^ Billingsley, John. "Northern Earth - Medical Care, Magical Cure". Retrieved 2008-07-28.  

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

Medical warning!
This article is from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Medical science has made many leaps forward since it has been written. This is not a site for medical advice, when you need information on a medical condition, consult a professional instead.

MURRAIN (derived through O. Fr. morine, from Lat. mori, to die), a general term for various virulent diseases in domesticated animals, synonymous with plague or epizooty. The principal diseases are dealt with under Rinderpest; Pleuro-Pneumonia; Anthrax; and FooT AND Mouth Disease. See also Veterinary Science.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Heb. deber, "destruction," a "great mortality", the fifth plague that fell upon the Egyptians (Ex 9:3). It was some distemper that resulted in the sudden and widespread death of the cattle. It was confined to the cattle of the Egyptians that were in the field (9:6).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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