Blind (עַוֵּר, ivver', τυφλός). The frequent occurrence of blindness in the East has always excited the astonishment of travellers. Volney says that out of a hundred persons in Cairo he has met twenty quite blind, ten wanting one eye, and twenty others having their eyes red, purulent, or blemished (Travels in Egypt, i, 224). This is principally owing to the Egyptian ophthalmia, which is endemic in that country and on the coast of Syria. Small-pox is another great cause of blindness in the East (Volney, 1. c.). Still other causes are the quantities of dust and sand pulverized by the sun's intense heat; the perpetual glare of light; the contrast of the heat with the cold sea-air on the coast, where blindness is specially prevalent; the dews at night while people sleep on the roofs; old age, etc.; and perhaps, more than all, the Mohammedan fatalism, which leads to a neglect of the proper remedies in time. Ludd, the ancient Lydda, and Ramleh, enjoy a fearful notoriety for the number of blind persons they contain. The common saying is that in Ludd every man is either blind or has but one eye. Jaffa is said to contain 500 blind out of a population of 5000 at most. There is an asylum for the blind in Cairo (which at present contains 300), and their conduct is often turbulent and fanatic (Lane, Mod. Eg. i, 39, 292).
In the New Testament blind mendicants are frequently mentioned (Mt 9:27; Mt 12:22; Mt 20:30; Mt 21:24; Joh 5:3), and "opening the eyes of the blind" is mentioned in prophecy as a peculiar attribute of the Messiah (Isa 29:18, etc.). The Jews were specially charged to treat the blind with compassion and care (Le 19:4; De 27:18). The blindness of Bar-Jesus (Ac 13:6) was miraculously produced, and of its nature we know nothing. Some have attempted (on the ground of Luke's profession as a physician) to attach a technical meaning to ἀχλύς and σκότος (Jahn, Bibl. Arch. § 201), viz. a spot or "thin tunicle over the cornea," which vanishes naturally after a time; for which the same term, ἀχλύς, is made use of by Hippocrates (Προῤῥητικόν, ii, 215, ed. Kuhn), who says that ἀχλύες will disappear provided no wound has been inflicted. Before such an inference can be drawn, we must be sure that the writers of the New Testament were not only acquainted with the writings of Hippocrates, but were also accustomed to a strict medical terminology. In the same way analogies are quoted for the use of saliva (Mt 8:23, etc.) and of fish-gall in the case of the λεύκωμα of Tobias; but, whatever may be thought of the latter instance, it is very obvious that in the former the saliva was no more instrumental in the cure than the touch alone would have been (Trench, On the Miracles at Mt 9:27). The haziness implied by the expression ἀχλύς may refer to the sensation of the blind person, or to the appearance of the eye, and in both cases the haziness may have been referable to any of the other transparent media as well as to the cornea. Examples of blindness from old age occur in Ge 27:1; 1Ki 14:4; 1Sa 4:15. The Syrian army that came to apprehend Elisha was suddenly smitten with blindness in a miraculous manner (2Ki 6:18), and so also was Paul (Ac 9:9). Blindness is sometimes threatened in the Old Testament as a punishment (q.v.) for disobedience (De 28:28; Le 26:16; Zep 1:17). Blindness wilfully inflicted for political or other purposes was common in the East, and is alluded to in Scripture (1Sa 11:2; Jer 22:12). That calamities are always the offspring of crime is a prejudice which the depraved nature of man is but too prone to indulge in, and the Jews in the time of our Lord were greatly under the power of this prejudice. A modern traveller says, " The Hindoos and Ceylonese very commonly attribute their misfortunes to the transgressions of a former state of existence, and I remember being rather struck with the seriousness of a cripple, who attributed his condition to the unknown faults of his former life." On seeing a man who had been born blind, the disciples of our Lord fell into the same mistake, and asked him, "Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (Joh 9:2). Jesus immediately solved the difficulty by miraculously giving him the use of his sight. SEE EYE.