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Blindness

A common affliction in the Middle East in Bible times. Several types of blindness are spoken of. One type resulted as a consequence of old age, as with Isaac, Eli, and Ahijah (Gen. 27:1; 1 Sam. 3:2; 1 Kgs. 14:4). The bright glare of the sun was no doubt a cause of blindness, as was also infection or disease. There are many instances of Jesus healing the blind. Indeed, part of His mission as foretold by Isaiah included “recovering of sight to the blind” (Luke 4:18–22), which is noted in the Septuagint text of Isa. 61:1–2. Examples of Jesus curing physical blindness are recorded in Matt. 9:27–31; 12:22; 20:30–34; Mark 8:22–25; 10:46–52; Luke 7:21; John 9. In addition to the healing of physical blindness, the mission of Jesus included curing blindness to the things of the spirit. He made an application of this in John 9:5 when, in conjunction with healing the man born blind, He declared that He (Jesus) was “the light of the world.” He also used the occasion to remind the Pharisees of their spiritual blindness (John 9:39–41). The curing of spiritual blindness is also spoken of in Isa. 9:2; 29:18; 35:5; 42:18–21; 43:8; Rom. 11:25; and Eph. 4:18. See also 2 Ne. 9:31–32; D&C 58:15.

Blindness is also used in the Bible as a type of curse or punishment perhaps with some vivid symbolism of its spiritual counterpart. Examples of this are the men of Sodom (Gen. 19:11), the Syrian army (2 Kgs. 6:18), and Elymas (Acts 13:11). Paul was struck blind for three days, following his vision of the Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1–18).

There is evidence that some of the Jews thought blindness was always the result of sin, as in John 9:1–2, 34, but Jesus made it clear that physical impairment may be due to other causes and is not necessarily due to sin.