Category Archives: Family

Trephination was not that uncommon

Archaeologists working at Tel Megiddo excavated skeletons of two brothers from the Canaanite (Late Bronze) period dating to about 3,500 years ago,  who had a “complex medical procedure” known as trephination (or trephanation). An article in Haaretz includes several nice photos in the Premium Magazine here.

A few years ago Leon Mauldin and I traveled to some of the cities along the Turkish Black Sea Coast that may have been associated with the delivery of Peter’s epistles. See the  index of my articles here. In Samsun we visited the small archaeological museum and noted some skulls from Ikiztepe that had undergone the medical practice of trephination.

Ancient brain surgery that cut a hole in the skull to relieve pressure is referred to as trepination. A few of the skulls found at Ikiztepe are displayed in the museum. They are said to belong to Bronze Age III. I think that would be in the neighborhood of 1600 B.C. Here are two of the photos I made that show the hole drilled in the skull.

Example of Tripanation, Bronze Age III, Ikiztepe. Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Example of Trepination, Bronze Age III, Ikiztepe. Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The surgery in the case below required a much larger hole.

Example of Trephenation, Bronze Age III, Ikiztepe. Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Example of Trephenation, Bronze Age III, Ikiztepe. Samsun Archaeological Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is no indication whether the surgery was successful, or what happened to the surgeon if it failed.

Joe Zias, in an article in Mikhmanim (Spring 1999), says there have been 29 skulls showing trepanation (trephination) discovered in Israel. He says the survival rate based on “inflammatory or bone remodeling” indicate a 77 percent survival rate in these cases. The earlier link I had to this article is broken. I am currently unable to locate a link to this article which also deals with other medical issues in ancient Israel. One of the better known examples comes from Jericho.

Before any surgery involving the skull you should ask your surgeon about his or her grade in trepanation.

Weaving in Bible Times: “Her hands hold the spindle…”

The importance of weaving in Bible times is described by John A. Beck.

The typical family of Bible times had its own looms and some family members who were skilled at the art of weaving (Prov. 31:13). At its most fundamental level, weaving involved the interlocking of threads at right angles to one another in order to create a piece of cloth that could function as a garment, tent curtain, or even carrying sack. The threads were derived from wood, flax, or goat hair that could be left in their original, subtle tone or be dyed radiant colors. (Beck, John A. The Baker Illustrated Guide to Everyday Life in Bible Times. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2013; 292.)

This practice continues in many parts of the world to this day. On various tours that I have conducted the group will gather around a woman working at the loom to make clothing or carpets. They usually marvel at her skill and finesse.

In the description of the worthy woman (or capable wife), the book of Proverbs says,

She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. (Proverbs 31:13 ESV)

She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. (Proverbs 31:19 ESV)

We see a wonderful example of this at Nazareth Village. Sometimes an older, more experienced woman demonstrates how to spin wool to weave cloth. On this occasion a young lady was using wool previously dyed to make the thread needed for the project we see on the loom.

A young lady spinning wool at the Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A young lady spinning wool at the Nazareth Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

There is a long history behind the wool waiting in a nearby basket, but that is for another time.

A basket of wool waiting to be spun into yarn. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

A basket of wool waiting to be spun into yarn. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

You might enjoy a longer article about “Weaving in Bible Times” here.

Traveling in Jordan again

For the past week I have been traveling in Jordan with long-time traveling friend Leon Mauldin on a personal study trip. We enjoy these trips going to places that  we miss during regular tours. That is because some of the places are difficult to reach and would have little interest to the first-time traveler to the Bible Lands. It sometimes takes us half a day to locate a place and visit it.

The tourist folks in Jordan like to call their country “the other Holy Land.” Not only did Jesus visit this area but it was often the area of travel for the patriarchs, prophets, and kings of ancient Israel.

Today we visited the Jabbok River a few miles east of the Valley Road (Roman Perea) and Deir Allah. This is thought by some to be the place where Jacob met his brother Esau on the return from Padan Aram. See Genesis 32 for the full story). This photo will give you some idea of the terrain and the small river, now called the Zarka.

The Jabbok River east of the River Jordan. Near here Jacob a life-changing encounter with the LORD. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Jabbok River east of the River Jordan. Near here Jacob had a life-changing encounter with the LORD. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bread – from bakery to consumer

From the time of my earliest tours I noticed that the tour members were surprised to see various goods carried on the head. In the Middle East it is common to see women carrying buckets of water on their head without even steadying them by hand. In the Middle East and Europe bread is transported on carts, and sometimes on the head, without any covering.

The photo below was made in the Muristan of the Old City of Jerusalem. These loaves of bread and other bakery goods may be headed to restaurants where they will be turned into sandwiches for hungry patrons.

Man carrying bread on his head in the Muristan area of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Man carrying bread on his head in the Muristan area of the Old City of Jerusalem. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bread is an important staple in the diet of many people. And the bread we are speaking of here is not like that “old lite bread” as my late mother in law used to call modern prepackaged loaves of bread. She made the bread for her family in her own kitchen. On my earliest tours in the late 60s and 70s of the last century the bread served was hard and sometimes it was baked in such a ways as to have a hollow center.

The ancient Israelites were dependent on crops of grain for their bread. Wheat and barley were major crops in the Promised Land.

… a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. (Deuteronomy 8:8-9 ESV)

When the prophet Jeremiah was in prison he thinks that he may die. He requested that he not be sent back to the house of Jonathan the secretary lest he die there. King Zedekiah ordered that Jeremiah be committed to the court of the guard and that bread be delivered to him daily from the baker’s street until there was no longer bread in the city.

So King Zedekiah gave orders, and they committed Jeremiah to the court of the guard. And a loaf of bread was given him daily from the bakers’ street, until all the bread of the city was gone. So Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard. (Jeremiah 37:21 ESV)

I am old enough to remember the rationing of World War II. Farmers were in a little better position to have stores of corn from which our bread was made in those days.

During the Wilderness Wandering the Israelites were provided with manna which the Psalmist called the bread of angels.

Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance. (Psalm 78:25 ESV)

The words of Jesus have added significance to those born into humble circumstances.

I am the bread of life. (John 6:48 ESV)

Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11 ESV)

We must remember that we are sustained both physically and spiritually by the bread that the Lord provides.

Sixty three years ago today…

Warning. This is a rare personal note that does not fit with the general tenor of this blog, except that the woman I speak of here has made much of my work possible through her love and support.

– ♥ –

Sixty three years ago today Elizabeth Ann Williams and I committed ourselves to one another and to God. We did not date very long and I lacked a few weeks being 19 years of age, but we were determined to build a marriage according to the will of God.

Ferrell Jenkins and Elizabeth Williams

Ferrell Jenkins and Elizabeth Williams married December 16, 1954.

We met at Florida Christian College (now Florida College), Temple Terrace, FL. Our ceremony was in the small lobby of Sutton Hall (facing the Dorm Supervisor’s apartment).

After my graduation from the four-year Bible program at FCC we moved to work with churches in Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio, before returning to Florida College where I would teach a total of 25 years and Elizabeth a total of 27 years.

Our residence is about a mile from where we said our marriage vows. It has been a good marriage. Elizabeth has been a true helper for me (Genesis 2:18) in the work I chose to do— preaching and teaching the Word of God, and teaching the Word by introducing interested persons to the Land of the Word. I love her dearly.

An Irish Memory

We have enjoyed several tours to Ireland. Some were in combination with the British Isles and others were limited to Ireland. The key words were lush, green, and beautiful.

Ferrell Jenkins Tour Group along the Ring of Kerry in 2010.

Ferrell Jenkins Tour Group along the Ring of Kerry in 2010.

Most, if not all, tour groups stop at the Kerry Bog Village on the Ring of Kerry. This village is a reminder of the great Irish Famine (1845–1852) during which one million people died as a direct result of the famine. The web page says,

It is estimated that a further one million immigrated to countries such as Canada, U.S.A, U.K & Australia. Sadly not all passengers made it to their final destination alive.

Bog Ponies at the Kerry Bog Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Bog Ponies at the Kerry Bog Village. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Colonel Matthew Lyon (Revolutionary War) was one of the forebears of my maternal grandmother. He was born in Wicklow County Ireland, in 1746 and came to America in 1755. His portrait hangs in the Vermont State House.

Books for self and others — # 1

When you read good books and when you give good books to others, especially those who teach the Bible, you are doing a favor for several persons at one time.

During the past six months I have received several good books sent to me by authors or publishers who would like you to know about their publication. Normally I might have gotten to these publications much sooner, but due to two episodes of major disruptions to our home life I have gotten behind. One was the flooding of the house from a water line break resulting in disruption for three months. The other was due to a large fallen Laurel Oak limb that did considerable damage. We had two huge dying trees that had to be taken out. Add to that some family health issues and you will know my excuse for this delay.

Rather than writing a long review of each book I will list each with a few comments.

Make your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong

The first book is Brad Gray’s Make Your Mark: Getting Right What Samson Got Wrong. Gray is a teaching pastor in Holland, Michigan, who has lived in Israel and traveled extensively in the Bible lands. I met him in Jerusalem back in May. This paperback of 194 pages deals with the four chapter of Judges (13-16) telling the story of Samson. Everyone who goes to Bible classes and church knows about Samson, but you will get a new understanding and appreciation of the episodes recorded here when you let Brad Gray explain the setting of the events.

Brad Gray, Make Your Mark.

Brad Gray, Make Your Mark.

The author’s acquaintance with the Bible lands, the relevant archaeological discoveries, and his engaging writing will help bring this section of Scripture to life.

Samson got a lot of things wrong, but author Gray says you can avoid his mistakes and get these things right in your life. This book is recommended for anyone teaching the book of Judges or anyone grappling with the serious issues of life.

Make Your Mark is published by Faith Words, which seems to be a division of Hachette (New York, Boston, Nashville), and is available in print and Kindle format.

This book was sent to be by the publisher at the request of the author. The comments here are my own.