Adventist archaeologists participate in historic find

Tel Lachish, Israel

Until recently, no meaningful Canaanite inscriptions had been discovered in the Land of Israel, save only two or three words here and there,” the press release from Hebrew University states. “Now an amazing discovery presents an entire sentence in Canaanite, dating to about 1700 B.C.E. It is engraved on a small ivory comb and includes a spell against lice.”

Published in the Hebrew University’s Jerusalem Journal of Archaeology, this new inscription is detailed in a research paper titled “A Canaanite’s Wish to Eradicate Lice on an Inscribed Ivory Comb From Lachish.” The paper presents the discovery of the ivory elephant-tusk head-lice comb, first uncovered in 2016. What was not realized until a closer study in December of 2021 was that this comb bore an etched inscription across its surface.

The artifact was unearthed at Tel Lachish in 2016 by a team of archaeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU) and Southern Adventist University in Tennessee under the direction of professors Yosef Garfinkel, Michael Hasel, and Martin Klingbeil. The inscription, with 17 letters measuring just two to three millimeters, was engraved in a very shallow manner, thus contributing to the fact that even though the comb was excavated in 2016 the letters were not noticed until subsequent postprocessing in 2021 by Madeleine Mumcuoglu, a research associate at HU’s Institute of Archaeology.

The inscription was deciphered by Semitic epigraphist Daniel Vainstub at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba. The ivory was tested by Rivka Rabinovich and Yuval Goren and found to originate from an elephant tusk.

The script on this comb notably constitutes “the very earliest stage of the alphabet’s development,” dating most likely to sometime during the later part of the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1700–1550 B.C.E.). The 17-letter proto-Semitic inscription on the comb reads (rather humorously): “May this tusk root out the lice of the hair and the beard.”

Lice were pervasive and insufferable enough to be listed as the third of the 10 plagues of Egypt. (The Hebrew word kînnîm used in Exodus 8:16 can mean “lice,” “fleas,” or “gnats.”) The discovery of the 3,700-year-old comb with the inscription shed light not only on the experience of dealing with lice in biblical times but also on levels of literacy in ancient times.

Researchers in Tel Lachish, Israel, stated that the inscription features the first complete sentence ever found written in the Canaanite dialect.


Study linking faith and health reveals unsuspected benefits

Oslo, Norway

Participants at the Nordic Health Congress in Oslo, Norway, could hardly believe their ears when researcher Niels Christian Hvidt informed them that Adventist and Baptist males in Denmark have a 97 percent lower risk of dying in a traffic accident compared with the general population.

In a presentation titled “Can Faith Move Mountains?” Dr. Hvidt shared evidence supporting how faith significantly contributes to good health, drawing from various studies, including the Danish religious societies’ health study.

Dr. Hvidt, professor of spiritual care at the University of Southern Denmark, and his research partner, Christoffer Johansen, research head at the Department of Oncology at Rigshospitalet, the largest and most specialized hospital in Denmark, conducted a unique study to discover how religious belief influences health. The sample comprised 5,000 Baptist participants and 7,000 Adventists who had been members of their respective denominations between 1920 and 2005.

The study, which began in 2004, matched these participants with their official public health records. By comparing the prevalence of various diseases in the sample with the general population, the researchers found that religious individuals have a significantly lower risk for various chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Their findings were peer-reviewed and published in several scientific journals.

The researchers believed that Adventists would have a 20 percent lower risk of various types of cancer—in line with similar studies on vegetarians. However, the study showed that Adventists had a 37 percent lower risk of developing cancer; that shows an added benefit on top of what their dietary choices may account for.

Adventists in the sample also had a 30 percent lower risk of diabetes than the general Danish population. The risk of developing liver cirrhosis proved to be 68 percent lower than in the general population. With the Adventist stance on abstinence from alcoholic beverages, that benefit is expected.

The risk of dying from suicide was found to be 92 percent lower for male and 89 percent lower for female believers compared with the general population.

Even though some health benefits for believers were as expected, it was totally unexpected to find that the risk of dying in a traffic accident was 92 percent lower for women and 97 percent lower for men. The finding is so unexpected that it made headlines in the Danish press.

Dr. Hvidt’s understanding of Scripture helped shape this research approach. He reflected, “The healing miracles of Jesus are deeply integral to the Gospel account of who Jesus was.”

Critiquing excessive compartmentalization in health and care providers, Dr. Hvidt added, “Doctors, psychologists, and pastors have their clearly defined roles, and while specialization is good, it is important to remember that humans are not distinct parts; we are whole beings.

“There is ample data which shows that patients become insecure and frustrated when we look at them merely as a bad knee or a broken leg. Similarly, health and care professionals become frustrated when there is no time to care for the whole being. We need to bring back the holistic view of man,” Dr. Hvidt concluded.
[Tor Tjeransen, tedNEWS]


Local church, global impact

Oxford, Maine, United States

Adults at the Oxford, Maine, Seventh-day Adventist Church began organizing missions in support of communities in underprivileged countries. The adults had no idea how the examples they were setting would rub off on the younger people. At first, the Youth Sabbath School class assisted their church in raising funds for a water well in Africa, but then decided to take on their own mission projects: raising money to save girls, buy livestock, and purchase medical supplies for third world countries; raising money for the local pet shelter and food pantry; and providing Christmas presents and a holiday dinner to residents of the local women’s homeless shelter. Their projects helped people around the world, from Africa, France, and Norway, to their own backyard.

Then the class discussed taking on Kristene’s project, their largest mission project ever. Kristene is a disabled, elderly resident in their community. She was invited to the Sabbath School class by teacher, Sue Proctor to share portions of her life story, from moving in with her parents to care for them while still working full-time, to her struggles with making ends meet after a broken elbow and having to sell items to pay her bills. Now her pre-1978 mobile home is no longer safe therefore needs replacement.

The kids listened attentively to Kristene’s story. Despite these trials, they could tell that she was continuing to hold firm to her faith that God will continue to watch over her and meet her daily needs. So, the Youth class decided that if they could have as much faith as Kristene, and simply dip their feet into the river by faith, then God would provide.

So far, they have had a successful bake sale, ongoing bottle/can drive, and a holiday pie sale, and have other plans to gain community and conference-wide support. They pray daily for God’s guidance and know that He will touch hearts and help this mission to be successful. These youth have a passion for sharing Jesus’ love with others, letting God work through them to take on these outreach projects, no matter the size.


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