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Daily Life in Ancient Israel


This division between tribe and city dwellers led to increased tension ... The sexual drive was seen to be unruly as a result of the first sin by Adam and Eve ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Daily Life in Ancient Israel

Daily Life in Ancient Israel
  • Chapter 13

Changing Patterns of Life
  • Before David and Solomon people lived mainly in
    small villages and lived on farming and
  • After David and Solomon larger cities were
    established, shifting the economic and political
    power away from the rural areas
  • This division between tribe and city dwellers led
    to increased tension in the area
  • Rural dwellers resisted attempts at paganism from
    Jerusalems kings, but remained extremely loyal
    to the house of David, being one of the primary
    means of defense against outside attacks

City Life
  • 1,000 3,000 people
  • Extremely crowded conditions some buildings
    shared walls
  • Typical house stone base, mudbrick walls, and a
    flat roof made of mud or sticks and thatch
  • Cities usually had a major public square where
    marketing was done and where elders met to make
  • Some evidence of a drainage system, but most
    cities were probably garbage-infested

The Human Person in Israelite Thinking
  • Descriptions were concrete
  • Ex. Song of Songs
  • Humans are made up of flesh (basar), spirit
    (ruah), heart (leb), and soul (nepesh)
  • The basic quality of human life comes from the
    soul desire, feeling, weakness, need for
  • Israelites viewed a person as unified in flesh
    and spirit

Sickness and Old Age
  • Sickness
  • Medicine depended on natural roots and plants
    used fantastic curses or prayed to God
  • Some belief in evil spirits causing illnesses
  • God was the ultimate cause of a cure
  • Old Age
  • Life was short average less than 45 years
  • The long lifespans (ex. Abraham _at_ 175 years old
    Moses _at_ 120 years old) was a sign of blessing for
    being faithful rather than a literal age of death
  • Old age was seen as a time of failing strength,
    loss of eyesight, inability to eat, and growing
    weakness still the elderly were respected for
    their wisdom

Death and Afterlife
  • Prior to, and for a while after the exile, there
    is little evidence that the Israelites hoped for
    an afterlife, although others (Egyptians,
    Mesopotamians, Syrians) did
  • Israel avoided mentioning a place of joy after
    death instead appeared to believe in a place of
    stillness, darkness, and helplessness
  • Israelites were forbidden from offering
    sacrifices to the dead, or consulting their
  • Awhile after the exile, the focus shifted to the
    goodness/evil of the life of an individual
    renewed interest in God not forgetting the

Daily Work
  • Based off Genesis 1 and 2 the purpose of men
    and women is clearly said to be the domination of
    the earth and its cultivation
  • After the first sin, laboring became both a
    blessing and a curse
  • Other occupations
  • Metalworkers
  • Artisans
  • Scribes

The Family in Israel
  • Family Unit
  • Large was preferable
  • Strong clan loyalty for the protection of all
  • Marriage
  • In the bible, frequent instances of deep love
  • Levirate marriage when a woman is widowed, she
    is taken in by her husbands closest male
  • Women
  • Have less power in the relationship
  • Responsible for educating children in the home
  • Although not empowered, were rarely shown in the
    bible as being disrespected or treated badly
  • Children
  • Often portrayed as headstrong and strong-willed
  • Lucky boys got formal education reading and
  • Sons were desired added to clan strength

Sexual Attitudes
  • Sexual behavior was carefully regulated
  • Sex and Marriage
  • Love, even in arranged marriages, was expected to
  • Strict laws against violation of marriage vows
  • Sex before marriage carried with it the
    obligation to marry that person
  • Other Condemned Sexual Acts
  • Unnatural Acts
  • Bestiality
  • Males wearing womens clothing
  • Public nakedness or exposing sexual organs
  • Sexual activity of a warrior engaged in a holy
  • The sexual drive was seen to be unruly as a
    result of the first sin by Adam and Eve

Marriage Customs
  • Monogamy vs. Polygamy
  • According to Genesis 1 and 2, monogamy is ideal
    covenant bonds!
  • Seems to have been standard practice around the
    writing of these books (1000 B.C.) except for
  • In cases of polygamy, the first wife was
    protected and had special rights over the other
    wives second wives were taken only in order to
    bear children
  • Marriage Ceremonies
  • A time for rejoicing
  • Husband publicly declared his obligation to care
    for his wife
  • Wife processes to the grooms house

Friends and Enemies
  • Friends
  • All brothers must be treated equally by their
    father even if they have different mothers
  • There is a primary loyalty between brothers
  • This brother idea was spread to mean all
    members of the covenant
  • Enemies
  • In many biblical stories, hatred for an enemy
    leads to a disaster
  • In the proverbs, the idea of overcoming the
    hatred of an enemy and helping him is discussed

Legal Justice in Early Israel
  • Very little written record, especially prior to
    the exile
  • Before King David-
  • Disputes were handled at the family or clan level
  • Blood-revenge
  • After King David-
  • Clan system judgments were given by the elders
  • Penalties were generally less severe than
    neighboring countries

Royal Justice
  • Kings took an active interest in their lands
    justice they often made judgments themselves
  • The law was built on the age-old customs and
    judgments royal additions came only in cases
    that needed new solutions or had never occurred
  • Ultimately, law came from God

  • Nearly every nation in the Near East permitted
  • Israel limited its use
  • Poverty forced a person into slavery just to live
  • Prisoners of war, made to work for the state
  • Slavery was opposed to the basis of the covenant
    God had given His blessings equally and to all
  • Both types of slavery gradually disappeared after
    Israel lost political independence and social
    conditions changed
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