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date: 27 June 2022

Women in Ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible (or Women in Ancient Israel and the Old Testament) locked

Women in Ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible (or Women in Ancient Israel and the Old Testament) locked

  • Susan AckermanSusan AckermanPreston H. Kelsey Professorship in Religion, Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College

Summary

The Hebrew Bible is a book that was primarily written by men, for men, and about men, and thus the biblical text is not particularly forthcoming when it comes to the lives and experiences of women. Other evidence from ancient Israel—the society in which the Hebrew Bible was generated—is also often of little use. Nevertheless, scholars have been able to combine a careful reading of the biblical text with anthropological and archaeological data, and with comparative evidence from the larger biblical world, to reconstruct certain features of ancient Israelite women’s culture. These features include fairly comprehensive pictures of women’s lives as wives and childbearers within Israel’s patrilineal and patrilocal kinship system and of women’s work within the economy of a typical Israelite household. Because the Bible is deeply concerned with religious matters, many aspects of women’s religious culture can also be delineated, even though the Bible’s overwhelmingly male focus means that specific details concerning women’s religious practice must be painstakingly teased out of the biblical text. The Bible’s tendency to focus on the elite classes of ancient Israelite society likewise means that it is possible to sketch a reasonable portrait of the experiences of elite women, especially the women of the royal court, although, again, this information must often be teased out of accounts whose primary interest is elite men.

Subjects

  • Biblical Studies
  • Christianity
  • Judaism and Jewish Studies

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