The Importance of Family in Ancient Israel

4 April 2015
An exploration of the importance of family as it applies to family structure, land ownership, farming and gender roles.

The following paper discusses the book of two authors Carol Meyers and Joseph Blenkinsopp who attempt to demonstrate the importance of family through its connection with agriculture, social status, religious practice, economics, local and national government, marriage and child rearing in the anthology ‘Families in Ancient Israel’. By exploring the writings of two experts in Ancient Israel, this paper helps us to understand why the Jews were so concerned with the relatives and ancestors of individuals and why many economic and interpersonal decisions were based on the preservation of the households and land. This paper also examines the way in which these two authors address the issues of gender where they markedly differ in their perspectives.
“The all-encompassing importance of family as it is called it in the Western World in the 21st century, was known as mispahah. Our understanding of family falls short in understanding mispahah as a concept that shaped every aspect of life in ancient Israel. Other more indicative words include household and clan. The authors Carol Meyers and Joseph Blenkinsopp attempt to demonstrate the importance of mispahah through its connection with agriculture, social status, religious practice, economics, local and national government, marriage, and child rearing in the anthology Families in Ancient Israel. Most of their examples trace a practice or doctrine to its roots in the preservation of the clan’s social structure and how it related to land ownership and inheritance. ”
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