Cover image for Life in biblical Israel
Life in biblical Israel
King, Philip J.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Louisville, Ky. : Westminster John Knox Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxii, 440 pages : illustrations, maps ; 26 cm.
Title Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS112 .K48 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This special-edition volume of the Library of Ancient Israel, based on the latest research, presents a vivid description of the world of Ancient Israel, covering such topics as domestic life, the means of existence, cultural expression, and religious practices. With over 175 full-color pictures and illustrations, Life in Biblical Israel opens the door to everyday life in biblical Israel for all readers. This volume is perfect for classrooms, coffee tables, and personal use.

Volumes in the Library of Ancient Israel draw on multiple disciplines--such as archaeology, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, and literary criticism--to illuminate the everyday realities and social subtleties these ancient cultures experienced. This series employs sophisticated methods resulting in original contributions that depict the reality of the people behind the Hebrew Bible and interprets these insights for a wide variety of readers.

Author Notes

Lawrence E. Stager was born Larry Elwood Stager in Kenton, Ohio on January 5, 1943. He received bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern languages and civilizations from Harvard University. In 1973, he became a professor at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. In 1986, he became the inaugural Dorot professor of the archaeology of Israel at Harvard. He retired in 2012 as professor emeritus.

As an archaeologist, he found evidence that ancient Israelites sinned by worshiping a golden calf just like the Bible said and was credited with coining the term port power to explain the impact of maritime trade as an urban magnet during the Bronze Age. His book, Life in Biblical Israel written with Philip J. King, was published in 2001. He died from injuries after a fall on December 29, 2017 at the age of 74.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

King (Boston College) and Stager (Harvard Univ.) describe everyday life in Iron Age Israel (1200-586 BCE). Vivid and informed, their description begins with a brief introduction to the complexities of the biblical traditions, Israelite society, and contemporary archaeology; and with an imaginative account of a typical day in the life of an ancient Israelite family. The authors then describe domestic architecture, family and kinship, meals and hospitality, illness and healing, farming and water systems, arts and crafts, travel and trade, kingship and warfare, clothing and grooming, music and dance, literacy and schools, and religious institutions, including Israel's cult of the dead. As the title suggests, King and Stager "reject the current notions of those critics who consider 'biblical Israel' to be a late fiction created in the fourth-second centuries." Up-to-date scholarship, clear explanations, and excellent full-color photographs and illustrations make this a valuable resource. It is similar in scope but not in organization to Social World of Ancient Israel, 1250-587 BCE, by V. Matthews and D. Benjamin (1993), which is not illustrated. General readers through professionals. F. R. Ames Colorado Christian University

Table of Contents

Illustrationsp. xi
Forewordp. xvii
Prefacep. xix
Abbreviationsp. xxi
Chronology of the Levantp. xxiii
1. Introduction: The Importance of the Everyday Lifep. 1
The Problem with Textsp. 2
The Structure of Israelite Societyp. 4
The Work of Archaeologistsp. 6
The Rhythms of Lifep. 8
Micah and the Levitep. 9
A Day in Micah's Householdp. 12
2. The Israelite House and Householdp. 21
Domestic Architecturep. 21
Building Materialsp. 21
Pillared Housep. 28
Family and Kinshipp. 36
Kinsman-Redeemerp. 38
Father's Housep. 39
Childrenp. 40
Womenp. 49
Marriagep. 54
Old Agep. 58
Crimes and Punishments in the Family Contextp. 59
Meals for Family and Guestsp. 61
Hospitalityp. 61
Furniturep. 63
Food Preparationp. 64
Daily Mealsp. 67
Illness and Healingp. 68
Hygienep. 69
Threats to Healthp. 71
Health Consultantsp. 76
Medical Proceduresp. 79
Religion and Healingp. 82
3. The Means of Existencep. 85
Farming and Animal Husbandryp. 86
Physical Geography and Climatep. 86
The Agricultural Yearp. 87
Agricultural Toolsp. 92
Cultivation and Processing of Ediblesp. 93
Other Florap. 107
Animal Husbandryp. 112
Water Sourcesp. 122
Springsp. 123
Wellsp. 123
Cisternsp. 126
Underground Reservoirsp. 127
Arts and Craftsp. 129
Potteryp. 133
Textilesp. 146
Tanningp. 162
Metallurgyp. 164
Travel, Transport, and Tradep. 176
Overland Routesp. 176
Seafaringp. 178
Travelp. 186
Transportp. 186
Tradep. 189
4. Patrimonial Kingdomp. 201
The Royal Cityp. 201
The Acropolisp. 201
The Imperial Impact of Assyria on Israelite Architecturep. 208
The King's Tablep. 210
Urban Water Systemsp. 210
Underground Water Systemsp. 210
Jerusalemp. 213
Warfare, Armies, and Weaponsp. 223
Weapons of Warp. 224
Fortificationsp. 231
Armiesp. 239
Neo-Assyrian Warfarep. 246
Neo-Babylonian Warfarep. 251
5. Culture and the Expressive Lifep. 259
Dress and Adornmentsp. 259
Clothingp. 265
Jewelry and Ornamentsp. 276
Perfumesp. 280
Cosmeticsp. 281
Groomingp. 282
Aromaticsp. 284
Music, Song, and Dancep. 285
Music and Its Functionsp. 285
Musical Instrumentsp. 290
Dancep. 298
Literacy and Schoolsp. 300
Evidence of Writingp. 300
Writing Materialsp. 304
Literacyp. 310
Schoolsp. 315
6. Religious Institutionsp. 319
Sacred Sitesp. 320
"High Places"p. 320
Temples and Shrinesp. 330
Ritual Objectsp. 339
Altarsp. 339
Cult Standsp. 340
Cult Figurinesp. 348
Votivesp. 352
Religious Practicesp. 353
Feastsp. 353
Marzeahp. 355
Sacrifices and Offeringsp. 357
"Clean" and "Unclean"p. 362
Death, Burial, and Afterlifep. 363
Tomb Types and Burial Customsp. 363
Mourningp. 372
Belief in the Afterlifep. 373
Cult of the Deadp. 376
Necromancyp. 380
Epiloguep. 383
Mapsp. 391
Bibliographyp. 395
Index of Biblical Passages and Ancient Sourcesp. 413
Index of Modern Authorsp. 421
Index of Subjectsp. 426