Biblical Life in Y’shua’s Day = part I

Have you ever wondered what life was like when Y’shua (Jesus) was a little boy? This may give you a little insight into that period. Wouldn’t it have been great to be a mouse in the corner and watch Him grow up? Hear the sounds, smell the smells and see the action? I’m glad I live in the here-and-now, but it would have been so interesting to watch history (HIS story) unfold!

Home Life:
The basis for Israeli society was the family unit. The father was, no questions asked, the head of the home. The Hebrew word for “father” is “ab”. To say it in a more familiar way would be “abba” which would correspond to “daddy”. (Side note: Hebrew is truly G-d’s language. The original letters were pictures or pictograms. Each letter was a picture that described it. The Hebrew letter “A” is aleph, which in the original was a picture of the head of an ox, means “strong (as in ox) leader, ruler of. The Hebrew letter “B” is bet (say bait) and looked like a triangle, standing for a tent, and meant house, or center of. So what do you get when you put the two together? AB (father) = Strong leader of the home. Isn’t G-d amazing? Oh, that it were true today! Our nation would once again be strong!)

Families were much larger than they are today and several generations lived together. There was always someone to help with the work, babysit and just be there to share problems. Someone always had an answer for everything. Women gathered together to wash clothes and share the news. When a woman married, she left her home and moved in with her husband’s family. The husband would have spent the betrothal time (engagement) building a room onto his father’s house. The dowry brought in by the bride would help pay for it and supply the new couple with what they needed to get started. The husband did NOT buy the wife, he paid her father for the services he was losing when he gave up his daughter.

Young people were expected to marry when they reached puberty. About 12 and a half for a girl and 14 for a boy! In those days there was no such thing as a “teenager”. You were a child and treated as such, or you were a man or a woman and accepted the responsibilities that went along with it. There was little problem with drugs, promiscuity or bad behavior. There wasn’t time to get in trouble – you worked and took your responsibilities seriously. The formal betrothal was not like our engagements today. The couple was already married in the eyes of the law, except that they did not live together and to get out of the arrangement, you had to seek a divorce. The time period was about a year long. A widow need only wait one month before she could remarry. This was necessary for her economic situation. No welfare payments or Social Security then! The groom prepared a house for her and the bride prepared her trousseau and gathered things she would need in her new home. When the groom’s father, and only he, decided it was time – the young man could go and get his bride. Does that have a familiar ring to it? One day G-d the Father will send Y’shua for his bride. He has all this time been “preparing a place” for her.

Women worked very hard (as did the men) in that society and the father was losing a lot when she left the home. Marriages were generally arranged, sometimes from a very young age. The wife had a choice – she could accept or not when time came for the betrothal. She was expected to look after the home. In rich homes, there were servants to do the work, but the wife was still expected to spin and weave the clothing.

Food: Bread was the basic food. The more well-to-do ate wheat bread and the common people ate bread made from barley. It was baked every morning. Vegetables, such as onions, leeks, garlic, peppers were ever present and melons, figs, dates and citrus fruits were grown. Stews, (mutton or lentil) bread and fish made up the day’s menu. Red meats were usually only eaten on Feast Days or special occasions when a lamb, kid or calf would be killed. Pigeons were cheap and locusts were considered a great delicacy! Cheese and butter were also available. Salt from the Dead Sea and honey for sweetening finished off the meal.

Bibliography:
“Living in the Time of Jesus of Nazareth” by Peter Connoly, 1983, Tel Aviv, Israel

Continued tomorrow,
Shabbat Shalom, Sharaka
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