Tag Archives: Near East

EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (TEAR A GARMENT PT 1 OF 2)

If we tear our clothing, it is generally by accident unless we are tearing up an old garment for rags. This was not true in the culture of Bible times where the tearing of one’s garment was an external sign of one’s internal pain. The average person of the era did not have multiple changes of clothing like we do in our closets and dressers; consequently, they took great care to prevent accident tearing of their clothing (Exod 28:32; Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21). But there was “a time to tear and a time to mend” (Eccles 3:7); the time to intentionally tear was a time of intense grief that might have included repentance.

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EVERYDAY LIFE IN BIBLE TIMES (PLUNDER)

From an early age we are taught to respect the belongings of others even if our size and strength make it possible to take them by force. In order to understand the actions of the people of the ancient Near East, we need to make a major adjustment in this thinking. Within the cultural construct of this world, the expectation was that those who were victorious in battle had the right to seize the personal property of those defeated and even enslave the owners of that property. This practice of plundering is mentioned repeatedly in the literature of the ancient world peatedly in the literature of the ancient world and illustrated in the art of the empires that rose to power during the Old Testament era.

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DECREES AND LAWS

Deuteronomy shares many affinities with literature from the ancient Near East. The most evident is tis relationship to the various collections of legal sayings that have been recovered. These collections have come from as early as 2000 BC and before – eg., Sumerian Laws of Ur-Nammu (2064-2046 BC), the Laws Eshnunna (c 1850 BC), and the Code of Hammurapi king of Babylon (1792-1750 BC). The OT contains both similarities with and difference from these collections in subcategories of types of laws, such as case law, apodictic law, laws, involving curses, motive clauses, etc.

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DEFINITION OF THE DAY (DREAMS)

In the ancient Near East dreams were one of several ways people sought to see the future and to make decisions that would be beneficial to them. In some societies, people went to temples or holy places to sleep in order to have a dream that would show them the best decision to make.

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DEFINITION OF THE DAY (SOAP, SOBER)

SOAP – Cleaner made by mixing olive oil and alikali from burning certain salt-producing plants. It was used of washing the body (Jer 2:22) and of washing clothes (Mal 3:2). Perhaps the scant references to soap are due to the fact that people in the Near East use oil for cleansing the body and pound clothes on rocks while wet to cleanse them.

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DEFINITION OF THE DAY (LOTS)

soldiers-casting-lots (1)

Objects of unknown shape and material used to determine the divine will. Often in the ancient Near East people, especially priests, made difficult and significant decisions by casting lots on the ground or drawing them from a receptacle. Several times Scripture mentions the practice. We do not know exactly what the lots look like. Nor do we know how they were interpreted. We do know that people of the OT and NT believe God (or gods in the case of non-Israelites or non-Christians) influenced the fall or outcome of the lots (Prov 16:33). Thus, casting lots was a way of determining God’s will. Continue reading DEFINITION OF THE DAY (LOTS)