BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Daily Life in Ancient Israel

What was life like for the settlers of Canaan during the time of the Biblical Judges?

According to author Robert D. Miller, archaeological surveys and excavations of the central hill country have provided a much clearer picture of daily life in ancient Israel during the time of the Biblical Judges and the early Israelite settlers of Canaan.

What was life like for the tribes of Israel in the time of the Biblical Judges, the period archaeologists call Iron Age I (1200–1000 B.C.E.)?

The evidence for the early Israelite settlers of Canaan comes from two sources: archaeological survey and excavations. Much of the area of the central highlands, where most of the settlers of Canaan established their villages, was archaeologically surveyed in the 1980s and 1990s.

These surveys provided much useful information about daily life in ancient Israel during the period of the Biblical Judges, including the arrangement and size of tribal villages and even the nature of early Israelite economic and political systems. Excavation data, both from recent excavations (Shiloh, for example) and from digs long past (such as Bethel), also provide evidence of daily life in ancient Israel, including the society’s wealth, warfare and housing.

From this evidence, the following portrait emerges of daily life in ancient Israel during the time of the Biblical Judges.


The free eBook Life in the Ancient World guides you through craft centers in ancient Jerusalem, family structure across Israel and articles on ancient practices—from dining to makeup—across the Mediterranean world.


The Israelite villages built by the settlers of Canaan were on hilltops. They were quite small, possibly 400 people in the largest of these—Shiloh or Gibeon, for instance. These towns were mostly unwalled, though they were part of larger political units or regional chiefdoms that provided security. The Israelite villages within a given region were subjects of the major town of the area, some of which, like Shechem, were very large and controlled considerable territory.

Israelites lived in nuclear households during the time of the Biblical Judges, often with their relatives in clusters of houses around a common courtyard. Houses were made of mudbrick with a stone foundation and perhaps a second story of wood. The living space of the houses consisted of three or four rooms, often with sleeping space on the roof or in a covered roof loft. One of the first-floor rooms was probably a courtyard for domestic animals, mostly sheep and goat.

At that time of the Biblical Judges, the hills were densely overgrown, covered with a thick scrub of pine, oak and terebinth trees. And it was often too rocky for the sheep, so raising animals never stood at the forefront of the economy. Instead, the early Israelite settlers of Canaan would burn off some of the brush, terrace the hillsides within an hour’s walk of the village, and plant grain, primarily wheat. Other lesser crops included lentils, garbanzo beans, barley and millet. They had orchards on these terraces as well.


BAS Library Members, read more about daily life in ancient Israel during the time of the Biblical Judges in Robert D. Miller, Archaeological Views, “Israelite Life Before the Kings,” Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 2013.

Not a BAS Library member yet? Sign up today!


The free eBook Life in the Ancient World guides you through craft centers in ancient Jerusalem, family structure across Israel and articles on ancient practices—from dining to makeup—across the Mediterranean world.


 

Related content in Bible History Daily:

Does a Jordan Valley Site Reveal the Origin of Ancient Israel?

Ancient Worship in Israel—Before the Israelites

The Oldest Hebrew Script and Language

Tel ‘Eton Excavations Reveal Possible Judahite Administrative Center

You Are What You Eat: The Israelite Diet and Archaeology

Scorched Wheat May Provide Answers on the Destruction of Canaanite Tel Hazor


This Bible History Daily feature was originally published in March 2013.


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17 Responses

  1. hijnjgytg7 says:

    WHO WERE THEY THO AND WHERE THEY LIVED?

  2. gtrsgydyg says:

    HELLOOOOOO

  3. Bob Ross says:

    Didn’t help 🙁

  4. David Hensley says:

    I wanted to see how an average home looked during the early days of Israel.

  5. eric says:

    thanks. you really helped with my project.

  6. Sir Authoritic kajiet Student says:

    Amen Sistren” and brethren” God ye shall honor to thy that honor him’ and she that neil before him shall rise above all else that oppose her ! For she is mighty through God Almighty only!. Amen Brethren he that follows shalllisten learn and thrive well unto his Kingdom for God doest not forsake his children!.

  7. Sir Authoritic kajiet Student says:

    Amen brother! Solid evidence and words of share wisdom from both sides” Amen my Sistren” no falsehood will prevail against us ether for we are warriors of Christ Jesus! Women and men as well!.

  8. Edmanuel Fuentes says:

    Very helpful.

  9. Caleb says:

    Hay bill BC is the pagan bit mate not the BCE that’s right BC is common bit

  10. BIll Brown says:

    Why would someone want to cower to the ungodly and call it BCE? That is a fiction. There was a reason to the more God-honoring convention of B.C. and A.D.

  11. Joe Jackson says:

    Thanks that was really helpful with my assignment.

  12. Colette says:

    Please, please stop looking for an oppressive Father. To travel through time into the past and into the future you must clear your mind of the now. Seriously clear your mind. In the beginning we were in caves. Life was hard, vicious and unexplored. He directed that man be first then women than children. We knew everything spiritual and nothing physical. He loves us. He knew it would be hard at first. He knew it would be physical things we would have to conquer. We already knew the spirit. He put man above because of his physical strength and the ability of men to actually mix spirit and physical in their minds. Women are spiritual. We give birth. We are not in paradise where spirit is all. We are on earth where physical attacks us daily. Women and children were not oppressed, they were protected until the time of revelations. We we assigned help mates to conquer the physical world. Women do NOT need to direct men into spirit, the Father does that. If they do that then they hamper men from their duel purpose of conquering the vicious physical world. It was through men’s ability to carry spirit and to stand against the attacks of the physical world that the lives of women and children have improved. I Pray my simple understanding leads you to know we are so Loved by the Father. We cannot exist here in total spirit. Thank you Father for men. For without their God head, women and children and the Human race would not be.

  13. Author Sets Gripping Teenage Adventure Fiction in Ancient Israel | Elite Massage Reviews says:

    […] Richard L. Tenney comes a poignant and highly engaging volume that paints a unique picture of ancient Israeli life and gives a transcendent message on how fathers play a deeply important role in families in The […]

  14. Voice in the Wilderness says:

    […] Biblical Archaeology – Daily Life in Ancient Israel […]

  15. Author Sets Gripping Teenage Adventure Fiction in Ancient Israel | XXX Escort Girls Reviews says:

    […] Richard L. Tenney comes a poignant and highly engaging volume that paints a unique picture of ancient Israeli life and gives a transcendent message on how fathers play a deeply important role in families in The […]

  16. Bridging the Gap: The Historical Context of the Book of Ruth (Part 1 of 3) | Foundation Experiment says:

    […] Moving backwards chronologically in Israel’s history, it would stand to reason that the period in which the judges were ruling would fall just prior to the time of the monarchy, just prior to 1000 BC. Evidence of early Israelite settlements during this period has indeed been found in archaeological surveys and excavations that help date the period of the Judges to 1200-1000 BC (Iron Age I). You can read more about that here. […]

  17. lygkhiiygb says:

    nice?

Write a Reply or Comment

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17 Responses

  1. hijnjgytg7 says:

    WHO WERE THEY THO AND WHERE THEY LIVED?

  2. gtrsgydyg says:

    HELLOOOOOO

  3. Bob Ross says:

    Didn’t help 🙁

  4. David Hensley says:

    I wanted to see how an average home looked during the early days of Israel.

  5. eric says:

    thanks. you really helped with my project.

  6. Sir Authoritic kajiet Student says:

    Amen Sistren” and brethren” God ye shall honor to thy that honor him’ and she that neil before him shall rise above all else that oppose her ! For she is mighty through God Almighty only!. Amen Brethren he that follows shalllisten learn and thrive well unto his Kingdom for God doest not forsake his children!.

  7. Sir Authoritic kajiet Student says:

    Amen brother! Solid evidence and words of share wisdom from both sides” Amen my Sistren” no falsehood will prevail against us ether for we are warriors of Christ Jesus! Women and men as well!.

  8. Edmanuel Fuentes says:

    Very helpful.

  9. Caleb says:

    Hay bill BC is the pagan bit mate not the BCE that’s right BC is common bit

  10. BIll Brown says:

    Why would someone want to cower to the ungodly and call it BCE? That is a fiction. There was a reason to the more God-honoring convention of B.C. and A.D.

  11. Joe Jackson says:

    Thanks that was really helpful with my assignment.

  12. Colette says:

    Please, please stop looking for an oppressive Father. To travel through time into the past and into the future you must clear your mind of the now. Seriously clear your mind. In the beginning we were in caves. Life was hard, vicious and unexplored. He directed that man be first then women than children. We knew everything spiritual and nothing physical. He loves us. He knew it would be hard at first. He knew it would be physical things we would have to conquer. We already knew the spirit. He put man above because of his physical strength and the ability of men to actually mix spirit and physical in their minds. Women are spiritual. We give birth. We are not in paradise where spirit is all. We are on earth where physical attacks us daily. Women and children were not oppressed, they were protected until the time of revelations. We we assigned help mates to conquer the physical world. Women do NOT need to direct men into spirit, the Father does that. If they do that then they hamper men from their duel purpose of conquering the vicious physical world. It was through men’s ability to carry spirit and to stand against the attacks of the physical world that the lives of women and children have improved. I Pray my simple understanding leads you to know we are so Loved by the Father. We cannot exist here in total spirit. Thank you Father for men. For without their God head, women and children and the Human race would not be.

  13. Author Sets Gripping Teenage Adventure Fiction in Ancient Israel | Elite Massage Reviews says:

    […] Richard L. Tenney comes a poignant and highly engaging volume that paints a unique picture of ancient Israeli life and gives a transcendent message on how fathers play a deeply important role in families in The […]

  14. Voice in the Wilderness says:

    […] Biblical Archaeology – Daily Life in Ancient Israel […]

  15. Author Sets Gripping Teenage Adventure Fiction in Ancient Israel | XXX Escort Girls Reviews says:

    […] Richard L. Tenney comes a poignant and highly engaging volume that paints a unique picture of ancient Israeli life and gives a transcendent message on how fathers play a deeply important role in families in The […]

  16. Bridging the Gap: The Historical Context of the Book of Ruth (Part 1 of 3) | Foundation Experiment says:

    […] Moving backwards chronologically in Israel’s history, it would stand to reason that the period in which the judges were ruling would fall just prior to the time of the monarchy, just prior to 1000 BC. Evidence of early Israelite settlements during this period has indeed been found in archaeological surveys and excavations that help date the period of the Judges to 1200-1000 BC (Iron Age I). You can read more about that here. […]

  17. lygkhiiygb says:

    nice?

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