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Hebrew Life and Times

Hebrew Life and Times
Title: Hebrew Life and Times
Release Date: 2006-04-17
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 25 March 2019
Count views: 13
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Transcriber's Note:

A number of obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text.
For a complete list, please see the bottom of this document.




Copyright, MCMXXI, by

All Rights Reserved

Printed in the United States of America



  Foreword 7
I. Shepherds on the Border of the Desert 9
II. Home Life in the Tents 15
III. Desert Pilgrims 22
IV. A Struggle Against Tyranny 28
V. A Great Deliverance 34
VI. From the Desert into Canaan 39
VII. Learning to be Farmers 44
VIII. Village Life in Canaan 49
IX. Keeping House Instead of Camping Out 55
X. Moral Victories in Canaan 60
XI. Lessons in Cooperation 66
XII. Experiments in Government 70
XIII. The Nation Under David and Solomon 76
XIV. The Wars of Kings and the People's Sorrows 82
XV. A New Kind of Religion 88
XVI. A New Kind of Worship 94
XVII. Jehovah Not a God of Anger 99
XVIII. One Just God Over All Peoples 103
XIX. A Revised Law of Moses 108
XX. A Prophet Who Would Not Compromise 114
XXI. Keeping the Faith in a Strange Land 120[4]
XXII. Undying Hopes of the Jews 127
XXIII. The Good Days of Nehemiah 134
XXIV. Hymn and Prayer Books for the New Worship 140
XXV. A Narrow Kind of Patriotism 146
XXVI. A Broad-Minded and Noble Patriotism 151
XXVII. Outdoor Teachers Among the Jews 155
XXVIII. Book Learning Among the Jews 161
XXIX. New Oppressors and New Wars For Freedom 167
XXX. The Discontent of the Jews Under Roman Rule 172
XXXI. Jewish Hopes Made Greater by Jesus 176
XXXII. A Thousand Years of a Nation's Quest 182
  Review and Test Questions 185



A Daric, or Piece of Money Coined by Darius,
One of the Earliest Specimens of Coined Money
Ancient Hebrew Weights for Balances 10
Hebrew Dry and Liquid Measures 10
Bronze Needles and Pins From Ruins of AncientCanaanite City 16
Canaanite Nursery Bottles (Clay) 16
Canaanite Silver Ladle 16
Canaanite Forks 16
Egyptian Plowing 44
Egyptians Threshing and Winnowing 44
Egyptian or Hebrew Threshing Floor 44
An Egyptian Reaping 48
Canaanite Hoes 48
Canaanite Sickle 48
Canaanite or Hebrew Plowshares 48
Modern Arab Woman Spinning 52
Ancient Hebrew Door Key 52
Hebrew Needles of Bone 52
Smaller Key 52
Canaanite Chisel (Bronze) 76
Canaanite File 76
Very Ancient Canaanite Flint, for Making Stone Knives 76
Bronze Hammerhead 76
Bone Awl Handle 76[6]
A Fish-Hook 76
Canaanite Whetstones 76
Canaanite or Hebrew Nails 76
Remains of Walls of the Canaanite City, Megiddo 134
Part of City Wall and Gate, Samaria 134
Canaanite Pipe or Fife 144
An Egyptian Harp 144
An Assyrian Upright Harp 144
An Assyrian Horizontal Harp 144
A Babylonian Harp 144
Jewish Harps on Coins of Bar Cochba, 132-135 A.D. 144
Assyrian Dulcimer 144



Most histories have been histories of kings and emperors. The dailylife of the common people—their joys and sorrows, their hopes,achievements, and ideals—has been buried in oblivion. The historicalnarratives of the Bible are, indeed, to a great extent an exception tothis rule. They tell us much about the everyday life of peasants andslaves. The Bible's chief heroes were not kings nor nobles. Itssupreme Hero was a peasant workingman. But we have not always studiedthe Bible from this point of view. In this course we shall try toreconstruct for ourselves the story of the Hebrew people as an accountof Hebrew shepherds, farmers, and such like: what oppressions theyendured; how they were delivered; and above all what ideals ofrighteousness and truth and mercy they cherished, and how they came tothink and feel about God. It makes little difference to us whatparticular idler at any particular time sat in the palace at Jerusalemsending forth tax-collectors to raise funds for his luxuries. It is ofvery great interest and concern to us if there were daughters likeRuth in the barley fields of Bethlehem, if shepherds tended theirflocks in that same country who were so fine in heart and simple infaith that to them or their children visions of angels might appeartelling of a Saviour of the world. On such as these, in this study,let us as far as possible fix our attention.





Ancient Arabia is the home of that branch of the white race known asthe Semitic. Here on the fertile fringes of well-watered landsurrounding the great central desert lived the Phœnicians, theAssyrians, the Babylonians, and the Canaanites who, before theHebrews, inhabited Palestine. So little intermixing of races has therebeen that the Arabs of to-day, like those of the time of Abraham, areSemites.

The Hebrew people are an offshoot of this same Semitic group. Theybegan their career as a tribe of shepherds on the border of the northArabian desert. The Arab shepherds of to-day, still living in tentsand wandering to and fro on the fringes of the settled territory ofPalestine, or to the south and west of Bagdad, represent almostperfectly what the wandering Hebrew shepherds used to be.

The Arabs of to-day are armed with rifles, whereas Abraham's warriorscut down their enemies with bronze swords. Otherwise, in customs,superstitions, and even to some extent in language, the modern desertArabs may stand for the ancient Hebrews in their earliest period. Theywere nomads with no settled homes. Every rainy season they led outtheir flocks into the valleys where the fresh green of the new grasswas crowding back the desert brown. All through the spring and earlysummer they went from spring to spring, and from pasture to pastureseeking the greenest and tenderest [10]grass. Then as the dry season cameon and the barren waste came creeping back they also worked their wayback toward the more settled farm lands, until autumn found themselling their wool to the nearby farmers and townspeople in exchangefor wheat and barley and some of the other necessaries of life.

The Shepherd's Daily Life

Sheep-raising might seem at times a peaceful and even a somewhatmonotonous business. The flocks found their own food, grazing in thepastures. Morning and night they had to be watered, the water beingdrawn from the well and poured into watering troughs. Once or twice aday also the ewes and shegoats had to be milked. When these choreswere done it was only necessary to stand guard over the flock andprotect them from robbers or wild animals. This, however, had to bedone by night as well as by day. On these wide pastures there were nosheepfolds into which the animals could be securely herded as on thesettled farms. They slept on the ground, under the open sky, and theshepherds, like those in Bethlehem, in the story of Jesus' birth, hadto keep "watch over their flocks by night." So long as no enemiesappeared there was in such an occupation plenty of time in which tothink and dream of God and man and love and duty. Very often, however,the dreamer's reveries were interrupted, and at such times there wasno lack of excitement.

Wild beasts.—There were more

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