Ancient Near East
Images & Art
Maps & Geography
Mythology & Beliefs
People in History
Timelines & Charts
Ancient Customs and Scripture
"Many customs recorded in Scripture puzzle us, or at least are not fully understood because the customs are unknown in modern cultures. Sometimes a Bible writer knew that an explanation was necessary because customs had already changed in his own day.
For example, Ruth 4:7 explains the significance of drawing off the sandal to indicate renunciation of one's rights. But even if the author had not given us an explanation we would now know the significance of the custom because of the work of the archaeologist. Tablets have been recovered from near Kirkuk (ancient Nuzu), Iraq, which explain this particular practice.
Other unexplained customs can now be understood.
Gen. 31:30 ff. records Laban's anguish because his teraphim or household gods had been stolen. Unknown to her husband Jacob, Rachel had taken these images. The incident seems to have little significance except for the increased tension between Jacob and Laban. Through the Nuzu tablets we now know why the tension was increased and, more important, why Rachel risked possible injury or death in taking the images. Ancient law among the tribes provided that whoever owned the family gods inherited the family estate, or in other cases, became the recognized head of the clan. Rachel was seeking to protect her own and Jacob's just inheritance.
New commentaries contain many such insights which come as a direct result of the work of the archaeologist."
Walter G. Williams, "Archaeology in Biblical Research" (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1965) pp. 17-18
Bibliography on Ancient Customs
The Art of Ancient Egypt, Revised
by Robins, 272 Pages, Pub. 2008
© Bible History Online (http://www.bible-history.com)
Bible & History QuotesFirst Mention of Herod in History - Ehud Netzer