Biblical Archaeology Review 40:6, November/December 2014

“Eves” of Everyday Ancient Israel

By Carol Meyers

Women are vastly underrepresented in the Hebrew Bible. Named men outnumber women by about ten to one. And the women who do appear are mostly exceptional or elite women, not the majority who were farm women.

Not only are women underrepresented, but they are depicted by writers who were mostly elite urban males; built-in Biblical biases often preclude a balanced perspective.

Complicating matters still further, many Biblical texts were written down generations if not centuries after what they purport to describe.

What was life like for ordinary women in ancient Israel? If we are to understand the position of women in the Iron Age (c. 1200–587 B.C.E.), we must take into account what can be learned from sources in addition to what is in the Hebrew Bible.

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