WOMEN’S WORK, HOUSEHOLD AND PROPERTY IN TWO MEDITERRANEAN SOCIETIES: A COMPARATIVE ESSAY ON PROVERBS XXXI 10-31 by BERNHARD LANG St. Andrews—Paderborn The poetic portrait of the ‘capable wife’, 1 placed at the end of the biblical book of Proverbs, represents one of the most striking docu- ments on women dating from Hebrew antiquity. Due to its brevity and the lack of similar biblical texts, scholars have made little use of the poem for understanding the organisation and management of the household in biblical times. It has also escaped the attention of eco- nomic historians. The present essay argues that new light can be shed on the poem and its socio-economic background from comparative evidence. Much can be learned about the Hebrew wife when her posi- tion is compared to that of the Athenian wife as depicted in Xenophon’s Oeconomicus . The sources Commentators are uncertain how to date our rst source, the bib- lical poem on the ‘capable wife’. Expert opinions di V er widely, with suggestions ranging from pre-monarchical times (i.e., before the tenth century B.C.E.) to the Hellenistic second century B.C.E. 2 Within that range, the present writer prefers a ‘late’ dating. Apparently, chapter xxxi
Vetus Testamentum – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2004
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