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Arts & Sensuality TIME LINE Early Israelites: Adam/Eve to Babylonian Exile
Commercial Sex Mesopotamia Ammonites
Contraception Ancient Egypt Amorites From the Adam and Eve story we
Disabilities/Illnesses Ancient India Canaanites see a patrilineal Israelite tribe
Dysfunctions Ancient China Hittites which placed women as second to men.
Human Body Early Biblical Israelites The earliest tribal doctrines allowed
History of Sex Early Mediterranean Moabites brother/sister incestuous relations
Law & Sex Ancient Greece Philistines and marriages. Cain took his sister
Love & Intimacy Incan Empire as a wife. All of Adam and Eve's
Paraphilias Aztec Empire sons and daughters intermarried.
Pleasures of Sex Mayan Empire
Pregnancy Native Americans When the Isrealite tribe encountered
Relationships Roman Empire the Canaanites, some of the Canaanite
Religion & Sex Middle Ages religious and sexual cult doctrines became
Research Renaissance/Reformation intermixed. However, a taboo was placed
STDs Puritans on brother/sister marriages. Half siblings
Societies Victorianism were still allowed to marry with the same
Variances Adolf Hitler father and a different mother, such as
Violence Kinsey - 1950s Abraham and Sarah who shared the same
Sex Revolution-60s father. Cousin marriages were permitted
up until King David in the 10th c. BC.

Polygyny was completely allowed, but usually only rich men and leaders had many wives. For example, Esau, Isaac's son
had two wives. Jacob had two wives. Gideon had many wives and 70 sons. King David had several wives. King Solomon
had many wives. King Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines.

Among the more poor peoples, the men were allowed to have concubines, usually sexual relations and children with
their wife's handmaids. Sarah gave Abraham her handmaid when she was unable to have children. Rachel gave Jacob
her handmaid. Hannah gave her husband her handmaid and from that sexual encounter came Samuel. More often though
men would simply purchase a concubine from a girl's father.

Early Israelite tribes bought or purchased their wives with large bride prices to the woman's father. Bride
prices were reduced for cousin marriages. Purchasing wives was not looked down upon but seen with respect.
They placed a high value on the virginity and chastity of the bride that they purchased. Wives were purchased
to bear children. And the people believed that if a woman was unable to have children that "sins" such as
adultery, had caused such sterility. Israelite tribal fathers also engaged in sexual hospitality of their
daughters to house guests. When guests were in their home, they offered their own daughters sexually to them.

Prostitution did not exist in the early Israelite tribe until after they came into contact with the Canaanites.
Canaanites had fertility cults, and each Canaanite temple had its own set of prostitutes. The Israelites began
to divide prostitutes into two separate categories: the zonah, or profane prostitutes and the q'deshah, or holy
prostitutes. The actual word "q'deshah" is borrowed from the neighboring peoples who had polytheist deities, such
as the Sumerians and Canaanites. The name of the Sumerian goddess was Qadshu or Qodesh who had her own temple with
holy prostitutes called "qodshu." Prostitutes were not looked down upon until Leviticus. Prostitutes had their own
homes in which they invited guests to. For example, the prostitute Rahab had a house at the wall of Jericho. Even when
the Hebrews took over Jericho, Rahab was still allowed to be in business. By Leviticus, rabbis were forbidden from
marrying prostitutes and divorced women. And when the Israelites were exiled from Babylonia in 586 BC, the idea
of the q'deshah disappeared since it was borrowed from the other pagan cultures that they lived among.

Homosexuality is seen in completely different oppositions throughout Biblical texts. In one instance, it is
described as an abomination for a man to take another man as a wife. Yet in other instances, it was seen as
hospitable to give a son to a house guest that preferred boys instead of girls. Thus, if that were the case
the father would offer a son sexually to a house guest instead of a daughter.

From the beginnings, marriages out of the tribe were forbidden or looked down upon, especially marriages
to women of peoples from pagan cults. But they always happened. The Israelites intermarried with the
Canaanites, Moabites, Ammonites, Hittites, Hivites, Shechemites, Cushites, Simeonites, Philistines,
Gilgashites, Amorites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Babylonians. Some of those
intermarriages between cultures produced offspring that became leaders of the Israelites.

For Further Readings on Ancient Israelites:

Biale, David. (1949) Eros and the Jews. New York: Basic Books.
Crosby, Micheal R. (1984) Sex in the Bible. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Epstein, Louis. (1948) Sex, Laws & Customs in Judaism. New York: KTAV Publishing House.
Frymer-Kensky, Tikva Simone. (1992) In the Wake of Goddesses: Women, Culture, and the Biblical
Transformation of Pagan Myth
. New York: Maxwell Macmillan International.
Horner, Tom. (1974) Sex in the Bible. Vermont: Charles E. Tuttle & Co.
Larue, Gerard. (1998) Sex and the Bible. New York: Prometheus Books.
Matthews, Victor, Levinson, Bernard, Frymer-Kensky, Tikva. (1998) Gender and the Law in the
Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
. England: Sheffield Academic Press.
Norris, Pamela. (1998) The Story of Eve. London: Picador.
Pagels, Elaine. (1988) Adam, Eve & the Serpent. New York: Random House.
Patai, Raphael. (1959) Sex & Family in the Bible and Middle East. New York: Doubleday & Co.
Smelik, Klaas. (1992) Converting the Past: Studies in Ancient Israelite and Moabite Historiography
New York: E. J. Brill.
Trible, Phyllis. (1978) God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Ancient Israelite Links

Ancient Israel's History Class
Beyond Milk and Honey: Israeli Recipes
Brief History of Iranian Jews
Internet Ancient History Sourcebook
Jerusalem Out of Focus: Photography
Jewish People Net: Jews Around the World
Reconstructing the Society of Ancient Israel
Walking in Their Sandals: Virtual History Tour of the Holy Land Online

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Last updated 12.7.2014