n Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages - On the question of male maturity in Israelite society during biblical times

Volume 38, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0259-0131


This article tries to explore with careful scrutiny the status of the mature male vis-à-vis the mature female in Israelite society during biblical times. Unlike the female, whose ties with her father's household is dissolved at some future stage of her life, the mature male was subject to his father's authority as long as his father was alive. A distinction is made in this article between biological maturity (carnal desires), which was not identified with a certain age, and admission to citizenship bestowed on the young man at the age of twenty, which comprised the legal right to make temple offerings, the obligation to serve in the army, and to pay taxes. Despite the absence of ritual processes in biblical texts relating to the passage from childhood to maturity (something tantamount to the Jewish bar mizwah בַּר מִצְוָה), we deduced that a certain ceremony did occur in ancient Israelite society. It is highly unlikely that parents in any society would ignore the biological development of their children such as nocturnal emissions (of semen) or menstruation. Anthropologists have shown through their research that various peoples around the world, at different times, shared common modes of conceptualization such as thought patterns, opinions and beliefs, ceremonies and customs, and call this the spiritual unity of man.

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