C.S. Alexander; © L.E. Stager

The foundation of daily life in ancient Israel was the extended family household, or bêt ’aµb, which lived and worked in a compound like the one shown in this reconstruction. Not only was the bêt ’aµb the basic unit of social organization, but it also served as a model for the organization of all of Israelite society. Just as a father exerted authority over his household, so the king ruled his “children,” the people—and God was father over the “children of Israel.” In the accompanying excerpt from their new book, Life in Biblical Israel, authors Philip J. King and Lawrence E. Stager argue that Israelite society was thus structured like households nested one inside the other.