following the division of the kingdom 933 B. C, to the
judah 933 B. c.- final destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans,
70 A. D. 70 A. D., and the subsequent dispersion of
the Jews. This long history falls into two main divisions,
separated by a period of enforced sojourn in Babylonia
586-538 B. C., commonly known as the Babylonian Exile.
From the division of the kingdom up to the time of the Exile
the little kingdom of Judah, though much of the time paying
tribute to Egypt, Assyria or some other foreign power*
nevertheless maintained a separate political existence. In
the year 586 B. C. this existence came to an end. From 586
B. C. to 70 A. D., with the exception of the century of Mac-
cabean leadership (175-63 B.C.), Judah passed from one
foreign master to another Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Rome.
DETERMINING FACTORS IN HEBREW LIFE.
The history of the Hebrews and of their social insti-
tutions was largely determined by the following seven im-
portant factors : ( 1 ) their early nomadism ; (2) their environ-
ment, including the location, size and physical characteristics
of Palestine; (3) their contact with foreign nations; (4)
their own political weakness; (5) their prolonged subjection
22 Samaria was, of course, the capital of Israel throughout the
greater portion of its history.
12 EDUCATION IN ANCIENT ISRAEL.
to foreign masters ; (6) the supreme place ultimately given
to religion; (7) the character of their religious conceptions,
particularly their final monotheistic conception of God as a
righteous, loving and universal father. 23
The records we possess tell little of the centuries of
Bedawin life that preceded the migration into Palestine.
But what the written accounts failed or re-
Nomadism. ... , .,,.,,. ,
fused to relate, was indelibly impressed upon
the racial consciousness and imbedded in the products of
racial experience. Myths, legends and stories of the patri-
archs handed down from early times betray unmistakable
evidences of nomadic life. Likewise, certain social institu-
tions and religious conceptions bear for centuries uncon-
scious witness to the nomadic character of the period of
What the Hebrews became after settling in Palestine,
the customs and ideas they acquired and their final fate
were to no small degree determined by the
Environment. . . . _L
location and physical characteristics of Pales-
tine. A small strip of land covering about 8500 square miles,
approximately the size of Massachusetts, 24 extremely fertile
in parts and lying in the direct 'path from Egypt to Baby-
lonia and Assyria, was by its location, fertility and natural
resources inevitably destined to be the perpetual battlefield
of the great nations of antiquity. The division of this small
country into distinct districts by natural barriers tended to
keep the different tribes settling it from forming any strong or
23 Some writers question whether the Hebrews ever developed a
conception of God as a universal father; a gracious universal sov-
ereign, such writers maintain, represents the climax of ancient He-
brew thought. To me such passages as 1 Kings viii. 41-43 ; Jonah
iii. 10-11 and many teachings of the prophets are sufficient basis for
the position taken here.
24 Approximately: the area of Massachusetts (8315 square miles) ;
eight times as large as Rhode Island (1250 square miles), the smallest
of the United States; one sixth the area of New York (49,170
square miles) ; and one tenth of that of Minnesota (83,365 square
miles). (Areas taken from the Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia,
THE NATIVE OR PRE-EXILIC PERIOD. 13
lasting union and made them ready prey to internal misunder-
standings and jealousies and to conquest by outside foes.
From the time of their settlement in Palestine to their
final dispersion, the Hebrews were almost continuously in
Contact with contact with foreign civilizations. The effect
Foreign Nations. o f t his contact was many-sided and often ad-
vantageous. On the other hand, contact with pagan nations
carried with it the dangers of absorption, of loss of nation-
alism and of the adoption of moral and religious ideas and
practices of a, lower level than their own. In time, these
dangers were clearly recognized, and a studied effort was
made to devise a system able to withstand them. It was this
effort that gave rise to Judaism, uninviting in comparison
with the broad teaching of the prophets, but which, through
its very narrowness and exclusiveness, saved the national-
ity of a people scattered to the four ends of the world.
The four supreme conceptions 25 contributed by the He-
brews to the religious heritage of the race were (1) mono-
Distinctive Be- tne ^ sm ' the belief in one god and only one ;
liefs and Reiig- (2} the universal fatherhood of God; (3)
um. conceptions. the universal brotherhood of man; (4) the
union, or rather the identity, of religion and morality.
Hebrew religion was a gradual evolution. The long process
of growth by which the above conceptions were gradually
evolved can be merely suggested here. The extent to which
totemism and ancestor-worship 26 entered into primitive He-
brew religion, whether Hebrew monotheism evolved from
polytheism 27 or from henotheism 28 are still largely matters
25 It should be noted that the discussion of religion and morals in
the following paragraphs includes the post-Exilic as well as the
26 Owen C. Whitehouse, "Hebrew Religion," Enc. Brit., llth ed.,
XIII, 177 c-d.
27 F. B. Jevons, Introduction to the History of Religion, pp. 382ff,
gives an excellent summary for the arguments in favor of the poly-
theistic origin which he then proceeds to controvert.
28 Whitehouse accepts both henotheism and polytheism (for ref-
erence see above, note 26).
14 EDUCATION IN ANCIENT ISRAEL.
of conjecture and debate. Whitehouse considers it prob-
able that during nomadism "some, at least, of the Hebrew
clans had patron deities of their own." 29 Through the union
of the tribes Yahweh, formerly a tribal deity, became the
national god. 30 At the time of the Conquest, Palestine was
dotted with shrines of Baalim (singular Baal), Canaanite
local gods of agriculture and fertility. Where the Hebrews
conquered, they deposed the Baalim and set up shrines to
Yahweh. Thus local shrines to Yahweh gradually sup-
planted local Baalim. 31 The change appears to have been
frequently a change in name only, for to Yahweh at these
newly established shrines were transferred many of the
traits and the sensual and degrading rites 31 of the deposed
Baalim. 32 Yahweh was not regarded as the only god but
merely as a greater god than the gods of other nations. 33
The reality of the gods of Egypt, Phoenicia and Canaan,
far from being denied, was so thoroughly believed in that
they together with the many Yahwehs were openly wor-
shiped until the reforms of Josiah, 621 B. C.
According to Biblical record, it was in the eighteenth
year of the reign of King Josiah (621 B.C.) that the high
priest found in the royal temple in Jerusalem,
Book of Instruc- V / _ r J
tion and Reforms 3- scroll spoken of as the Book of Instruction. 84
of King Josiah The Book of Instruction forbade the worship
of any god other tharQQikiKfib, declared Jeru-
salem the sole place where sacrifices might be offered, and
29 Owen C. Whitehouse, "Hebrew Religion," Enc. Brit., llth ed.,
30 It should be borne in mind that this view of Whitehouse, as
well as all other views, of the process of how Yahweh became the
national god of the Hebrews is distinctly hypothetical. An entirely
contrary view has long been maintained, namely, that the political
union grew out of the fact that Yahweh was the common tribal god.
Such a view, of course, reverses the process as stated by Whitehouse.
31 Owen C. \Vhitehouse, "Hebrew Religion," Enc. Brit., llth ed.,
32 Ibid., p. 180a; cf. Jeremiah ii. 19-20; Hosea iv. 13-14.
33 Exodus xv. 11.
34 Identified with Deuteronomy xii-xix, and xxvi-xxviii.
THE NATIVE OR PRE-EXILIC PERIOD. 15
gave specific directions as to the manner of worship ac-
ceptable to Yahweh. King Josiah sought to put the new-
found regulations into effect at once. The Book of In-
struction was read publicly, and the king, speaking for
himself and as representative of the people, bound himself
and the nation to fulfil its laws. The adoption of the Book
of Instruction was an act of supreme importance. 35 It
marked the triumph of monotheism and of the prophetic
conception of Yahweh. By centering worship at Jerusalem
it made possible its control.
In early Hebrew thought Yahweh is represented as hav-
ing human characteristics and performing human activities.
Primitive Con- I ma g es are employed in worshiping him, 36 and
ception of Yah- he makes known his will through the sacred
lot. 37 He seeks to kill Moses. 38 He is des-
potic, merciless toward all who offend, beasts 39 as well as
men. He is concerned with the minute details of ceremony
and rite. His wrath is averted or his favor won and kept
by elaborate ceremonies, lavish and costly offerings not
excluding human sacrifices. 40 It is remarkable that nowhere
amid the traces of this early stage is Yahweh associated with
any of the gross immoralities which stain the biographies
of the gods of Greece, Rome and other nations. 41 Out of
this primitive non-ethical conception of Yahweh gradually
developed the prophetic conception.
Yahweh of the prophets is a god of mercy and kindness,
the protector of beasts 42 as well as of men. He is the lov-
Prophetic Con- in g> forgiving, never despairing father of all
ception of Yah- mankind. 43 Through his universal fatherhood
all men are brothers and as such are obligated
to fulfil toward one another the duties of brotherhood. He
35 H. Graetz, History of the Jeivs, I, 292-293.
36 Judges xvii and xviii. 37 Ibid.
38 Exodus iv. 24. 3 Ibid., xix. 12-13.
40 C. G. Montefiore, "Origin and Growth of the Religion of the
Ancient Hebrews," Hibbert Lectures, 1892, p. 40.
41 Ibid., pp. 37-40. 42 Jonah iv. 11. 43 Cf. above, note 23.
16 EDUCATION IN ANCIENT ISRAEL.
is the only god: all other gods have no existence. He is
the god of all nations, of Assyria as well as of Israel: to
Him shall all nations ultimately come. He is the moral ruler
of the universe. He is a god perfect and absolute in his
own righteousness (Amos). His favor depends upon right-
eousness. He demands of his worshipers not rites and
material gifts, but righteousness, lives pure and holy, con-
secrated to Yahweh and acceptable to him because reflecting
his moral characteristics.
The forces which gave rise to this later conception were
many. It arose partly as the reaction against the sensual
worship of surrounding nations, partly through borrowing
the better elements of religions with which the Hebrews
came in contact, largely as the result of the deepening of
their own spiritual life. National weakness and prolonged
subjection to foreign masters played an important part.
Between the relentless Yahweh of early times, whose anger
is appeased by the hanging of Saul's 'seven sons, 44 and the
Yahweh pictured by the Second Isaiah 45 are centuries of
subjection, persecution and suffering, and the ripening of
the religious genius of the prophets.
44 2 Samuel xxi. 1-11.
45 Isaiah xl-lxvi is commonly called the Second Isaiah. See espe-
cially Isaiah xli. 1-4; xliii. 4; xlv. 21.
EDUCATION DURING THE NATIVE OR
EDUCATION DURING THE NATIVE OR
"And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of
the field ; and Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling
in tents." Genesis xxv. 27.
"Young men and maidens vied with one
another in learning beautiful songs Shep-
herds and hunters at their evening rests
sang songs to the accompaniment of the flute."
Herzog, Encyclop'ddie, 2d ed., V. Extracts,
pp. 672 ff .
Summary of Chapter.
For the mass of people the Native Period was a period without
schools. The tribe and the family were the chief educational institu-
tions. Parents and relatives were the child's almost sole teachers in
During this period arose two orders, the^ priests and the gropjiets.
which fulfilled most important functions as public teachers and under
whose guidance arose a rich heritage of national literature, both oral
Toward the close of the period a national "Book of Instruction"
was adopted. This was the most conspicuous step in the beginning
of the movement which was to make of the Hebrews in the post-
Exilic Period a people of books and schools.
GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS, SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS.
It is impossible to estimate even approximately the dura-
tion of the Native or pre-Exilic Period. From the Conquest
to the Exile is something over five centuries, but back of
the Conquest stretch unknown unrecorded centuries of
nomadism. The Native Period is marked by all those
changes, industrial, political, social, moral, religious, intel-
lectual and educational, involved in passing from the life
20 EDUCATION IN ANCIENT ISRAEL.
of wandering tribes to that of a people living in walled
cities, ruled over by a king, and pursuing as occupations,
agriculture, trades and commerce. It was a period of re-
markable religious, moral and intellectual progress. 1 It be-
gins with a bookless people who erect heaps of stones to
record events. It closes with the public adoption of a
written code, 2 destined henceforth to be a national text-
book. The foundations of Judaism had been laid. Already
the forces which were to make the Jews a "people of the
book" were at work.
Throughout the Native Period the popular i'deal of man-
hood was twofold, the man of craft and shrewdness and
The Twofold ^ e man ^ strength and courage. The man
ideal of Man- of shrewdness is represented by the thrifty
herdsman and farmer, the shrewd rrerchant,
the discerning and just judge, the crafty warrior. The man
of strength and courage is represented by the stalwart and
daring hunter and soldier. Although patriarchal life as
pictured in the Scriptures is undoubtedly much idealized,
the . character of Jacob may be accepted as a clear and
forceful embodiment of one aspect of this popular ideal: a
man of shrewdness and cunning, if need be tricky and dis-
honest, prizing highly his religious inheritance, winning by
craft against all odds. Representatives of the physical ideal
are to be met with on every hand in early narrative and
legend: Jephthah and other tribal heroes or "judges"; Saul,
who stood higher from the shoulders and upward than any
one else ; David, who slew his ten thousand.
The educational characteristics of the Native Period
appear in sections to follow which consider the subject-matter
and institutions of education. The present section will be
1 See Chapter I, paragraphs on the Primitive and the Prophetic
Conceptions of Yahweh.
2 The so-called "Book of Instruction," identified with Deuteron-
omy xii-xix and xxvi-xxviii, see above, pp. 14-15.
EDUCATION DURING THE NATIVE PERIOD. 21
limited, therefore, to a brief statement of a few general
The Native Period_^ras-a_^eriod without schools. At
first the tribe, then~the~f amily, were the chief social organi-
. . zations through which education was received.
Institutions, . N
Subjects, The rise of orders of priests (Heb. kohanim)
Method. and of communities of prophets (Heb. nebiim)
undoubtedley^ed to some sort of provision for giving
special training to the members of these orders, but for
the masses of the people there were no schools. Education
was chiefly a training according to sex in the practical duties
of every-day life. This training was given, as among primi-
tive people, chiefly through actual participation, instruction
playing only a minor part. In certain respects education
was broader than in later times owing to the fact that phys-
ical sports, dancing 3 and music were more universally culti-
vated. The camp, public assemblies, temples, religious and
secular festivals supplemented the training given through
tribal and family customs and occupations.
For convenience in treatment, education will be con-
sidered under two main heads : ( 1 ) Education in the Tribe
and Family; (2) Education Outside the Family. The con-
sideration of the family as an educational institution will
be reserved, for the most part, for the post-Exilic Period,
owing to the meagerness and uncertainty of our knowledge
concerning conditions during the Native Period. With re-
spect to tribal and family education, the present chapter
will attempt to answer simply the questions, who was
taught, who did the teaching and what was taught.
BOYS' EDUCATION IN TRIBE AND FAMILY.*
In the earlier part of the Native Period all members
of the tribe of the same sex received practically the same
3 Dancing, originally a religious and patriotic exercise, came in
later times to be limited to the field of secular festive activities. See
below, paragraphs on Music Dancing.
4 For a discussion of girls' education see Chapter VI.
22 EDUCATION IN ANCIENT ISRAEL.
training. It may be that the eldest son as the prospective
successor to the position of tribe chief received some special
Who was training in religious rites, tribal ceremonies,
Taught. institutions and laws. This view is supported
by Graetz who writes: "Collaterally (with the priesthood)
there existed a custom, dating from remote patriarchal ages,
which demanded that the first-born of every family should
attend to the performance of sacrificial rites. This pre-
rogative could not be abruptly abolished, and continued for
some time alongside of the Levitical priesthood." 5
The rise of the priesthood and the prophets as distinct
classes brought into existence two orders demanding special
In tribal days -the education of the child was in the hands
of the parents and adult members of the tribe. Upon
settlement in Canaan the family became the
fundamental social unit and the training and
instruction of the children became almost entirely a matter
of parental responsibility. In some cases, however, the
parents delegated the rearing of their children to others.
The Scriptures contain references to "nursing fathers," 6
and "nursing mothers," 7 male and female nurses. Ruth's
child was nursed by Naomi. 8 Jonathan's four-year old son
was in charge of a nurse, 9 and Ahab's seventy sons were
reared by the great men of Samaria. 10
Undoubtedly the Hebrews from earliest times in com-
mon with other primitive peoples, consciously or uncon-
Periods in Edu- sciously, recognized distinct periods in child
cation. ijf e anc [ modified training and instruction ac-
cordingly. Definite recognition of such periods is found
in the post-Exilic Period, and will be described in the next
chapter. In the present chapter no attempt will be made to
present the activities, occupations and training of the child
8 H. Graetz, History of the Jews, I, 25. Numbers xi. 12.
7 Isaiah xlix. 23. Ruth iv. 16.
9 2 Samuel iv. 4. 10 2 Kings x. 1-7.
EDUCATION DURING THE NATIVE PERIOD. 23
upon the basis of stages; owing to lack of data, a general
treatment must suffice.
What Was Taught.
In early childhood, play, in later childhood and youth,
work, industrial occupations and training in the use of
industrial and weapons were the activities through which
Physical Train- physical development and training were se-
cured. During the period of nomadism and
for a considerable time after settlement in Canaan every
tribesman looked forward to the life of a herdsman, warrior
and hunter. To these occupations were added upon settle-
ment in Canaan agriculture, building, and other trades and
Following the establishment of the monarchy and the
rise of cities, trades and crafts of a considerable variety
developed. The most important crafts and industrial occu-
pations came now to be: (1) agriculture, (2) cattle- raising
and grazing, (3) fishing, (4) mining, (5) building, (6) car-
pentry and wood- working, (7) metal- work, (8) spinning,
(9) weaving, (10) dyeing, (11) tanning, (12) tent-making,
(13) pottery-making, (14) making of tools to be used in
trades and crafts.
Implements and processes were simple; nevertheless, all
occupations put a value upon strength and physical dex-
terity. In the camp, on the march, in pasture land, in shop
or in market place, the boy under the direction of his father
or elder kinsmen learned to perform the tasks of his gene-
Just as the social conditions made it necessary for every
boy to be given industrial training, so the troublous political
Military Train- conditions made it necessary that every adult
in &- male be ready at a moment's notice to answer
the call tojarms. Consequently every boy would learn the
use~of~weapons. Preparation for war consisted chiefly in
11 Compare these statements with Chapter IV, paragraphs on In-
24 EDUCATION IN ANCIENT ISRAEL.
training in the use of the sling, the bow and arrow, the
sword, shield, spear. Later in some cases, riding and chariot-
driving would be taught. Many passages in the Scriptures
chronicle a display of skill which could not have been
gained except through long and persistent practice and train-
ing. David's skill in the use of the sling 12 is known to every
one. An illuminating passage in Judges reads : "Among all
this people there were seven hundred chosen men left-
handed ; every one could sling stones at an hair-breadth and
not miss." 13
That athletics and physical sports such as ball games,
jumping, running races and contests in archery had a place
Athletics and * n tne ^^ f tms period is indicated by a
Games. number of passages: "He will toss thee like
a ball ;" 14 "I will shoot as though I shot at a mark ;" 16 "He
hath set me a mark for the arrow ;" 16 "And rejoiceth as a
strong man to run his course." 17
"Young men and maidens vied with one another in
learning beautiful songs, and cheered with them the festival
Music. gatherings of the villages, and the still higher
Dancing. assemblies at the sanctuaries of the tribes.
THe maidens at Shilo went yearly with songs and dances into
the vineyards ; 18 and those of Gilead repeated the sad story
of Jephthah's daughter. 19 The boys learned David's lament
over Jonathan, 20 shepherds and hunters at their evening rests
by the springs of the wilderness sang songs to the accom-
paniment of the flute." 21
From the fact that David "danced before Yahweh" 22
and from other instances, it is evident that dancing was
12 1 Samuel xvii. 50. 13 Judges xx. 16. 14 Isaiah xxii. 18.
15 1 Samuel xx. 20. 16 Lamentations Hi. 12. 17 Psalms xix. 5.
18 Judges xxi. 21. 19 Ibid., xi. 40. 2 2 Sam. i. 19-27.
21 Judges v. 11. Cf. Herzog, Encyclopedic, 2d ed., V, pp. 672 et
sea. (Quotation and reference from C. A. Briggs, Introduction to
the Study of Holy Scripture, p. 356.)
22 2 Samuel vi. 14.
EDUCATION DURING THE NATIVE PERIOD. 25
originally a religious as well as a patriotic and festive exer-
cise. 23 It was probably combined with song and dramatic
gesture. Often the Hebrew youth accompanied his song
with the kinnor 24 or played the flute while others sang. In
certain families and in preparation for certain public festi-
vals there may have been some provision for systematic
instruction in dancing, singing, playing the kinnor or the
flute. But probably music and dancing were learned with-
out any formal instruction, i. e., children picked them up
by watching, imitating, and now and then joining in the
performance. It was for the most part in the same in-
formal manner that the children of each generation learned
from their elders ballads, lyrics, funeral dirges, patriotic
songs, chants and prayers.
The history of literature during the Native Period falls
into two minor periods : _(lX~rtJ e age of oral transmission
Oral Literature- OI ~ the a e f SOn S and St r y ' ( 2 ) the a S C f
Traveling Bards written literature. Such passages as Genesis
xxxi. 44-52 and Joshua iv seem to indicate
that prior to a widespread knowledge of reading and writ-
ing it was customary to erect heaps of stones to indicate
the site of important events, and then to transmit orally
from generation to generation the narrative connected there-
with. Laws, traditions, myths, songs, riddles, fables, pro-
verbs and prayers were handed down orally for many cen-
turies before they were committed to writing.
"Many of Israel's traditions undoubtedly continued for
centuries to be recorded simply in the minds of the people.