The economics of worship in ancient Israel and Judah

Joachim Schaper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In addressing the problem of the “economics of worship” in ancient societies it is advisable first to ascertain on what area of “worship” we should focus our investigation. And while one could indeed attempt to explore the economics of, say, the practices of family religion in ancient Israel and Judah, this does not seem to contribute much to deepening our understanding of the economics of worship generally-not because family religion was not representative of the overall practice of religion in that part of the world, but because, due to its very nature, it did not produce hubs of economic activity and therefore gives us no decisive insights into the correlation between economic and religious practices. By contrast, temples are indeed such hubs; this is true today and was no less true of ancient Israel and Judah. In fact, it was probably more obvious then than it is now that temples hosted economic transactions of various kinds and that some of them were veritable economic hubs of huge significance for the whole of the social formation that had brought them forth. Biblical and other ancient Near Eastern texts do not obfuscate the central significance of the economic basis and the economic consequences of cultic activity; on the contrary, they address them without any qualms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Ritual and Worship in the Hebrew Bible
PublisherOxford University Press India
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780190222116
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Coinage
  • Debt-slavery
  • Economic system
  • Land ownership
  • Money
  • Tax administration
  • Temple economy
  • Tithe


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