A woman's life in the ancient world was constrained by her social and economic status. As a daughter she was firmly under the aegis of her father and brothers, who would later allocate the woman to another man as his wife. The power of fathers and husbands extended to using their wives and daughters as sexual gifts to gain favour. Yet, alongside this, woman had certain socio-economic rights – notably concerning inheritance and property – which they could use to protect themselves.
Sexual Hospitality in the Hebrew Bible examines sacred sexuality and ritual fecundity from patronymic marriage – where the husband claims exclusive rights over his wife's sexuality and attributes her offspring to his line and kin – to metronymic conjugal systems which allow a woman to remain in her home where the male consort joins her and her kin. Ranging across abstention, promiscuity, and holy offering, the sexual lives of women in biblical times reveal not only restriction but also female agency and resistance.
"Sexual hospitality, an institution well documented for many societies, has also left traces in the biblical record. Thalia Gur-Klein assembles these, and offers a compelling interpretation." – Bernhard Lang, University of Paderborn, Germany
Introduction 1. Patriarch Hospitality and Sexual Hospitality 2. Marital and Non-Marital Systems 3. Baal Marriage of Dominion 4. Metronymic Marriage: Remaining with Kin – Counter-patterns of Baal Marriage 5. Intersecting Patterns and Conflicting Imperatives 6. Widow Marriage, Land and Kin Surrogacy 7. Epilogue: Moral Imagination