Family Life and Relations

The Old Testament. In Western societies individuals are often considered the societal units, brought together by some commonly felt need (commerce, industry, mutual defense, etc.). In contrast, Israel's social structure was tribal and therefore corporate (solidary) in its internal relationships, generating tightly structured communities. Whatever their size, these communities perceived themselves as totalities, bound together through internal agencies that made their presence felt in each individual member. The individual was neither overlooked, nor was he considered the unit on which the society was built. Instead, the family was the unit, and the individual found his place in society through the family and its extensions. The subtribe was really a greatly extended family; a collection of related subtribes formed a tribe; and a federation of tribes yielded a people.

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