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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Economic Life

During the monarchy, Israel's economy became much more diverse. Israel's agricultural activity now included the more fertile land of the coastal plain. Further, Israel could enter new markets because not only surpluses, but also goods in significant demand (e.g., wine and olive oil) were being produced. Instead of subsistence farming controlled by lineages, diverse modes of agricultural production were employed, including the use of larger estates, often controlled by royalty (so 1 Chr. 27.25–31 ), and sometimes by priests (Lev. 25.34; Joshua 21 ). In addition, new land was settled—particularly in the Negeb—and put into production using new strategies, i.e., runoff farming. Such developments presented the opportunity for the government to generate tax revenue, which was collected in the form of agricultural goods, thereby calling for storage systems owned not only by farmers but also by others, including the state.

Though trade-routes had developed in Syria-Palestine long before Israel emerged, the existence of the kingdoms would have facilitated the process of trade. Situated on the major north-south routes, whether inland or coastal, Syro-Palestinian cities such as Megiddo served and benefited from overland trade within that area and between the empires of Egypt and Mesopotamia. First Kings 5–10 and Ezekiel 27–28 describe the sorts of goods conveyed in such trade activity, which, of course, included goods from naval commerce as well.

Perhaps no text serves as a better vignette of the new economic life of monarchic Israel than the one which depicts the vitality engendered by “a good wife” (Prov. 31.10–31 ). The household was still of primary importance as an economically productive entity, but it was now coupled with mercantile activity and capable of producing luxury goods.

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