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This groundbreaking study looks beyond biblical texts, which have had a powerful influence over our views of women's roles and worth, in order to reconstruct the typical everyday lives of women in ancient Israel. Carol Meyers argues that biblical sources alone do not give a true picture of ancient Israelite women because urban elite males wrote the vast majority of the scriptural texts and the stories of women in the Bible concern exceptional individuals rather than ordinary Israelite women. Drawing on archaeological discoveries and ethnographic information as well as biblical texts, Meyers depicts Israelite women not as submissive chattel in an oppressive patriarchy, but rather as strong and significant actors within their families and society. In so doing, she challenges the very notion of patriarchy as an appropriate designation for Israelite society.