Patronage, Sectarianism, and Cultural Hegemony

Historical Speculations on the Socio-Cultural Background of the Hebrew Bible


  • Emanuel Pfoh IICS-UCA-CONICET & University of Helsinki



Hebrew Bible, Patron-client relationships, Sectarianism, Cultural hegemony


Patronage relationships have been ethnographically found at many locations in the Middle East during the second half of the twentieth century but also detected in ancient Near Eastern sources in more recent times, in every case mostly in connection with political situations. Patronage, however, also operates at the level of mentalities and its expression is equally discovered in worldviews of different cultures. This condition may therefore be observed as well in textualized mental expressions like the Hebrew Bible. In cases exposing sectarianism in the biblical stories, we may assert that patron-client bonds are taken by ancient scribes as the key mode for illustrating domination, subordination and in general an ontological order, transcending socio-politics and impacting also on what we would analytically deem a socio-religious imagination and its ulterior conceptual derivations. This paper seeks to relate clues and examples of patronage and sectarianism in the Hebrew Bible while focussing on their socio-cultural background. These expressions, in the history of the production of the biblical texts, would end up manifesting a particular cultural hegemony of a biblical ontology articulated by patronage dynamics in the southern Levant since the Persian period, but especially in connection with the Hasmonean rise to power, centred in Jerusalem.


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How to Cite

Pfoh, E. (2024) “Patronage, Sectarianism, and Cultural Hegemony: Historical Speculations on the Socio-Cultural Background of the Hebrew Bible”, Avar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Life and Society in the Ancient Near East . London, UK, 3(1), pp. 107–129. doi: 10.33182/aijls.v3i1.2844.