Recommended: Manners & Customs in the Bible by Victor H. Matthews

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In order to research the customs of ancient Judah for my next project, I purchased a used copy of Manners & Customs in the Bible, An Illustrated Guide to Daily Life in Bible Times by Victory H. Matthews. I found the book very helpful and recommend it.

Several other books on bible customs are arranged by bible passage. This arrangement is handy if you need to understand something in a specific passage. However, it is less useful to get an overall view of the culture. Matthews employs a different approach. He organizes information around time periods. Within each time period, he discusses topics such as the historical background, daily life, marriage customs, religious practices, legal practices and weapons/warfare. The time periods are Ancestral (before Moses), Exodus and Settlement, Monarchy, Exile and Return, and the Intertestamental and New Testament. This approach provides a great overview of the culture within a time period and allows comparison between different periods. An index of bible citations still allows researching something mentioned in a specific verse.

The third edition, which I purchased, includes over 150 color illustrations and photos. It also includes maps, diagrams and a glossary.

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