Dwelling in dispersion and far from any governmental law enforcement agencies that could provide them security, nomadic desert dwellers needed ways to protect themselves from violations such as murder, assault, insult, and theft. They achieved this security mainly by forming groups based on blood kin, or people of common descent, people whom they believed would honor claims of common loyalty and cooperation when problems with others arose. Each group they organized had a specific security function. The tribal structure of the Israelites as randomly noted in the Bible bears several similarities to that of the Bedouin. This chapter explores these similarities as well as their impact on the status and roles of the genders and on the institution of matrimony in both societies.
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