The usual age at marriage is one of the fundamental questions dealt with in research devoted to marriage and family in any given society. The importance of this issue resides in its being at the crossroads of other basic problems related to marriage and the family, expressing and possibly influencing many variables linked to these institutions. Given the centrality of the age at marriage, it is not coincidental that the question is addressed in every discussion of marriage and family life, undertaken not only by sociologists concerned with contemporary societies, but also by historians of the family. The importance of this question notwithstanding, it has not produced any relevant systematic investigation into Jewish society of Eretz Yisrael at the time of the Second Temple or during the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods. This absence of research stands out particularly against the ample treatment of the subject with regard to ancient Roman society. It is generally assumed that in the past Jews married young, an opinion also echoed in research. However, studies relevant to different societies in antiquity do not corroborate this view. Recent research suggests that the age at marriage among males during the Roman Era was rather high-towards the late 20s and early 30s. Following these studies, the present article examines Jewish sources in order to determine the prevalent age of marriage among Jewish males in Eretz Yisrael during the Hellenistic-Roman period. In his research on Jewish society in Eretz Yisrael during the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods, S. Krauss contended that marriage did not take place at an early age. M.D. Herr holds a similar opinion. The paucity of existing sources from Eretz Yisrael at our disposal, both literary and epigraphic, does not permit us to reach definitive conclusions of a statistical nature. However, the sources seem to show that the age of marriage of Jewish males in Eretz Yisrael was indeed fairly high, as is also attested by Rabbi Levi, of the 3rd Century CE: 'In the world it is customary for a man to marry at the age of thirty or forty'. It appears, therefore, that Jewish males in Eretz Yisrael married at an age similar to that prevalent in their contemporary non Jewish environment.
|Translated title of the contribution||Men's Age at Marriage in Jewish Palestine of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods'|
|State||Published - 1996|