In the model of Abraham’s house, families are meant to form together into households, and eventually into a nation. The misconduct of an individual could have lethal consequences, not only for his family but also for the household to which the family belonged, and ultimately even for the nation. The place of the family within the household came with both duties and benefits. The individual members of the family are meant to be part of a greater community to which they owed the duty of maintaining the good name and reputation of the family line. Inasmuch as God’s promises are to fathers and their generations after them, no one was meant to live and function exclusively as an individual. There was an established sense of accountability not only to one’s father and the immediate family but also to that group of families who came from a common ancestor.
There were also numerous benefits to the individual who belonged to a household. In the case of widows and orphans, the household had specific duties to care for them. This culture existed prior to the nation of Isreal.
The role of households was critical to the stability of early cities and fathers of households acted for the benefit of the families under their protection. Because ancient peoples settled in ancestral lands, agriculture and animal husbandry formed significant parts of the economic life of these societies. Over time, cities were formed to facilitate trading and protection. These cities were populated by
households. Fathers of households would assemble at the gates of the city to conduct all manner of transactions. The orderliness of
their administration was the underlying foundation for the peace and prosperity of the families that made up the city. These cities
were part of the inheritance given to a clan.