In 1 Sam 8:10–18, the judge Samuel warns the people who demand a king to rule over them that, among other things, he will conscript their sons into his armies; compel them to work on his plantations and reap his harvests; take their daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers; and take the best of their grain and vineyards and redistribute them among his courtiers. In this article I focus on the virtually invisible laborers who produced, processed, and prepared food for feasts on the king’s plantations and in his kitchens rather than on their royal consumers. I give special attention to female millers and bakers. This work interlinks Jack Goody’s study of elite feasting with other societal structures of class and the distributions of power and authority. I examine the toll that this extraction of material resources and labor took on agrarians in the lavish feasts that kings held to reinforce social and political ties with domestic and foreign elites (see 1 Kgs 4:20–28, 18:19, Neh 5:16–18).

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.