Peasant Life of First Century Israel
A glimpse of the life of a first century peasant would include only a 1,400 calorie diet. For farmers and labors this was barely enough to keep them healthy enough to work. They lived in a subsistence culture, meaning after they were paid for their work they had just enough to get by until the next day. Life was lived one day at a time. They were taxed not only by their local government but by the Roman empire too, which was usually a higher tax then their local. The pressure from debt lead an increase in crime, and created a spiritual disconnect in Jewish culture.
The picture of a first century peasant is like someone standing up to their neck in water. Even simple basic motions at this point become exhausting, and your options are significantly reduced. A small ripple coming into the shore is enough to cover your head. Living becomes a moment by moment thing, never knowing when you’ll drown.
This created a desperate culture in the first century. Hidden in many of Jesus parables are references to political and economical situations that forced the vast majority into this subsistence living.