In this book, Domeris makes use of a various theoreticians to create a model of poverty that enables us to define the poor of Iron Age Israel with some precision. "Touching the Heart" deals intensively with the nature of poverty and uses the biblical material from the Hebrew Bible as illustrative of the complexity of the phenomenon. Domeris views poverty throughout as a social construction, and the final chapter presents a unique model of poverty which includes the dimensions of power and honour and their opposites. The book concludes that the poor in Israel in Iron Age II were those peasants who experienced significant deprivation and capacity failure due to a combination of inadequate land and poor weather as well as the collapse of positive reciprocity. The major issue in the monarchic period (Iron Age II) is the slow but steady increase in deprivation, coupled with a decrease in exchange-entitlement. These pressures arise in a context where there is already a failure of the legal and economic systems, as explicitly commented on by the prophets. According to the biblical writers, it is these aspects of poverty that touch the heart of God.
William Robert Domeris is Canon Dr. and Research Associate of the University of the Witwatersrand and Rector of St. Albans Church, East London, South Africa.