[Hospitality is] the act of friendship shown a visitor. Hospitality in the ancient Near East was tightly bound up in customs and practices which all were expected to observe. As in an intricately choreographed dance, where any participant who does not observe his or her role must either learn it, or leave the dance if the whole is not to be jeopardized, so it was with the customs of ancient hospitality. One ignored the customs at one’s own peril. To try to understand those carefully structured and rigidly observed practices in terms of the relative informality of modern Western practices of hospitality would be completely not to misunderstand them.
Achtemeier, Paul J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. Harper’s Bible dictionary 1985 : 408. Print.