Ancient Hebrews: Mythology

Abraham and Issac
Figure 1.--Much of the mythology of Genesis is a shared tradfition of Middle Eastern peoples. Even Abraham is not a uniqely Hebrew figure, although his conversion to monotheism is uniquely Hebrew. Unfortutnately we do not know just when this myth became adopted by the Hebrew people as oart of their oral tradition. A more uniquely Hebrew mytholog begins with Issac, the only patriarch to live his entire life in Canaan. This powerful work by Caravaggio depicts God testing Abraham's faith by instructing him to sarifice his only son and then sending the Angel of the Lord to stay his hand. This is often depicted as the beginning of the the the differehtiation of the Hebrew people from the other people of Canaan who practiced child sacrifice.

The Old Testament is clearly a mixture of myth and actual historical figures and events. There is no doubt about the mythology as much of Genesis has adopted from manhy mythological accounts prevalent throughout the Middle East. Accounts of the creation, first people, Garden of Eden, Cain and Able, Great Flood and much more are shared by many of the people of the Middle East. The varWhile these accounts are mythological, this is not to say they were not shaped by real events. Scolars speculate about a great flood in the Middle East resulted from rising water levels at the end of the last Ice Age (about 5,000 BC). This was at a time when he Agricultural Revolution haf taken hold in Fertile Cressent and Egypt. Various peoples in the Levant adopted the mytholoical accounts and shaped them to create their own unique accounts. Some of the major early figures of the Bible such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Lot, the finnally the Patriarchs (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob). Abraham was not a figure uique to the Hebrew people, his conversion to monotheism is, however, unique to the Jews. They are clearly mythological figures who were involved with temptation, disobedience (meaning sin), murder, flood, and dispersal. Abraham's binding of Issac seems to be the first uniquely Jewish mythological account. And it is with Moses and the Commandmebnts from the Mount hat Judaism is born,. All this is mythological. Figures in later books such as Saul, David, and Solomon seem to be based on actual historical figures, although there is debate about this, at least about Saul and David.


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Created: 5:47 AM 7/12/2013
Last updated: 5:47 AM 7/12/2013