The Fugitive Hero Stories in the Bible and the Ancient Near East

Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021
Time: 8:00 pm - 9:15 pm
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Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 8 pm EST via Zoom

The Fugitive Hero Stories in the Bible and the Ancient Near East

Edward Greenstein


Were there precursors in the ancient world to the biographical stories of Joseph, Jacob, Moses and David as related in the Hebrew Bible?


Indeed, the early story of the people Israel reflect a narrative pattern evident in many other ancient societies such as the Egyptian story of Sinuhe, the north Syrian “autobiography” of Idrimi King of Alalakh, the so-called Apology of Hattushili III of the Hittite Empire, the royal narrative of Esarhaddon of Assyria, and the narrative of Nabonidus King of Babylonia.


These foundational stories all tell of a person who is compelled to flee their native land. Desiring to return from exile, the person practices divination or receives a message from god that they can return home with divine support. En route, the protagonist fights off attacks and finally attains power or prestige at home. What else these tales have in common is that they all conclude with a cultic ritual or, more often, with the renewal or invention of a cult.


Edward Greenstein is Professor of Bible at Bar-Ilan University

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