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Daily Life of the Patriarchs

The Way It Was

Shaul Bar

While the literature of the ancient Near East portrays legendary heroes, this is not the case with the biblical narrative, which portrays the patriarchs and matriarchs as fallible human beings. Their story is a multigenerational one of family and the dynamics that exist within. Reading these stories is like hearing the echo of family feuds, which is what makes them timeless.
Were the patriarchs real people? Or can we say that many details in the Book of Genesis are fictions that project later romantic ideals of life and faith? To answer these questions the author examines the patriarchs’ daily life, beliefs, and customs to provide provocative and useful insights into the life of the Patriarchs.
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Chapter 6: The Three Patriarchs

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CHAPTER 6

The Three Patriarchs

The Biblical narrator employs a technique to describe heroes by comparing and contrasting them. Using this technique, the narrator directs the reader to the virtues and weaknesses of his hero. Characters can be revealed through their actions, lack of actions, appearances, gestures, and comments. In the narrative, characters are revealed both by statements made by them or by other characters, in addition to descriptions given by the third-person narrator.1 While the literature of the ancient Near East portrays legendary heroes, this is not the case with the Biblical narrative, which portrays the patriarchs and matriarchs as fallible human beings. In this chapter we will examine the characters Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We will point to their virtues, vices, triumphs, and failures. This analysis will give us a better understanding of who the patriarchs really were.

Abraham

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