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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 9: Death


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For he who is reckoned among the living has something to look forward to – even a live dog is better than a dead lion … since the living know they will die. But the dead know nothing; they have no more recompense, for even the memory of them has died. Their loves, their jealousies have long since perished; and they have no more share till the end of time in all that goes under the sun. (Eccles. 9:4–6)

Thus Ecclesiastes, similarly to Egyptian texts, viewed death as something negative and abnormal but part of creation. According to one of the Pyramid texts, death did not exist in the primeval age before the gods made the world and mankind.1

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