Israel Finkelstein, Thomas Römer
Comments on the Historical Background of the Abraham Narrative. Between »Realia« and »Exegetica«
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In this article we deploy biblical exegesis and insights from archaeology and extrabiblical historical sources in order to offer some preliminary observations on strands of »realia« in the Abraham narratives that could reveal their date and historical context. We first attempt to identify the early Abraham material and suggest that it represents traditions about the eponymous hero of the population of the southern highlands in the later phases of the Iron Age; these traditions could have been kept in the shrine of Mamre, which was possibly connected to the tomb of the hero. We then deal with the next phase in the development of the patriarchal story – the merging of the Abraham and the northern Jacob narratives. Finally, we describe those Abraham traditions that seem to date to exilic and post-exilic times and ask whether the Abraham material also contains a few insertions from the Hasmonean era.