Why did the worship of God change so much between Genesis and Exodus?

As my lecture explains, many think that Genesis and Exodus were originally two different origin stories joined together by P and or R with the story of Joseph, which resembles in many ways the story of Nehemiah, a page to the king of Persia. One, attributed to J, shows the Israelites living among the Canaanites and gradually separating from them, intermarrying (returning to their kinship group in Haran) to avoid mixing with the other Canaanites, and preferring El over Baal and other local deities. We see Abraham purchasing land from the surrounding community. We see Jacob’s sons atoning for atrocities visited on the sacred community of Shechem, and we see Shechem evolving into a Hebrew shrine. We see lots of examples of peaceful coexistence. 

The violent overthrow story of Exodus and Joshua, on the other hand, seems to have been written by the Yahwists, whom Friedman argues were a violent tribe of Levites from another region. In this story, a nation of slaves from Egypt kills all the Canaanites and supplants them. Their gods merge. Their worship of God changed because they were two different religions. 

Without the story of Joseph, there is no real link between these two stories except for those transitions provided by P and the redactors. Joseph seems to have no real connection to the lineage. His story, which I think is also Nehemiah’s’ story, provides a historical link between two origin stories. 

Eventually, the theory goes, El and Yahweh are merged, and the story of Moses the Egyptian Jew (whose biography was lifted from other Mesopotamian folk tales) marks the moment when the two religions become one. 

There are other theories, of course, but to me this one is pretty persuasive. 

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