Why is it that that means of devotion changed so much? It went from killing your child to follow just a set of rules. Why/what happened that made worship so distinct and different between Genesis and Exodus?

For an answer to that, I believe you can thank P and the post-exile redactor, who wanted to emphasize peaceful ways of surviving under foreign rule. To survive as a tiny vassal community, the Israelites obviously couldn’t practice child sacrifice very widely. They couldn’t rely on prophets who tended to present God as vengeful, mysterious, and hard to read. To create a stable theocracy, they needed a set of rules to follow that were authorized by God himself. But they also needed governing figure–the priests–to replace the kings, so that they weren’t simply absorbed by other communities with stronger political leaders. And they needed a code that kept them “holy” or separate–that is, that kept them from being assimilated into surrounding religions. 

My theory is based on the belief that Genesis and Exodus were once separate origin stories that were joined by the author of the Joseph story, which reads like a biography of Nehemiah, and which were both revised to reflect post-exile experience and beliefs. 

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