Myth and History

The ancients, and the ancient royal family in particular, believed that relationships and events in the time of the gods were destined to repeat in unending variations on that "primal scene". For example the cataclysm and exodus of the family of the gods was re-enacted at the end of every major dynasty. With each repetition new elements were introduced, and each occurrence was expected to assimilate previous occurrences.

Consistent with this, the telling of "the Exodus" in the Bible is a composite of more than one exodus. It therefore takes on the quality of a myth rather than that of a unique event, for to the ancients only the time of the gods was truly unique. Everything that came after was just a poor, tragic and unavoidable imitation.

By the Persian Period the complexity of the elaborated myth cycle was so great that it began to collapse under its own weight. The great intricacy of it allowed for any number of possible interpretations and outcomes. It became difficult if not impossible for the royal family to gain consensus as to how accumulated tradition should best be fulfilled. The institutionalization of murder was also extremely disruptive and led to rampant paranoia.

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