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Divine Silence or Divine Absence? Converging Metaphors in Family Religion in Ancient Israel and the Levant

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Chapter Summary

This chapter demonstrates the family religion's concern for maintaining favorable divine-human relationships translated into a concern over divine absence or silence in connection with birth, daily life, and death. Korpel and de Moor draw a distinction between divine silence and divine absence, noting "an absent deity does not speak because he is not there to enter into a dialogue, whereas a silent deity can be attentively listening or may have reason to keep silent". Divine speech appears as an explicit concern among personal names from ancient Israel and the broader Levant. The family based religious settings are distinguished from the public socio-religious sphere of temples at city, regional, and supra-regional levels. Even if the dead cannot praise Israel's God in death, the loving and grieving family can do so on behalf of its deceased in hopes that one may at least hear a divine response in the place of "silence".

Keywords: de Moor; divine absence; divine silence; family religion; Israel; Korpel; Levant



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