FEEDING THE dead was an integral part of the world in which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived.
We’ve previously discussed Abraham’s distress at not having an heir to provide for him in the afterlife; this week, we explain why Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, was so upset about losing his teraphim, the small idols that represented dead ancestors who had to be summoned to a meal every month with a necromancy ritual called kispum.
ABRAHAM’S DISTRESS at being childless was caused by his concept of the afterlife. In the Amorite culture that dominated his world, it was believed that one’s quality of life after death depended on your descendants performing a monthly ritual to provide your food and drink.
JOB’S FRIENDS grow increasingly accusatory as we go through the book. This week, we hear the final speeches of Zophar and Eliphaz, who have gone from gently reminding Job that God punishes the wicked to accusing their miserable, suffering friend of mistreating the poor, widowed, and homeless!