yahwist vs elohist essay

The stories of the Yahwist and the Elohist have many similarities as well as differences. The main reason why they are this way is because they each have their own separate accounts of Yahweh. They are however linked together by the “Older Federation Story.” In this essay I will attempt to compare and contrast the story of the Yahwist and the Elohist and explain their respective goals, backgrounds, and historical circumstances.

The main focus of the Yahwist story was Judah but it also concentrated on the David-Zion story. The beginning of the story discusses the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis and it goes all the way until the destruction of the Tower of Babel. In the story, Yahweh also instills faith in Abraham by saying that he will make a great nation. He proved this through the David-Zion story. Abraham is the promise getter and David is the promise fulfiller. I think that this is the most important part of the story because this is the basis of the history of Judah. The Yahwist also takes from the “Older Federation Story” because the story discusses the transformation of Israel from a federation to an empire. David plays a major role in helping to build up Jerusalem. The one major thing that he did that helped to unify the empire was to bring the ark of Yahweh into the city. In the David-Zion story, God and David go hand in hand. The people of Israel believed that the following the Davidic king was a sure-fire way to be blessed by god.

The Elohist story also builds a sense of community. This story concentrated on the Moses-Sinai story. It is ironic because this story came about when the ideas of Israel as well as Yahweh seemed to be fading away. This narrative was also built upon the “Older Federation Story.” The one major difference is how Abraham shows complete and total obedience to God. He proves this obedience by rising out of his bed and moving just because God told him so and also willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. This idea of obedience is the central theme of the story. This story concentrates more on the Exodus-Sinai story and the formation of the covenant at Mount Sinai. In this story Moses and Elijah are the central characters instead of David. All in all, both stories portray how Yahweh is the most powerful God. The Elohist also used the “Older Federation Story” to create and identity for Israel.

Even though the stories of the Yahwist and Elohist differed on the surface they share a commonality in that they both helped to create a sense of community for Israel and Judah. They both use the “Old Federation Story” as a base for the creation of their own respective stories. In short, they give Israel and Judah a specific identity.

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