The Hebrew Bible and the Homeric World


The Bible and the Homeric works are, to a vast extend, similar in structure. Research proposes that Homeric poems and the Bible are both epic in nature. As such, both the writers of the bible and Homer had a similar way of writing their works. The only difference is that, Homer’s work was traditionally oral where he used to perform on demand during ceremonies or gatherings, while the Bible works were majorly in written form. It is also acknowledged that the Homeric and the Hebrew Bible dealt much in stories, relating to violence and wars. For instance, ‘Trojan War’ in Homeric world and the Israelites war in the wilderness. Research also depicts that the stories are accredited for citing works relating to heroism.

Violence in the Bible and the Homeric World

Research shows that Odysseus was in the first place not willing to fight the Hebrews; but later, he went to fight, in order to liberate his country from invasion. In this case, salvage is seen as a necessity rather than justice. It was necessary for him to fight for his country (Chapman 231). Similarly, vehemence in the Bible is considered a necessity. For instance, the killing of the firstborn sons belonging to the Israelites is seen as indispensable, in order for the Israelites to be released from the bondage. In addition, Israelites had to fight in the wilderness with harsh tribes, in order to make God’s manifestation clear to them. From the above cases, it can clearly be seen that war was because of agency, rather than warranty.

Because of the violence, people became more spiritual. In the Homeric world, people depended more on their seen gods, while in the Bible, there was a pronounced dedication to God for deliverance. It is alluded that, “Homer’s poetry did not only change the lives of many people, but the characters remain role models and valuable sources for moral guidance.” This is also true in the Bible, since characters like Moses, Abraham and the rest are actual figures of reference, and in particular, spiritual mirrors amongst the Christians (Chapman 123). The writers of the Bible and Homer are similar in the following ways.

The works of the authors of the Bible and Homer are both epic in nature. This means that they consist of lengthy narratives organized in a succession of books. The stories categorically start in the middle of events, and usher in the particulars of previous episodes in different ways, as the tale progresses. However, the span of the works is what gives the stories their ideal classic nature. Research also alludes that the Homeric and the Bible tales were written, when civilization was drastically wasting away or was changing utterly. For instance, the laws used by the Israelites during this time no longer apply in the world today. In the same way, Homer’s culture depicted in the poems does not exist anymore. Not only does it only dwell on particular people and their undertakings, but also their spiritual, cultural, and various ways of civilization.

Secondly, both the writers use salvage as a tool to shape the society and display the character of characters involved (Johnson, 23). It is also noted that, in spite of the brutality of the main characters, they are cherished and receive favors from their supreme beings (Horne 54). In particular, Moses of the Bible kills an Egyptian during his mission, but God favors him. On the other hand, Odysseus kills and rapes women of Troy, but is favored by the gods and is taken home safely, in spite of the huddles he encounters in the underworld on his return journey. 

On the other hand, there are contractual styles used by writers.  Homeric story, for instance, is told in a more relaxed manner with everything utterly highlighted in lengthy depictions of gone and striking events, and conversations told at breadth. There is no hurried act leading to the creation of suspense. The writer is much concerned with explanation, rather than content or suspense. As such, a reader feels relaxed, and the story seems vivid and fascinating. Conversely, the Hebrew Bible has no emphasis on the outward description (Horne 103). Focusing on the story of Abraham, the author does not bother to illustrate Abraham’s location. In addition, the author does not indicate whether he had a conversation along the way. Therefore, there is a lot of suspense created in the tales of the Bible contrary to Homer’s story.

Another contrasting idea is that the work of Homer is generally accredited to fiction. This is created basing on the fact that Homer uses myriad flashbacks, and several parts of the stories are left incomplete and only come to conclusion afterwards. For instance, the prose conveys two stories. Initially, the first one directed on Telemachus and Penelope, and actions in Ithaca and the second, which does not commence until the fifth book talking about the heroism of Odysseus (Chapman 212). In the contrary, the Bible tales, particularly the Israelites’ story, do not incline on flashbacks, and the storyline is clear and straightforward. They do not portray much fiction.

Concerning the above, it is justifiable to say that the characters in both scenarios used war, because it was necessary. It is also noted that the writers in a considerable extend used the same styles of writing their stories. However, they had a contradiction in the usage of suspense to lay down their issues.

Slyness and Deception

Brevity and tricks were some of the characteristics of the characters in both the Hebrew Bible and the Homer stories. However, the two traits seem to work hand in hand. In particular, they used such motives, in order to avenge or get the better of their foes. For example, Moses uses the traits in order to liberate Israelites from the hands of the Egyptians (Chapman 112). On the other hand, Odysseus uses the traits to win against his rivals, the Hebrews during the Trojan War. Similarly, he uses brevity to survive through the underworld during his journey back home. However, the two virtues seemed to work hand in hand, as it is seen in the stories.

The Israelites are depicted as being sly and deceptive. Their brevity began in their land of slavery where Moses performed miracles under the guidance of God, in order for Pharaoh to release the Israelites. The plagues performed by Israelites are also a measure of brevity. Consequently, they were released from the slavery. The actions that precede their departure from Egypt are also full of deception and shrewdness (Johnson 76). Under the God’s guidance, they used clouds – to hide from Egyptian hustle - to lead them to their destiny. In the wilderness, the Israelites make for themselves images and idols to replace God. This act of deceptiveness brings upon them punishment from God. They are cursed with plagues.

In the story of Homer, the characters are also accustomed by the traits of slyness and deception. In particular, Odysseus uses these traits to triumph his foes. At one point in the story, Odysseus used guile and pretext, in order to capture the city of Troy. Focusing on the event when the Greek soldiers captured their adversaries, Odysseus instructed the construction of a wooden horse, in which Greek soldiers hid. The rest of the army pretended to have left their territory. Seeing this, the Spartans pushed the horse into their territory, not knowing what lurked behind them. Later in the night, the Greek troops invaded and killed the  soldiers of Troy (Lang 243). This was a thoughtful act by the Odysseus that led to the defeat of the Troy.

Research has shown that women in the Homeric world involved themselves with mild forms of hospitality, ensuring that everyone was settled, getting enough meal and performing their daily customs as women. They are appreciated for making life worthwhile. However, there were those lousy women who lured the heroes into the wilderness, so that they would never return (Johnson 35). Such women were, for instance, The Sirens. They are considered divine and extremely beautiful with supernatural supremacies. These women lure Odysseus, but he becomes adept than them at the end.

The way the writers depict deceitfulness and slyness in their stories is considerably different from the way Homer uses the traits. For instance, in the Bible, the traits are used in order to seek refuge, whereas in Homer’s books, it is out of selfish interests. It is also noted that, in the Bible, a supreme being is involved in the happenings, while in the Homer stories, no supreme being is involved. It is out of individual efforts that they achieve the use of the trickery and cunningness (Chapman 156).

However, in some instances, the characters of both the Bible and Homer use deceptiveness for their own selfish interests. For instance, in the Bible, Israelites made images for their own worship, while in the Homeric society the women lured heroes in order to win their love and passion (Lang 246). The Israelites turned against the Godly ways of worship and against their leader Moses. This was a sign of dishonesty towards the promises they made during their departure. As a result, God had to issue out the Ten Commandments to govern their shrewdness.

In conclusion, therefore, both the Bible writers and Homer induced the character of deception and slyness to their characters. The style used to depict the traits is similar in that the characters seek to achieve something out of their actions.

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