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The Dead and Their Images: An Egyptian Etymology for Hebrew ’ôb

Christopher B. Hays, Joel M. LeMon


The term ’ôb has long been a philological mystery for scholars of classical Hebrew and Israelite religion. It does not seem to mean the same thing in all instances, and its etymology is unclear and contested. The present article argues that an Egyptian etymology for the term is most likely, and that it refers both to the dead and to cultic images of them used in necromancy and ancestor worship.


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