I have to agree with Cedric. The Israelites were not even a nation at the time when a lot of this earlier religious content was created. You can know that just from reading the bible itself. Before Israel even got its name or became 12 tribes it is clear that the family had different beliefs, influenced from the surrounding nations and cultures. Think about how Jacob goes to his uncle Laban and marries his cousins. The bible tells the story of how his wife took idols from her father's house which led to Laban tracking them down.
One of the stories that came before the bible was the Epic of Gilgamesh. This story tells a flood myth from the perspective of another culture. What we need to understand is that during these ancient times many stories were not "owned" by a single religion and if a certain belief system dominated an area it wasn't because it was necessarily organized or bullying others. Israel would have still had mixed beliefs if it wasn't for the authoritarian regime of Moses and his willingness to commit genocide on his own people who refused to submit to HIS (Moses's) authority. If anyone had different beliefs at that time they would have hidden it the same way that African slaves had to hide their beliefs and orishas as Catholic Saints.
We need to come to terms with the fact that some religions force themselves upon a people and threaten them into submission. When you have no choice it changes the whole dynamics of belief. What good is faith when you're forced to choose it? A lot of people have 2 choices.
Believe or die.
But this creates a 3rd what should be obvious choice. Hide. We think we know what all the Israelites believed but we don't. We know the "official" narrative. The official narrative is what was written by the government and yes, when it was convenient they showed that they were willing to edit their holy books. And this is because religion was used to control the people. It was a theocracy. All the political power that kings normally fought over was consolidated into a religious model. It was only because the people felt oppressed that they demanded a king. And so the theocracy had to elect a king and focus on trying to control him. And that didn't work then blame his human nature and lust for power. But that same corruption didn't begin with Saul. It began with Moses.
When the Israelites went into Egypt because of the famine, they would have died if it wasn't for the Egyptians. When Joseph greeted his brothers, the heads of the 12 tribes, who was it that enforced the belief in YHWH under pain of death? No one. They were free to believe as they wished. At this point everything was just a story that could be passed down. It wasn't organized into a religion.
"Check the script" as I used to say.
Try to find an instance, pre-Exodus, of a story where God told someone that he was the only true God and all others were fake. According to Genesis 3, at that point in time, gods could be used in a plural sense. If you didn't want people to believe other gods existed then why even call them gods? Why use the same word? Use a different word. But if we're thinking about it logically and critically then what we would expect to happen in a monotheistic belief really doesn't happen until very late in the story. It doesn't happen until a single individual steps up to take power over a great number of people. One God therefore coincides with one human authority for the Israelites. Ahkenaten tried to do the same thing in bringing monotheism to (or back to) Egypt.
Go to Genesis 17 where Jah is making this deal with Abraham. Does he introduce the idea that all the other gods are fake? No. He is basically the voice in Abraham's head saying that he will be Abraham's God and will be a god to his family. He didn't say "AND I'm going to use your family to fight the other families until only I am left to be called a god". There was no competition at this point. That's why it didn't even include Lot even though Lot was a blood relative.
What does this have to do with the age of stories?
Because everyone else was telling and hearing stories too. And it is only when gods were consolidated that these stories were ALSO consolidated. So if 5 different stories belonged to 5 different gods then if you were combining those 5 gods then what happened to those 5 stories? Weren't they also combined in the sense that they were now about the same god?
So through the process of superstition, Israel took the most popular stories and attributed them to their God. And they changed the stories in order to make that work. This is why Noah's flood sounds different from the Epic of Gilgamesh. You could call it cultural appropriation. And since every tribe of people had their own creation story, it's not like the Israelites could afford not to have one too. And their story sounds similar to others. And its not because other nations stole all their stories from Israel. No, their stories are older. Moses knew a lot of stories because he was educated in Egypt. Since he was educated by the priests he was able to do the things the priests could do. So that is where he heard the stories and so if he knew he needed to consolidate all of their gods and stories into one then Moses would have known that he needed to rewrite some of the stories he heard as well as the laws he learned. But it would have been obvious if he did this with the Egyptian stories because that's where they were living. But if he did this with the Canaanite stories.... ahhh... he could use their previous homeland to say "see? this is the God of our ancestors who commanded me to educate you."
And that is how we got the bible.
If you go back and analyze all the stories and laws from the Levant area you can see where Moses copied from. It's really not a hard thing to do.
Don't believe? Ok. Here's an example.
Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea.
Leviathan is an extremely famous mythical serpent/dragon from the Ugaritic sea monster Lôtā;;n as "the fugitive serpent" . And here Yahweh is basically a redesign of Hadad who was also called Ba'al. If you know your bible you already know that Ba'al is directly referenced by the bible which shows the still competing influence. Hadad was a storm God. He's often pictured as bearded and holding a lightning bolt because yes... Zeus is just another incarnation.
Of course we know Zeus lives on mount Olympus, right?
"In texts from Ugarit, El, the supreme god of the pantheon, resides on Mount Lel (perhaps meaning "Night") and it is there that the assembly of the gods meet."
This is why Moses goes up to the mountain and the people hear thunderings and see lightning. So this is how the biblical narrative got started in the first place. They simply consolidated ideas from the region and gave that composite a different name. This became Yah or Jah.
Isn't this problematic? If you are religious your mind is going to want to fight this idea the same way Jacob fought with the angel all night (he was dreaming). You're going to want to argue with me and deny this is true. I understand. I've been there before. It's natural. We were always taught to take it literally so its like if your parents swore to you for 10 years that Santa was real and everyone reinforced that belief every year and your childish mind is full of wonder and mystery and imagination because of stories like this and then one day, all of a sudden Santa isn't real and suddenly you enter a world of adults where everyone knows it. It was just a belief. And its not your fault because society gave you that belief. But different parents don't feel obligated to follow society and eventually new religions come along and say "no we're not even going to get involved in that. Plus the original Santa mythology has some kind of black slave involved named 'Black Pete'.
And then you realize how powerful and pervasive stories actually are.
If you are spiritual then this isn't necessarily problematic at all. You already have an understanding of the power and pervasiveness of stories and you look for the meaning behind them because what matters to you is the writer's intent and the wisdom and knowledge conveyed using the story/myth/legend as simply the vehicle. Just as consciousness resides in a body, consciousness can reside in a story. You spread the story. You also spread the consciousness inside that story. This is why many pastors are actually atheists. No one tells you these things, but when they go through Seminary they are exposed to the depths of knowledge when it comes to the origins of their religion. And confronting that evidence is, again, like finding out Santa isn't real. But like many parents, they realize something.
"It doesn't matter!"
And they take that and they continue on to shepherd their congregations. But they're not afraid of God. They simply believe in the power of the story and the effect it can have on a person's life; the effect that belief and love can have on a person's life. So they don't get caught up in the competition or trying to prove that their religion is the "only true" religion. Because they honestly don't believe that and therefore they don't fight for that. That's something people do when they don't know; when they "still believe in Santa". And it's not a matter of being smart or stupid, wise or ignorant. It's really not. I have a sense of how smart I was when I believed the religious dogma and I'm now no smarter than that. I'm the same person with simply more information. And that's where the control comes in. Because religion has a motive to put blinders on each student to keep them from seeing behind the curtain. You think you're on a journey to see the Wizard and you're following the yellow brick road, but you're following a road someone else built which means they control where it goes. You don't even know who they are and yet you're investing your whole life following their lead because you believe it's taking you to see the Wizard.
But perhaps... again if you are spiritual... perhaps you notice that somewhere along the way that cowardly lion you were rolling with... at some point he gained some courage along the way. Maybe that tin man started caring about you. The real path is an inward path of enlightenment; a spiritual path. That path is always there whether the road is yellow bricks or streets of gold or jungle. That path is wherever you happen to be. We're the ones who make the path. We're the ones who make the road. We are the ones to tell the stories.
He that hath an ear...