From Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (chapter 4):
Suffering at the mercy of the elements was accepted by Jethro as being quite as natural as the hunger for green vegetables and fresh fruit that was always with him during the winter. When one found comfort, he was grateful, but he was never such a fool as to expect a great deal of it. The hardships one endured had a purpose. His mother had been careful to make him aware of that.
Ontology in the ancient world was more connected to function than to substance. In other words, something exists when it has a function, not when it takes up space or is a substance characterized by material properties. This applies to everything in the cosmos, where various elements come into being when they are given a role and function within the cosmos. The neglect of curiosity about the physical structure of the cosmos is therefore not simply a consequence of their inability to investigate their physical world. The physical aspects of the cosmos did not define its existence or its importance; they were merely tools the gods used for carrying out their purposes. The purposes of the gods were of prime interest to them.
Not to denigrate the physicality of our existence, but this is all so true within a biblical understanding of creation (including our own bodies). Several profound implications exist. I question Walton’s use of “merely” in the second-to-last sentence. From Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible by John H. Walton (167).