Two Laws in the Sotah Passage (Num. v 11-31)

in Vetus Testamentum
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Abstract

The law of the Sotah (Num. v 11-31), which appears to be an ordeal law accompanied by a ritual, was edited from two laws of a suspected adulteress: the water ordeal law (original stratum) and the ritual-oath law (editorial stratum). The water ordeal law stipulates that in the case in which a woman is accused of adultery by the public she must undergo a water ordeal, whereas the ritualoath law stipulates a less severe case in which a husband only doubts his wife and the wife may be released with only an oath as a part of a ritual. The two laws strikingly parallel the Laws of Hammurapi 131 and 132 respectively. A linguistic analysis carried out on the two strata reveals that they exhibit different literary styles, and that this stylistic difference reflects the linguistic contexts of earlier and later periods. Although the water ordeal stratum belongs to P, several distinct features of the editorial ritual-oath stratum are best explained by I. Knohl's theory in relation to the Holiness School.

Vetus Testamentum

A Quarterly Published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament

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