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The Authority of Law in the Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism

Tracing the Origins of Legal Obligation from Ezra to Qumran

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Jonathan Vroom

In The Authority of Law in the Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism, Vroom identifies a development in the authority of written law that took place in early Judaism. Ever since Assyriologists began to recognize that the Mesopotamian law collections did not function as law codes do today—as a source of binding obligation—scholars have grappled with the question of when the Pentateuchal legal corpora came to be treated as legally binding. Vroom draws from legal theory to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the nature of legal authority, and develops a methodology for identifying instances in which legal texts were treated as binding law by ancient interpreters. This method is applied to a selection of legal-interpretive texts: Ezra-Nehemiah, Temple Scroll, the Qumran rule texts, and the Samaritan Pentateuch.

Re-Imagining Abraham

A Re-Assessment of the Influence of Deuteronomism in Genesis

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Megan Warner

In Re-Imagining Abraham: A Re-Assessment of the Influence of Deuteronomism in Genesis Megan Warner revisits the tradition that Genesis was edited by editors sympathetic to the theology of the Deuteronomist. On the basis of close, contextual readings of the four passages most commonly attributed to (semi-)Deuteronomistic hands, Warner argues that editorial use of Deuteronomistic language and themes points not to a sympathy with Deuteronomistic theology but rather to a sustained project to review and even subvert that theology. Warner’s ‘re-imagining’ of Abraham demonstrates how Israel’s forebear was ‘re-imagined’ in the post-exilic context for the purpose of offering the returning exiles a way forward at a time when all the old certainties, and even continued relationship with Yahweh, seemed lost.

Following the Man of Yamhad

Settlement and Territory at Old Babylonian Alalah

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Jacob Lauinger

Legal texts recording the purchase or exchange of entire settlements are among the most important cuneiform tablets discovered at Old Babylonian/Middle Bronze Age (Level VII) Alalah. Following the Man of Yamhad is the first book-length study of these legal texts and the socio-economic practice that they document. The author explores the nature of the alienated settlements, the rights enjoyed by their owners, the underlying system of land tenure, and the larger political context in which the transactions occurred. The study is supported by extensive collations and up-to-date editions of relevant legal and administrative texts. Its conclusions will be of interest to anyone working on the history, society, and economy of the Bronze Age Near East.

The Book of Exodus

Composition, Reception, and Interpretation

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Edited by Thomas Dozeman, Craig A. Evans and Joel N. Lohr

Written by leading experts in the field, The Book of Exodus: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation offers a wide-ranging treatment of the main aspects of Exodus. Its twenty-four essays fall under four main sections. The first section contains studies of a more general nature, including the history of Exodus in critical study, Exodus in literary and historical study, as well as the function of Exodus in the Pentateuch. The second section contains commentary on or interpretation of specific passages (or sections) of Exodus, as well as essays on its formation, genres, and themes. The third section contains essays on the textual history and reception of Exodus in Judaism and Christianity. The final section explores the theologies of the book of Exodus.

Ḍawʾ al-sārī li-maʿrifat ḫabar Tamīm al-Dārī (On Tamīm al-Dārī and His Waqf in Hebron)

Critical edition, annotated translation and introduction by Yehoshua Frenkel

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Edited by Yehoshua Frenkel

The present book investigates three short late Mamluk treatises about land properties (waqf) in the Palestinian city of Hebron, which the prophet Muhammad granted to Tamīm al-Darī. The treatise entitled Ḍawʾ al-sārī li-maʿrifat ḫabar Tamīm al-Dārī by al-Maqrīzī (d. 845/1442) is the core of the book. It is edited here for the first time on the sole basis of the copy corrected by the author. A facsimile of the manuscript is also provided at the end of the book. In order to illuminate the discourse on property rights and donation that prevailed in the Mamluk period and al-Maqrīzī’s position, two additional treatises dealing with the same issue are included. The first is al-Ǧawāb al-ǧalīl ʿan ḥukm balad al-Ḫalīl by Ibn Ḥaǧar al-ʿAsqalānī (d. 852/1448). The second is al-Faḍl al-ʿamīm fī iqṭāʿ Tamīm by al-Suyūṭī (911/1505). The three texts are fully translated and annotated and preceded by a thorough introduction.

The Relationship between Roman and Local Law in the Babatha and Salome Komaise Archives

General Analysis and Three Case Studies on Law of Succession, Guardianship and Marriage

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Carolien Oudshoorn

The discovery of the Babatha archive provided scholars with unique opportunities for reconstructing the life of Jews in second-century Arabia. Although legal issues and especially the question of the relationship between Roman and local law have received attention in a number of publications, this study presents the first complete overview of the legal situation as presented in the Babatha as well as the Salome Komaise archive, using references to law in the documents' texts as the key element for understanding what law is applicable to these documents. By distinguishing between two levels in the papyri, of substantive and of formal law, a new understanding is reached of the part both Roman and local law played in legal reality.

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Edited by Raymond Westbrook

The first comprehensive survey of the world's oldest known legal systems, this collaborative work of twenty-two scholars covers over 3,000 years of legal history of the Ancient Near East. Each of the book's chapters represents a review of the law of a particular period and region, e.g. the Egyptian Old Kingdom, by a specialist in that area. Within each chapter, the material is organized under standardized legal categories (e.g. constitutional law, family law) that make for easy cross-referencing. The chapters are arranged chronologically by millennium and within each millennium by the three major politico-cultural spheres of the region: Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Anatolia and the Levant. An introduction by the editor discusses the general character of Ancient Near Eastern Law.

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Yochanan Muffs

Long recognized as a brilliant cross-cultural study, Yochanan Muffs’ work analyzes the legal formulary of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine, at the first cataract of the Nile, where a Persian garrison comprised of Jewish soldiers and their families lived throughout most of the 5th century B.C.E. These documents are of exceptional importance for the study of ancient Near Eastern law, and Muffs has investigated their formative background through extensive references to cuneiform law, by a method he calls “the Assyriological approach”. Virtually every aspect of law-sale of land, marriage and family law, loans and credit, the taking of oaths, and the granting of bequests is studied in great depth and with unusual clarity. Muffs’ work has enjoyed renewed interest in the light of more recent discoveries of Aramaic legal documents from later periods, as in the Judean Desert.

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Edited by Raymond Westbrook and Richard Jasnow

Creditors have always sought the protection of the law to secure themselves against loss if the debtor cannot or will not pay the debt. This volume examines the legal instruments of security available to creditors in the earliest known legal systems, their use and abuse, and the ways in which the law sought to satisfy the differing interests of creditors, debtors, and society in general, with varying degrees of success.
The book covers all the major legal systems of the ancient Near East, from Sumer to Ptolemaic Egypt, as well as comparative historical developments up to the present day. Twelve scholars have each contributed a study of their special period of expertise, while the general issues that arise from their research are discussed in a concluding chapter.

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Daniel Snell

Freedom as a value is older than Greece, as evidence from the Ancient Near East shows us through this book. Snell first looks at words for freedom in the Ancient Near East. Then he examines archival texts to see how runaways expressed their interest in freedom in Mesopotamian history. He next examines what elites said about flight and freedom in edicts, legal collections, and treaties. He devotes a chapter to flight in literature and story. He studies freedom in Israel by looking at Biblical terminology and then practice in narratives and legal collections. In a final chapter Snell traces the descent of ideas about freedom among Jews, Greeks and Christians, and Muslims, concluding that the devotion to freedom may be nearly a human universal.