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Records of Testimony Given In the Trials of Suspected Thieves and Embezzlers of Royal Property (3.HI.B.1)

(399 words)

Author(s): Hoffner, Harry A., Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Hittite Archival Documents; Courtcases Commentary These texts, called “Gerichtsprotokollen” in German and “Procès” and “documents de procédure” by Laroche in  CTH pp. 45–46, go by the name “depositions” in the CHD. They appear to be written records of testimony given by persons capable of clarifying cases involving the misappropriation of royal property. We do not know whether all these persons were also suspects themselves or whether some were simply associates of th…

The Slandered Bride (3.119)

(418 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Babylon Commentary Case law or “conditional law” is often based on actual precedent, and sometimes the provisions of Old Babylonian law, or even biblical law, seem to reflect situations encountered in court cases. A little dossier of three documents dating to the reign of Samsu-iluna (ca. 1749–1712 bce), illustrates provisions in the Laws of Hammurapi, his father and predecessor, as well as the casuistic legislation of Deuteronomy.1 In addition to a wedding document and a suppl…

Papyri Rollin and Lee (3.9)

(899 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Egyptian Archival Documents; Courtcases Commentary Although fragmentary, these trial records provide more detail regarding the techniques of the conspirators than the complementary summary, “The Judicial Papyrus of Turin” (see  COS COSB.3.8). The role of magic in the conspiracy is clearly evident, with the use of spells, potions and wax figures following procedures found in scrolls taken from the royal library of Ramses III. As the conspirators included a temple …

A Trial for Adultery (3.140)

(285 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Model Courtcases Commentary No more than eight examples of Sumerian “model court cases” are known so far. They belong to the scribal school curriculum and are thus, strictly speaking, canonical texts. But they ultimately derive from genuine archival records, particularly of the early Isin I Dynasty, and were preserved because they were thought to illustrate some particularly interesting points of law. See in detail, Hallo in press. A Trial for Adultery (3.140) Subject: Exod 22:2f (1–4) Is…

The Goring Ox at Nuzi (3.121)

(391 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Nuzi Commentary The favorite textbook illustration of negligence in the law collections of the ancient Near East is that of the goring ox (Finkelstein 1973, 1981; Jackson 1974). In reality, cases of oxen goring may have been rare; only one such case has been identified in the surviving documentation. It illustrates, to some extent, a provision found in the Laws of Eshnunna ( COS COSB.2.130 §53) and the Covenant Code (Exod 21:35f.). It happens to come from Nuzi, a site east of the Ti…

Inheritance (3.141)

(276 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Model Courtcases Inheritance (3.141) (1–2) Ur-Suena son of Enlil-mashsu and Anne-babdu his brother (3) by mutual agreement divided (their inheritance) by lot. (4–5) After Ur-Suena died — 10 years having passed — (6–9) Anne-babdu confronted the assembly of Nippur, appeared (in court) and declared: (10–12) “One-third pound (20 shekels) of silver, the price of 2 slave-girls, Ur-Suena my older brother in no wise whatever gave to me!” (13–14) Aabba-kalla son of Ur-Suena appeared (in co…

A Functional Courtcase (3.142)

(289 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Sumerian Archival Documents; Courtcases Commentary Functional court cases are well-attested for both Old Sumerian and neo-Sumerian periods. See in detail Edzard 1968 and Falkenstein 1956 respectively. 2. A Functional Courtcase (3.142) Subject: Gen 17:12f, 23, 27; Lev 22:11 William W. Hallo (1) A completed judgment: (2–4) Shesh-kalla the son of Ur-Lamma declared here: “I am not the slave of Ur-Sahar-Ba’u.”1 (5–9) That Ur-Lamma the father of Shesh-kalla was given barley rations and wool rations from the hand o…

The Case Against Ura-Tarḫunta and His Father Ukkura (3.33)

(2,367 words)

Contributor(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Hittite Archival Documents; Courtcases; Records of Testimony Given in the Trials of Suspected Thieves and Embezzlers of Royal Property Commentary This tablet was found in the East magazine of the Great Temple in the Lower City (quadrant L/19). It was kept there, because since it contained statements supported by oaths taken in the temple of Lelwani, its proper repository was a temple. Not all such tablets, however, were kept in that location. Some were recovered in Buil…

A Lawsuit from Hazor (3.120)

(373 words)

Author(s): Hallo, William W.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Hazor Commentary Hazor, “formerly the head of all those kingdoms” (Josh 11:10), was a major citadel in northern Israel, and the terminus of a trade route which led westward from the Euphrates at Mari, where it is sometimes mentioned in the royal correspondence. A smattering of cuneiform tablets, probably from the end of the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 1600 bce) has so far turned up there (see most recently Horowitz and Shaffer 1992a, b; Horowitz 1997). Among these is a courtca…

A Neo-Babylonian Dialogue Document (3.123)

(816 words)

Author(s): Weisberg, David B.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Neo-Babylonian Commentary A widely used legal formulation, which scholars have entitled the “Dialogue Document,” makes its appearance in the Middle and Neo-Babylonian periods of ancient Mesopotamia (late second and first millennia bce). Many students of these texts (see bibliography) have noticed striking parallels to Genesis 23, which tells of Abraham’s purchase of a burial cave for his wife, Sarah. The name “Dialogue Document” derives from the fact that th…

A Court Order from Samaria (3.122)

(474 words)

Author(s): Younger, K. Lawson, Jr.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Akkadian Archival Documents; Courtcases; Neo-Assyrian Commentary Located today in Istanbul, this blackish tablet (×.×.9 cm) was discovered in excavations at Samaria by Harvard University during the early part of the twentieth century, i.e. 1908–10 (see Reisner 1924 1:247; and photo, 2: pl. 56). It was found in the construction trench of the wall of the Hellenistic fort. It belongs to a genre known as “šumma texts” (Jas 1996:76–81).1 It is quite likely that such tablets were made out for the successful contestant i…

The Turin Judicial Papyrus (3.8)

(2,712 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Egyptian Archival Documents; Courtcases Commentary At an undetermined point in the thirty-two year reign of Ramses III, a harem conspiracy led by a minor queen Tiye attempted to overthrow the king in favor of her son, prince Pentawere. The relative success of the plot is unclear. Pentawere was likely proclaimed ruler by this faction, since it is euphemistically noted that he was “called by that other name” (col. v.7). Ultimately the conspiracy failed, and…

A Lawsuit Over a Syrian Slave (3.10)

(900 words)

Author(s): Ritner, Robert K.
Subject: Archival Documents from the Biblical World; Egyptian Archival Documents; Courtcases Commentary Likely dating to the reign of Ramses II, this papyrus records the oral arguments before a Theban court regarding the ownership of a female Syrian slave and a second, male slave of unknown nationality. In the lost beginning of the transcript, the citizeness Irineferet was accused by a soldier Naky of purchasing these slaves with the property of another woman. The preserved portion of the text begins with t…