By Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman
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Additional info for A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (Handbook of Oriental Studies; Handbuch der Orientalistik)
The impracticality of these measures is obvious, and most biblical scholars dismiss them as utopian. 14 The scholarship is reviewed in Fitzpatrick-McKinley, Transformation . ; Renger, “Noch einmal . , Codiﬁcation . . 1 The provisions of the law codes are direct statements of legal norms. Unlike demonstrably legislative sources such as decrees and instructions, they cover most areas of legal relations between individuals. They are also widely distributed in time and place and, at the same time, closely related in form and content.
The mechanics are not well documented, but it seems that ordeals were carefully monitored and could involve swimming or carrying an object in water a certain distance. At Mari, the use of substitutes for the parties is attested. Drowning indicated guilt, but the unsuccessful subject could be rescued prior thereto and punished. The issue need not be criminal; already in the third millennium, disputes over property could be settled by ordeal. 27 Frymer-Kensky, The Judicial Ordeal . 6 Oracle The oracle was a divinatory procedure, a means of consulting a god on a speciﬁc question—in principle, one that could be answered yes or no.
22:23–25); a baby is presumed abandoned, not lost, if it has not been cleaned of amniotic ﬂuid (LH 185). 4. ”29 The notion of such a movement is not borne out by the evidence from the ancient Near East, where a dense network of contracts between individuals existed alongside status, some even impinging upon the rules of status (as in marriage and adoption) in a way that would be unacceptable to modern systems. Nonetheless, Maine’s observation contains a profound insight: in ancient law, the role of status was altogether more important and far-reaching in its consequences.
A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (Handbook of Oriental Studies; Handbuch der Orientalistik) by Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman