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Sophie Lafont, Femmes, Droit et Justice dans l'Antiquité orientale. Contribution à l'étude du droit pénal au Proche-Orient ancien (Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 165). Editions Universitaires Fribourg Suisse / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Göttingen 1999. XV, 562.

Pages 389 - 398



1 Abbreviations: ANE = Ancient Near Eastern; Cardascia – G. Cardascia, Les lois assyriennes (1969); Driver-Miles – G.R. Driver and John C. Miles, The Assyrian Laws (1935); HL – Hittite Laws; LE – Laws of Eshnunna; LH – Laws of Hammurabi; LLI – Laws of Lipit-Ishtar; Roth – M.T.Roth, Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor (1995); TUAT – Texte aus der Umwelt des Alten Testaments, 1982.

2 See already, in brief, Lafont, 12.

3 A longer version of this review, in German, appeared in the Zeitschrift der Savigny – Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte (ZSS), romanistische Abt. 118 (2001) 388–405.

4 Lafont, 142 offers an “enriched” translation: la jeune fille [a pu] crier sans que personne ne vienne à son secours. This may (even inadvertently) change the meaning. As control one may use the Vulgata: sola erat in agro, clamavit et nullus adfuit qui liberaret earn.

5 Lafont, 142, points to HL Sec. 197. This may have served as model for the provisions in Deuteronomy.

6 See Roth 204.

7 In Talmudie times applied also to other wounds inflicted, if they are visible, and if the affected member do not grow again.

8 Lafont,178 mentions Leviticus 18: 6–16; partly repeated in Leviticus. 20: 11–12, 14, 17, 19–21; Deuteronomy 23:1; 27: 20, 22–23.

9 See also HL 189.

10 See p.174, Fn.8; p. 234, Fn.243.

11 Compare the sober presentation of Josephus Flavius, Jewish Antiquities 1:205, in contrast with Philo's shocked condemnation (The Posterity of Cain 176). The Talmud takes a positive attitude to the daughters, but is more critical vis-à-vis Lot himself (Babylonian Talmud Nazir 23a, 24a; Horayoth 10b).

12 See Gen. 38, the story of the twice widowed Tamar, the daughter-in-law of Judah.

13 The story of “Susanne and the Elders” has come down as an appendix to the book of Daniel (as chapter 13); it is preserved in two Greek versions (in the Septuaginta and Theodotion). Whether there has ever been a Semitic (that is, Hebrew or Aramaic) version, is uncertain.

14 See Sifre to Deuteronomy 25:12.

15 The rendering of Borger [TUAT] “aus eigenem Antrieb” follows Cardascia 244 “sa propre volonté”; so also Lafont. This is preferable to the usual translation into English, “by her own act” (Driver-Miles, 421, J. Th. Meek, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, 184; similarly Roth, 174, “by her own action”).

16 Driver-Miles, 115–118; Cardascia, 244–247.

17 Not acceptable would be the suggestion of Cardascia, 245: He refers to a paper published by W. von Soden, Die Assyrer und der Krieg, Iraq 25 (1963), 131–144. Von Soden did indeed mention early difficulties incurred by the small Assyrian people, encircled by numerous and powerful enemies. Following up this observation, Cardascia proposes to understand the harshness of MAL 53 as the defensive measure of a people, whose existence was in danger?! If the situation of the Assyrians was that bad and desperate, MAL 53 would have been of little help to them.

18 Digesta 47.11.4. The emperors are satisfied with temporary exile. Quoted by Driver and Miles, 115, fn 5.

19 Published by M.Civil, New Sumerian Law Fragments, in Studies in Honor of Benno Landsberger (1965) 11. Roth, 26–27, inclines to attach the fragment, with some hesitation, to the LLI (as d-e-f). She is followed by Lafont.

20 See lastly Roth 42f., under the title A Sumerian Laws Exercise Tablet (ca. 1800 B.C).

21 A tenth month of pregnancy is mentioned also in Twelve Tables 4:4. See D. Daube, Studies in Biblical Law (1947) 148, note 6.

22 Following Roth 160 and 192, note 8., in the switch from tin to lead.

23 See also the remarks of Lafont, 369f.

24 Note 3, above.


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