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The Division of the Spoils of War in the Bible and in the Ancient Near East

Pages 242 - 273



1 For a discussion of the appearances of the term šālāl in the Bible and its parallels, see: Hans J. Stoebe, Raub und Beute [1 Sam 30: 19], in Hebräische Wortforschung: Festschrift zum 80. Geburtstag von Walter Baumgartner, SVT 16, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1967, 340–354.

2 CAD Š/1, 196–202, s.v. šalālu; 248–252, s.v. šallatu. This meaning is also expressed in Akkadian by the verb ḫabātu, that has the meaning of robbing, but also of taking captives and spoils (CADḪ, 10–12).

3 See also Wim Beuken, Isaiah, Historical Commentary on the Old Testament, part 2, Leuven: Peeters, 2000, 276, in which the author establishes that the booty was determined and divided by a superior instance, in accordance with the military rank of the recipients.

4 The noun bizzāh appears only in the Second Temple books, that are located in the end of the last part of the Bible, the “Scriptures” (Esth 9: 10, 15, 16; Dan 11: 24, 33; Ezra 9: 7; Neh 3: 36; 2 Chr 14: 13; 25: 13; 28: 14), while only the form baz appears in the books of the Torah and the Prophets. The Aramaic parallel of this root is baz, and in Arabic: bazza, while there is no etymological parallel in Akkadian. See: Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (hereafter: HAL), Leiden: Brill, 1994, I, 117.

5 See also Beuken, Isaiah (see above n. 3), 276, who asserts that bizzäh is the taking of plunder by military units, when they have been granted permission to do so by the military leadership.

6 See also that meaning of the root bzz in Deut 2: 35; 3: 7; 20: 14; Josh 8: 2, 27.

7 An additional example appears in the verse: “The men of the force, that Amaziah had sent back so that they would not go with him into battle, made forays against the towns of Judah from Samaria to Beth-horon […] and took much booty” (2 Chr 25: 13). These foreign mercenaries, who were sent back to their land, were angered by this decision, and consequently looted cities in Judah on their way back, but this plunder was not organized by the king of Israel.

8 For the parallels between the two verbs, see Isa 17: 14; 42: 22, 24; Jer 30: 16. For the use of the verbשסה with the meaning of piratical seizure, see 1 Sam. 14: 48; 23: 1; Hos 13: 15; Ps 89: 42.

9 ‚“…and your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of a caterpillar‚ (Isa 33: 4) – the prophet said unto Israel: ‚Gather your spoil’. Thereupon they questioned him, ’to take it as our own booty (libzωz) or to divide it (leḫallēq)?” (The Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 94b, trans. into English with notes, glossary and indices under the editorship of I. Epstein, London: Soncino 1935, 637–638.

10 The root שבה, as well, appears only in North-West Semitic languages: in Ugaritic, Aramaic, and Arabic, but not in Akkadian. See HAL 1999, IV, 1382.

11 Pentateuch with Targum Onkelos, Haphtaroth and Rashi's Commentary, translated into English and annotated by M. Rosenbaum & A. M. Silbermann, Jerusalem 1973, IV, 148.

12 The reading in the Samaritan version of the Torah is 'adi. See: August, Freiherr von Gall, Der hebräische Pentateuch der Samaritaner, Giessen: A. Töpelmann 1918, 109.

13 For a discussion of this version, see: J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah, The Old Testament Library, Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Pr. 1991, p. 209, n. 20. There may possibly be an additional instance of 'ad in the Bible, in the verse: “abī -'ad” (Isa 9: 5), see HAL 1995, II, 786.

14 CAD A/1 251b, s. v. akālu 2a; Abraham Malamat, Mari and Israel: Two West-Semitic Cultures, Jerusalem: The Magnes Press 1991, p. 120, n. 31 (in Hebrew).

15 According to the Midrash (Gen. Rabbah 43; Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 27), Aner, Eshkol, and Mamre did not participate in the battle, but remained with the baggage, and Abraham awarded them booty for this. For the division of spoils to those remaining with the baggage, see below, on pp. 262–265.

16 Interestingly, the word 'ad is positioned in the first hemistich of the parallelism, even though this word is relatively rare in comparison with šālāl.

17 Jean-Marie Durand, Les documents épistolaires du Palais de Mari, Paris 1998, II, 632 (pp. 322–323).

18 M.5009 [= Durand, Les documents épistolaires (see note 17 above), II, p. 311].

19 See for examples: Daniel David Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia (=ARAB), New York: Greenwood Pr. 1968, II, 24: 50; 45: 89; Albert Kirk Grayson, Assyrian Royal Inscriptions: From Tiglath-pileser I to Ashur-nasir-apli II, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1976, II, 167: 653.

20 Dominique Charpin, Un inventaire général des trésors du palais de Mari, MARI: Annales de Recherches Interdisciplinaires 2, 1983, 211–214.

21 Durand, Les documents épistolaires (see n. 17 above), II, 311.

22 Oliver Robert Gurney, J. J. Finkelstein and P. Hulin, The Sultantepe Tablets, I, London 1957, 43: r. 50. For looting of royal palaces see also: B. Oded, The Babylonian Embassy Narrative (Isaiah 39 = 2 Kings 20: 12–18): Historical Event but Fictious Prophecy?, Shnaton: An Annual for Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies IX, 1985 (115–126) 119–121 (in Hebrew).

23 James B. Pritchard, Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (hereafter: ANET), 3rd ed. with supplement, Princeton: Princeton University Pr., 1969, 455–463.

24 William W. Hallo, The Context of Scripture: Monumental Inscriptions from the Biblical World, Leiden: Brill, 2000, 271: 2.113h.

25 Mordechai Cogan, Imperialism and Religion, [Missoula, Mont.]: Society of Biblical Literature, [1974], 22–41; Philip D. Stern, A Window on Ancient Israel's Religious Experience: The Herem Reinvestigated and Re-interpreted, Ph.D. Dissertation, New York University, 1989, 58. For examples see CAD S, 197–198.

26 Israel Ephal, The Ancient Arabs: Nomads on the Borders of the Fertile Crescent 9th-5th Centuries B.C., Jerusalem 1982, 43–44, 137, 163.

27 “He killed thirty of its men. He stripped them [literally: took their garment] and gave the sets of clothing to those who had answered the riddle” (Judg 14: 19); “and seize one of our boys and strip off his tunic” (2 Sam 2: 21). Of especial interest is the first verse, in which the garments are called hali Ṣωt, when they are taken from the dead, but when these same items of clothing are given to the Philistines, they are termed halīfωt.

28 The word el in the verse has the meaning 'al (on), as is learned from the parallel in 1 Chr. 18: 7. Most commentators interpreted šiltēi as “shields” but R. Borger (Die Waffenträger des Königs Darius, VT 22, 1972 [385–398] 397–398) understood this as a quiver for arrows; cf. Arnold Albert Anderson, 2 Samuel, Word Biblical Commentary 11, Dallas: Word Books 1989, 133.

29 Margaret S. Drower, Syria c. 1550–1400 B.C., in The Cambridge Ancient History, Cambridge: University Pr., third edition, 1973, Vol. II part 1, p. 449.

30 This verse is understood as a gloss, because it disrupts the continuity of the narrative; it is followed by a linking repetition, and it contradicts the preceding detailed depiction of the concentrated collection and division of the spoils, see: James Alexander Paterson, The book of Numbers, Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs 1900, 64.

31 See also further on p. 267.

32 For examples see: Albert Kirk Grayson, Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC., Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia: Assyrian periods, 2: 858–745 BC., Toronto: University of Toronto Pr., 1996, 10; James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East in Pictures relating to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. with supplement, Princeton: Princeton University Pr., 1969, No. 311-316, 358. For a study of the Assyrian spoil inscriptions see: Moshe Elat, Economic Relations in the Lands of the Bible c. 1000–539 B.C, Jerusalem 1977, 15–28 (in Hebrew).

33 Kenneth Lawson Younger, Ancient Conquest Accounts: A Study in Ancient Near Eastern and Biblical History Writing, Sheffield: JSOT Pr., 1990, 75. The verb šalālu is likely to be replaced by the synonymous verbs: našû, asû, arādu, tāru.

34 Such as Shalmaneser III, king of Assyria, who bore innumerable spoils from Hazael king, of Aram; see Hallo, The Context of Scripture (see n. 24 above) 268; Sargon king of Assyria wrote: “The massed armies of Assur took plunder beyond reckoning for three days and nights” (Arthur Gotfred Lie, The Inscriptions of Sargon II King of Assyria, Paris: P. Geuthner, 1929, 62: 5). See also Andreas Fuchs, Die Inschriften Sargons II. aus Khorsabad, Göttingen: Cuvillier 1994, 164: 353. Another expression is ana la mini “without number” see Hayim Tadmor, The Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III, King of Assyria, Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1994, IB: r. 14 (p. 98).

35 This, however, may also be understood as implying that it is the enemy who spread over the land, and not the plunder, that is comparable to the grasshoppers. For the two possible interpretations, see: John Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986, 594.

36 Ephal, The Ancient Arabs (see n. 26 above) 149.

37 ARMT I, 43: 3–14. The Mari documents further mention that Mukannisum was in charge of the receipt of the ransom money for captives. See ARMT XVIII, pp. 170, 212. For the ransom of captives, see also: ARMT XIII, 2: r. 3.

38 J. N. Postgate, Early Mesopotamia: Society and Economy at the Dawn of History, London: Routledge, 1994, 253.

39 See Abraham Malamat, Mari and the Early Israelite Experience, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, 75–79.

40 A. Marzal, Mari Clauses in ‚Casustic’ and ‚Apodictic’ Styles, CBQ 33, 1971 (333–364) p. 337, n. 13.

41 Moshe Greenberg, Is There a Mari parallel to the Israelite Enemy-herem?, Eretz-Israel 24, 1993 (49–53) 52, n. 11 (in Hebrew with English Summary).

42 Greenberg, ibid. 49–52; J. Milgrom, The Concept of ma'al in the Bible and in the Ancient Near East, JAOS 96, 1976 (236–247) 241; N. Lohfink, hāram, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren; trans. by John T. Willis, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1986 (180–199) 191.

43 Stern, A Window on Ancient Israel's Religious Experience (see n. 25 above) 78. For the ban in Mesha's inscription see Stern, ibid. 19–76.

44 See further on pp. 254–266.

45 The site is not identified, is mentioned only here.

46 The reference to the division of spoils appears in this prophecy before the mention of war, thus giving expression to the fear by the vanquished of the seizure of their possessions.

47 The Midrash (Num Rabbah 22: 4) finds praise for Israel in this passage: “This shows how well they conducted themselves for they took nothing from the spoil without permission but first brought it to the authorities and then took”. The following verse, however, states: “Moses, Eleazar the priest, and all the chieftains of the community came out to meet them outside the camp” (Num 31: 13), thus leading the Midrash to ask: “For what purpose did they go out?” It answers: “… because they saw the young men of Israel going out to snatch the spoil” (Siphre d'be Rab, ed. H. S. Horovitz, Jerusalem 1966, 157 [p. 211]). That is to say, they went forth to prevent the seizure of the plunder by the Israelite youths, whose actions were the opposite of the warriors, who conducted themselves with honesty and integrity.

48 See also Num 31: 7–9; Deut 20: 14.

49 tr (=Tel Rima) 4019 (=Iraq 30, 1968, 89).

50 Georg Dossin, Les archives épistolaires du palais de Mari, Syria 19, 1938 (105–126) 121: 10–20.

51 Wu Yuhong, A Political History of Eshnunna, Mari and Assyria during the Early Old Babylonian Period, Changchun: Institute of History of Ancient Civilizations, Northeast Normal University, 1994, 178.

52 Richard H. Beal, Hittite Military Organization, in Jack M. Sasson (ed.), Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, New York: Scribner, 1995, (545–554) 553.

53 Gary Michael Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts, 2nd Edition, Atlanta, Georgia, 1999, 2: A ii 26–41, p. 21. This principle also appears in the communication by the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I to Niqmadu II, the king of Ugarit (RS 17.132: 35–48 [=PRU IV, pp. 36–37]), in which the Hittite monarch grants permission to the ruler of Ugarit to attack Mukish and Nuhashshi, that rebelled against the Hittites, and to plunder their possessions. An additional example of this is to be found in the document from Mursili II to Abiradda king of Barga, in which Mursili writes, that since the latter had raised prior claims against the city of Iyaruwata, he agrees to restore this city to Abiradda, with the following condition: If Mursili, employing his own forces, were to conquer the city, that is held by the rebellious King of Nuhashshi, then he will take for himself all its people and their property, while he will return the empty city to Abiradda; if, however, the rebellious King of Nuhashshi were to be killed by someone else, then this city would belong to the latter (CTH 63a: A i, 18–34 = Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts, p. 171). For a discussion of this document, see: Amnon Altman, Some Remarks on the so-called ‚Arbitrage concerning Barga’, Ugarit-Forschungen 32, 2000 (1–10) 1–9.

54 Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts (see n. 53 above) 2: A iii 37–47 (p. 23). The extant documents also indicate other possibilities: in the preface to the treaty between Shattiwaza and Suppiluliuma I, the latter relates that he conquered from Mitani the land of Alshi and the fort (or district) of Kutmar, and gave them as a present to king of Alshi, thus attesting that the king of Alshi cooperated with the Hittites, and therefore was given his land and the adjoining district of Kutmar. See: CTH 51.1: A, obv. 25–26 = G. Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts (see n. 53 above) 43.

55 ANET, pp. 557–558.

56 Hallo, The Context of Scripture (see n. 24 above) 162. For discussion see: Ephal, The Ancient Arabs (see n. 26 above) 194–196.

57 Riekele Borger, Die Inschriften Asarhaddons, Königs von Assyrien, Archiv für Orientforschung Beiheft 9, Graz: Im Selbstverlage des Herausgebers, 1956, p. 98: r. 34.

58 CAD S, 1, p. 250.

59 Jonathan Rosner Ziskind, Aspects of International Law in the Ancient Near East, Ph.D. Thesis, Columbia University 1967, 130.

60 Cogan, Imperialism and Religion (see n. 25 above) 28.

61 I. Gelb, Prisoners of war in Early Mesopotamia, JNES 32, 1973 (70–98) 81–95.

62 J. S. Cooper, The Return of Ninurta to Nippur, Analecta Orientalia 52, Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum 1978, 13: 10, pp. 63–67.

63 Francois Thureau-Dangin, Die sumerischen und akkadischen Königsinschriften, Vorderasiatische Bibliothek 1, Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1907, p. 70: IV, 64–77.

64 A. Goetze, Warfare in Asia Minor, Iraq 25, 1963 (124–130) 129.

65 Hallo, The Context of Scripture (see n. 24 above), 138. For discussion of the proscription by Mesha, see: Stern, A Window on Ancient Israel's Religious Experience (see n. 25 above) 19–76.

66 Maximilian Streck, Assurbanipal und die letzten assyrischen Könige, Leipzig: Hinrichs 1916, II, p. 58, VI: 125. See also: Luckenbill, ARAB (see n. 19 above), II, 798.

67 Cogan, Imperialism and Religion (see 25 n. above) 22–41.

68 J. C. Cooper, Sumerian and Akkadian Royal Inscriptions, Vol. I: Presargonic Inscriptions, New Haven 1986, 105 (Uk 4.1 of Ensakusana of Uruk).

69 Albert Kirk Grayson, Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC., Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia: Assyrian Periods, v. 2, Toronto: University of Toronto Pr., 1991, A.0.87.2: 23–24 (p. 34). Adad-nārārī II king of Assyria gave also the gods of Qumānu as gifts to his god, Aššur (A.0.99.1: 15–19 [ibid. p. 144]).

70 Cogan, Imperialism and Religion (see n. 25 above) 40. Thus the idols served as a means to influence the positions of the vassal. King Esarhaddon of Assyria acted in similar fashion, writing in this spirit: “I wrote the mighty works of Assur, my lord, on the images of the gods which I had taken as spoil and I returned them to him” Borger, Asarhaddon (see n. 57 above) 57: B iii, 47.

71 Cf. 1 Sam 15: 21.

72 Cf. the Quran idea, that no soldier or troop has any inherent right to it (the spoil). A righteous war is a community affair and any accessions resulting from it belong to God or the community (The Holy Qur-an: Text, Translation & Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. M. Ashraf 1974, Sūra VIII, pp. 414–415).

73 Gelb, Prisoners of war (see n. 61 above), 81–95.

74 Durand, Les documents épistolaires (see n. 17 above) II, 627: 5–13. An additional example of the needs of the palace being filled by the captives taken among the plunder appears in the letter, in which Zimri-Lim king of Mari write to his queen Šibtu, that he will choose women musicians from among the women captives (ARMT X, 125: 1–25).

75 Goetze, Warfare in Asia Minor (see n. 64 above) 129.

76 Beal, Hittite Military Organization (see n. 52 above) 553.

77 Cogan, Imperialism and Religion (see n. 25 above) 29.

78 Cogan, ibid. p. 27.

79 For David's share in the war against the Amalekites (1 Sam 30: 20) see further pp. 262–265.

80 Philippe Abrahami (et al.), La guerre au Proche-Orient dans l'antiquite, Les Dossiers d'archeologie 160, 1991, 38. Cf. the Quran attitude: “A fifth share (of the spoil) goes to the commander” (The Holy Qur-an, Sūra VIII, pp. 414–415.

81 For example see Samädahu(m)'s letter to the king of Mari, above on p. 14. This letter does not teach of a fair and equal division, but rather of extensive looting by the army's commanders. The king suspects that his commander Samädahu(m) has taken great quantities of spoils, while he reports that other commanders were those who took excessive amounts of booty, and even exploited their soldiers, taking from them slaves that had been given to them in their portion of the spoils, and giving them as plunder to Samädahu(m).

82 amuzinnu is a farm plant, see CAD A/2, 100.

83 Peter Kyle McCarter, I Samuel: A New Translation with Introduction, Notes Commentary, Anchor Bible 8, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday 1980, 436.

84 Cf. Henry Preserved Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of Samuel, The International Critical Commentary, Edinburgh: Clark 1899, 249. Hans Wilhelm Hertzberg (I & II Samuel: A Commentary, The Old Testament Library, London: SCM Pr., 1964, 228–229), writes that the assigning of the spoils to David is a mark of trust in him, after the preceding crisis; this constitutes transferal of ownership.

85 The Midrash (Gen Rabbah 43; Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer 27) questioned how David could establish a new law that has no source in the Torah. The answer given is that David learned this from Abraham, who apportioned spoils to those who remained with the baggage (see above, n. 15). This exegesis finds support in the wording of the verse: “So from that day on [mēhayyωm hahū wāmāʿlāh] it was made a fixed rule for Israel” (1 Sam 30: 25) – the text states wāmāʿlāh (implying from this time on) and not “wālālāh” (which would mean going back in time, and beginning earlier).

86 For the restoration of booty to its owners, see below, pp. 271–273.

87 See Baruch A Levine, Numbers 21–36: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Bible 4A, New York: Doubleday 2000, 460.

88 See Martin Noth, Numbers: A Commentary, The Old Testament Library, London: SCM Pr., 1968, 232.

89 Cf. Timothy R. Ashley, The Book of Numbers: New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1993, 597.

90 Xenophon, Cyropaedia: The Education of Cyrus, Everyman's Library, trans. by H. G. Dakyns; introduction and notes by Richard Stoneman, London: Dent 1992, VII, C.5: 72–73.

91 For mercenaries' wages see 2 Chr 25: 6.

92 Ziskind, Aspects of International Law in the Ancient Near East (see n. 59 above) 146.

93 For a discussion of the conquerors' claims to ownership of the lands that were taken, see: Amnon Altman, Claim of Possession over Occupied or Conquered Territory in the Bible and in the Ancient Near East, Zeitschrift für Altorientalische und Biblische Rechtsgeschichte 7, 2001, 332–352. For the place of the theological argument in all this, see: Ziskind, Aspects of International Law in the Ancient Near East (see n. 59 above) 5–13.

94 Grayson, Assyrian Rulers of the Early First Millennium BC. (see n. 69 above) I, A.0.99.2: 13 (p. 147).

95 Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts (see n. 53 above), 8: A iii 23–29, p. 62.

96 R. D. Barnett and M. Falkner, The Sculptures of Tiglath-pileser III, 745–727 B.C., London 1962, 29–30.

97 Daniel David Luckenbill, The Annals of Sennacherib, The University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications II, Chicago, III: The University of Chicago Press 1924, 156: 25; 157: 30.

98 Joshua's four campaigns are divided into two categories: the taking of Jericho and the fighting against the southern kings are depicted as miraculous warfare in which the Lord actively intervened (Josh 6: 20; 10: 11–14); on the other hand, the campaigns against Ai and against the northern kings (Josh 8, 11) contain no mention of miracles or overt intervention by the Lord. Consequently, the taking of spoils is mentioned explicitly only for the latter group of battles, that is, in the campaigns that were waged in a rational, exclusively human manner. See Eliyahu Assis, The Literary Structure of the Conquest Narrative in the Book of Joshua (Chs. 1–11) and Its Meaning, Ph.D. Dissertation, Bar-Ilan University 1989, 193 [in Hebrew].

99 For the Herem-Law see Philip D. Stern, A Window on Ancient Israel's Religious Experience (see n. 25 above).

100 A statement in a similar vein appears in the section on plunder in the Koran, that states: “Booty should never be our aim in war. It is only on adventitious circumstance, a sort of windfall” (The Holy Quran, Sūra VIII [pp. 414–415]).

101 W. F. Leemans, The Asīru, Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale 55, 1961 (57–76) 70.

102 See: Daniel Isaac Block, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 25–48, New International Commentary on the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998, 449. Nonetheless, this passage may also be understood as these peoples, who were known for their commercial activities, would wait for the victory by Gog in order to trade with him in the spoils that he would take in the war, as was proposed by Walther Zimmerli (Ezekiel: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, trans. by Ronald E. Clements, Philadelphia: Fortress Pr., 1983. v. 2, p. 311).

103 The end of the passage is to be read leṢawwerēi šωlēl (i.e., the person who took the spoils), as an active participle (and not as written: šālāl), in order to obtain a meaningful statement, thus Robert G. Boling, Judges: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary, The Anchor Bible 6A, Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday [1975], 115; J. Alberto Soggin, Judges: A Commentary, The Old Testament Library, Philadelphia: Westminster Pr., 1981, 92.

104 For an assessment of the deed by the sons of Jacob in Shechem, see the recent article: Ronald T. Hyman, Final Judgment: The Ambiguous Moral Question that Culminates Genesis 34, Jewish Bible Quarterly 28,2, 2000 93–101.

105 See for example Gen 15: 11; Jer 12: 9.

106 For eating on the blood being the same as eating with the blood, see: McCarter, I Samuel (see n. 83 above) 249; Ralph W. Klein, I Samuel, Word Biblical Commentary 10, Waco, Tex.: Word, 1983, 139. For the prohibition of eating animals with the blood, see Lev 17: 10–14.

107 For a bibliography on the question of the historical accuracy of the narrative, see: M. C. Astour, Political and Cosmic Symbolism in Genesis 14 and in its Babylonian Sources, in: A. Altman (ed.), Biblical Motifs – Origin and Transformation: Studies and Text, III, Cambridge 1966 (65–112) 65.

108 The king of Sodom suggests that Abraham be satisfied with the property. According to Ziskind (Aspects of International Law [see n. 59 above] 248), the king of Sodom also demanded the livestock, which are included in the word “hannefeš”; his argument does not appear reasonable, in light of the verse: “He brought back all the possessions; he also brought back his kinsman Lot and his possessions, and the women and the rest of the people” (v. 16), with a distinction being drawn only between property and people, and thus, the livestock were included in the property. According to C. Westermann (Genesis 12–36: A Commentary, tr. J. J. Scullion, London, 1985, 202), Abraham rejected the offer because this was the property of the king of Sodom, against whom Abraham had not fought. There is no basis, however, for such a distinction in the laws of the Ancient Near East, and in this instance, as well, Abram's allies took their portion of the plunder (v. 24). The explicit reason for Abram's refusal is “you shall not say, ‚It is I who made Abram rich’” (v. 23). Abram is not desirous of any ties with the king of Sodom, and he certainly did not want to be dependent upon the latter and to owe his material success to this monarch.

109 See David Elgavish, The Encounter of Abram and Melchizedek: Covenant Establishment, in A. Wénin (ed.), Studies in the Book of Genesis: Literature, Redaction and History, Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium CLV, Leuven 2001 (495–508) 505–508.

110 Viktor Korošec, The Warfare of the Hittites from the Legal Point of View, Iraq 25, 1963 (159–166) 162. It is in this spirit that we are to explain the return of the captives from Judah by the men of Israel (2 Chr 28: 15), since they stressed the element of fraternity between the two kingdoms, and so the Judahites are not about to be prizes of war in the hands of their brethren from Israel.

111 RS 17.340: 30–32 (=PRU IV, p. 50). For that parallel and for the division of the spoils in the Hittite treaties see: Yochanan Muffs, Abraham the Noble Warrior: Patriarchal Politics and Laws of War in Ancient Israel, Journal of Jewish Studies 33, 1/2, 1982, 81–107.

112 Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts (see n. 53 above) No. 27: obv. 49–57, p. 156.

113 Beckman, Hittite Diplomatic Texts (see n. 53 above) No. 27: rev. 84–90, p. 160.

114 ANET, p. 531: 4.


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