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A New Study of Law and Narrative in the Hebrew Bible

Pages 329 - 338



1 Daniel Friedmann, To Kill and Take Possession. Law, Morality, and Society in Biblical Stories (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 2002. Pp.xvi+327).

2 Despite the emphasis on law as it appears in biblical narrative, there is no mention of the work of Calum Carmichael, nor even of David Daube's Studies in Biblical Law, despite its famous first chapter on Law in the Narratives. There is occasional reference to Israeli scholars on biblical law, not however including Moshe Greenberg.

3 Friedmann appears to assume (at 161 and elsewhere) that the oracle could operate only in a “binary” fashion (answering yes or no to questions posed of it). However, the verb karav (Exod. 22:7) is used in Num. 27:5 and elsewhere of oracular consultation where the response is clearly discursive.

4 “Error and Accident in the Bible”, RIDA 2 (1949), 200f., idem, “Texts and Interpretations in Roman and Jewish Law”, Journal of Jewish Sociology 3 (1961), 12-14, reprinted in Collected Works of David Daube, Volume One: Talmudic Law, ed. C.M. Carmichael (Berkeley: Robbins Collection, 1992), 187–89.

5 B.S. Jackson, “Susanna and the Singular History of Singular Witnesses”, Acta Juridica (1977), 37–54.

6 See M. Greenberg, “Some Postulates of Biblical Criminal Law”, in Yehezkel Kaufman Jubilee Volume, ed. M. Haran (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1960), 12f.; idem, “More Reflections on Biblical Criminal Law”, in Studies in Bible, ed. S. Japhet (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1986; Scripta Hierosolymitana, XXXI), 2–4; S.E. Loewenstamm, Comparative Studies in Biblical and Ancient Oriental Literatures (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1980), 148, 172; R. Westbrook, “Adultery in Ancient Law”, Revue Biblique 97 (1990), 544f.

7 Gen. 35:22, 49:3-4; 1 Chron. 5:1.

8 Cf. Y. Zakovitch, “The Woman's Rights in the Biblical Law of Divorce”, The Jewish Law Annual IV (1981), 36–38.

9 See Numbers 35:22, contrasted with 35:20; B.S. Jackson, Essays in Jewish and Comparative Legal History (Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1975), 91f.

10 Jackson, Essays, supra n.8, at 42-46. See also Loewenstamm, Comparative Studies, supra n.5, at 146–153; H. McKeating, “The Development of the Law of Homicide in Ancient Israel”, Vetus Testamentum 25 (1975), 55f.; A. Rofé, “The History of the Cities of Refuge in Biblical Law”, in Studies in Bible, ed. S. Japhet (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1986; Scripta Hierosolymitana, XXXI), 206, 235; R. Westbrook, Studies in Biblical and Cuneiform Law (Paris: Gabalda, 1988), 77–83; J.W. Welch, “Reflections on Postulates: Power and Ancient Laws - A Response to Moshe Greenberg”, in Religion and Law, Biblical-Judaic and Islamic Perspectives, ed. E.B. Firmage, B.G. Weiss and J.W. Welch (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 116. Contra: A. Phillips, “Another Look at Murder”, Journal of Jewish Studies 27/2 (1977), 108-20, 122f., now reprinted in his Essays on Biblical Law (London and New York: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002).

11 Though they would not have been so recognised in the rabbinical courts, in matters of marriage and divorce.

12 Stories are generally taken uncritically as accurate representations of social practices, and are normally taken to represent the period they describe, rather than that of the literary sources in which they appear. Similarly, ideological positions are commonly attributed to society as a whole, rather than representing the claims of particular authors and groups.

13 For example, Friedmann observes (p.234) that the institution of adoption is not mentioned in the Bible and was presumably unknown among the Israelites, not taking up the issue of the adoption by Jacob by Ephraim and Menasseh (Gen. 48:5).

14 Citations from the Books of Samuel are not always clear, in that sometimes there is no distinction made between 1 Sam. and 2 Sam. (though sometimes the former is referred to as “First Samuel”, which could be confusing in some contexts); At p. 197 and in the index, Menachem Elon is referred to as Justice “Alon”.


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