Skip to content

The “great sin” and its punishment. Remarks on the letter of the king of Sidon to the king of Ugarit, from the recent publication, in the light of the Bible (OT), the Mishna, and the II Targum of the Book of Esther

Pages 207 - 212


1 M. Yon and D. Arnaud, eds. Etudes Ougaritiques, I Travaux 1985-1995. RSO XIV, Paris 2001.

2 D. Arnaud. Lettres (in RSO XIV, pp. 257–290; here No. 13, Text RS.86.2221+2225+86. 2226+86.2240. Le roi de Sidon presse amicalement le roi d'Ougarit de resoudre le grave incident provoqué par des blasphémateurs, pp. 267–272, plates pp. 284–285.

3 Pp. 273–275 (RS.86.2208).

4 The text PRU.IV RS 17.116; RS 17.270; RS 17.159; RS 17.396; RS 17.348; RS 1860+17. 365; RS 17.459; RS 17.372A+360A; RS 17.450A; RS 17.228; RS 17.318 + 349A; RS 17. 82; the text L.R. Fisher. The Claremont Ras Shamra Tablets, AnOr, 48, Rome 1971, text No. 1, and the G. Badr text - D. Arnaud et M. Salvini, Le divorce du roi Ammistamru d'Ougarit: un document redécouvert, “Semitica,” 41, 1993, pp. 6–22 (the text on pp. 14–18). W.L. Moran, The Scandal of the “Great Sin” at Ugarit, JOES 18, 1959, pp. 280–281; F.B. Knutson, Literary Phrases and Formulae, RSP, 2, 1975, pp. 404–421; H. Klengel, Syria to 300 B.C. A Handbook of Political History, Berlin, 1992, pp. 141–142; J.P. Vita, The Society of Ugarit, in HUS, p. 477; I. Singer, A Political History of Ugarit, HUS, pp. 680–681; the literature on this question is practically endless.

5 Cf. M. Heltzer, The Internal Organization of the Kingdom of Ugarit, Wiesbaden, 1982, pp. 119–120.

6 I.e., did not sentence them to death.

7 Cf. AHW, pp. 1030–1031a-b, sarrātum, sarrûtum, sarrum. CAD, v. 15. S, pp. 174b–175b.

8 I.e., the various royal offices.

9 M. Heltzer, The Political Institutions of Ancient Emar as Compared with Contemporary Ugarit, UF.33.2002, p. 233.

10 ḥaṭāʾah gedolā.

11 weheḥeṭī'ām ḥaṭāa gedωlā.

12 Deut. 21:20: sωrēr ūmore ʾēynennū šsomēʿa beqωlēnü (lit. “rebellious and does not obey the teacher”).

13 Deut. 21:21 : ūregāmuhū kωl-‘anšēy ”īrω bā'abānīm wārnet…

14 22) wekī-yihye beʾīš ḥët’ mišpaṭ-māwet wehūmāt wetālītā ʾotω ʿl-ʿēš. Also Lev. 24:14,16, 24 where we read about stoning by the whole community (ʿēdā). Cf. Lev. 20:27 where sorcery is defined as the crime and it is punished by stoning, Num. 13:35-36.

15 A. Kapelrud, seqilā, TWAT V, 1986, pp. 945–948. The author sums up all the cases of stoning in the OT where it is just stoning without impaling; K.-D. Schunck, rgm TWAT, VII, 1993, pp. 345–347; cf. also Lev. 24:13-24: a man who curses and blasphemes God shall be taken out of the camp and stoned by the whole community; Num 15:32-36 where a man desecrating the Sabbath, has to be stoned by the whole congregation; Jos. 7:25 telling about the collective stoning of Achan.

16 mωṣiʾin ʾωtω lesaqlω. The Mishnaic citation is according to its vocalized text.

17 hāʾīš nisqāl ʿārωm weʾēyna hdʾišša nisqelet carūmā.hāīš nitlē, weʾēyn hāʾīššā nitlēyt (in Sanhedrin only the first part VI:3).

18 The English text is according to the Revised Standard Version.

19 B. Grossfeld, The Two Targums of Esther (The Aramaic Bible. The Targums), Edinburgh, 1991, pp. 23–24.

20 The text is in Miqrā'ωt Gedωlωth - Tωra, ḥameš megilωt, Jerusalem 5721 (i.e. 1960-61). The text is vocalized: zequfe yātēyh lehāmān rašīʿā ʿal qēysa’ wale ʿasrāʾ benoy ʿal zeqīfāʾ dī ʾatqin lenapšēyh ūz qīfū yat hāmān ʿal qēysā deʾatqīn lemordekay. This passage is absent from the critical edition. M. David, Das Targum Scheni nach Handschriften herausgegeben und mit einer Einleitung versehen, Berlin, 1898, as well as in the English text, Grossfeld (cf. above).

21 The meaning of the Aramaic word qēysāʾ in this context is clear, but the etymology of the word is obscure. According to M. Sokoloff (Dictionary of Jewish Aramaic… Ramat Gan, 1990, p. 491) is a “pole, wood, chop, and it is compared with the Akkadian qīštu “forest”. But it could be a late derivation from the Sumerian GIŠ, appearing always as a determinative before designation of wooden objects, and combined with zeqīfāʾ “stake”. In this case it can also be a “stake”.

22 S. Loewenstamm, hωqaʿāh, EB II, 1954, col. 798-800 (Hebrew).

23 R. Hirzel, Die Strafe der Steinigung, Abhandlungen der Philologisch-historischen Klasse der Königlichen Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften, Bd. XXVII, VII, Leipzig, 1909.


Export Citation