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Home-Grown or Imported? An Examination of Bernard Jackson's Wisdom-Laws

Pages 443 - 462



1 A. Alt, ‘The Origins of Israelite Law’, in idem, Essays on Old Testament Law and Religion (trans. R.A. Wilson; Oxford: Blackwell, 1966), p. 91.

2 Alt, ‘Origins’, p. 92.

3 Alt, ‘Origins’, p. 98.

4 Bernard S. Jackson, Wisdom-Laws: A Study of the Mishpatim of Exodus 21:1–22:16 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).

5 Eckart Otto, in his review in ZAR 12 (2006), pp. 78–83, has already questioned the major claim, that the written mishpatim are derived from orally transmitted self-executing laws. So does the present article, but it also questions the thesis, to which Otto makes only passing reference, that the social context of the mishpatim is that of the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible, rather than the ancient near eastern legal tradition.

6 Jackson. Wisdom-Laws, p. 29.

7 Jackson. Wisdom-Laws, p. 152.

8 Jackson. Wisdom-Laws, p. 20 n. 94.

9 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 137 n. 97, 273 and n. 92.

10 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 223.

11 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 31.

12 Jackson. Wisdom-Laws, pp. 9–10.

13 Jackson. Wisdom-Laws, pp. 150–63.

14 Jackson. Wisdom-Laws, pp. 34–35, 36, 37, 65 n. 144.

15 Jackson. Wisdom-Laws, pp. 41–42.

16 Jackson. Wisdom-Laws, p. 30.

17 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 25, following Basil Bernstein, Class, Codes and Control (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1971).

18 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 25–29.

19 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 256.

20 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 280.

21 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 43, 280–81.

22 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 254.

23 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 184.

24 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 225.

25 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 223, 227.

26 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 341–42.

27 F.R. Kraus, ed., Altbabylonische Briefe im Umschrift und Übersetzung. Heft 11 Letters from Collections in Philadelphia, Chicago and Berkeley (ed. M. Stol; Leiden: Brill, 1986), No. 7, lines 5–25.

28 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 273, 282.

29 LE §§ 54, 56, 58; CH § 251.

30 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 321.

31 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 319–20; D. Daube, Studies in Biblical Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1947), pp. 134–44.

32 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 28, 133-38, 248

33 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp.192-95.

34 Josephus, Ant. 4.280; Mekilta: Nezikin 8 (ad Exod. 21.24; J.Z. Lauterbach, Mekilta de-Rabbi Ishmael [Philadelphia: JPSA, 1935] pp. 62–69; mBaba Kamma 8:1; bBaba Kamma 83b–84a.

35 Lauterbach, Mekilta, p. 67.

36 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp.9-10.

37 Carole R. Fontaine, Traditional Sayings in the Old Testament (Sheffield: Almond Press, 1982); cited Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 35 n. 166, 37 n. 174.

38 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 42.

39 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 43.

40 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 43 n. 18.

41 Prov. 1:8-9; etc. cf. ‘How good it is that a son should accept what his father says!’, ‘The Maxims of Ptahhotpe’, No. 39, trans. R.O. Faulkner, in W.K. Simpson, ed., The Literature of Ancient Egypt (New Haven: Yale U.P., new edition, 1973), p. 173; M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian Literature (3 vols.; Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), I, p. 74; ‘Hear, O my son Nadan, and come to the understanding of me, and be mindful of my words, as the words of God’, ‘The Story of Ahikar’, 2:1, trans. J. Rendel Harris, in R.H. Charles, ed., The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. Vol. 2: Pseudepigrapha (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), p. 724.

42 Prov. 1:10-19; 4:10-19; 13:20; cf. ‘My son, associate with the wise man, and you will become like him; do not associate with a garrulous and talkative man, lest you be numbered with him’, ‘Ahikar’, 2:12, p. 730; ‘Do not fraternize with the hot-tempered man, Nor approach him to converse’, ‘The Instruction of Amenemope’, ch. 9, trans. W.K. Simpson, in idem, The Literature of Ancient Egypt, p. 251; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 153; ‘Keep away from an unfriendly man, and do not take him as a companion’, Ani viii.13-14; No. 47 in E. Suys, La Sagesse d'Ani (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1935); aliter Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 142.

43 Prov. 20:1; 23:29-35; cf. ‘My son, withdraw at the first cup, and do not tarry for liquorice draughts, lest you get wounds in the head’, Ahikar 2:43, in Charles, Pseudepigrapha, p.734.

44 Prov. 2:16-19; 5:3-6, 8–20; 6:24-35; 7:5-17; cf. ‘Be on your guard against a woman from abroad, who is not known in her own town. Do not stare at her as she passes by. Do not have intercourse with her: she is a deep expanse of water, and her turning is not known. A woman who is away from her husband will say to you daily, “I am beautiful”’ (Ani iii.13-14; No. 9 in Suys, Sagesse); Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 137; ‘If you desire to preserve friendship in a home into which you enter, whether as lord or as brother or as friend, at any place into which you enter, beware of approaching the women, for no good comes to a place where this is done…. A little moment, the semblance of a dream, and death reaches you because of knowing them’, ‘Ptahhotpe’, No. 18, p. 166; Lichtheim, Literature, I, p. 68; ‘My son, do not lift up your eyes and look upon a woman who is bedizened and painted; and do not lust after her in your heart; for if you should give her all that is in your hands, you will find no advantage in her; and you will be guilty of sin against God…. My son, do not let you eyes look upon a beautiful woman; and do not be inquisitive about beauty that does not belong to you; because many have perished through the beauty of woman, and her love has been as a fire that burns’, ‘Ahikar, 2:6, 72, pp. 728, 738.

45 Prov. 12:4; 18:22; 19:14; 31:10-31; cf. ‘If you are well-to-do and can maintain your household, love your wife in your home according to good custom. Fill her belly; clothe her back; oil is the panacea for her body … Soothe her heart with what has accrued to you; it means that she will continue to dwell in your house. If you repulse her, it means tears’, ‘Ptahhotpe’, No. 21, p. 167; Lichtheim, Literature, I, p. 69; ‘Take a wife while you are still a youth, so that she may produce a son for you’, Ani iii.1; No. 6 in Sagesse; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 136; You should not supervise your wife too closely in her own house, when you know she is efficient. do not say to her, “Where is so-and-so? Fetch it for us,’ when she has put it in the most useful place’, Ani ix.3-5; No. 50 in Sagesse; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 143.

46 Prov. 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13-14; 29:15, 17; cf. ‘My son, do not spare your son beatings; because beatings for a youth are like manure for a garden … Do not spare your son the rod if you cannot keep him from wickedness. If I strike you, my son, you will not die, but if I leave you to your own devices you will not live’, Ahikar 2: 22, p. 732; J.M. Lindenberger, The Aramaic Proverbs of Ahiqar (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), Saying 4, pp. 51–52).

47 Prov. 23:22; 19:26; 20:20; 30:11,17; cf. ‘Double the food which you give to your mother, and carry her as she carried you. She had a heavy load in you, but she did not leave it to me. You were born after the due number of months, but she was still yoked to you, for she breast fed you for three years. Although your filth was disgusting, her heart was not disgusted, saying “What can I do?” She sent you to school when you were taught to write, and she continued to look after you every day, with bread and beer in her house’, Ani vii.17-viii.1; No. 38 in Sagesse; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 141; ‘My son, do not bring upon yourself the curses of your father and mother, lest you are unable to rejoice in the blessings of your children’ Ahikar 2:26, p. 732.

48 Prov. 15:11; 20:10; cf. ‘Do not move the scales or falsify the weights or diminish part of the corn measure. For the god Thoth sits by the balance; his heart is the plummet’, ‘Amenemope’. ch. 16, p. 256; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 156; ‘My son, if you want to be wise, restrain your mouth from falsehood and your hand from theft, and you will become wise’, Ahikar 2:67, p. 737.

49 Prov. 11:17, 25; cf. ‘You should not eat bread while another is in want, without offering him bread in your hand. A man is nothing. One is rich; another is poor; while bread continues. The man who was rich last year is a down-and-out this year. Don't be greedy to fill your belly’, Ani viii.3-7; Nos. 40-42 in Sagesse; Lichtheim, Literature, II, pp. 141–42.

50 Prov. 17:15, 26; 18:5; cf. ‘Truth is great and its effectiveness endures; it has not been confounded since the time of Osiris. Men punish him who transgresses the laws’, ‘Ptahhotpe’, No. 5, p. 162; Lichtheim, Literature, I, p. 64; ‘Do not confuse a man in the law court, nor divert the righteous man. Do not give your attention only to him who is clothed in white, nor give consideration only to him who is unkempt. Do not accept the bribe of a powerful man, nor oppress the disabled on his behalf. Justice is a great gift of God: he will give it to whom he will’, Amenemope, ch. 20, p. 259; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 158.

51 Prov. 23:4-5; 10:2; 13:11; 15:16-17; 16:8; cf. ‘Do not set your heart upon seeking riches, for there is no one whoc can ignore Destiny and Fortune; … If riches come to you by theft, they will not spend the night with you; as soon as day breaks they will not be in your household; although their places can be seen, they are not there’, Amenemope, ch. 7, p. 249; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 152.

52 Prov. 6:6-11; 12:24, 27; 15:19; 20:4; 24:30-34; 26:13-16; cf. ‘A man does not prosper while he stays in bed. You will be respected if you are a busy man’, Ani v.14, No. 22 in Sagesse; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 139.

53 Prov. 15:1; cf. ‘Do not answer a superior in anger. Give in to him. Speak soft words, while he is saying bitter things; that is the remedy which will calm him down’, Ani ix.7-10; No. 52 in Sagesse; Lichtheim, Literature, II, p. 143.

54 Prov. 25:21-22; 20:22; 24:17-18, 29; cf. ‘Do not return evil to the man who disputes with you. Requite with kindness your evildoer’ Counsels of Wisdom, ANET, p.426; ‘My son, doe not envy the prosperity of your enemy, and do not rejoice at his adversity’, Ahikar 2:17, p. 730; ‘My son, if your enemy meets you with evil, meet him with wisdom’ Ahikar 2:20, p.730.

55 Prov. 10:19; 11:12; 13:3; 17:27-28; 18:21; 21:23; cf. ‘Beware of careless talk, guard your lips,’ Counsels of Wisdom, ANET, p. 426; My son, sweeten your tongue and season the opening of your mouth; for a dog's tail gets him bread, but his mouth earns him blows', Ahikar 2:38, p. 734.

56 Prov. 16:8; 19:21; 20:24; cf. ‘The words which men say pass on one side, the things which God does pass on another side…. The tongue of a man is the steering oar of a boat, and the Lord of All is its pilot’, Amenemope, ch. 18, p. 258; Lichtheim, Literature, II, pp. 157–58.

57 CH § 117; Exod. 21:2-6.

58 MAL A § 48; LI § 28; Exod. 21:7-11.

59 MAL A § 10; HL §§ 1–2; Exod. 21:12.

60 CH § 207; HL §§ 3–4; Exod. 21:13.

61 CH §§ 209–14; MAL A §§ 21, 50, 52; HL §§ 17–18; Exod. 21:22.

62 CH §§ 196, 197, 200; Exod. 21. 23–25.

63 CH § 116; Exod 21:32.

64 CH § 8; HL §§ 57–59; Exod. 21:37; 22:2b-3.

65 LE § 13; Exod. 22:1-2a.

66 CH §§ 55–59; HL § 106; Exod. 22:4-5.

67 CH §§ 120, 122, 125, 241–49; Exod. 22:6-14.

68 CH §§ 20, 103, 131, 249, 266; LE § 22; HL § 75.

69 LE §§ 53–55; CH §§ 250–52; Exod. 21:28-32, 35–36.

70 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 236, 281–82.

71 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 43–44, 281.

72 The way in which the ancient near eastern codes influenced the Covenant Code has recently been debated by David P. Wright and Bruce Wells: David P. Wright, ‘The Laws of Hammurabi as a Source for the Covenant Collection (Exodus 20:22-23:19),’ Maarav 10 (2003), pp. 11–87; Bruce Wells, ‘The Covenant Code and Near Eastern Legal Traditions: A Response to David P. Wright,’ Maarav 13.1 (2006), pp.85-118; David P. Wright, ‘The Laws of Hammurabi and the Covenant Code: A Response to Bruce Wells,’ Maarav 13.2 (2006), pp. 211–260. Wright argues for the direct dependence of the Covenant Code on the Laws of Hammurabi, on the ground that the laws in the former follow the same sequence as that in the latter. Wells counters this by showing that the degree of similarity is very variable, parallels with other codes are just as striking and that the argument from sequence is less than decisive. He prefers the view that the Covenant Code and the other ancient near eastern codes draw on a common legal tradition. Wright responds by suggesting in detail how the authors of the Covenant Code used and modified the Laws of Hammurabi. Both take for granted the Covenant Code's dependence on the legal tradition represented by the ancient near eastern codes, though Wells leaves some room for the kind of inner-Israelite development Jackson espouses. Wright, he says, does not really consider ‘that the authors of [the Covenant Code] relied to some degree on the law that was operative in their society’ (p. 97). The law about kidnapping, Wells believes, ‘comes from a legal custom or tradition that was known to the authors of [the Covenant Code] and perhaps even operative within their society's legal system’ (p. 108). And in general ‘it is not a simple matter to determine whether a given law in [the Covenant Code] comes from the stream of tradition represented by the law codes, from societal law known to the authors, from the authors' own thinking, or from some other source’ (p. 98).

73 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 235–36, 341.

74 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 231–33.

75 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 285–86.

76 S. Greengus, ‘Some Issues Relating to the Comparability of Laws and the Coherence of the Legal Tradition’, in B.M. Levinson, ed., Theory and Method in Biblical and Cuneiform Law: Revision, Interpretation and Development (JSOTSupp 181; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1984), pp. 77–78; M.T. Roth, Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor (SBL Writings from the Ancient World Series 6; Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, second edition, 1997), p. 4.

77 G.R. Driver and J.C. Miles, The Babylonian Laws. Vol. 1: Legal Commentary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952), pp. 24–25.

78 Greengus, ‘Some Issues’, p. 79; Roth, Law Collections, p. 73.

79 CH Epilogue, xlvii: 59–78; M.E.J. Richardson, Hammurabi's Laws: Text, Translation and Glossary (The Biblical Seminar 73; Semitic Texts and Studies 2; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), pp. 120–21.

80 Kraus, Altbabylonische Briefe Heft 11, No. 7.

81 Kraus, Altbabylonische Briefe Heft 9: Letters from Yale (ed. M. Stol; Leiden: Brill, 1981), No. 50

82 Kraus, Altbabylonische Briefe Heft 9, No. 268.

83 A. Ungnad, Babylonische Briefe aus der Zeit der Hammurapi-Dynastie (VAB 6; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1914), Nos. 4 (dealing with a case of wrongful distraint of oxen), 8 (dealing with a complaint of unspecified injury); Driver and Miles, Babylonian Laws, Vol. 1, pp. 19, 70–71.

84 M. Schorr, ed., Urkunden des altbabylonischen Zivil- und Prozessrechts (VAB 5; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1913), Nos. 84, 85 (cf. CH § 279), 157, 159, 166-168 (cf. CH §§ 253-58, 261-67); p. 550 s.v. (simittum) for further references.

85 Driver and Miles, Babylonian Laws, Vol. 1, p. 20.

86 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 389.

87 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 396–98.

88 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 398–403.

89 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 411–25.

90 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 387, 472.

91 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 433.

92 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 437–43.

93 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 445–53.

94 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 453–56, 462.

95 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 466.

96 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 468–69.

97 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 469–71.

98 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 24–29, 389, 434–35.

99 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 31, 47, 436.

100 R.N. Whybray, The Book of Proverbs: A Survey of Modern Study (Leiden: Brill, 1995), p. 29.

101 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 476.

102 Cf. E. Otto, ZAR 12 (2006), p. 82: ‘Warum aber das oral selfexecuting law verschriftet worden sein sollte jenseits der Gerichtsfunktion, bleibt beim Verf. ohne ausreichende Antwort.’

103 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 396–97; cf. 272–73.

104 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, pp. 25–29.

105 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 396.

106 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 470.

107 ‘Exod. 21: 1–11 … pre-dates the treatment in Deuteronomy’; Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 467.

108 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 387.

109 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, p. 424.

110 Albrecht Alt, Essays on Old Testament History and Religion (Oxford: Blackwell, 1966), p. 101.


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