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Law and Narrative. The Narratives of Saul and David Understood Within the Framework of a Legal Discussion on Homicide Law (Ex 21:12-14)

Pages 311 - 335



1 See on these three approaches to understand law in narratives P. Barmash, The Narrative Quandary. Cases of Law in Literature, VT 54 (2004) 1–16.

2 More precisely, the narratives about the early kings were written from a Judean perspective.

3 See inter alia H. McKeating, The Development of the Law on Homicide in Ancient Israel, VT 2 (1975) 46–68, esp. 57–58.

4 The following remarks address this relation on the basis of the example of the homicide laws and narratives of the interconnected chain of killings and counter-killings that lead in the plot to Joab's death in 1Kings 2. I leave aside other material, for example the David-Bathsheba narrative and the story of Naboth's vineyard (1Kings 21). Recently it has been considered to what extent narratives can be considered for the reconstruction of biblical law. More specifically, in the case of homicide, P. Barmash attempted to point to the fact that literary texts in the Bible “are critical to the study of biblical law because they reflect essentials of legal practice omitted from legal texts”: “They exhibit what are perceived to be the inadequacies of a legal system and the type of problems which arose in putting the law into practice. They address issues of justice and governance that are omitted in legal texts.” This is illustrated with examples of homicide laws in the David-Bathsheba narrative (2Samuel 11-12), Naboth's vineyard (1Kings 21), the case of the wise woman of Tekoa (2Sam 14), and the interconnected chain of killings and counter-killings that stretches from 2Sam 2:18-23 until the killing of Abner in 1Kings 2:28-35. P. Barmash, (see above, note 1), 16.

5 A redactional model of a reworking of the figure of Joab in the so-called Succession Narrative was described inter alia by E. Würthwein, Die Erzählung von der Thronfolge Davids – theologische oder politische Geschichtsschreibung?, ThSt(B) 115, Zürich 1974, 45–46: 2 Sam 20: 4–5, 8–13 and 1Kings 2:5-9 and 2:5-9,32 were added as secondary redactional parts that emphasize Joab's guilt as opposed to David's (judicial) integrity. See also the charge of Joab that he had killed Absalom (2Sam 18:14).

6 The relation between the abstract norms of law and the narratives is controversial and has many dimensions. As to the development of Roman Law, M. Th. Foegen has recently pointed to the importance of the narratives for the actual corpus of the 12 tablets and the texts, see M. Th. Foegen, Römische Rechtsgeschichten. Über Ursprung und Evolution eines sozialen Systems, Göttingen 2002, 61–124 and idem, Das römische Zwölftafelgesetz. Eine imaginierte Wirklichkeit, in: M. Th. Foegen/M. Witte (eds.), Kodifizierung und Legitimierung des Rechts in der Antike und im Alten Orient, BZAR Bd. 5, Wiesbaden 2005, 45–70.

7 In the case of Saul and David there is also the opposition between the two states Israel and Judah, see below.

8 See on Ex 21:12-14, Dtn 19:1-13; Numbers 35:1-35 below.

9 J. Wellhausen, Prolegomena zur Geschichte Israels, Berlin 1927, 33 on the connection between Ex 21:13-14 and 1Kings 2:28. See also W. F. Albright, The Judicial Reform of Jehoshaphat, in: S. Lieberman (ed.), Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday, New York 1950, 61–82. See also inter alia H. McKeating, Homicide; D. Friedman, To Kill and Take Possession. Law, Morality, and Society in Biblical Stories, Peabody MA 2002, 78–81; B. Gosse, Subversion de la législation du Pentateuque et symboliques respectives des lignées de David et de Saül dans les livres de Samuel et de Ruth, ZAW 110 (1998) 34–49 and P. Barmash (see above, note 1) and, recently, B. S. Jackson, Wisdom – Law. A Study of the Mishpatim of Exodus 12:21-22:16, Oxford 2006, esp. 161–166.

10 He is first mentioned as the brother of Abishai. He later appears in 2Sam 2:1,14 (2x), 18,22,24,26, 27,28,30,32; 3:22,23,24,26,27,29,30,31; 8,16; 10,7,9,13,14; 11:1,6 (2x),7,11,14,16, 17,18,22, 25,26, 27; 14:1,2,3,19(2x),20,21,22(2x),23,29,30,31,32,33; 17:25 (2x); 18:2,5,10,11,12, 14,15,16 (2x), 20, 21 (2x); 22 (2x); 29; 19:2,6,14, etc. until 1Kings 2:33.

11 See on the possible literary development of Ex 21,12,13-14 below.

12 Given the strong connection between the contents of the episodes and the characters involved, I suggest yet another constellation of characters that is rooted in the discourse about blood guilt. Furthermore, this issue has the same impact on the plot's structure and the narratives' literary development as the pair Joab – David has for the respective narratives.

13 It has been suggested that David acts as a criminal judge or prosecutor in these scenes which in the course of the later events he also does in 2Sam 12 in the confrontation with Nathan.

14 2Sam 11-12* David's indirect causation of the death of Uriah and 2Sam 14:1-24 where the woman from Tekoa appeals to the king to save her son from being executed by the family (משפחה) as punishment for killing his brother.

15 See on this relationship the numerous studies on the literary structure of the narratives, esp. recently M. A. Eschelbach, Has Joab Foiled David? A Literary Study of the Importance of Joab's Character in Relation to David. New York u.a. Lang 2005, esp. 23-35 and, with a focus on the literary theory of F. Langlamet, the overview in S. K. Bietenhard, Des Königs General. Die Heerführertraditionen in der vorstaatlichen und staatlichen Zeit und die Joabgestalt in 2 Sam 2–20; 1 Kön 1-2, OBO 163, Fribourg/Göttingen 1998, 227–228.

16 2Sam 2:24 רדף.

17 See on Ex 21,12-14; Dtn 19,1-13; Numbers 35:1-35 below.

18 Numerous studies emphasized the character of 1Sam 24 as narrative dealing with judicial problems.

19 See on the accusations in the form of questions Jer 26:8-9; Jes 3:15.

20 See the parallel in Judges 11:27a.

21 See on the call upon Yahweh as judge Judges 11:27b; and on the call for the people to be the judge, see Is 5:3.

22 וידי לא תהיה בך V 13a.14a.

23 The messianic reworking in V 7 was inserted in different parts of the books of Samuel. All open up this aspect, emphasizing David's perfect behaviour as opposed to Saul's guilt which is developed further.

24 Yahweh engages on behalf of David in 1Sam 26:12b: He sends “a sleep of YHWH” (תרדמת יהוה) to all men of Saul's camp.

25 This is the topic of a discourse between David and Abishai, the brother of Joab in 26:7-9. While the messianic reflection in 26:11 must be understood as a later insertion, the topic of the dialogue is intentional homicide.

26 See 1Sam 25:26 בוא בדמים. This was also noted by McKeating, Homicide, 58 with reference to 1Sam 25:26,31-33.

27 A discourse about the messianic elements of this interpretation is added in the speeches in 24:5a.6(?)7.8a; in 26:9,11,16. Also, 1Sam 26:6-11 adds the contrast between the Zeruiades and David.

28 It is a peculiar feature of the Saul-David-narratives, that they consist to a large extent of dialogues. With regard to the Succession Narrative, this stylistic feature inter alia was noted by L. Rost, Die Überlieferung von der Thronnachfolge Davids, BWANT 42, Stuttgart 1926, 111–113. 116.

29 With LXX, which would correspond בידו in Hebrew. This or a similar expression is necessary.

30 V 1 וידבר שאול; V 2ויגד יהונתן לדוד V 3 הגדתי/אדבר; V 4 ויאמר אליו/וידבר יהונתן; V 6 וישבעV 7 ויקרא/ויגד לו.

31 See the allusions to David's escape V 10 מלט; V 11 מלט/שלח שאול מלאכים; V 12 ברח/מלט; V 14 שלח שאול מלאכים;V 15 שלח שאול מלאכים; V 17 שלחני/מלט;שלח את איבי; V18 ברח/מלט.

32 See e.g. 1Sam 19:1b,2b,11a,15,17 מות hi or 19:6,11b pu, see also 19:5 חטא בדם נקי; compare 1Sam 20:3,31 מות; 20:32 למה יומת; 20:8,33 מות hi.

33 See 20:32 מה עשה and 20,1 b:מה לפני עשיתי and see 19:4 מעשיו טוד לך מאד.

34 1 Sam 19:5 ויעש יהוה.

35 חטא לפני אביך/מה עונך (20,1b); 1Sam 19 in the dialogue between Jonathan and Saul, and in the (incomprehensible) commentary of the narrator 1Sam 18,6, שאול ערן את דוד. See further 1Sam 24:12; 26:21. Notably different from this is Saul's transgression according to the late deuteronomistic supplement 1Sam 13:13b–14.

36 See e.g. 1Sam 19:14 מות 19:15;שלח… לקח hi… שלה; vgl. 120:31 שלח וקח.

37 1 Sam 19:10 בקש שאול להכות, vgl. 20:1b מבקש את נפשי; vgl. 20:29a שלחני נא.

38 See 1Sam 19:2-3 בסתר בשדה אתה שם; see 1Sam 20:5, 19,24a סתר בשדה and 20:35 שדה.

39 This is not the place to deal with the literary historical development of these narratives in detail. Generally speaking, the sequence of narratives certainly develops into the early stages of the life of David. LXX (B) preserved an earlier literary stage, which does not yet include the first of the scenes in which Saul throws the spear to kill David in 1Sam 18:8-10.

40 Lacks in LXX(B).

41 The terminology is used to link episodes that are played out in different geographic settings. Scholars called the overall plot of 1Sam 16-2Sam 5 the “History of David's rise”. The motif of David's escape from Saul in stereotypical phraseology as a feature of the “History of David's Rise” was noted in A. Weiser's groundbreaking study, Die Legitimation des Königs David. Zur Eigenart und Entstehung der sogenannten Geschichte von Davids Aufstieg, VT 16 (1966) 325–364, esp. 332. Consequently, Weiser adopted the view of Saul's pursuit of David as the thematic backbone created by the author of the history of David's rise. See the history of research: W. Dietrich / T. Naumann, Die Samuelbücher, EdF 287, Darmstadt 1995, 47-119 and K.-P. Adam, Saul und David in der judäischen Geschichtsschreibung, FAT 51, Tübingen 2007, 1–13.

42 With David as subject in 1Sam 19:12,18; 20:1; 21:11; 22:17; 27:4; in 1Sam 22:20; 23:6 with Abiathar as subject.

43 David as subject in 1Sam 19:10,11,12,17,18; 20:29; 22:1; 23:13; 27:1 (3x); also, in 1Sam 22:20 with Abiathar as subject.

44 קבט with Saul as subject 1Sam 19:2,10; 20:1; 23:10 (to come to Keilah),14,15,25; 24:3,10; 26:2,20; 27:1,4; 20:16: Yahweh; 22:23 whoever; 25:26,29 subject the enemies/someone.

45 This episode in 21:11-16 is a later repetition of the episode in 27:1-12, which is earlier. See for instance J. Vermeylen, La loi du plus fort, Histoire de la redaction des récits davidiques de 1 Samuel 8 à 1 Rois 2, BETL CLIV, Leuven 2000, 134. The repeated elements are the song about the victorious David in 29:5 and 21:12; the song is recalled by the princes of the Philistines; the title “king of Israel” in 29:3 is altered in 21:12 into “the king of the country”.

46 This is what makes it so complicated to consider these narratives as a more or less direct source of legal developments. Consider B. S. Jackson's approach to take Gen 4:1-16; 2Sam 14:5-7 and 2Sam 21:1-14 as showcases of pre-institutional customs concerning blood guilt and revenge. He relates them to be the first stage of what are assumed to be orally transmitted laws on homicide with participle constructions in Ex 21:12 (and Gen 9:6), Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, 148-149. At this stage, no institutional involvement can be noted and no adjudication is reported. A later, still pre-institutional, stage of the development of legal affairs about homicide is then seen in the narratives from the “united monarchy”. Consequently, Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, 160-163 considers the Abner-Asahel-cycle basically as a testimony for non-institutional, pre-institutional use of affairs of blood guilt. (164). He admits that the details of this reconstruction are much more complicated, as he observes when considering the relationship between Ex 21:14 and the killing of Joab in 1Kings 2:28-34 and he tentatively conceives of Ex 21:14 as a later inserted justification of Solomon's killing of Joab, Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, 162. One of the main problems is the use of these narrative sources in order to reconstruct a history of legal development. Historically, Jackson dates the pre-institutional phase to the pre-monarchic period, and the proto-institutional stages with the introduction of places of asylum but still without institutional control to the time of the united monarchy, Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, 164. However, the retrospective setting of the narratives in the historical past may not be used to reconstruct a chronology of legal practice in Israel.

47 See e.g. 1Kings 12:21-24 which is a late addition, see M. Noth, Biblischer Kommentar IX,1, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1968, 279–280; see also E. Würthwein, Die Bücher der Könige, 1. Könige 1-16, ATD 11/1, 160–161; R. G. Kratz, Die Komposition der erzählenden Bücher des Alten Testaments, Göttingen 2000, 192 (1Kön 12:20b-24). See also the dispute between the Israelites and the Judeans that are called “brothers” in 2Samuel 19:42 in the context of 19:42-44.

48 This issue of blood guilt and its kinship relevance is emphasized by the narrative 2Sam 21:1-14. See McKeating, Homicide (see above, note 3), esp. 46-49 and 58-62 on this and on the relation of blood guilt to kin structures. While the date of the narratives as early literature is not convincing, the structures for dealing with blood guilt within kinship structures is adequate for the understanding of the narratives.

49 On the literary level, the general picture that is presented in the scenes of the war between the two states Israel and Judah provides evidence for the fact that the Asahel-Joab scene of 2Sam 2:18-24 was added at a later literary stage. It zooms in to give a close-up of the encounter between Asahel and Joab afterwards on the basis of the wider setting. These ideas about the literary development lead to a general hypothesis on the textual growth, which I will not develop further here. Clearly, 2:18-24 was added in the current text. The detailed account of the killing of Asahel indicates, that the narratives grew through additions that were placed in front of existing narratives. The scene in 2Sam 2:18-24 would not be mentioned in later comments except for the addition in 2Sam 2:27bβ. In particular, the dimension of a legal revenge that is discussed in the narrative 2Sam 2:18-24 is missing in the accusation of Joab in 1Kings 2:5 (repeated in 2:32): Joab is accused of having killed Abner and Amasa. This is one reason to suggest a later addition of 2Sam 2:18-24. Clearly, the figure of Joab was more depreciated in subsequent redaction, see inter alia E. Würthwein, (see above, note 5), esp. 43-47. A further argument for the addition of 2Sam 2:18-24 is that Abner's second warning to Asahel already alludes to the problem of Asahel's brother Joab as the one who revenges the blood guilt in 2Sam 18:22: “Why should I slay you to death? How could I approach your brother Joab?” The technique of reworking and rewriting the narrative sequences especially at the beginning of the sequel of narratives explains both variants most plausibly.

50 I will not focus on the relationship between Ex 21:12-15 and cuneiform laws. With regard to a relationship between cuneiform laws and Ex 21:12-14, it has been suggested that this collection reflects the implicit perspective of the Laws of Hammurabi. D. L. Wright argues that some laws require execution for intentional homicide (Laws of Ur-Nammu, 1; Laws of Eshnunna 24, 58; Middle Assyrian Laws A10; B2) which seems to be the implicit stance of the Laws of Hammurabi, even though an explicit law on this matter is lacking (see the Laws of Hammurabi 1, 24,116,153,210,229-230; § 207 prescribes payment for unintentional homicide) and thus, implicitly Ex 21:12-14 would reflect the perspective of these legal corpora, see D.L. Wright, The Compositional Logic of the Goring Ox and Negligence Laws in the Covenant Collection (Ex 21:28-36), ZAR 10 (2004), 93–142, 137. This does not seem entirely convincing on the basis of the narrative tradition in the biblical texts that is apparently centered around the problem of intentional and unintentional killing.

51 The abstract legal rule indicates the result by adding “so that he dies” מות. This is partly presupposed in the contexts of the narratives and partly explicitly mentioned.

52 The verb is also used in the context of military campaigns or wars: 1Sam 27:9 David slew the land; 1Sam 18:7; 21,12; 29:5 Saul slew his thousands; 1Sam 30:1 the Amalekites slew Ziklag, 1Sam 18:6,27; 19:5,8; 23:2 (2x),5; 31:2; 2Sam 5:20, 25; 8:1 David slew the Philistines; 2Sam 5:8 Whoever would slay the Jebusites; 2Sam 8:2 David slew Moab; 2Sam 8:5 David slew Aram; 2Sam 8:3,9,10 David slew Hadadezer; 2Sam 8:13 David slew the Edomites; 2Sam 10:18 he slew Shobach, the commander of Hadadezer's army; 1Sam 30:17; 2Sam 1:1 David … slew the Amalekites; 2Sam 15:14 David: to slay the city with the sword; 2Sam 5:24 Yahweh slew the Philistines. See also the metaphoric use in 1Sam 24:6 David's heart “slew” him.

53 Lacking in LXX [B].

54 Ex 21:14 “to attack audaciously” (זיד) has no parallels in the Saul-David narratives. זיד is a term for “to dare”, comparable to presumption/ὕβρις, see e.g. Dtn 1:43; 17:13; 18:20; Neh 9:16,29. This act of killing someone inadvertently has the notion of being presumptuous. Ex 21:14 (to kill) by treachery הרג בערמה is not found in the narratives but in Prov 1:4; 8:5,12; Josh 9:4; Job 5:13.

55 Also, any report of a killer fleeing is missing. The “fleeing/escaping” of David is mostly called ברח/מלט in 1Sam 16–23; likewise Absalom flees after the killing of Amnon (2Sam 13:37 ברה). נוס is used in 1Sam 19:10 נוס/מלט) with David as subject. There is no literal allusion to someone who committed homicide and then fled.

56 This reflects the centralization of the cult, see Otto, Aspects 195, and idem, Deuteronomium, 253–256.

57 This is why Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, 162 suggests that Ex 21:14 was added in order to justify at least partially Solomon's action.

58 I shall not deal with the details of the structure of the legal corpus in Ex 21,12-14 as such. See on this e.g. A. Ruwe, Das Zusammenwirken von “Gerichtsverhandlung”, “Blutrache” und “Asyl”. Rechtsgeschichtliche Erwägungen zu den todesrechtsrelevanten Asylbestimmungen im Hexateuch, ZAR 11 (2000) 190-221, esp. 196-200. See also on the relevance of homicide and the questions of asylum E. Otto, Theologische Ethik des Alten Testaments, Stuttgart 1994, 37.67; idem, Das Deuteronomium. Politische Rechtsreform in Juda und Assyrien, BZAW 284, Berlin, New York 1999, 252–257 and recently B. S. Jackson, Wisdom – Law. A Study of the Mishpatim of Exodus 21,1-22,16, Oxford 2006, 120–139.

59 Translation of the NRSV.

60 Ruwe, Das Zusammenwirken, 199 suggests that the use of the infinitive qal means that the sanction of the killing of the murderer is detached from the altar and was done by the victim's family who were in charge of the blood feud. He suggests that the removal of the killer from the altar helps to avoid problematic options such as a vendetta in the sanctuary. However, it is not certain that V 14 describes a real legal procedure. And, Ex 21:13-14 does not necessarily prove an “old” institution of asylum.

61 See the suggestion of Ruwe, Das Zusammenwirken, 200.

62 1Sam 18:29: “Saul became the enemy of David …”; 1Sam 19:17: “my enemy (=David)”; 1Sam 24:5 “my enemies (=Saul?)”; 1Sam 24:20 “his enemy”; 1Sam 26:8 “your enemy”.

63 שגה qal denotes inadvertently committed guilty acts. These are not intentional which is of most importance. שגה is used in the priestly writings as an expression for an unconscious violation against the law, see T. Seidl, Art. שגג/שגה, in: TWAT 7, Stuttgart 1993, 1058–1066.

64 The literary relation between both narratives is disputed, and cannot be discussed here. Among other things, the increase of the comical mood in 1Sam 24 is a sign of a later origin of 1Sam 24, as was argued by H. J. Stoebe, Gedanken zur Heldensage in den Samuelbüchern, in: F. Maass (ed.), Das ferne und das nahe Wort. Festschrift L. Rost, BZAW 105 (1967) 208–218, esp. 212–214. See on the research history until 1995 Dietrich / Naumann, Die Samuelbücher, 102-108. Recently, J. Conrad, „Die Unschuld des Tollkühnen: Überlegungen zu 1 Sam 24,‟ in: R. Lux and U. Schnelle (Eds.), Ideales Königtum: Studien zu David und Salomo, ABG 16, Leipzig 2005, 23–42, has partly questioned the dependence of 1 Sam 26 on 1 Sam 24, suggesting as a basic literary layer a short humourous anecdote in 24:1*.3b*.4.5b.8b.23bbg and seven subsequently following literary additions, including influences of 1 Sam 26 on 1 Sam 24 in V 3aba*.9ab.10.17abg.

65 See in Prov 5:23; Sir 34:5; Numbers 15:22; Job 19:4; Job 6:24; Ez 45:40. See T. Seidl, Art. שגג/שגה, 1059.

66 Gen 6:3 (?); Job 12:16; Ps. 119:67; in paronomasia with the noun שגגה in Lev 5:18; Numbers 15:28, see T. Seidl, Art. שגג/שגה, 1060.

67 See R. Rendtorff, Studien zur Geschichte des Opfers im Alten Testament, WMANT 24, Neukirchen-Vluyn 1967, 203.

68 שגגה in Lev 4 is used for unwittingly committed violations of the law, see Seidl, Art. שגג/שגה, 1062.

69 I have suggested that the unawareness of committing a wrong action corresponds to making the wrong decisions with fatal consequences as Greek tragedy describes them, K.-P. Adam, Saul as a Tragic Hero. Greek drama and its influence on Hebrew Scripture in 1 Samuel 14,24-46 (10,8; 13,7-13a; 10,17-27), in: A. G. Auld / E. Eynikel (eds.), Studies on David, BETL, Leiden 2008, forthcoming. The fact that Numbers 35 was only added in a late stage to Numbers makes influences of Greek tragic conceptions much more likely.

70 See e.g. the model of R. Westbrook, which is predominantly positivist in the sense that law is understood as rules laid down with sources like chiefly statute and precedent. According to Westbrook, the law code has its reference in authoritative sources like statutes, precedents or customs, See R. Westbrook, Adultery in Ancient Near Eastern Law, RB 97 (1990) 542–580, here 547–548; idem, The Female Slave, in: V. Matthews (ed.), Gender and Law, Sheffield 1998, 214–238, here 215 n. 3. Here, Westbrook claims that this is not the question of whether these codes were descriptive or prescriptive, but whether the law codes express the principles embodied in the positive law. See the critical remarks of B. S. Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, 12–16.

71 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, 24–25.

72 Jackson, Wisdom-Laws, 25 referring to Basil Bernstein's work.

73 נקם is used for Yahweh's revenge 1Sam 24:13.

74 See for a comparison between biblical and Mesopotamian aspects of pollution P. Barmash, Homicide in the Biblical World, Cambridge/New York 2005, 94–115. Barmash concludes that the shed blood affected more than the killer and, especially in the priestly sources, was thought to contaminate the nation, whereas in both cultures its real existence was dangerous and needed to be remedied.

75 The dating of the biblical records on asylum differs. A pre-monarchic institution with a change according to Dtn 19:1-13 in the 7th century with the later modifications in Num 35 (and Josh 20) is suggested since Wellhausen, Prolegomena, 33,156,373 with the presupposition of a pre-dtr institution that may not be proved on the basis of the texts. For an overview see also Barmash, Homicide, 71–93.

76 The curse of the Atrides is a remarkable trait of the whole trilogy and it shapes the overall conception of the plays. The trial is blended into a larger conflict and the issues of legal justice are part of a larger conflict between the Atrides and their opponents.

77 The jury (Geschworenengerichte; Aristotle, Ath. pol. 25; Plutarch, Kimon 15,2). 462 B.C.E. the duties and responsibilities of the Areoipagos were limited to sacral and kinship and blood guilt. During the reign of Perikles their influence was more and more reduced. It is thus necessary to distinguish between the competences of the Areiopagos under Solon, after Solon and after Ephialtes. The duties and responsibilities were taken over by Bule, Heliaía and Ekklesia.

78 This legal framework is emphasized by numerous aspects of the play, e.g. the transfer from Delphi to Athens. The actors leave the stage and return for the next scene. However, this interpretation of a discussion about legal institutions in the drama was criticized and it was suggested instead that the Oresteia be read “as a monument not to the end of feud, but to its incorporation into the world of the polis. The acquittal of Orestes turns more on the political relations of the parties than on considerations of justice, and the process of reaching judgement is by our means objective or unbiased.” D. Cohen, Law, Violence and Community in Classical Athens, Cambridge, 1995, 16.

79 See J. Grethlein, Asyl und Athen. Die Konstruktion kollektiver Identität in der griechischen Tragödie, Drama Beih. 21, Stuttgart 2003, 237. Political and judicial interests seem to be much closer interwoven with each other as the more recent studies in legal history indicate, see on those Grethlein, Asyl, 328, note 128, e.g. P. Coss, Introduction, in: id. (Hg.), The Moral World of the Law, Cambridge 2000, 1–16 and on the history of law P. Todd / P. Millett, Law, Society and Athens, in: P. Cartledge / P. Millett / S. C. Todd (Hgg.), Nomos. Essays in Athenian Law, Politics, and Society, Cambridge 1990, 1–18. L. Foxhall / A. Lewis, Introduction, in: id. (Hgg.), Greek Law in its Political Setting, Oxford 1996, 1–8.

80 I could not deal with the literary relationship between narratives and abstract laws. I can only tentatively answer this question. The narratives may well have known the abstract sentence Ex 21:12, whether it was written or known orally as a cultural value. Ex 21:14 and the Joab and Adonijah scenes in 1Kings 1:51.53 and 1Kings 2:28-29 relate rather to each other, while at least the final form of the narrative 1Sam 24 alludes to fleeing to the asylum Ex 21:13 but, likewise, to Num 35:23 (בקש רעה). The distinction between the inadvertence and the intentionality of homicide in Ex 21:13-14 was developed in close connection to the narrative. As to the asylum at the altar in 1Kings 2:28 and in the cities of refuge according to Dtn 19:1-12 and Num 35. Especially concerning texts like Numbers 35 I am inclined to follow Carmichael's conclusions which he made on Leviticus. The lawgiver in Leviticus “had before him all of this history as recounted in Gen-2Kings and responded to the problem as it is recounted there, that is, from a standpoint looking back on the past.” C. Carmichael, Illuminating Leviticus. A Study of its Laws and Institutions in the light of Biblical Narrative, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, 2006, 162. He goes “even so far as to claim that the phenomenon of the lawgiver taking up problems from narratives provides an answer to a fundamental question. Why do the biblical law codes exist in written form? It is, I submit, precisely events recorded in the national folklore that stimulated the lawgiver first to ask what kinds of rules might be at stake in them – and then to set out in writing ideal formulations of such rules.” Carmichael, Leviticus, 163. Thus with regard to the laws in Leviticus, Carmichael opposes the idea that the canons of laws are responses to issues that came up at different times during the actual history of Israel: “Rather, the rules exhibit a feature that so often underlies legal systems.” Carmichael, Leviticus, VII reflecting the narrative tradition in the collected law codices. If it boils down to the question of whether the narratives preceded the abstract legal norm, or whether they developed this abstract legal norm, the narrative may well have inspired the laws on the cities of refuge in Num 35.


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