The Civil Laws, or Mishpatim

John Van Seters

in A Law Book for the Diaspora

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780195153156
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834785 | DOI:
The Civil Laws, or Mishpatim

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This chapter deals with civil laws of the casuistic type most common in Near Eastern codes and one of these, having to do with the Hebrew slave (Exod 21:2–11), occurs also in both Deuteronomy and the Holiness Code and is therefore key to the relative dating of these laws. Some of the casuistic laws are closely paralleled in the Hammurabi Code, such as injury to a pregnant woman or the law of the goring ox, but others are supplemented by material from Deuteronomy or extensions of a Deuteronomic law, as in the law regarding the violation of the unmarried virgin. Still other laws of the apodictic type (participial prohibitions) are more Hebraic in form and must be viewed within the context of similar laws in the Holiness Code and Ezekiel. The use of lex talionis within the Covenant Code shows evidence of borrowing from both the Hebrew and Babylonian laws, thus suggesting that throughout the civil laws, there is a constant interweaving of the Babylonian and Hebrew legal traditions.

Keywords: apodictic; casuistic; civil laws; Hammurabi Code; Hebrew slave; injury to a pregnant woman; law of the goring ox; lex talionis; participial prohibition; unmarried virgin

Chapter.  28592 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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