Biblical Law

Raymond Westbrook

in An Introduction to the History and Sources of Jewish Law

Published in print March 1996 | ISBN: 9780198262626
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682360 | DOI:
Biblical Law

Show Summary Details


The biblical period is said to be comprised of five different sub-periods – patriarchal, exodus, judges, monarchy, and post-exilic – that encompass law and legal practice during the period between the mid-second millennium and the fourth century B.C.E. In the book of Genesis, patriarchs are portrayed as heads of independent households, and such may be seen as the equivalent of local rulers. Here, we realize that patriarchs are structured similarly to states in international law, since they are considered autonomous legal units. Although patriarchs may be depicted as individuals who have a tense, dependent relationship upon the host society, substantive law during this period is not essentially different from that observed in later periods, except that legal rights are put into effect by means of self-help. In this period, relevant political events were illustrated through private law.

Keywords: biblical period; patriarchal period; exodus period; judges period; monarchy period; households; international law; legal units; legal rights

Chapter.  7290 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.