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Homicide in the Biblical World
Homicide in the Biblical World analyzes the treatment of homicide in the Hebrew
Bible and demonstrates that it is directly linked to the unique social structure and re-
ligion of ancient Israel. Close parallels between biblical law and ancient Near Eastern
law are evident in the laws of the ox that gored and the pregnant woman who was
assaulted, but when the total picture of the process by which homicide was adjudi-
cated comes into view, what is most noticeable is how little of it is similar to ancient
Near Eastern law. This book reconstructs biblical law from both legal and narrative
texts and analyzes both law collections and documents from actual legal cases from
the ancient Near East.

Pamela Barmash is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible and Biblical Hebrew at
Washington University in St. Louis. She received her Ph.D. from Harvard University
and her rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She has published
in various journals, including Vetus Testamentum, Journal of Near Eastern Studies,
Jewish Quarterly Review, Journal of Biblical Literature, and Hebrew Studies.
Homicide in the Biblical World

Pamela Barmash
Washington University in St. Louis
©¤§ µ®©© °
Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge  µ, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/9780521834681

© Pamela Barmash 2005

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provision of
relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place
without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

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Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of
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guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
To my mother and father,
Sarah J. and Isadore Barmash
.!†˜b3 !y„• tí0– t¨ . . .

“. . . and the glory of children is their parents.”
(Proverbs 17:6)

Abbreviations page ix
Acknowledgments xv

Introduction 1

A First Case: The Story of Cain and Abel 12

Blood Feud and State Control 20

The Development of Places of Refuge in the Bible 71

Pollution and Homicide 94

Typologies of Homicide 116


Lex Talionis 154

Interterritorial Law: The Homicide of a Foreign Citizen 178

Conclusion 202

Appendix: Cuneiform Sources on Homicide 207
Bibliography 221
General Index 239
Index of Citations 245

AASOR Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research
AB The Anchor Bible
ABD Anchor Bible Dictionary
ABL Robert Francis Harper, Assyrian and Babylonian Letters
Belonging to the Kouyunyik Collection of the British
Museum (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
ADD C. H. W. Johns, Assyrian Deeds and Documents
(Cambridge: Deighton, Bell, and Co., 1901, 1924)
AfO Archiv fur Orientforschung
AHw Wolfram von Soden, Assyrisches Handworterbuch
(Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1959“1981)
ANET3 Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament
(ed. J. B. Pritchard; 3d edition; Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1969)
AnOr Analecta Orientalia
AnSt Anatolian Studies


AOAT Alter Orient und Altes Testament
AOS American Oriental Series
ARM Archives royales de Mari
ARMT Archives royales de Mari, transcrite et traduite
ArOr Archiv Orientalni
AuOr Aula orientis
b. Babylonian Talmud
BA Biblical Archaeologist
BASOR Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
b.e. bottom edge of tablet
BBSt L. W. King, Babylonian Boundary Stones and Memorial
Tablets in the British Museum (London: British Museum,
BDB F. Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, A Hebrew and
English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1907)
Bib Biblica
BM Symbol for tablets in the British Museum
BWAT Beitrage zur Wissenschaft vom Alten Testament
BZAW Beiheft zur Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche
CAD The Assyrian Dictionary of the University of Chicago
(Chicago: Oriental Institute, 1956“ )
CahRB Cahiers de la Revue biblique
CANE Civilizations of the Ancient Near East (ed. Jack M.
Sasson; New York: Scribners, 1995)
CBQ Catholic Biblical Quarterly
CC Continental Commentaries
CCT Cuneiform Texts from Cappadocian Tablets in the British
CIJ Corpus inscriptionum judaicarum
CT Cuneiform Texts
CTH Emmanuel Laroche, Catalogue des textes hittites (Paris:
Klincksieck, 1971)
CTN Cuneiform Texts from Nimrud

DMOA Documenta et Monumenta Orientis Antiqui
DO Symbol for tablets in Mus´ e National de Damas
EA El-Amarna
EI Eretz Israel
GKC Wilhelm Gesenius, E. Kautzsch, E. Cowley, Gesenius™
Hebrew Grammar (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
HL Hittite Laws
HSM Harvard Semitic Monographs
HSS Harvard Semitic Series
ICC International Critical Commentary
IDB The Interpreter™s Dictionary of the Bible (ed. G. A.
Buttrick; Nashville: Abingdon, 1962)
IEJ Israel Exploration Journal
Int Interpretation
ITT Inventaire des Tablettes de Tello
JAOS Journal of the American Oriental Society
JBL Journal of Biblical Literature
JCS Journal of Cuneiform Studies
JJS Journal of Jewish Studies
JNES Journal of Near Eastern Studies
JSOT Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
JSOTSup Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement
¨ ¨
KAI H. Donner and W. Rollig, Kanaanaische und aramaische
Inschriften (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1964)
KBo Keilschrifttexte aus Boghazkoi
KUB Keilschrifturkunden aus Boghazkoi
l.e. left edge of tablet
LE Laws of Eshnunna
LH Laws of Hammurapi
LL Laws of Lipit-Ishtar
LOx Laws about Rented Oxen
LU Laws of Ur-Nammu

LXX Septuagint
m. Mishnah
MAL Middle Assyrian Laws
MANE Monographs on the Ancient Near East
MRS Mission de Ras Shamra
NABU Nouvelles assyriologiques br` ves et utilitaires
ND Symbol for tablets excavated at Nimrud
NEB New English Bible
NICOT New International Commentary on the Old Testament
NSG Adam Falkenstein, Die Neusumerische Gerichtsurkunden
(Munich: Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1956)
New Jewish Version = TANAKH, The Holy Scriptures:
The New JPS Translation According to the Traditional
Hebrew Text (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication
Society, 1988)
obv. obverse of tablet
OEANE Oxford Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of the Ancient
Near East (ed. Eric M. Meyers; New York: Oxford
University Press, 1997)
OIP Oriental Institute Publications
Or Orientalia, n.s.
OTL Old Testament Library
PBS Publications of the Babylonian Section
PPA J. N. Postgate, The Governor™s Palace Archive (Hertford,
U.K.: British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 1973)
PRU Le palais royal d™Ugarit (ed. Jean Nougayrol; Paris:
Imprimerie nationale, 1955“ )
RA Revue d™assyriologie et d™ arch´ ologie orientale
RB Revue biblique
rev. reverse of tablet
RIDA Revue internationale des droits de l™antiquit´
RIMA The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Assyria Periods
RLA Reallexikon der Assyriologie und vorderasiatische
Archaologie (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1932“ )
RS Ras es-Shamra

RSV Revised Standard Version
SAA State Archives of Assyria
SAAS State Archives of Assyria Studies
SBL Society of Biblical Literature
SBLDS Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series
ScrHier Scripta Hierosolymitana
Si. Symbol for tablets excavated from Sippar

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