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ta-na-li-ma ru-ba-u 7 ki-ma˜ i-ta-pu-lim i-ta-na-[pu]-lu-ni-a-ti 8 a-ma
me-eh-ra-at 9 ma-m`-tim sa [u-b´-lu-ni-a-t´-ni 10 a-na ka-ri-im la-pu-
ˇ ´± ` ´
± ±
˜ 11 u s´-[pa-ar]-ni im-gu -ur-ˇ u-nu-ma 12 a-wi-lu-u i-ta-ba-al-
` ˇ± ´ ´
ta-nim s
ku-tu [LUGAL] da-me e-ta-pa-aˇ -ma ku-s´-ˇ u la ta-aq-na-at 15 s´-
13 14
` ´ ´s ±s ´ ˇ±
16 17
´ .`
ik-na-tum a-hu-ra [ru]-ba-u i-na ba-ri-ˇ u-nu [i]-ta-tu-lu a-bi a-ta
18 19 20
´ ´ ´
be-li a-ta ki-ma DUB-pa-am ka-ru-um iˇ -me-u-ni mu-hu-ur- s
su t´ -ir-ti ka-ri-im u t´ -ir-ta-ka li-li-kam-ma la tal-kam ˜a-ma-
21 22 23
ˇ ` `e ` ´
kam-ma ta-ta-wa [ . . . ]-ma a-da-[ˇ u] e-la-[ . . . ]-id 26 a-na-ku a-na
24 25
´s ´
[ . . . ]-ˇ u-[a] u a-di u4 -[me-im a-ni-im] na-ak-zu-t´-ia [ . . . ] 29 a-ni-
27 28
s ±
tam ah-[ta]-ah-[bi4 . . . ] a-ta a-la-[ . . . ]-ka ma-[ . . . ] 31 i-ˇ u u4 -me-e
´ ´ ` s
˜ . . . ] 32˜a-ta-ˇ a-ab a-na ka-ri-[im] 33 la tal-kam-ma . . . [illegible]
ma-ˇ ´-[ ` ´
s± s

To Ina say: Thus said Elani, When I came here, Idi-Kubum and his
colleagues, the ten-men committee of Hahhum, and I kept going up
to the palace. Instead of answering directly, ˜the princes repeatedly an-
swered evasively. 8“11 Here is a copy of the oath which they brought us
for writing down in the karum and [concerning which] our envoy sat-
is¬ed them. The citizens have revolted. 13“14 [The king] has spilled

blood and therefore his throne is unstable. 15“17 Conditions are wors-
ening. The princes are conspiring[?] among themselves. 17“18 You are
my father. You are my lord. 18“23 When the karum has read the tablet,
make an appeal to it. Let the advice of the karum and your advice
come to me. Do not come! You should talk it over there [at Kanish].
. . . I shall give him [it] . . . I to [ . . . ]-shua and to [this day] my

¬nances . . . this . . . 30“32 As for you . . . I will stay here for half a day.
Take heed of what the karum [advises you]. . . . Do not come! . . .
This claim seems to be akin to the Israelite concept of spilled blood polluting.
However, it is equally possible that this reference does not refer to pollution
at all but to the general state of revolt. And even if these vague references
do refer to de¬lement incurred by a homicide, the pollution affects only
the slayer.42 The possible de¬lement from a slaying is never extended to the
entire country.
In a possible parallel to the rite in Deut 21:1“9, the Hittite laws contain
provisions regarding a corpse found in a ¬eld when the killer presumably
cannot be identi¬ed:
HL 6
If a person, man or woman, is killed in another[?] city, [the victim™s
heir] shall deduct 12,000 square meters [ = 3 acres] from the land
of the person on whose property the person was killed and shall take
it for himself.
Late version of 6
If a man is found killed on another person™s property, if he is a
free man, [the property owner] shall give his property, house and
60 shekels of silver. But if [the dead person] is a woman, [the prop-
erty owner] shall give [no property, but] 120 shekels of silver. But if
[the place where the dead body was found] is not [private] property,
but open uncultivated country, they shall measure 3 DANNA™s in
all directions, and whatever village is determined [to lie within that

42 Another reference might be found in CT 51 147 24 (transliterated and translated in Erica
Reiner, “A Manner of Speaking,” in Zikir sumim: Assyriological Studies Presented to F. Kraus
[Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten 5, 1982], 282“289): “If he keeps turning
his head, he is polluted with blood.” Toorn suggests that restless movements of the head were
associated with the expression that blood(guilt) comes back upon the head of the perpetrator
(Sin and Sanction, 159, n. 50).

radius], he shall take those very [inhabitants of the village].43 If there
is no village, [the heir of the deceased] shall forfeit [his claim].

The law is concerned solely with determining who must pay compensa-
tion. Indeed, the extraordinarily high penalty for a slaying in the vicinity
of a village “ the con¬scation of the entire village “ may have been in-
tended to prevent the inhabitants of the village from shielding their own.44
In sharp contrast to the prescription in Deut 21:1“9, no rite of puri¬cation is
The same concern with providing compensation for the victim when
the killer has not been apprehended is found in a statute in the Laws of

If a life [is lost during a robbery for which the robber is not arrested],
the city and governor shall pay 60 shekels of silver to his kinsman.

LH 24 provides for a case in which the killer has not been arrested when
a person has been killed in the course of a robbery. The city and governor
must pay sixty shekels to the victim™s kinsmen if the robber is not arrested.
It appears that the communal authorities must discharge the obligation to
the family against whom the act of killing was perpetrated.45 Once again,
the only concern is a ¬nancial one “ there is no concern with pollution.
CTH 172, a letter from the Hittite emperor in response to the Babylo-
nian king™s demand that those who killed Babylonian merchants in areas
under Hittite hegemony be executed, contains an ambiguous reference to

` ˇ
[ . . . ] a-ka-an-na ta-aˇ -pu-ra um-ma-a lu DAM.GAR.MES-ia i-na
a-mur-ri kur u-ga-ri-it 16 [u i-na kur . . . i-du]-uk-ku i-na kur ha-at-
´ `
ti na-pu-ul-ta u-ul i-du-uk-ku 17 [ˇ um-ma i-na kur ha-at-ti na]-pu-
´ s
ul-ta i-du-uk-ku sum-ma LUGAL i-ˇ i-im-me a-na ˜ a-ma-ti sa-a-ˇ i
ˇ´ ˇ
s s
ˇˇ ˇˇ
[ . . . d]a-i-ka-na sa na-pu-ul-ti i-sa-ab-ba-tu4 -ma a-na SES.MES sa
ˇ .
ˇˇ ˇ s´
di-ki [ . . . KUG.BABBAR a-na] mu-ul-le-e sa di-ki SES.MES-ˇ u
19 lu
ˇ ` s´
i-le-eq-qu-u u lu da-i-ka-na 20 [ . . . aˇ ]-ra sa na-pu-ul-tu4 i-na SA-ˇ u
´`´ ˇ
ˇˇ ˇ s´
di-ku ul-la-lu u sum-ma SES.MES-ˇ u 21 [KUG.BABBAR mu-ul-le]-e
` ˇ´
u-ul i-mah-ha-ru da-i-ka-na sa na-pu-ul-ti 22 [ . . . l]i-pu-ˇ u sum-ma LU
´ ˇ s ˇ´
´ ˜˜
sa hi-ta a-na LUGAL i-ha-tu a-na KUR-ti sa-na-ti-ma 23 [ . . . ] u a-na
ˇ ˇ `
˜ ˜
43 Itis unlikely that this could be translated as “he shall take those very same payments [from
inhabitants of the village].” Cf. Hoffner, The Laws of the Hittites, 173“174, n. 8, and Hoffner,
“On Homicide in Hittite Law,” 303“305.
44 Hoffner, The Laws of the Hittites, 174.
45 See Samuel Greengus, “Legal and Social Institutions of Ancient Mesopotamia,” CANE, 469“


.ˇˇ ˇ
da-a-ki u-ul par-su SES-ia sa-™a-al-ma liq-bu-ni-ik-ku 24 [ . . . a]-ka-an-
` ´
na sa EN h´ -ti-i la-a i-du-uk-ku lu DAM.GAR i-du-uk-ku 25 [ . . . L]U
ˇ e.
˜ ˇˇ ˇ
´ ˇ´
su-ba-ri-i a-i-ka-a i-di sum-ma i-du-uk-ku-ma i-na-an-na SES.MES
` ˇ
DAM.GAR.MES di-ku-ti 26 [ˇ up-ra]-am-ma di-in-su-nu lu-mur

Since you wrote to me as follows: “My merchants are being
killed in the land of Amurru, the land of Ugarit, [and the land of . . . ].”
They do not kill [as punishment] in Hatti . . . they kill. 17“18 If the king
hears about it, [they investigate] that matter. They arrest the killer
and deliver him to the brothers of the slain man. 19 If his brothers
accept the silver as compensatory payment, [they allow] the killer
[to go free]. 20 The place in which the killing occurred is puri¬ed
[?]. 20“22 If his brothers do not accept the silver as the compensatory
payment, they may make the killer [their slave].46 22“24 If a man who
has committed an offense against the king escapes to another land,
killing him is not permitted. Inquire, my brother, and they shall tell
you thus. Now, if they do not kill an offender [against the king], would
they kill a merchant? 25“26 [But in regard to] the Subareans, how am
I to know if they are killing people? Now send me the brothers of the
dead merchants so that I can investigate their lawsuit.
ˇ ` s´
It is possible to render the phrase [ . . . aˇ ]-ra sa na-pu-ul-tu4 i-na SA-ˇ u di-ku
ul-la-lu in line 20 as a command that the place in which the slaying occurred
should be puri¬ed. However, it can also be understood as an order to take
an oath. Harry A. Hoffner, Jr., suggests that the guilt or innocence of the
inhabitants of the place is determined by whether they exonerate themselves
by taking an oath.47 This is a possibility because in Hittite, parkunu-, “to
purify,” can be understood in three distinct meanings: in the sense of cleaning
something normally, in a ritual sense, and in a judicial sense of exonerating
or proving innocent.
We have already noted that there is a striking contrast between
Mesopotamia and the biblical materials in regard to certain technical terms
for the parties involved in remedying the homicide. The Bible refers to lag
!dh, the blood redeemer, whereas the Mesopotamian documents refer to b¯ l e
damˆ , a term that can refer either to the slayer or to the claimant from the

46 This rendering follows that of Gary Beckman (Hittite Diplomatic Texts [ed. Harry A. Hoffner,

Jr.; SBL Writings from the Ancient World 7; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1996], 136), and Horst
Klengel (“Mord und Bussleistung im Spatbronzezeitlichen Syrien,” in Death in Mesopotamia,
190). Albertine Hagenbuchner suggests “they give to them the killer,” (Die Korrespondenz
der Hethiter [Texte der Hethiter 16; Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1989], 2.292), but it is unclear
whether she means that the killer is executed or reduced to slavery.
47 “Homicide in Hittite Law,” in Crossing Boundaries and Linking Horizons: Studies in Honor

of Michael C. Astour on His 80th Birthday (ed. Gordon D. Young, Mark W. Chavalas, and
Richard E. Averbeck; Bethesda, Maryland: CDL Press, 1997), 305.

victim™s family, as was discussed in the appendix to Chapter Two. The bibli-
cal term is unambiguous, the Mesopotamian term ambiguous. The fact that
the term b¯ l damˆ , “the owner of the blood,” can refer to both re¬‚ects the
e e
shared responsibility manifest in the Mesopotamian process and does not
re¬‚ect a preoccupation with the contaminating effects of the victim™s spilled
Blood, in Mesopotamian thought, was not thought to be a cleansing
substance. In the myth of Atrahasis, the gods purify themselves in water,
a rite instituted by Enki “ they do not purify themselves by the blood
of the slain god, the god later used to fashion human beings.48 After the
killing, all the gods must bathe: It is more than the splattering of the
blood that must be washed off. The de¬lement associated with the killing
must be removed, even though the chief culprit has deservedly been put to
death. Blood was a polluting substance and, therefore, even a lawful exe-
cution required the gods to purify themselves. The polluting effect of blood
makes clear why the Mesopotamians acknowledged the need for puri¬ca-
tion. The inability of blood to purify enables the term b¯ l damˆ , the owner
e e
of the blood, to apply to either the slayer or the claimant from the victim™s
It may be speculated that the Mesopotamians did not extend the pollut-
ing effects of the victim™s blood to apply to a country as a whole or nation
as a whole for three reasons.49 First, impurity in Mesopotamia was of de-
monic origin.50 A person who sinned or was under a sorcerer™s spell became
susceptible to the onslaught of demons. The goal of puri¬cation rituals was
to exorcise demons and send them back to their proper homes. Committing
a sin did not cause any violation of pure space, as it did in biblical thought.


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