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in LE 44“46. By contrast, LE 47A speci¬es that injuries resulting in death
took place in a risbatum, “a brawl:”
If a man knocks down another in the street and breaks his hand, he
shall weigh out 30 shekels of silver.
If he should break his foot, he shall weigh out 30 shekels of silver.
If a man strikes another man and breaks his collarbone, he shall weigh
out 20 shekels of silver.
If a man should injure [?] another man in the course of a ¬ght, he
shall weigh out 10 shekels of silver.
If a man in a brawl caused the death of a member of the aw¯lu[free]-
class, he shall weigh out 40 shekels of silver.
These statutes allude to the mitigating circumstance “ the injury indirectly
resulted in the victim™s death. LE 47A goes beyond the other statutes, 44“47,
on bodily injuries since it treats a category of killing. However, the lack of
intention to cause death in the case dealt with in 47A has af¬nities to the
cases of injuries addressed in statutes 44“47.
Other statutes use similar logic to associate accidental homicide to in-
juries incurred in the course of a brawl, LH 207“208 treat death during a
brawl immediately after the statutes on bodily injuries, LH 206:
If a free man has struck another man in a brawl and has injured him,
that man shall swear, “I did not strike him intentionally.” He shall
satisfy [i.e., pay] the physician.
If [a free man] dies from his beating, he shall also swear [“I did not
strike him intentionally”]. If [the victim] is a member of the free class,
he shall pay 30 shekels of silver.

29 Roth, “On LE 46“47A,” NABU 3 (1990), 70.

If [the victim] is a member of the client/common class, he shall pay
20 shekels of silver.
LH 206 provides the rule for an injury incurred without premeditation. The
offender must pay the victim™s medical expenses. LH 207“208 indicate that
if the injury resulted in death, the compensation is thirty shekels if the victim
is a free man and twenty shekels if he is a dependent/commoner.
Three types of cases involving negligence are presented in cuneiform law
collections. A mistake by a physician is found in LH 218, the fatal attack of
a goring ox is found in LH 250“253 and LE 53“55, and the miscarriage of a
pregnant woman caused by an assault is found in LH 209“214, SLEx 1 “2 ,
LI d“f, MAL A 21, 50“52, and HL 17“18.
LH 218 mandates that if a patient dies at a physician™s hands, the hand
of the physician is cut off:
If a physician performs major surgery with a bronze lancet upon a
free man and causes the free man™s death or opens a free man™s temple
with a bronze lancet and blinds the free man™s eye, they shall cut off
his hand.
This type of negligence is mentioned only in the Laws of Hammurapi.
The statutes on the goring ox assume that liability for the death of a
human being30 is operative only when the ox is known to be a habitual
gorer whose behavior had already warranted a formal warning by the ward
authorities. If an ox who has never gored previously kills, no legal action, it
is implied, can be taken against the owner.
The Laws of Eshnunna:
If an ox gored [another] ox and killed it, both [ox owners] shall divide
the value of the live ox and the carcass of the dead ox.

If an ox [was] a gorer and the ward [authorities] have had [it] made
known to its owner, but he did not guard his ox and it gored a man
and killed [him], the owner of the ox shall weigh out 40 shekels of
If it gored a slave and killed [him], he shall weigh out 15 shekels of

30 Although it may appear that LE presents ambivalent rules on the necessity of intention on
the part of the responsible party “ in LE 53, the owner of the ox has absolute liability, while in
LE 54“58, the owner has been warned of the danger posed by his possession “ this is not so.
LE 53 applies to the death of another ox, when one ox causes the death of another ox, not a
human being.

The Laws of Hammurapi:
If an ox gores a free man to death while it is passing through the
streets, that case has no basis for a claim.

If a free man™s ox is a known gorer and the authorities of his city
quarter notify him but he does not pad[?] its horns or control his ox
and that ox gores to death a member of the free class, he shall give
30 shekels of silver.

If it is a free man™s slave, he shall give 20 shekels of silver.
The statutes in LE on the goring ox are accompanied by rules on anal-
ogous cases, death caused by an aggressive dog (LE 56“57) and a tottering
wall (LE 58). In all of these, liability is dependent on a formal warning of
the dangerous circumstances to the owner, and the statutes provide for the
remedy when the duly forewarned owner did not take precautions. The for-
mal warning by the ward authorities obviates any claim by the owner that
he was unaware of the danger.
The case of the aggressive dog31 occurs only in LE, but it does not appear
to be substantially different from the case of the vicious ox, and so it is placed
next to the statute on the goring ox:
If a dog [was] aggressive and the ward [authorities] have had [it] made
known to its owner, but he did not guard his dog and it bit a man and

31 The ˇˆ
rendering of kalbum segum has been debated. The lexica are self-contradictory: AHw/I,
ˇˆ ¨
424b, and CAD N/ii, 54a, render segum as “rasend, tollwutig,” (“rabid, mad”), while AHw/III,
1208b, translates it as “aggressiv,” (“wild, aggressive,”) and CAD K, 69a, renders it as “vi-
cious.” CAD /II 260b refers to two meanings, listing “to rage, be rabid” under the G-stem
and “to become rabid” as the ingressive to the G-stem. G. R. Driver argues for the rendering
of kalbum segum as “rabid dog” because the statute speci¬es that the victim dies: While a
person bitten by a vicious dog might on occasion die from his wounds, the victim of a rabid
dog would certainly die (“Review of R. Yaron, The Laws of Eshnunna,” Journal of the Royal
Asiatic Society [1972], 57). However, Yaron argues that a rabid dog would be immediately
destroyed and not be kept for any reason (The Laws of Eshnunna2 , 300). If, in fact, LE 56“57
were treating the situation of a rabid dog, they would represent a radically different situation
from that of LE 54“55, which, as noted, would fail to explain the same penalties in LE 54“55
and in 56“57. An aggressive ox in the habit of goring, if kept under control, is still of use, but a
rabid dog would serve no useful purpose. Furthermore, while there are numerous incantations
against dog bites in which the dog is described as having spittle dripping from its mouth, which
is a sign of rabies, the only one that instructs the dog to be taken into con¬nement does not
describe it as rabid (this incantation is found in M. Sigrist, “On the Bite of a Dog,” in Love and
Death in the Ancient Near East: Essays in Honor of Marvin H. Pope [ed. John H. Marks and
Robert M. Good; Guilford, Connecticut: Four Quarters Press, 1987], 85). It is clear, then, that
the adjective segum means “wild, aggressive.”

caused [him] to die, the owner of the dog shall weigh out 40 shekels
of silver.
If it gored a slave and caused him to die, he shall weigh out 15 shekels
of silver.

This is not a series of situations of increasing gravity.32 The case of the
aggressive dog is not more dangerous than that of the goring ox, and the
penalties are of the same gravity.33
LE 58 addresses another case that is not mentioned in the other collec-
tions, death caused by the collapse of a tottering wall:

If a wall was about to fall and the ward authorities have made it
known to the owner of the wall but he did not reinforce his wall and
the wall collapsed and killed a member of the aw¯lu [free] class, it is
a case concerning life “ it is a decree of the king.

Comparing this statute to ones in LH (such as 229“233) that deal with
collapsed structures is instructive. The statutes in LH ascribe the death to
shoddy workmanship and the responsibility to the builder. By contrast, LE
58 addresses the responsibility of the owner for the upkeep of his property,
an issue in consonance with LE™s laws on the goring ox and aggressive dog.
In contrast to the other provisions on negligence next to which it is placed,
LE 58 treats an offense that is speci¬cally and explicitly denoted as a capital
case. What differentiates this case from the others? It has been suggested
that a legal principle is at work. For Albrecht Goetze, this principle is that
of predictability.34 The common element in the cases of a vicious animal is
that its behavior, whether an ox or dog, is unpredictable, whereas the danger
incurred by a sagging wall is always predictable “ a sagging wall will collapse.
The owner should have known to repair the wall and, therefore, the more
severe punishment is warranted. Goetze™s principle, however, does not ¬t the
situation envisioned: The statutes on the ox and dog refer to an animal whose
owner has already received a warning about its previously demonstrated bad
temper because the dangerous behavior exhibited by the animal is likely to
recur.35 Richard Haase attempts to salvage Goetze™s theory by focusing on
the responsibility the victim holds for his own injury: He argues that a person

32 Finkelstein, The Ox That Gored, 22.
33 Yaron, The Laws of Eshnunna2 , 302.
34 Goetze, The Laws of Eshnunna, 140.
35 Dieter Norr followed a similar line of reasoning to that of Goetze and argued that there is
a difference in the level of the owner™s responsibility between LE 54“57 and LE 58, which can
account for the difference in penalties (“Zum Schuldgedanken im altbabylonischen Strassrecht,”
ZSS 75 [1958], 11“13). An animal has a will of its own, which an owner can curb but not
excise. An animal to an extent is independent of its owner. The owner™s responsibility for the
consequences of the animal™s action is, therefore, lessened. However, the situation articulated
in the statute emphasizes that the owner has been reminded of his responsibility.

would know to avoid animals owned by others.36 According to Haase, then,
the victim in the situations treated in LE 54“57 would have contributed to
his own demise by his lack of care. In contrast, a sagging wall might be a less
obvious danger. A serious objection can be raised against Haase™s viewpoint.
An aggressive animal may come upon a person suddenly: No precautions
he could have undertaken would have prevented the tragedy.37 In contrast,
the location of a dangerous wall is stationary. If such a wall comes to the
knowledge of the local authorities, it is probably well known in the area. It is
probable that it even looks unstable. The person who still passes underneath
it has contributed through lack of care to his own death. A sagging wall is a
predictable danger.
Yaron adds another explanation for the difference in sanction in LE 58.
He contends that the difference is due to the origin of LE 58. LE 58 refers to
simdat sarrim, “a decree of the king.” Yaron argues that this phrase indicates
that the source of this particular ruling is a decree of the king in a speci¬c
case.38 This concurs with the use of the phrase in other Akkadian texts: It
refers to speci¬c decrees already issued.39 By the use of this phrase, this statute
shows that it incorporates an actual ruling, perhaps handed down after a
particularly egregious case. The fact that the penalty, capital punishment, is
out of proportion to its neighboring cases, LE 54“57, is due to the prerogative
of the monarch.
The laws on another variety of negligence, striking a pregnant woman,
are found in LL d“f, SLEx 1 “2 , LH 209“214, and HL 17“18:

LL d“f
If [a . . . ] strikes the daughter of a man and causes her to lose her fetus,
he shall weigh and deliver 30 shekels of silver. If she dies, that male
shall be killed.
If a . . . strikes the slave woman of a man and causes her to lose her
fetus, he shall weigh and deliver 5 shekels of silver.

SLEx 1 “2
If he jostles the daughter of a man and causes her to miscarry her
fetus, he shall weigh and deliver 10 shekels of silver.
If he strikes the daughter of a man and causes her to miscarry her
fetus, he shall weigh and deliver 20 shekels of silver.

36 Haase, ¨
“Die Behandlungen von Tierschaden in den Keilschriftrechten,” RIDA 14 (1967), 51.
37 ARM III 18:15f reads: k¯ma kalbim segˆ m aˇ ar inaˇ saku ul idi, “like an aggressive dog, where
ˇe sˇ
± s
he will bite I do not know.” It is in the nature of an aggressive dog that it bites unexpectedly.
38 Yaron, The Laws of Eshnunna2 , 302“303.
39 Cf. Maria deJ. Ellis, “Taxation in Ancient Mesopotamia: The History of the Term miksu,” JCS

26 (1974), 215. This phrase does not refer to the transfer of a case to the king™s court, as some
would render it. Cf. CAD S, 194“196, and G. R. Driver and John C. Miles, The Babylonian
Laws (Ancient Codes and Laws of the Near East; Oxford: Clarendon, 1952), 1.17“20.

LH 209“214
If a free man strikes a woman of the free class and causes her to
miscarry her fetus, he shall pay 10 shekels of silver for her fetus.

If that woman dies, they shall kill his daughter.

If he causes a woman of the client/common class to miscarry her fetus
by the beating, he shall pay 5 shekels of silver.

If that woman dies, he shall pay 30 shekels of silver.

If he strikes a free man™s slave woman and causes her to miscarry her
fetus, he shall pay 2 shekels of silver.



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