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If that slave woman dies, he shall pay 20 shekels of silver.

HL 17“18
If anyone causes a free woman to miscarry, [if] it is in her tenth
month,40 he shall pay 10 shekels of silver; if it is her ¬fth month, he
shall pay 5 shekels of silver. He shall look to his house for it.

Late version of 17
If anyone causes a free woman to miscarry, he shall pay 20 shekels of
If anyone causes a female slave to miscarry, if it is her tenth month,
he shall pay 5 shekels of silver.

Late version of 18
If anyone causes a female slave to miscarry, he shall pay 10 shekels
of silver.
SLEx 1 “2 make a distinction between involuntarily jostling a pregnant
woman and striking her intentionally. Both LH 209“214 and LL d“f mandate
different remedies based on the consequence to the person injured, whether
she suffers miscarriage or death, as well as on social status. The consequences
are independent of the intention of the offending party. A particular woman
may survive a miscarriage, while another woman, having less robust health
40 The nine months of pregnancy would be counted in ten calendrical months.

or just bad luck, may not. The offender is at fault, even though his action is
just one of a number of factors leading to the bad outcome. There is a dis-
tinction between fault and cause, but this is of little import to the accidental
killer, who must pay in all events.
In general, the presentation of the process by which homicide is adju-
dicated in the cuneiform law collections is sketchy.41 If we compare the
elements that can be adduced from legal records analyzed in Chapter Two,
such as the role of the crown, the activities of the involved parties, and the
possibility of negotiation in a settlement, elements necessary in the remedy
of actual cases, the law collections contain serious omissions. Only certain
situations, such as negligence or death of a slave in contrast to a free person,
are addressed. Other situations are not treated at all. Moreover, important
variants to cases are omitted. Why is this so? Two theories, both involving
literary considerations, can account for these characteristics of cuneiform
law collections. The ¬rst is based on the development of a scribal tradition:
Certain cases and punishments are standardized. The second explanation
stems from the principles of composition of the cuneiform laws. The paucity
of detail is due to the manner in which the statutes are used within the
structure of the texts as a whole. These two postulates operate together.
Any theory must explain the striking fact that cuneiform law collections
share a great deal of material. A number of cases occur again and again.
Thus, the cases of the goring ox, the pregnant woman being injured, and
assault unintentionally leading to death all appear in a number of texts.
Other cases dealing with other matters also appear again and again. Five
characteristics of these shared cases must be taken into account:
1. There are statutes whose wording is exactly or nearly exactly the same
in a number of law collections.42

41 Cf. Barry Eichler, “Murder” [Hebrew], Encyclopaedia Miqra™it, 7.420“429. The exception
to this is HL 1“6, which devotes attention to the social status, gender, and age of both the victim
and the perpetrator and to the conditions under which the homicide occurred. These provisions
systematically treat intentional and accidental homicide of and by free men and women and
male and female slaves, in Hatti, nearby lands with ties to Hatti, and remote lands without
diplomatic connections to Hatti, both when the slayer has been identi¬ed and when he has not.
However, the acts that constitute intentional and accidental homicide are not de¬ned in these
statutes. Other statutes in HL provide examples of intentional homicide, whose penalties are
drastically different from the ones provided in HL 1“6. Thus, HL 43 mandates that if a man,
while crossing a river holding his ox™s tail, is pushed off the tail by another and drowns, the
deceased man™s heirs claim the other person as a slave. HL 44a provides that if a man pushes
another person into a ¬re so that the other person dies, he must give up his son as punishment.
These penalties in which the perpetrator or his son is enslaved differ from the penalties in HL
1“4. Although HL 1“4 mandate payment in persons, it is not required that the perpetrator or
his son themselves be enslaved. Cf. Hoffner, “On Homicide in Hittite Law,” 294, 306“312.
42 Provisions on unlawful death: LL d, e, f // (are parallel to) LH 209, 210, 213. Provisions on

other issues: LL 9 // LE 12; LE 13 // LH 21 // HL 93; LL 10 // LH 59. The examples of parallels
for other topics are far from exhaustive.

2. There are statutes whose content is nearly the same but whose wording
is substantially different in a number of law collections.43
3. There are statutes addressing the same topic but whose content is sub-
stantially different.44
4. The order of the parallel statutes is the same in a number of law col-
5. The order of the parallel statutes is the same in two law collections but
is different in a number of law collections.46

These characteristics are not limited to the statutes on unlawful death but
apply across the board to statutes treating a variety of cases.
What can account for these phenomena? The issue of the goring ox is
instructive. Each code contains one case about this issue not treated in the
other. LE 53 deals with the case of an ox goring another ox, a case not ad-
dressed in LH. LH 250 deals with an ox not known as a gorer that does
in fact gore a human being, a case not dealt with in LE. Both LE 54“55
and LH 251“252 treat the ox that is a serial gorer; the ward authorities
noti¬ed the owner, but the owner has failed to take the necessary precau-
tions. Although the circumstances are the same, the wording of the statutes
is not the same. The penalties are different: sixty shekels for the free per-
son in LE and thirty shekels in LH, ¬fteen shekels for a slave in LE and
twenty shekels in LH. The relationship between the statutes cannot, there-
fore, be an act of simple word-for-word copying. Rather, in my opinion, it
appears to be generated from a scribal tradition in which certain types of
cases make up the repertoire, but the author composes his own variations on
the theme.
The existence of a scribal tradition was made possible by the fact that law
collections were known to later generations. The tablets that make up the
LU do not date from the Third Dynasty of Ur; they are from a later period.
One tablet is from Nippur and was inscribed in the time of Hammurapi.47
LH became a didactic composition copied in schools and scribal centers
for over a thousand years. Copies of LH have been excavated in Ur, Larsa,

43 Provisions on unlawful death: LL 24 // LH 167. Statutes on other issues: LL 28 // LH 148;
LL 29 // LH 160 // LE 25 // LU 15; LE 26 // LH 130 // MAL A 12; LE 28 // LH 129 // MAL A
15 // HL 197“198.
44 Statutes on homicide: LU 1 // LH 1 // HL 2; LU 3 // LE 22“24 // LH 114“116; LI d, e, f //

SLEx 1 “2 . Statutes on other issues: LL 25 // LH 170“171; LL 31 // LH 105; LU 18“22 // LE
42“46 // LH 196“201 // HL 7, 11“16.
45 Statutes on unlawful death: LL d, e, f // LH 209, 210, 213; LE 53“55 // LH 250“252. Statutes

on other issues: LL 24“25 // LH 167, 170“171; LL 31“32 // 165“166.
46 LU 19, 20, 22 // LE 36, 42 // HL 12, 13, 7 // LH 197, 201; LU 18“22 // LE 42“46 // LH

196“201 // HL 7, 11“16; LL 24“27 // LOx 3, 1, 2, 4 // LH 247“248; LE 26“30 // LH 130, 128,
129, 135, 136.
47 S. N. Kramer, “Ur-Nammu Law Code,” Or 23 (1954), 40.

Nippur, Sippar, Babylon, Borsippa, Assur, Nineveh, and Susa. Texts of the
complete LH as well as epitomes of LH, commentaries on LH, and even
a bilingual Sumerian-Akkadian extract have been found. Some were made
contemporary to Hammurapi. Others were drafted a millennium later. MAL
are found in a group of tablets most of which are eleventh-century b.c.e.
copies of fourteenth-century originals.48 These tablets were excavated at the
Assyrian capital Assur. Only one tablet, MAL A, contains an exact date: It
contains a date formula referring to the eponymy of Sagiu, an of¬cial during
the reign of Tiglath-Pileser I, who ruled from 1114 to 1076.49 It is debated
whether these tablets were intended for Tiglath-Pileser™s royal library50 or for
the personal library of later scribes.51 It is striking to consider what remained
the same in these law collections despite the variety of social, linguistic,
ethnic, economic, and political changes during the span of two millennia.
Certain topics were to be treated, others omitted. Each law code contained
some but not a great deal of variation. (MAL is the exception, and it appears
not to be part of this scribal tradition.)52
The second reason for the sketchiness in the treatment of homicide is due
to the principles of literary composition used. Within the law collections as a
whole, there appear to be topical groupings. Certain legal cases appear to be
bridges between these groupings. Within a single grouping, two principles

48 Roth, Law Collections, 154.
49 H. Freydank dates this of¬cial to the reign of Ninurta-apil-ekur, who ruled from 1191 to
1179 (“Fernhandel und Warenpreise nach einer mittelassyrische Urkunde des 12 Jahrhunderts
v.u.Z,” in Societies and Languages of the Ancient Near East: Studies in Honor of I. M. Diakonoff
[Warminster, U.K.: Aris & Phillips, 1982], 66).
50 Ernst F. Weidner, “Die Bibliothek Tiglatpilesers I,” AfO 16 (1952), 197“215.
51 W. G. Lambert, “Tukulti-Ninurta I and the Assyrian King List,” Iraq 38 (1976), 85“86 n. 2.
52 It must be noted that the Middle Assyrian Laws look different from the others in that the

twenty-odd tablets that contain them do not constitute a single document. Furthermore, the
unusual composition of a tablet, such as Tablet A, which deals with various offenses committed
by or against women, militates against the fact that a tablet could be a section of a larger corpus,
since these offenses would have to be treated again with respect to other persons. Because of
these characteristics, Paul Koschaker argues that Tablet A of the Middle Assyrian Laws, at least,
is in fact the product of a jurist who has supplemented an earlier text with additional laws on a
particular subject and explanations for his private use, and is not the product of a legislator who
has amended and redrafted earlier laws for practical use as enactments (Quellenkritische Un-
tersuchungen zu den ˜altassyrischen Gesetzen™ [Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatisch-aegyptischen
Gesellschaft 26; Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1921], 79“84). Koschaker calls the Middle Assyrian
Laws a Rechtsbuch, comparing it to the Digest of Justinian. Additional evidence for Koschaker™s
position is found in the repetition in MAL O of some but not all of the provisions in MAL B.
Furthermore, although he restricts his remarks to Tablet A, it does apply to the other tablets,
which consist of statutes treating a particular subject, as if the intent of the scribe was to collect
various rulings on that subject. For example, just as MAL A deals with women as perpetrators
or victims in a wide variety of situations “ ranging from theft, blasphemy, bailment, assault and
battery, sexual assault and sexual offenses, homicide, false accusations, inheritance, and mar-
riage and marital property to veiling, witchcraft, pledges and debts, and abortion “ MAL B
deals with land issues involving inheritance as well as agriculture and irrigation.

of arrangement appear to be operative.53 One is the placement side by side
of a group of cases in which the variants are maximal.54 These polar cases
provide a clear statement of the just laws in extreme cases but leave a gray
area in the middle where some but not all the criteria are ful¬lled.55 The
other principle of arrangement in cuneiform law collections is the creation
of a legal statement by the juxtaposition of one legal case with another. The
relationship between one case and its neighbor creates the context in which
the cases ought to be understood.
LE can illustrate the use of these principles vis-a-vis the statutes on un-
lawful death (LE 23“24, 47A, 54“58). LE 22“24 discuss the laws of distraint,
a case in which a loan has fallen due and the creditor has distrained a person
from the debtor™s household:
If a man had no claim against a free man yet distrained the man™s
slave woman, the owner of the slave woman will swear by a god,
“You have no claim upon me,” and he shall weigh out as much silver
as the value[?] of the slave woman
If a man had no claim against a free man yet distrained the man™s
slave woman, detained the distrainee in his house, and caused [her]
to die, he shall replace 2 slave women to the owner of the slave.
If he had no claim against him yet distrained the wife of a com-
moner/dependent or the son of a commoner/dependent, detained the
distrainee in his house, and caused him/her to die, it is a case of life;
the distrainer who distrained shall die.
The ¬rst case, LE 22, deals with illegal distraint in which the distrainee is
not harmed. The second and third cases, LE 23“24, treat illegal distraint in
which the creditor has caused the death of the distrainee. LE 23 discusses the
detention of a slave belonging to a member of the aw¯lu (free) class, whereas
LE 24 treats the detention of a member of the muˇ k¯ nu class. If the deceased
distrainee is a slave, the statute prescribes compensation; if the deceased
distrainee is a member of the debtor™s family, the distrainor suffers capital
punishment. The cases in the middle, such as illegal distraint in which the

53 Barry L. Eichler, “Literary Structure in the Laws of Eshnunna,” in Language, Literature, and
History, 71“72.
54 Besides Eichler in his article, this is also discussed by J. J. Finkelstein, “Sex Offenses in Sumer-

ian Law,” JAOS 86 (1966), 368, and Kraus, “Ein zentrales Problem des altmesopotamischen
Rechtes,” 286.
55 This principle of arrangement is signi¬cantly different from that of other legal texts. For

example, a chapter of Mishnah appears to be intentionally arranged in such a way as to explore
the gray areas in the middle, where the variations between cases are minimal.

creditor has injured but not killed the distrainee or illegal distraint in which
the creditor has detained a person of the aw¯lu class, are neglected.
LE 22“24 act as a bridge combining elements of the previous series of
laws with elements of the next series of laws, linking the laws of contract
with the laws of marriage.56 LE 22“24 focus on the unlawful deprivation of
one™s rights over another because of a claim of an unpaid loan. LE 22“24 are
located at the conclusion of a grouping of legal cases: LE 14“21 deal with
¬nancial obligations, such as contracts, loans, and interest payments, while
the laws that follow, LE 25“30, deal with a person™s legal rights over another
person through the relationships of betrothal and marriage. Because LE 22“
24 act as a bridge, they include elements that serve as linkages: ¬nancial
obligations and one person™s legal rights over another. Other information
is super¬‚uous. In contrast, the parallel laws in LH, 115“116, treat lawful
detention because they are embedded in a series dealing with ¬nancial obli-
gations and repayments, 112“119.
LE 47A acts as an extreme case indicating how far bodily injury can
be taken before it becomes a capital offense. It appears at the penultimate
position in the series of laws on bodily injuries incurring ¬nes, LE 42“47.
The following statute, LE 48, acts as a summary statement making explicit a
distinction between cases that incur a ¬ne, which are adjudicated by judges,
and capital cases, which are decided by the king:
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]


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