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that the offense was remedied. The right of making a charge of homicide
seems to be fairly general: The initiative did not speci¬cally devolve upon
the victim™s family. Anyone could initiate the legal process by informing the
authorities. An of¬cial investigation would then ensue. As a result, charges
could be brought up, but a trial was necessary before any punishment could
be in¬‚icted, a stark contrast to the right of !dh lag to strike down the slayer
once the homicide occurred. According to the ¬rst statute in the Laws of
Hammurapi, the ¬rst of an introductory series of laws on procedure, a private
person can lay a charge of homicide against another person, in this case, an
unsubstantiated accusation. The relationship of this private citizen to the
victim is unstated.

15 Gottwald, The Tribes of Yahweh, 265.
16 Cf. Lev 25:48“49; Num 27:11.
28 HOMICIDE IN THE BIBLICAL WORLD


LH 1
If a man accuses another man and charges him with homicide but
then cannot bring proof against him, his accuser shall be killed.

In a twenty-¬rst century b.c.e. text (from the Ur III period), NSG 202, the
victim™s widow charged a particular individual with the death of her husband
before the authorities. By contrast, in the Nippur Murder Trial of the early
Old Babylonian period, the widow refrained from informing the authorities,
which led to her conviction as an accessory. The authorities must have been
noti¬ed by others, perhaps suspicious friends or neighbors. In another Ur III
document, NSG 121, a man reported to the governor that he has heard a
rumor about a homicide.

1Id
nanna-ki-aga dumu-lugal-ad-da-ke4 2 ens´-ra 3 AN-zi-KA sa-gaz
´ ±
4 5 d
´ s`
lu mu-na-<a5 > in-na-an-dug4 ur- ma-mi maˇ kim-ˇ e in-da-an-gi4
s
6d
nanna-ki-aga-e lu a-na b´-in-dug4 -ga mu-na-an-ha 9 sa-gaz-a5 -
7 8
´ ´ ±
´˜
10 I
bi-da-ti a-gu-za nu-banda-ar 12 tum-mu-un ba-na-
11
`
aˇ la-ba-gi-in
s
ab-dug4 13 a-gu-za `-tumu b´-in-dug4 14 `-lum-ma nu-banda-ar 15 lu
±´ ` ´
± ±
ki 16 d 17
´ ´
nag-su -ta nanna-ki-aga-da in-da-gin-na tum-mu-un in-na-an-
´
18 19
dug4 `-lum-ma maˇ kim-ˇ e-am nu-un-da-gi4 SU-nam-ILA.NE-am
s` ` `
± s
20 21 22
s` s`
in-da-gi4 b´-dug4 igi-a-m[u-a]-ˇ e igi-[x x x]-ˇ e igi-n[a-x x] x-
±
se igi-da-ti-ˇ e igi-g`ri-n´ -i-ˇ a6 -sukkala-ˇ e itu-RI mu en-eriduki
23 24 25
ˇ` s` s`
± es
ba-hun
˜
1“4
Nannaki™aga, son of Lugaladda, told the governor that some-
one killed another in . . . 5 He sent Urmami the bailiff with him.
6“8
Nannaki™aga presented to him the one against whom he had
given his statement. 9 That this one committed the murder was
not ascertained. 10“12 He said to Bidati and Aguzu, the inspector:
“Bring him there.” 13 Aguza said: “I will bring him there.” 14“17 He
said to Ilumma, the collector, who came from Nagsu together with
Nannaki™aga: “Bring him there.” 18“19 Ilumma said [that] because
he is a bailiff, he will not return with him, [but] SU-nam-ILA-
NE will return with him. 20“25 Witness, Amu™a. Witness . . . Witness,
Na . . . Witness, Dati. Witness, Girine™isha, the courier. The month of
RI, year in which the en-priestess of Eridu was enthroned.

It does not appear that Nannaki™aga has witnessed the homicide but merely
has come across a rumor about one. He informed the governor, who assigned
a bailiff to investigate.
Neo-Assyrian law concerning homicide occupies an intermediate position
between biblical law and the law of the rest of Mesopotamia “ there was
no threat of blood feud, but there was a group response. The slayer and his
social group, the town in which he lived, initiated the process by formally
29
BLOOD FEUD AND STATE CONTROL


assuming the responsibility for making restitution to the claimant from the
victim™s family before the claimant ever arrived.
ADD 618 is an acknowledgment of debt obligation: The right of the vic-
tim™s family to demand compensation and the responsibility of the villagers
from the killer™s village to pay compensation were formally recognized.17
The person of the killer was no longer of concern: If he died or escaped, the
village was still obligated.

obv.
ˇ ˇ ˇ ˇ
1 na4
KISIB I d UTU-tak-lak 2 na4 KISIB I ib-ta-aˇ !-GIS 3 na4 KISIB I tab-la-
s
ˇ ˇ ˇ
4 na4 I 5 na4
KISIB U+GUR.PAP.PAP 6 na4 KISIB
I
a-a KISIB eri-du10 -a-a
ˇ ˇ
I
si-lim-DINGIR 7 na4 KISIB I mu-qa-l´l-IDIM 8 na4 KISIB I U.PAP.PAP
±
ˇ ˇ ˇ ˇ ˇ
9 na4
KISIB I AS.GIS 10 na4 KISIB I sa-a-ri-u-ni 11 na4 KISIB uru sa-ma-na-
ˇ ˇ
a-a gab-bu (cylinder seal of ¬sh man) 12 I si-ri-i : EN US.MES 13 sa ˇ
.
I 14
si-lim-DINGIR GAZ-u-ni
rev.
ˇ ˇ s´
15
ina IGI-ˇ u-nu lu-u MUNUS-ˇ u 16 lu-u SES-ˇ u lu-u DUMU-ˇ u
s´ s s
ˇ ˇ u-ˇ al-lumu 19 IGI I tar-
17 18
ˇ´ su-nu US.MES ´ s
ˇ
man-nu sa e-la-a-ni
´ su 20 IGI I d PA.SAG-i-ˇ i 21 LU.NI.GAB 22 IGI
´´
di-tu-aˇ +ˇ ur LU.3-ˇ ´
´ss s
ˇ ´ s´
Id
NUSKU.PAP.AS 23 LU.ˇ a UGU qa-na-te 24 IGI I man-nu-ki-d 10
´` ˇ ´ ´
IGI aˇ +ˇ ur-MU.AS LU.GAL ki-sir 26 sa LU.GAL
25 I
ˇ´
LU.I.DU8 ss .
27 I 28 Id

SUM.NINDA IGI AD-ul-ZU 3-ˇ u IGI PA-u-a A.B[A]
ˇ
29 30 I
ITU.APIN UD 3 KAM lim-me NU.TES
1“11
¯
Seal of Shamash-takl¯ k, seal of Ibt¯ sh-l¯ shir, seal of Tablaya, seal
a a e
of Erid¯ ya, seal of Nergal-ahu-usur, seal of Silim-ili, seal of Muqallil-
a .
˜ seal of Edu-t¯ shir, seal of Sariuni, seal
kabti, seal of Adad-ahu-usur, e
.
12“15
S¯ri, the owner of the blood, whom
of the entire city of Sam¯ nu.
a .±
Silim-ili killed, is their responsibility. 15“17 Whoever appears among
them [to claim compensation], whether it is his wife, his brother, or
his son, 18 they themselves shall pay the blood money. 19“30 Witness:
Tarditu-Assur, the third rider on the chariot. Witness: Nabu-r¯ sh-ishi
e
the doorkeeper. Witness: Nusku-ah-iddin, the of¬cial in charge of
˜
the reeds. Witness: Mannu-ki-Adad, the doorkeeper. Witness: Assur-
sum-iddin, the captain of the victualer. Witness: Abu-ul-idi, the third
rider on the chariot. Witness: Nabua, the scribe. 8th month, third
day, eponym of L¯ b¯ shi (657 b.c.e.).
aa

Siri had arrived to claim compensation from Silim-ili for a homicide, but
the killer Silim-ili struck again, killing Siri. Since the victim was not a native,
.
there were no relatives in the vicinity to claim compensation. Nonetheless, the

17 A detailed study of the Neo-Assyrian texts is found in an appendix to this chapter.
30 HOMICIDE IN THE BIBLICAL WORLD


village where Silim-ili resided did possess corporate responsibility for com-
.
pensating the victim™s kinsmen. Ten of the villagers formally assumed respon-
sibility and promised to make restitution to any claimant from the victim™s
family. ADD 618 represents the ¬rst stages in a case of unlawful death, when
the rights of the victim™s family and the obligations of the killer and his com-
munity are formally recognized, in this case by the killer™s community.18
When the claimant did arrive, negotiations ensued, and the parties came
to terms on the type and quantity of property to be handed over. Execution
of the slayer was a threat only if he did not pay (ADD 321).

obv.
(beginning destroyed) (blank seal space) 1 [u]-ma-a it-ta-at-ru-us
´ .
2
[is!]-sa-hi-iˇ GEME2 -a-di-im-ri [DU]MU.MUNUS-su sa I a-tar-
3
ˇ´
s
˜´
qa-mu 4 [L]U a-na! I d UTU.DU.PAP DUMU-ˇ u 5 sa I sa-ma-ku ku-
s´ ˇ´
um da-me i-dan da-me i-ma-si sum-ma MUNUS 7 la i-din ina UGU
6
ˇ
qa-bu-ri sa sa-ma-ku i-du-ku-ˇ u 9 man-nu sa ina UGU man-nu
8 I
ˇ ˇ´
s
ˇ´
10
10 MA.NA KUG.BAB[BAR SU]M-a[n] AN.SAR d UTU
BAL-u-ni
ˇ´
a-[de-e sa MAN ina SU l]u-ba-[™i-u] . . .
11
ˇ´

rev.
ˇ´ `
lim-m[u . . . ] 13 I AN.SAR.DU.A MA[N kur aˇ +ˇ ur IGI I . . . ]
12
ss
´ ´ ˇ II sa! [DUMU.MAN]
LU.GA[L . . . ] IGI a-da-lal LU.DUMU.SU ˇ ´
14 15 I
ˇ
´
16
I[GI I d I]M-ba-ba-u lu DUMU.SUII 17 sa DUMU.MAN 18 IGI
ˇ
aˇ +ˇ ur-DINGIR-a-a IGI [x] [ . . . ] x x [ . . . ]-ri 21 [ . . . ] x
I 19 20
ss
1 “6
It is now mutually agreed: the one who shall give Amat-adimri,
his daughter, that is of Attar-q¯ mu, to Shamash-k¯ nu-usur, the son
a e .
of Samaku [who was killed] in place of blood[-money] and wash
the blood away. 6 “8 If he does not give the woman, they will kill
him on top of Samaku™s grave. 9 “10 Whoever breaches the con-
tract with the other party shall pay 10 minas of silver [1,000
shekels]. 10 “11 Assur, Shamash, and the oath of the king will call
him to account. 12 “21 Eponym of . . . of Assurbanipal, king of the
land of Assyria. Witness: . . . , the chief . . . Witness: Adalal, the mar
¯
qate of . . . Witness: Adad-Bab¯ ™u, the mar qate of the crown prince.
¯¯ a ¯ ¯¯
Witness: Assur-ilaya . . .

In Neo-Assyria, a number of parties assumed active roles in the process of
remedying a homicide. The parties speci¬c to the case asserted their rights
and obligations and assented to the negotiations.

18 Martha T. Roth, “Homicide in the Neo-Assyrian Period,” in Language, Literature, and
History: Philological and Historical Studies Presented to Erica Reiner (ed. Francesca Rochberg-
Halton; AOS 67; New Haven, Connecticut: American Oriental Society, 1987), 362.
31
BLOOD FEUD AND STATE CONTROL


A role for the victim™s family appears in the Middle Assyrian laws as

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