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Although the monarch™s role in the legal system was limited, the king
could have an undue in¬‚uence on a court case. Biblical law holds to the
principle that everyone is subject to the law and that no one, whether king,
priest, prophet, or judge, is above the law, but the power relations prevail-
ing in an actual community at a particular time restricted or distorted the
actualization of this principle.34 Extrajudicial factors affected the law, and
this is re¬‚ected in narrative. In 1 Kgs 21:1“15, Ahab, king of the northern
kingdom, seeks to purchase a vineyard belonging to Naboth for use as a
vegetable garden for the palace. He offers Naboth a choice of a better vine-
yard or money, but Naboth refuses. Ahab has no choice but to return to
the palace empty-handed (and dispirited). Ahab assumes that even he, the
monarch, is constrained by the laws of property tenure and cannot exercise
his will as he wishes. His wife Jezebel, as the well-known tale continues,
manages to manipulate the legal process so as to condemn Naboth and his
property: Naboth is executed and his property is transferred to the king™s
possession. Jezebel used royal power to in¬‚uence the legal system in order to
evade the restraints on such power. The crown is of¬cially subject to the law,
but the actual power relations in a society may allow it to possess the means
to circumvent the law. In Naboth™s case, judicial murder was the result. This
was an aberration in the legal process and that is how it is portrayed in the
biblical text. The crown possesses only a limited role in biblical law.
In contrast, the crown and central authority played a major role in the
rest of the ancient Near East. Once the legal process had been launched by
a private individual, a central authority or the monarchy assumed oversight
of the situation. In Riftin 46, private individuals, a shepherd and his brother
an innkeeper, intervened in a kidnapping, but the kidnapper then killed the
victim. The shepherd and the innkeeper became witnesses in a homicide trial
conducted by of¬cial judges:
1
aˇ -ˇ um I ri-ba-am-`-l´ s[u]-b[a-r`-i]m 2 sa I i-din-ia-tum u-s´ -pu-ˇ u-
±±ˇ ˇ
ss ± e s
3 4I 5 6
´s.
ma iˇ -ri-qu-ˇ u a-bu-um-ra-bi SIPA i-na qa-ti-ˇ u is-ba-at a-ˇ a-
s s s
7I 8
± ±ˇ `
ar a-bu-um-ra-bi SIPA ri-ba-am-`-l´ su-ba-ri-a-am u i-din-ia-tum
´ a-hu-um lu KURUN.NA 10 i-pa-du 11 I i-din-ia-
´
9
mu-s´-pi-ˇ u i-na E
.± s
˜ ´
12 I
ri-ba-am-`-li su-ba-ri-a-am ih-ta-na-aq 13 i-na KA! d nin-marki
±ˇ
tum
˜
14 e-ne 15 16 I
´s
DI.KU5 di-na-am u-ˇ a-hi-zu-ma a-bu-um-ra-bi SIPA
˜
33 Bernard M. Levinson argues that the passage in Deuteronomy 17 prescribes the replacement
of local justice in determining whether a homicide was intentional or unintentional by the
central court (Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation [New York: Oxford
University Press, 1997], 128). However, he does not address the existence and import of Deut
19:1“13.
34 Michael Walzer, “The Legal Codes of Ancient Israel,” Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities

4 (1992), 341.
37
BLOOD FEUD AND STATE CONTROL

rev.
´
´
17
u a-hu-um lu KURUN.NA 18 a-na NAM.ERIM i-di-nu-u-ma 19 I a-
` ´
˜ ´ d nin-marki
´
20 lu 21
`
bu-um-ra-bi SIPA u a-hu-um KURUN.NA i-na KA
˜ `
22 23 I
i-din-ia-tum 24 i-na IR ha-na-q´-im ub-ti-ru 25 IGI
´
it-mu-u-ma ±
˜ DI.KU 27 IGI d ZUEN-i-
26 d
´
ta-ri-bu-um DI.KU5 IGI nu-ur- MAR.TU 5
ˇ ´ ˇ
28
´ sa SU.I 29 IGI ta-ri-bu-um 30 IGI d UTU-
q´-ˇ a-am SUDUG IGI ib-qu-ˇ
±s
na-sir 31 IGI la-a-lum 32 IGI ha-si-rum 33 IGI hu-na-ba-tum 34 ITU.
. .
˜ 35 mu dug -ga an˜ d en-l´l d en-ka-g[a-ta]
ˇ
SU.NUMUN.NA UD 3 KAM ±
4
36
du-un-nu-um in-dib-ba (Seal) nu-ur- MAR.TU DUMU d sin-li-
1 d 2
´
3` d
di-iˇ IR MAR.TU
s
1“5
Concerning the Subarean R¯bam-ili whom Idiniatum abducted
±
and stole, the shepherd Abum-rabi seized [R¯bam-ili] in [Idiniatum™s]
±
6“12
possession. When the shepherd Abum-rabi locked up the Sub-
arean R¯bam-ili and his abductor Idiniatum in the house of his brother,
±
the innkeeper, Idiniatum strangled the Subarean R¯bam-ili. 13“24 At
±
the gate of Nin-mar, the judges tried the case. They made Abum-
rabi and [his] brother, the innkeeper, take an oath. Abum-rabi and
[his] brother, the innkeeper, swore at the gate of Nin-mar. They con-
victed Idiniatum of strangling the slave (R¯bam-ili). 25“34 Witness:
±
Taribum the judge. Witness: Nur-Amurrim the judge. Witness: Sin-
iqisham the priest. Witness: Ibqusha the barber. Witness: Taribum.
Witness: Shamash-nasir. Witness: Lalum. Witness: Hasirum. Witness:
. .
˜
Hunabatum. The second of Tammuz, year 30 of Rim-Sin. Nur-
˜
Amurrim, son of Sin-lidish, servant of Amurrim.

Of¬cially constituted authority intervened in the resolution of the dispute
in the Old Babylonian text, CT 29 42.
1
[i-nu-ma] ip-qa-tum a-na si-im-ti-im [i]l-li-ku-u 2 [I ]ib-ni-d MAR-TU
´ ˇ ´
ˇ ip-qa-tum 3 a-na ba-ˇ i-tim sa
I d
` ` ´ ˇ
[u ]DINGIR-u- UTU DUMU.MES s
´ A.BA [di-nam] is-ba-tu-ma 4 I i-din-`r-ra DUMU ta-p[´-gi-ri]-d UTU
E ± ±
.
5Id d 6I
NANNA-tum DUMU na-ra-am- ZUEN DINGIR-ˇ u-ba-ni
s
dˇ ´
DUMU SIG- ISKUR ap-pa-an-DINGIR DI.KU5 KA.DINGIR.RA.KI

7I d
im-gur- EN.ZU DUMU s´l-l´ ISKUR an-na-tum DUMU a-w[i]-
.± ±
il-DINGIR i-na pa-ni-tim di-nam i-di-nu-ni-a-ti-ma 9 iˇ -ˇ a-lu-ma a-
8
ss
hu-um a-na a-hi-im te4 -im-ˇ u u-te!-er-ma a-na DINGIR-u-d UTU
10
s´ `
.
˜ ib-ni-d MAR.TU 11 ki-a-am iq-bu-u a-li-ik 12 I aˇ -qu-du-um i-na
˜
` ´ s´
u
´ d 13 I
´
KA. NUN.GAL ki-a-am li-iz-ku!-ru da-i-ik ip-qa-tum la i-du-
14
a-na-ku la u-ˇ a-hi-zu u ba-ˇ i-tum sa [i]p-qa-tum 15 la el-qu-
´ ´s ` ˇ ´ ´
u s
˜
I 16 d
´ s´ `
u la al-pu-tu aˇ -qu-du-um-m[a] u GEME2 - MAR.TU li-iz-ku-ru
17
di-nam an-ni-a-am u-ul il-qu-ma 18 i-na sa-ni-im di-nim 19 I ha-ia-
´ ´ ˇ
˜
I 20 I
DINGIR-ˇ u-ba-ni I d NANNA-tum 21 u `
ab-ni-DINGIR i-din-`r-ra ± s
´ 22
ap-pa-an-DINGIR DI!.KU5 KA.DINGIR.RA.KI i-na li-bu ka-la-
ak-ki-[i]m u-ˇ a-hi-zu-ˇ u-nu-ti 23 di!-nam sa-tu u-ul il-qu-u 24 i-na
´s ˇ ´ ´´
s
˜
38 HOMICIDE IN THE BIBLICAL WORLD


´
sa-al-ˇ i-im LUGAL im-hu-ru-ma 25 LUGAL a-na d ID I aˇ -qu-du-
ˇ s´
s
˜ u GEME -d MAR.TU it-ru-da-na-ti-im-ma
I d 26
´ `
um DINGIR-u- UTU .
2
27 d ´
ID DI.KU5 ki-it-ti[m] ni-ik-ˇ u-ud-ma 28 I DINGIR-u-d UTU ki-a-
`
s
am iq-bi um-ma su-u-ma da-i-ik a-bi-ia i-di u GEME2 -d MAR.TU
29 30
ˇ´ `
ki!-a-am iq-bi sa a-ka-lu u ap-ra-ku sa be-li-ia-ma si-ki!-il-tam 32 [la
31
ˇ ` ˇ
33 I ´
I
TUL-INANNA ra-ki-bu-u I se-
´ ´ˇ
as]-ki-lu lu-uˇ -ta-mar mu-ki-il-ka!
s
´ LUGAL 34 I d ZUEN-a-ha-am-i-din-nam sa LUGAL ˇ
ip-`r-ra AGA.US
±
˜DUMU [ . . . ] 37 [ . . . ] x-an-
[ . . ] -pu-ut LUGAL [ . . . i]b-ni-ˇ u!
35 36
s
ni-zi- AMAR.UTU be-el-la-nu-um [ . . . ] x i-tur-aˇ -d[u-u]m DUMU
d 38
´ ´s

39 40
ˇ ´ ˇ´
e-tel-lum an-nu-tum si-bu-su-nu sa ID

1“3
When Ipqatum died, Ibni-Amurrim and Ilu-Shamash, sons of Ipqa-
tum, initiated a suit regarding the possession of the house of their
father. 4“8 Iddin-Irra, son of Tapigiri-Shamash, Nannatum, son of
Naram-Sin, Ilu-bani, son of Ipiq-Adad, Appan-ilu, judge of Babylon,
Imgur-Sin, son of Silli-Adad, [and] Annatum, son of Awil-ili ren-
.
dered a decision for us in the ¬rst trial. 9 They investigated and
each returned his ¬nding. 10“16 They said as follows to Ibni-Amurrim
and Ilu-Shamash: “Now, let Ashqudum35 declare under oath at the
gate of Ningal, ˜I do not know the murderer of Ipqatum, I did
not instigate [him], and I did not take the fortune of Ipqatum. I
did not touch [it].™ Ashqudum and Amat-Amurrim shall take an
oath.” 17“22 They [Ashqudum and Amat-Amurrim] did not accept
this judgment, and in a second trial [further litigation], Haya-abni-ilu,
˜
Iddin-Irra, Ilu-shubani, Nannatum, and Appan-ili, judge of Babylon,
tried [?] them [Ashqudum and Amat-Amurrim] inside the storehouse.
23
They did not accept this judgment. 24“29 In a third trial, they pre-
sented [themselves/the case] to the king. The king sent us, [namely]
Ashqudum, Ilu-Shamash, and Amat-Amurrim, to the River [ordeal].
We reached the River [ordeal], the true judge, and Ilu-Shamash said
as follows: “I know who killed my father.” 30“32 Amat-Amurrim said
as follows: “What I eat and what I lie across36 is my master™s. I
did not acquire [it] fraudulently.”37 32“40 Lushtamar, the attendant,
Burtu-Ishtar, the wagon-driver, Shep-Irra, the soldier of the king,

35 P.Dhorme identi¬es Ashqudum as the brother of the litigants on the evidence of another
tablet, “M´ langes,” RA 8 (1914), 101“102.
e
36 The meaning of the verb paraku is “to lie across; to obstruct, to block.” Dhorme understands
¯
Amat-Amurrim™s statement as “That which I eat and that which I cover” (“M´ langes,” 104).
e
Arthur Ungnad renders her statement as “What I eat and carry” (Babylonische Briefe aus der
¯
Zeit der Hammurapi-Dynastie [Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1914], 183). CAD/S s.v. sakalu, 68b“
˜
69a, translates it as “all that I eat and that I wear.”
37 Ungnad, in Babylonische Briefe, 183, suggests that this verb is from the root meaning “to

trade,” but CAD/S, 68b“69a demonstrates that this meaning is limited to the Neo-Babylonian

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