[b-hebrew] Isaiah 53 read within the book as a whole

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Fri May 28 12:03:36 EDT 2004

Dear Liz,

>  And I would expect that
>>  the case was similar with the Babylonian codes.
>Nope, nothing found. We have thousands and thousands of court cases
>and only a random few accidentally correspond with what is written
>in the codes.

HH: I have not read all these court cases and tried to compare them 
with the law codes, and I have heard that there is a lot of 
disagreement. This fact may not change what I am saying. The Middle 
Assyrian and Babylonian laws generally will reflect the legal 
structure of the societies that produced them. If a lawgiver 
authorized a law code, that does not mean that judicial decisions 
fifty years afterwards will necessarily reflect that code. Time can 
bring changes in law rather quickly. It is probably hard for us to 
date a judicial decision precisely in relation to a law code.

HH: Modern society often cites the Babylonian and Assyrian laws in a 
diachronic treatment of issues such as woman's rights, treatment of 
infants, punishment of crimes, and treatment of slaves. It is always 
assumed that these law codes reflect the mores and laws of those 

>Those laws don't come
>>  out of nowhere.
>Of course not, they are written by scribes in scribal schools.
>Their form "if a man does X, then Y should occur" corresponds
>to the format of other scribal works, like medical works.
>If a woman has twins, and one has the left ear larger than the
>right, then there will be a drought. The one is a scribal medical
>treatise, the other a scribal treatise on justice.

HH: But it seems that you may be too flippant. The scribes were not 
free to make up anything they wanted, and they would probably not 
want to do that. Especially if a law code were produced under the 
name of a king, the king would want to have laws that reflected 
reality. And if the pagans believed in their gods, which they 
apparently did, they would want to honor their gods with proper laws. 
Even the magical tablets reflect a complex set of regulations about 
reading livers and such practices. The scribes did not just write 
down whatever came to mind.

>No doubt in Israel many specific laws were developed
>>  that were not in the Mosaic code to begin with. But the OT revelation
>>  suggests that God intended Israel to live by the laws that He gave.
>>  Whatever the situation may have been in Mesopotamia, in Israel there
>>  was a real God at work. There was a true theocracy, and the laws
>>  provided specific legal guidance and expectations.
>Well, Harold, I admire your faith. My opinion is that Israel
>did not differ from her neighbors. To say the YHWH wanted the
>laws obeyed is no different to me than Ahura Mazda saying that
>he wanted his laws obeyed. It is different tho than the laws
>of Huammurabi. Those laws were not given by Shamash. They were
>simply there. This suggests a Persian setting for the OT laws,
>although the format if ... then is certainly Mesopotamian.

HH: One of the major teachings of the OT is that Yahweh is the one 
true God who created the world and that pagan gods are just lifeless 
idols. I believe that message. The OT shows Yahweh intimately 
involved with the national life of Israel, even on the level of 
individuals. It teaches that God Himself revealed the laws to Moses. 
So He would see whether they were being observed or not, and if they 
were not, then the curses of Deuteronomy 28 would fall on the nation 
and its individuals. So there was a great deal of incentive for 
judges to follow the laws.

				Harold Holmyard

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list