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

Lisbeth S. Fried lizfried at umich.edu
Fri May 28 12:38:48 EDT 2004

> -----Original Message-----
> From: b-hebrew-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org [mailto:b-hebrew-
> bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Harold R. Holmyard III
> Sent: Friday, May 28, 2004 12:04 PM
> To: b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org
> Subject: RE: [b-hebrew] Isaiah 53 read within the book as a whole
> 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.

This is the point actually. Customs change, but the law codes
are not updated to account for them. Hammurabi's code, or the stele,
was published in his last year. Immediately afterwards his son
issued an edict regarding nadittu women that contradicted the
code. The edict became law, the code was never revised. It continued
to be copied into the Seleucid period, for almost 1500 years
> 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
> societies.
Yes, I would agree. I also do that. The lists are instances
of what was considered just and righteous behavior. However,
the actual court cases did not relate. HC code says that if a
person steels money from another person's house, then he is
lashed (I think, I should check this). However, we have one
court case where PN1 tunneled into PN2's home and stole stuff.
PN1 was then made a slave of PN2. No lashes, and the code
said nothing about becoming a slave.
> >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. 
But they didn't. And why do you think the kings could read?

And if the pagans believed in their gods, which they
> apparently did, 
What a question! 

>they would want to honor their gods with proper laws.

Yes, that is exactly the purpose of HC, to prove to the
gods that Hammurabi was a just king, that he valued justice.
But no specific laws. There is not even an Akkadian word
for it. kinatu, means right behavior, truth, justice. 
No where do you have a court case which states "according
to law XYZ."

> 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, nor did they with the decisions. But I wasn't being
flippant with the case of twins, since similar ones are
cited. Also, cases of a woman having six at once. The
scribes didn't actually see a woman give birth to six
or many of the other anomalies they cite, they still
incorporate it in their treatise on medicine. These are
legal treatises on justice.  
> >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.
Dear Harold,
The Persians believed this about Ahura Mazda, the Babylonians
about Shamash, the Egyptians about Re, etc. All the gods were
interested in justice.
Liz Fried

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list