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ANE Laws

A Woman Who Seizes a Man’s Testicles During a Fight, Her Hand Is Cut Off

A wife who intervenes in a fight to save her husband by grabbing his opponent’s testicles is punished by having her hand cut off (Deut 25:11–12). What is the nature of her offense? Why isn’t her intent to save her husband a mitigating factor? What is the relationship between the punishment and the crime?

Dr.

Hilary Lipka

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The Subverted City (Ir Hannidahat) in the Context of ANE Vassal Treaties

Deuteronomy’s requirement to destroy a city whose inhabitants worship another god and to leave it as an eternally desolate mound, can be understood in the context of ancient Near Eastern vassal treaties. Specifically, Hittite texts describe how kings dealt with rebellious vassal cities, by destroying them utterly and dedicating their land to the gods.

Prof.

Ada Taggar-Cohen

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Asham of False Oaths: Why Does the Offender Confess?

Drawing on biblical and ancient Near Eastern evidence about the consequences of swearing falsely, I suggest a new understanding of the asham case (Lev 5:20-26) involving property violation and a subsequent false oath.

Dr.

Yael Landman

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Deathblows to a Pregnant Woman – What Restitution Was Required?

The requirement of a “life for a life,” recalling the lex talionis, is provided when a man accidentally kills a pregnant woman in a brawl. While this consequence is generally explained as capital punishment or monetary repayment, its legal formulation in the Covenant Collection is suggestive of live, human, substitution.

Dr.

Sandra Jacobs

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Which Relatives Are You Prohibited from Marrying?

Leviticus’ list of conjugally-forbidden relations was extensive for its time. While the Karaites expanded the list greatly, the rabbis did so only slightly, leaving modern-day rabbinic Judaism with more relatives permitted for marriage than most western societies.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Does God’s Property Belong to the Priesthood? Hittite Versus Biblical Law

Leviticus allows priests and their families to enjoy the donations and sacrifices to YHWH. This differs from Hittite practice of forbidding priests access to holy objects outside of limited ritual contexts. What is the reason for the difference between theses two priestly systems?

Prof.

Ada Taggar-Cohen

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Why the Torah Prohibits Incest

Although incest taboos are found in the majority of cultures, medieval Jewish thinkers found this to be an insufficient explanation for the Torah’s prohibitions. 

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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The Jubilee Law: Ideal Legislation

An attempt to control the disparity between the rich and the poor and create a righteous society

Prof.

Yairah Amit

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The Law of the Goring Ox: Is It Neutered?

The word שור in Hebrew can refer to an ox or a bull, but which animal is the protagonist of the celebrated law of שור נגח, “the goring bovine”? 

Dr.

Elaine Goodfriend

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Tzaraat in Light of Its Mesopotamian Parallels

Notwithstanding its lengthy coverage of tzaraat (צרעת, biblical “leprosy”), why does the Torah omit discussion of its cause (sin?), its infectiousness, and its treatment? Comparison to the Mesopotamian rituals pertaining to a strikingly similar disease (Saḫaršubbû) shows that these omissions were far from accidental.

Dr.

Yitzhaq Feder

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Sexual Prohibitions in the Bible and the ANE: A Comparison

How do the laws of Leviticus 18 compare to the laws and practices of the Babylonians, Hittites, and Egyptians, and to the rest of the Bible?

Dr.

Eve Levavi Feinstein

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