2017-09-06

Table Comparing Homicide Laws: Biblical, Mesopotamian and Greek

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

The table here is a simplified summary of some of the points Russell Gmirkin discusses in Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible. It is far from being a complete representation of his discussion. It is best read as an easy reference guide in conjunction with the detail covered in the book. The table is only a starting guide: it will be expanded and modified as the details of laws are further explored. I expect to do a few more similar tables for other types of laws. (Still putting on hold the discussion of the final chapter of Plato and the Creation of the Hebrew Bible as I backtrack to sections I covered too briefly earlier or inadvertently omitted altogether.)

ANE = Ancient Near Eastern laws

Greece/Plato = Laws as implemented in Athens and/or Laws presented as ideals by Plato in Laws

GORING OX Bible ANE Greece/Plato
Ox stoned X
Carcass not to be eaten X
Money compensation for loss
If ox kills a man after owner was warned and failed to act,
— money compensation
X
If ox kills a man after owner was warned and failed to act,
— owner executed
*
HOMICIDE Bible ANE Greece/Plato
A homeowner justified in killing a night burglar X  
Blood pollution of the land to be cleansed X
Kin to the victim required to prosecute the murderer  X
Kin to the victim required to carry out the punishment   X **
Asylum cities / temples for refuge X
Exile for unintentional homicide X
Execution by Burning X X
Execution by Drowning X X
Execution by Impalement X X
Execution by Beheading X X
Execution by Stoning X
State officials carry out the penalty X
Community carries out the penalty X

* owner tried for murder
** if the accused prematurely returned from exile

See also Plato and the Hebrew Bible: Homicide Laws

 

 

2 Comments

  • Bob Jase
    2017-09-06 20:21:24 UTC - 20:21 | Permalink

    Who knew oxen used to be so deadly? I’ve seen many an ox draw at a fair and they never attacked anyone.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2017-09-06 22:30:13 UTC - 22:30 | Permalink

      Mmm…. right, ox is probably not the best translation

      We find it has become standard, though, in translations in Roth’s Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor (2nd ed, 1997):

      Eshnunna’s

      #53 If an ox gores another ox and thus causes its death, the two ox-owners shall divide the value of the living ox and the carcass of the dead ox.

      #54 If an ox is a gorer and the ward authorities so notify its owner, but he fails to keep his ox in check and it gores a man and thus causes his death, the owner of the ox shall weigh and deliver 40 shekels of silver.

      #55 If it gores a slave and thus causes his death, he shall weigh and deliver 15 shekels of silver.

      And Hammurabi’s

      #250 If an ox gores to death a man while it is passing through the streets, that case has no basis for a claim,

      #251 If a man’s ox is a known gorer and the authorities of his city quarter notify him that it is a known gorer, but he does not blunt(?) its horns or control his ox, and that ox gores to death a member of the awtlu-class, he (the owner) shall give 30 shekels of silver,

      #252 If it is a man’s slave (who is fatally gored), he shall give 20 shekels of silver.

      Oxen knew how to be real oxen back in them days.

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