Studies in the Aramaic Legal Papyri from Elephantine

Overview

Long recognized as a brilliant cross-cultural study, Yochanan Muffs’ work analyzes the legal formulary of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine, at the first cataract of the Nile, where a Persian garrison comprised of Jewish soldiers and their families lived throughout most of the 5th century B.C.E. These documents are of exceptional importance for the study of ancient Near Eastern law, and Muffs has investigated their formative background through extensive references to cuneiform law, by a method he calls “the ...

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Overview

Long recognized as a brilliant cross-cultural study, Yochanan Muffs’ work analyzes the legal formulary of the Aramaic papyri from Elephantine, at the first cataract of the Nile, where a Persian garrison comprised of Jewish soldiers and their families lived throughout most of the 5th century B.C.E. These documents are of exceptional importance for the study of ancient Near Eastern law, and Muffs has investigated their formative background through extensive references to cuneiform law, by a method he calls “the Assyriological approach”. Virtually every aspect of law-sale of land, marriage and family law, loans and credit, the taking of oaths, and the granting of bequests is studied in great depth and with unusual clarity. Muffs’ work has enjoyed renewed interest in the light of more recent discoveries of Aramaic legal documents from later periods, as in the Judean Desert.

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Meet the Author

Yochanan Muffs, Ph.D. (1963) in Oriental Studies, University of Pennsylvania is Emeritus, Seminary Professor of Bible, Jewish Theological Seminary. His publications include Love and Joy: Law, Language and Religion in Ancient Israel (1992).
Baruch A. Levine, Ph.D. (1962) in Mediterranean Studies, Brandeis University is Skirball Professor, Emeritus of Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, New York University. His recent publications include Anchor Bible Commentary, Numbers, 2 vols. (1990, 2000) and The Documents from the Bar Kochba Period in the Cave of Letters (with Ada Yardeni), 2002.
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Table of Contents

Prolegomenon
Reference Bibliography
Acknowledgements
I Introduction 1
1 The Discovery of the Papyri 1
2 The Legal Documents 3
3 General Subject of This Study: Aramaic Business Law 16
4 Specific Object of This Study: Investigation of tyb lbby 27
II Terms of Satisfaction in Conveyance 30
1 The Texts 30
2 The Interpretation of the Texts 40
III Tyb lbby in Contexts other than Conveyance 51
1 The Texts 51
2 The Explanation of the Texts 52
IV Libbasu Tab 63
1 Libbasu tab in Deeds of Sale: A Preliminary Investigation 63
2 The Explication of the Various Aspects of the Term on the Basis of Its Grammatical Alloforms and Complements 69
3 The Quittance Use of libbasu tab Outside of Conveyance 77
4 libbasu tab in Borrowed Legal Forms 86
5 The Origins of the Term libbasu tab 90
V Semantic Equivalents and Contrasts 116
1 The Isoglosses of libbasu tab 116
2 Contrasting Terms and Clauses 128
VI The Egyptian Analogues of tyb lbby 142
1 Pre-Saitic Analogues to tyb lbby 142
2 An Abnormal Hieratic Analogue 148
3 The Demotic Analogues of tyb lbby 150
VII Conclusion 173
1 The Coordination of the Akkadian, Aramaic, and Demotic Terms 173
2 The Origins of Aramaic Common Law Formularies 179
Addenda et Corrigenda 195
Bibliography and Abbreviations 209
Glossaries 226
Sources 245
Indices 256
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