To Kill and Take Possession: Law, Morality, and Society in Biblical Stories

Overview

The stories in the Bible present some of the most memorable approaches to justice ever described. In his fascinating book, To Kill and Take Possession, legal scholar Daniel Friedmann presents an innovative exploration of the legal, moral, and political aspects of some of the best-known and dramatic biblical tales.

From God's judgment on Adam and Eve, to David and Goliath's "Trial by Combat," to the issues of matrimony, adultery, and polygamy raised in the story of Abraham and ...

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Overview

The stories in the Bible present some of the most memorable approaches to justice ever described. In his fascinating book, To Kill and Take Possession, legal scholar Daniel Friedmann presents an innovative exploration of the legal, moral, and political aspects of some of the best-known and dramatic biblical tales.

From God's judgment on Adam and Eve, to David and Goliath's "Trial by Combat," to the issues of matrimony, adultery, and polygamy raised in the story of Abraham and Sarah, Friedmann presents compelling insights on a wide range of themes in biblical stories. The many issues he addresses include the transfer of trials from divine power to human beings; the status of women; marriage and divorce; maternity disputes; sterility and surrogate motherhood; mixed marriages; human sacrifice and the belief in its efficacy; the power and position of the monarchy and the succession to the throne; and the transformation in the role of the prophets.

Many of Friedmann's analyses include enlightening "Postscripts" and are accompanied by analogies to literary sources and to Greek and other mythologies, as well as subsequent historical events and current practices. In some cases he links biblical approaches to law to momentous judgments from the past fifty years, such as a legal dispute over ownership of Adolf Eichmann's diaries, and a 1968 trial in Israel that raised centuries-old issues of religious and political identity through the complex question of "Who is a Jew?"

A bestseller in Israel, now translated into English, To Kill and Take Possession reveals how ancient attitudes have had continuing relevance throughout history and up to the present--perhaps more than ever in today's litigious society.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Danielle Rubenstein Professor of Comparative Law at Tel-Aviv University, Friedmann gives readers a fascinating look at the legal implications of various stories from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and thereby makes two valuable contributions. First, his close reading of the biblical text offers new insights into the stories involved. Second, he summarizes the legal implications of each story and then presents their various applications throughout history. A fascinating demonstration of his approach is offered in his close examination of the story of David and Bathsheba and the account of Ahab and Jezebel's murder of Naboth for the purpose of confiscating his vineyard. After presenting his analysis of these stories, Friedmann discusses the inherent legal principles and shows how they have influenced subsequent legal understandings. He ends the chapter with a fascinating discussion of the death of Adolf Eichmann and the attendant issue of whether his heirs should make a profit from his diaries. This book is highly recommended for larger public and academic libraries as an intriguing, authoritative discussion of several biblical stories and the legal implications that flow from them.-David Bourquin, California State Univ., San Bernardino Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801046261
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2003
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Friedmann, a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, is Danielle Rubinstein Professor of Comparative Private Law and former dean of the Law School of Tel-Aviv University. In 1990 he became the founding dean of a new law school at the College of Management, a position he held until 1997. In addition to extensive publications in the legal field in Israel, the US, and England, Professor Friedmann has published many articles in Israeli newspapers on current topics. He received a number of prizes in law including the prestigious Israel Prize. He has been visiting professor at Harvard Law School, The University of Pennsylvania Law School, and Queen Mary College, The University of London.
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Table of Contents

Foreword
Timeline
Maps
Abbreviations and Notes on Abbreviations
Introduction: Bible Stories and the Biblical code 1
Pt. 1 Concepts of Legal and Moral Responsibility
1 From the Trial of Adam and Eve to the Judgments of Solomon and Daniel 9
Postscript: The Polygraph (The Lie Detector) 29
2 David and Goliath: Trial by Combat 32
3 Stories of Disguise 42
Postscript: Isaac's Benediction and the Issue of Its Manifestation 61
4 The Fruits of Deceit 62
Postscript: Speech, Vows, and Oaths 66
5 Samson Loses a Bet 69
6 To Kill and Take Possession 75
Postscript: The Diaries of Eichmann and the Modern Principle against Profiting from Wrong 107
7 A Godly Man Killed by a Lion 112
8 Saul Kills the Priests of Nob 128
9 Jephthah Sacrifices his Daughter 134
Postscript: Faust 141
Pt. 2 Kingdom, Crown, and Prophecy
10 The Rise of the House of David: The Problem of Legitimacy 145
11 Prophecy in Times of Upheavals 165
12 Jerusalem the Eternal Capital: Assyria's Contribution 189
13 Succession to the Throne 196
Postscript: The Maccabees 206
Pt. 3 Family and Matrimony
14 The Prohibition of Another Man's Wife 211
15 The Status of Women: Monogamy, Polygamy, and Surrogate Motherhood 218
Postscript: Rabbi Gershom's Ban 230
16 Infertility, Surrogacy, and Sperm Donation 232
17 Levirate Marriage and Incest 248
Postscript: Queen Shlomzion, John the Baptist, and Henry VIII 259
18 The Wives of the Father and of the King 265
19 The Divorce of Michal 274
20 Crimes in the Family: Rape, Murder, and Adultery 283
21 Death of a Bastard 293
22 The Expulsion of the Foreign Women: Ezra's Legal Revolution 298
Postscript: The Case of Major Benjamin Shalit 303
Conclusion 307
Index of Names and Subjects 311
Index of Ancient Sources 323
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