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Violence and Personhood in Ancient Israel and Comparative Contexts$
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T. M. Lemos

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198784531

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198784531.001.0001

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Crushing the Insubmissive

Crushing the Insubmissive

Violence and the Personhood of Foreigners in Ancient Israel and the Ancient Near East

(p.28) 2 Crushing the Insubmissive
Violence and Personhood in Ancient Israel and Comparative Contexts

T. M. Lemos

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that violence was sometimes used to erase the personhood of foreigners not only in ancient Israel but in the wider ancient Near East. The discussion begins with an assessment of whether foreigners were considered to be legal and social persons, treating evidence from biblical texts, legal collections, royal inscriptions, treaty texts, reliefs, and other sources. The evidence found in these sources is mixed. While legal and social agency is often ascribed to foreigners, non-native individuals are frequently compared to animals and portrayed as being the victims of ritualized violence in ancient West Asian, ancient Egyptian, and ancient Israelite materials. The chapter contends that foreigners were persons but that their personhood was subject to erasure in warfare and in cases of transgression. Nonetheless, the categories of native and foreign were less central to how most violence was performed than were conceptions of masculinized domination and subordination.

Keywords:   violence, self and identity, ethnicity, masculinity, ritual, ancient Near Eastern law, biblical law, torture

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