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Inventing God's LawHow the Covenant Code of the Bible Used and Revised the Laws of Hammurabi$
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David P. Wright

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304756

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304756.001.0001

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The Goring Ox and Negligence (Exodus 21:28–36)

The Goring Ox and Negligence (Exodus 21:28–36)

(p.205) 8 The Goring Ox and Negligence (Exodus 21:28–36)
Inventing God's Law

David P. Wright (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the famous goring ox laws in the Covenant Code (Exodus 21:28–32, 35–36) and Hammurabi's Laws. It shows that the Covenant Code's revisions are part of its larger systematic revision of homicide and injury laws, as examined in Chapter 6. The Covenant Code used a law from another cuneiform source (similar to Eshnunna Law 53) to create vv. 35–36 about an ox goring an ox, and then made revision in the laws in vv. 28–32 about an ox goring a human. The requirement to stone the goring ox is part of this systematic revision and seeks to provide the victim's kin with a mechanism to vent their need for vengeance. The chapter also examines the negligence laws of vv. 33–34, showing how they either derive from a conceptual revision of Hammurabi's legislation or are based on an unknown cuneiform source.

Keywords:   goring ox, vicarious punishment, stoning, negligence

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