Utopia as Socio-Economic Critique in Leviticus 25::25-55

Katherine Gwyther, SIIBS, University of Sheffield

Utopia as a concept evades standardised definition across the multiple disciplines it features in. On the one hand, utopia is an ideology that functions as a means of maintaining the status quo. On the other, it is an ‘ideological critique of ideology’.[1] Despite its complex nature warranting careful consideration, biblical scholars have haphazardly used the term to describe the laws of the Jubilee Year in Leviticus 25: 25-55. For example, Erhard S. Gerstenberger argues that the laws prohibiting usury demonstrate an ‘empty utopia’ as the laws are left unpractised.[2] In a similar fashion Roland de Vaux describes the Jubilee Year as a ‘dead letter’ and ‘utopian’.[3] Raymond Westbrook dismisses the Jubilee Year and calls it a utopia in reference to its impracticality.[4] Even while arguing for the historicity of the Jubilee Year, Jacob Milgrom uses the language of utopia.[5] Despite these discussions about the utopian nature of the Jubilee Year and Leviticus 25::25-55, biblical scholars fail to define their understanding of the term. In this paper, I will address this to argue that in defining the utopia in Leviticus 25:25-55 biblical scholars can gain insight into the post-exilic context of the text.[6] I begin with a definition of utopia that is principally based on literary definitions; Leviticus is first and foremost a literary text, the descriptions of institutions and practices in the text are therefore literary and must be treated as such.[7] Using my definition, I argue that Leviticus 25:25-55 and the Jubilee Year can be understood as utopian. Finally, I demonstrate that this utopia in the form of the Jubilee Year may be understood as a reaction to the socio-economic context of post-exilic Judean society.

Leviticus 25:25-55 in Context

The book of Leviticus is the third book of the Pentateuch and Hebrew Bible. As a whole, Leviticus is concerned with issues of ritual, sacrificial worship, impurity and cleanliness. Leviticus 25:25-55 begins with the order of the sabbatical year where the land will rest on a cycle of seven years. It then announces the Jubilee Year in verses 23 to 55. The Jubilee Year is the year at the end of seven cycles of  sabbatical years. It is also called the ‘year of release’, as property and slaves are to be released alongside slaves in this fiftieth year.  Following the announcement of the Jubilee Year, the right of redemption is introduced and given to the fellow Israelite. If the right of redemption fails, the Jubilee Year serves as a security measure. The rationale for the Jubilee Year and the Israelite’s right of redemption is that the Israelite god, YHWH, perpetually owns the land.

As a literary unit, Leviticus 25:25-55 is part of the Holiness Code. The Holiness Code is part of the Priestly Source which accounts for a significant portion of the Pentateuch. The Holiness Code is preoccupied with the holiness of YHWH, and subsequently the Israelites; this is best shown by the refrain ’You shall be holy for I the LORD your God am holy’.[8] Dating the Holiness Code is difficult as there is still no consensus within scholarship. Some see the text as a product of a later, exilic to post-exilic date (c.  sixth to fourth centuries BCE).[9] On the other hand, Gordon Wenham and Milgrom argue for an earlier, pre-exilic dating.[10] While a more substantive engagement with the debate is needed, it is not possible within the scope of this paper. Instead, I acknowledge that the Jubilee Year may have had antecedents in the pre-exilic period, but that the current form of the text is a product of the post-exilic period.[11]

The post-exilic period was a time of turbulence as the Babylonian conquest and exile of the Judeans in the sixth century BCE led to the disintegration of the state and community of Judah. Even after the defeat of the Babylonian Empire by the Persians, the shadow of empire persisted. The Persian Empire’s reign over Judah began in 539 BCE with Cyrus the Great, and Judah was officially integrated as a province.[12] During this time the bulk of the population lived on a subsistence economy that relied on agriculture and livestock, with a focus on oil, wine, and grain.[13] However, to pay taxes and to barter for seed and more luxury items, a surplus production of agricultural goods would be needed. A subsistence agricultural economy was especially susceptible to natural disasters and the whims of political rule. If there was ever a change in weather or an unfavourable season, a bad crop could result in destitution. In this case, the individual would turn to debt-slavery, sell their land, and take out loans.[14] A similar situation could occur if there was an unexpected change in taxes, and given the ruthless Persian taxing system already in place it would not be surprising.[15] The socio-economic situation of the majority of the population in the Persian period was a fickle one that could be damaged with a simple change in weather or increase in taxes. Understanding this socio-economic context of Leviticus 25::25-55 is important for the forthcoming discussion of the text as utopia and critique.

What is Utopia?

Returning to Leviticus 25:25-55 and the Jubilee Year, this section will set out a definition of utopia. Thomas More coined the term ‘Utopia’ as a name for the fictional island in his work of the same name. Utopia is a play on two Greek words: outopia, meaning no-place, and eutopia, meaning good-place. It is from this root that the understanding of utopia as an ideal and better but non-existent society comes from. However, More’s definition, and the formal recognition of the genre in the nineteenth century, are not the origins of the literary genre. Ideas of utopia have been the inspiration of writers throughout the centuries and the earliest known pieces of utopian literature are Sumerian tablets from  2000 BCE.[16] As a result of the ideal and better nature of utopia, utopian literature invites readers to defamiliarise themselves with their current society and question their present reality.[17] In setting out a better alternative, the reader is left to reflect on the flaws and limitations of their present. Utopia invites the reconsideration of what is ‘normal’ and expected, highlighting the importance of the organisational structure of utopias, and the described structure is the most fundamental part of utopia.[18] It allows the audience to consider directly their own reality against this alternative, and fundamentally question their own existence within their current circumstances. Rather than maintain the status quo, utopian literature is a call to challenge the way things are in light of how they could be. Moreover, the organisational structure of utopia helps to conceptualise the world that could be. As Aldous Huxley notes, ‘a book about the future can only interest us only if its prophecies look as though they might conceivably come true’.[19] Rather than presenting the fantastic, the impact of utopian literature comes from presenting the conceivable. Fundamentally, these pieces of utopian literature come from a desire for a better way of being.[20] Utopia is a way for the community to articulate the collective needs of the community and to hope for something better.[21]

Utopia may be summarised, then, as a description of a non-existent society that is shown to be conceivable. Utopia must present a better, but not necessarily perfect, model for society that stems from the desire of the author(s) and their community. This understanding of utopia is particularly broad as it opens the field of study by having one essential feature that is not based on content, form, or function. If defining utopias is restricted to frameworks developed from the ‘post-Morean’ understandings of utopia, then utopias that do not conform to these primarily Western understandings, like the biblical texts, are not counted and their utopian elements left unexplored. There have been multiple attempts at categorisation with varying degrees of success but there is still little clarity as to an absolute definition. Lyman Tower Sargent credits this lack of clarity in part to an attempt to categorise a multi-dimensional phenomenon with only a single dimension, as literary utopias have often been conflated with other forms, reducing them in the process.[22] The definition offered in this paper is a synthesis of key scholars within literary utopian scholarship but is not the only one.

Leviticus 25:25-55 as Utopian

Considering this definition of utopia, I will argue that the text presents an ideal but non-existent society, before moving to address how it is framed as a conceivable reality, and finally address how it expresses the desires of the authorial community.

The ideal nature of the Jubilee Year can be clearly seen when set against the known socio-economic context. As previously stated, the Persian period’s taxation, subsistence economy, and weather dependency often led to debt, loans, and land loss. However, in the Jubilee Year this reality of permanent debt-slavery, slavery, land loss, and high-interest loans is absent. Instead, the text presents an institution that releases all debts and land, as well as imposing a ban on usury. As the ultimate owner of the land in the Jubilee Year is YHWH, who gives it to the Israelites, it is not able to be permanently taken away or sold. Debt-slavery is also seemingly eradicated in the Jubilee Year, as the Israelites are to be treated as ‘hired workers’ rather than slaves, and released in the Jubilee Year.[23] In comparison to the permanent slavery in reality, the Jubilee Year does offer an ideal alternative reality, a utopia with its temporary service.

Building on this ideal nature, there is limited evidence for the Jubilee Year as an established historical institution. Though care should be taken when considering the Hebrew Bible as a historical document, it would stand to reason that if the Jubilee Year was a practiced institution there would be substantial mention of it in the biblical texts. Yet there is suspiciously no mention of it even in circumstances where it would be the model response. For example, Nehemiah 5:1-7 concerns economic injustice, specifically usury; the Jubilee Year addresses these concerns.[24] Nehemiah, however, constructs his own response: ‘Moreover I and my brother and my servants are lending them money and grain. Let us stop this taking of interest’.[25] If the Jubilee Year was an institution in the post-exilic period, with potential antecedents in the pre-exilic period, and Nehemiah is a post-exilic text, then it is curious that there is no mention of it.

Moreover, there is a lack of historical support for the Jubilee Year.         Lisbeth S. Fried and David N. Freedman argue that there are instances of the Jubilee Year, albeit in the pre-exilic period, as fifty-years elapse between the release of the slaves by Zedekiah in 588 BCE (only ten years after his succession to the throne in c. 598 BCE) and Cyrus of Babylon’s accession in 538/537 BCE.[26] However, they do not consider the possibility that these releases may, in fact, be mesharum acts. In the ancient Near East, kings commonly ordered mesharum acts within the early years of their reign. These acts are emergency economic or ‘good grace’ measure that offer debt relief and general release and redemption across the kingdom.[27] As these releases occur at the beginning of the reigns of Hezekiah and Cyrus, it is likely that they are actually mesharum acts rather than proof of the Jubilee Year in action. At best, what can be said is that this is suggestive of the Jubilee Year. This argument is not enough to demonstrate the historicity of the Jubilee Year, especially as Fried and Freedman have trouble extending it past these two instances.

The conceivability of the Jubilee Year comes from its use of law codes. Law codes were a popular form of legal literature in the ancient Near East and formed part of its shared ‘legal ontology’.[28] The biblical law codes are reflective of this legal culture with the antecedents of Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy to be found in the Laws of Hammurabi and the Middle Assyrian Laws.[29] As laws given by the authoritative figure of Moses acting on behalf of YHWH, Leviticus 25:25-55 presents  the Jubilee Year as an institution that is to be actualised and followed as part of the rules, norms and expectations of a society.[30] This point is furthered with reference to the punishments for disobedience where YHWH ‘will bring terror’ if the Israelites do not follow these laws.[31] It is clear these laws were meant to give the impression that they were to be practiced. Utopia can be achieved by following these laws as they were intended to be.

The laws also express the desires of a community. At their core, laws are social constructions that reflect the views and thoughts of a particular society.[32] Laws are bound up with the way that society operates, how its constituents think, and their social codes. Law is ultimately the expression of ideal social harmony: legal rights are given to the correct social groups so that society may function efficiently and well.[33] These laws also represent reflections and expressions of the desires of the community that created them.[34]

Leviticus 25:25-55, therefore, presents a literary utopia. It is non-existent and ideal, provides the means for implementation by assuming the form of law and uses law codes as a vehicle for the expression of the desires of a community. I now move to consider the reasons for presenting Leviticus 25:25-55 and the Jubilee Year as utopian.

Utopia as Socio-Economic Critique

Firstly, utopias are inherently critical of the society they arise from as they propose a necessarily ideal society which in turn suggest that the current is not adequate. This is emphasised in Leviticus 25:25-55 with the Jubilee Year, where a utopia is not only proposed but it is done so using the language of the current society. Law codes were part of the legal culture of the ancient Near East and widely used by empires. In proposing a better, alternative reality using the language of the current regime, it legitimates this utopia as the right one, undercutting and critiquing the present. It is not the Persians who provide help for issues of debt-slavery, loans, and land loss, but YHWH who presents a fairer reality for the individual Israelite farmer.

Leviticus 25::25-55 presents further criticism in making a distinction between who this utopia applies to. The Jubilee Year does not extend to those who live in the city in the same way it does to those who live in the country. In verse 28 the land of the countryside is eternally redeemable by kin and its return at the Jubilee is emphasised: ‘[i]n the Jubilee it shall be released, and the property shall be returned’. In verse 30 the countryside ideal is immediately contrasted to the fate of those in city dwellings: ‘If it be not redeemed before a full year… it shall not be released in the Jubilee’. Rather than the eternal redemption and release in the Jubilee Year that the land and property in the countryside is afforded, the city dwelling has a limited redemption period and cannot be released in the Jubilee. There is a clear distinction in the application of the Jubilee Year, and this distinction functions as critique. According to Norman K. Gottwald’s model of class distinction, the city stands for urbanism and for the political administration. The city becomes associated with the ruling elite.[35] The countryside, on the other hand, is looked upon more favourably and is a symbol of the pastoral, as well as kin relations that are based on equality.[36] It is placed in opposition to the city. As previously stated, the population of Judah during the post-exilic period was mainly made up of an agricultural economy which  focused on subsistence and was threatened by measures of taxation. Taxation came out of the political administrative centres of the Persian empire which were based in cities such as Jerusalem.[37] As taxation was associated with cities and typically led to the land loss, debt-slavery, and high interest loans that the Jubilee Year was protecting against, it is unsurprising that they are not included in the utopian principle. This argument for criticism may be furthered when considering the wider theology of the Holiness Code. The Jubilee Year is holy as it is a law and institution given by YHWH. Those who are in the cities are not holy as they are not included in the Jubilee Year nor granted the right of eternal redemption. The producers of the text have created an ideal world and alternative to the precarity of reality, in order to criticise it by making distinctions between who is included in this utopian principle and who is not.

Conclusion

To summarise, in this paper I have defined utopia as a description of a non-existent society that is shown to be conceivable. Utopia presents a better, but not necessarily perfect, model for society that stems from the desire of the author(s) and their community. This understanding of utopia is particularly broad as it opens the field of study by having one essential feature that is not based on content, form, or function.  I then demonstrated that utopia can be seen in Leviticus 25:25-55 and the law of the Jubilee Year according to this definition. I have argued that this law is presented as utopian to critique the socio-economic reality of post-exilic Judah. By building on the brief comments on the utopian nature of Leviticus 25:25-55 made by Westbrook, De Vaux, Gertsenberger, and Milgrom, I have demonstrated that a utopian approach can provide a rich insight into the biblical texts.

 

Bibliography

Budd, Phillip J., Leviticus (London: Marshall Pickering, 1996)

Carr, David and Colleen M. Conway, An Introduction to the Bible: Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

Chirichingo, Gregory C., Debt-Slavery in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993)

Clements, R. E.,  The World of Ancient Israel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Deist, Ferdinand E., The Material Culture of the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000)

Dietz, Frank, ‘Utopian Re-visions of German History: Carl Amery’s An den Feuren der Leyermark and Stefan Heym’s Schwarzenberg’, Extrap, 31 (1990), 24 – 35

Fager, Jeffrey A., Land Tenure and the Biblical Jubilee: Uncovering Hebrew Ethics through the Sociology of Knowledge (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993)

Fitting, Peter, ‘A Short History of Utopian Studies’, Science Fiction Studies, 36 (2009), 121 – 31

Fitzpatrick-McKinley, Anne, The Transformation of Torah from Scribal Advice to Law (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999)

Gertsenberger, Erhard S., Leviticus (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993)

– – Israel in the Persian Period: The Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C.E., translated by Siegfried S. Schatzmann (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2011)

Goody, Jack, The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986)

Gottwald, Norman K., Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250-1050 BCE (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999)

Huxley, Aldous, Brave New World (London: Vintage Books, 2001)

Jackson, Bernard S., ‘Ideas of Law and Legal Administration: A Semiotic Approach’, in The World of Ancient Israel, ed. by R. E. Clements (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 185 – 202

Jameson, Fredric, ‘The Politics of Utopia’, New Left Review, 25 (2004), 35 – 54

Knight, Douglas A., Law, Power, and Justice in Ancient Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011)

Knohl, Israel, The Sanctuary of Silence (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995)

Lafont, Sophie, ‘Middle Assyrian Period,’ in A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, ed. by Raymond Westbrook (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2003), pp. 521 – 64

Levitas, Ruth, The Concept of Utopia (Hemel Hempsted: Phillip Allan, 1990)

Marin, Louis, ‘The Frontiers of Utopia,’ in Utopias and the Millenium, ed. by K. Kumar and S. Bann (London: Reaktion Books, 1993), pp. 7 – 17

Meyer, Esias E., ‘People and Land in the Holiness Code: Who is YHWH’s Favourite?’, OTE, 28 (2015), 433 – 50

Milgrom, Jacob, Leviticus 17-22 (New York: Doubleday, 2000)

– –  Leviticus 23-27 (New York: Doubleday, 2000)

Nihan, Christophe, From Priestly Torah to Pentatuech (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007)

Otto, Eckhart, ‘The Holiness Code in Diachroncy and Synchrony in the Legal Hermeneutics of the Pentateuch,’ in The Strata of the Priestly Writings: Contemporary Debate and Future Directions, ed. by Sarah Shectman and Joel S. Baden (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2009), pp. 135-56

Sargent, Lyman Tower, Utopianism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

– – ‘The Three Faces of Utopianism Revisited,’ Utopian Studies, 5 (1994), pp. 1 – 37

Schweitzer, Steven, Reading Utopia in Chronicles (London and New York: T & T Clark, 2007)

Shectman, Sarah and Joel S. Baden, The Strata of the Priestly Writings: Contemporary Debate and Future Directions (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2009)

de Vaux, Roland, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1997)

Watts, James W., Ritual and Rhetoric in Leviticus (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007)

Wenham, Gordon J., The Book of Leviticus (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1979)

Westbrook, Raymond, A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2003)

– – ‘The Character of Ancient Near Eastern Law’, in A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, ed. by Raymond Westbrook (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2003), pp. 1 – 93

– – ‘Old Babylonian Period’, in A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, ed. by Raymond Westbrook (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2003), pp. 361 – 430

 

Notes

[1] Louis Marin, ‘The Frontiers of Utopia,’ in Utopias and the Millenium, ed. by K. Kumar and S. Bann (London: Reaktion Books, 1993), pp. 7 – 17 (p. 11).

[2] Erhard S. Gertsenberger, Leviticus (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), p. 387.

[3] Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions (Michigan: Eerdmans, 1997), p. 177.

[4] Raymond Westbrook, ‘The Character of Ancient Near Eastern Law’, in A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, ed. by Raymond Westbrook (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2003), pp. 1 – 93 (p. 16 FN 13).

[5] Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 23-27 (New York: Doubleday, 2000), p. 2244; James W. Watts, Ritual and Rhetoric in Leviticus, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), p. 4.

[6] ‘Post-exilic’ and ‘pre-exilic’ are terms used throughout this paper to designate two broad chronological periods in the history of ancient Israel and Judah:re-exilic refers to the time before the Babylonian exile c. 597 BCE and Post-exilic refers to the period after the end of Babylonian captivity which began c. 539 BCE when Cyrus the Great conquered Babylon.

[7] Watts,  p. 29

[8] Lev. 19:2; 20:7; 21:8; Israel Knohl, The Sanctuary of Silence (Minneapolis, 1995), p. 2.:

[9] Budd,  p. 9; David M. Carr and Colleen M. Conway, An Introduction to The Bible: Sacred Texts and Imperial Contexts (Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), p. 172.

[10] Wenham Gordon J., The Book of Leviticus (London: Doubleday, 1979), pp. 12-13; Milgrom, Leviticus 17-22, pp. 1361-1364.

[11] Eckhart Otto, ‘The Holiness Code in Diachrony and Synchrony in the Legal Hermeneutics of the Pentateuch’, in The Strata of the Priestly Writings: Contemporary Debate and Future Directions, ed. by Sarah Shectman and Joel S. Baden (Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich 2009), p. 149; Christophe Nihan, From Priestly Torah to Pentateuch (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007), p. 619; Esias E. Meyer, ‘People and Land in the Holiness Code: Who is YHWH’s Favourite?’ OTE, 28 (2015), pp. 433 – 450, p. 435.

[12] Erhard S. Gertsenberger, Israel in the Persian Period: The Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C.E., trans.by Siegfried S. Schatzmann (Atlanta, SBL Press , 2011), p. 113.

[13] Ibid. p. 111.

[14] Gregory C. Chirichingo, Debt-Slavery in Israel and the Ancient Near East (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), p. 128; Ferdinand E. Deist, The Material Culture of the Bible (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), p. 178.

[15] Gertsenberger, Israel in the Persian Period, p. 113.

[16] Lyman Tower Sargent, Utopianism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 4; Peter Fitting, ‘A Short History of Utopian Studies, Science Fiction Studies, 36 (2009),  121–131, (p. 121). Plato’s Republic and Laws, Al- Farabi’s The Virtuous City, Zeno of Citium’s The Republic, and Euhemerous’ Sacred History are all examples of pre-Morean utopias.

[17] Frank Dietz, ‘Utopian Re-visions of German History: Carl Amery’s An den Feuren der Leyermark and Stefan Heym’s Schwarzenberg,’, Extrap, 31 (1990), 24–35, (p. 33).

[18] Fredric Jameson, ‘The Politics of Utopia’, New Left Review 25 (2004), 35–54, (p. 40).

[19] Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (London: Vintage Books, 2001), p. xliv.

[20] Ruth Levitas, The Concept of Utopia (Hemel Hempsted: Phillip Allan, 1990), p. 191.

[21] Ibid, pp. 181–183.

[22] Lyman Tower Sargent, ‘The Three Faces of Utopianism Revisited’, Utopian Studies, 5 (1994), 1 – 37, (p. 3).

[23] Lev:25, 40

[24] Lev:25, 37

[25] Neh. 5 10; Jeffrey A. Fager, Land Tenure and the Biblical Jubilee: Uncovering Hebrew Ethics through the Sociology of Knowledge (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), p. 34.

[26] Lisbeth S. Fried and David N. Freedman quoted in Milgrom, 23-27, p. 2269.

[27]  Bernard S. Jackson, ‘Ideas of Law and Legal Administration: A Semiotic Approach’, in The World of Ancient Israel, ed. by R. E. Clements (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 185 – 202 (p. 185).

[28] Westbrook, 2003, p. 8.

[29]  Raymond Westbrook, ‘Old Babylonian Period’, in A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, ed. By Raymond Westbrook (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2003), pp. 361 – 430 (p. 361); Sophie Lafont, ‘Middle Assyrian Period’, in A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law, ed. by Raymond Westbrook (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2003), pp. 521 – 64 (p. 521).

[30] Douglas A. Knight outlines four characteristics of a law in the ancient Near East: it must be given by an authoritative body, be precedent setting, define a reciprocal relationship, and must state punishment for failure to comply. The law of the Jubilee Year is given by Moses on behalf of YHWH, intended to be ‘an eternal law throughout your generations’, defines a reciprocal relationship based on kinship, and presents punishments in Leviticus 26 (Douglas A. Knight, Law, Power, and Justice in Ancient Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011), p. 36; Knohl, Sanctuary, p. 46).

[31] Lev. 26. 16.

[32] Knight,  p. 63.

[33] Ibid., p. 50.

[34] The relationship between law codes and actual legal practice in the ancient Near East is disputed. Jack Goody argues that law codes did not have an immediate effect on social norms or legal practice, such effects were the result of a long and complex process. There is also no evidence that law codes had authority in courts and legal practices; actually, there is evidence to show the contrary. Old Babylonian court records indicate that there was no expectation that law codes could be applied in the same way that is expected today. If the biblical law codes took inspiration from ancient Near Eastern practice and were part of the same legal culture then it is likely that they have a similar relation to reality. Anne Fitzpatrick-McKinley supports this claim, arguing that though it is likely that there must have been formal ways of settling disputes in ancient Israel, the assumption that law codes formed the main basis of this is misguided. (Jack Goody, The Logic of Writing and the Organization of Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), p. 136; Jackson, ‘Ideas of Law’, p. 186; Anne Fitzpatrick-McKinley, The Transformation of Torah from Scribal Advice to Law (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999), p. 12, 15).

[35] Norman K. Gottwald, Tribes of Yahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel, 1250-1050 BCE (Sheffield: Sheffield Adademic Press, 1999), p. 462.

[36] Gottwald, Tribes, p. 462.

[37] Gertsenberger, Israel in the Persian Period, p. 108.

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