Patriarchial Institutions: A Study of the Social Institutions in the Patriarchal Period in the Light of Cuneiform Sources

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Cultural History
History of Religion
Islamic World and Near East History
Jewish Studies
Political History
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Neiman, David

In studying the social institutions of the age of the Patriarchs as they are reflected in the narratives in Genesis, it has been found that the closest analogies between the system of laws, mores, and institutions that the Patriarchs lived by, can be found in the institutions of the community of Northeastern Mesopotamia that centers around Nuzu, as reflected in the many tablets found in that area. The Nuzu documents contain thousands of cases that can be paralleled by events in the lives of the Patriarchs as we know them from the Biblical narrative. Many of the laws found in the other Mesopotamian lawcodes, the codes of Hammurabi, Eshnunna, Lipit-Istar, Assyria, and the Hittites, show similarities in many instances of the laws of the Bible as well as to institutions of the Patriarchal Period. But in none of these codes and systems do we find the almost complete identity that is found between the Nuzu laws as illuminated by the contracts and other documents found there, and the laws by which the Patriarchs lived, as depicted by the narratives in Genesis.

Cyrus H. Gordon
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Library at the Katz Center - Archives Room Manuscript. BS573 .N45 1955.
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