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By Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman

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Neither here nor in HL 55 is the particle of direct speech used for the decree. 2 Precedent and Custom There is some evidence that previous decisions were regarded as a source of law. In the epilogue to his law code, Hammurabi advises one who is wronged to consult the list of his “just judgments” on the stele so as to know his rights. Etiological narratives in the Hebrew Bible trace the origin of certain rules of law back to an earlier judgment in an individual case, which then became a rule of universal validity (Num.

8 Historiographical Documents A certain amount of legal material is to be gleaned from the monumental inscriptions in which kings recounted their exploits, some of which related to their legal activities. , the statue of Idrimi of Alalakh and the apologia of Hattusili III of Hatti), and of the historical books of the Hebrew Bible. The defect that these sources share is that they are tendentious literature, and the criterion of self-consciousness as regards the law needs to be applied. 9 Literature The rich storehouse of myth, legend, and wisdom from the literatures of the ancient Near Eastern civilizations also contains a good deal of legal material.

1 In private disputes, the plaintiff appears to have been responsible for securing his opponent’s appearance in court. Nonetheless, the court could summon a party to court, and at Nuzi there is even 24 Slaves do appear frequently in the Neo-Sumerian court records but only on the issue of their status—claiming freedom or being claimed as slaves. The Hittite Instructions to the Commander of the Border Guard order him, on his circuit through the towns under his command, to judge the lawsuits of male and female slaves and single women (iii 31–32).

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