By Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman
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Additional resources for A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (Handbook of Oriental Studies; Handbuch der Orientalistik)
The king likewise may be referred to as the owner of his state’s territory, but his ownership likewise tends to be political or residual, although kings did own large estates in their own right. 2 The king’s right to rule, his legitimacy, derived from two competing sources: selection by the gods and dynastic succession. The ﬁrst is exempliﬁed by the Sumerian king Gudea’s boast that the god had chosen him from among 216,000 people; the second by the Hittite king Telipinu’s constitutional edict regulating the hereditary order of succession to the throne.
26). 3 “The judges” seem to be diﬀerent from the oﬃcial- or council-based courts but remain shadowy ﬁgures in the sources. At all periods, it is a matter of debate whether the term designated a profession or merely a function. Certainly, they were not trained jurists in the manner of modern judges, but the terms “royal judges” and “judges of the city X” may point to a special status, with diﬀerent hierarchical levels. Neo-Sumerian litigation records sometimes contain a number of diverse cases (presumably the day’s docket), all before the same named judges, who must have sat on a more or less permanent basis.
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.
A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (Handbook of Oriental Studies; Handbuch der Orientalistik) by Raymond Westbrook, Gary M. Beckman