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An Introduction to the History and Sources of Jewish Law$
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N. S. Hecht, B. S. Jackson, S. M. Passamaneck, Daniela Piattelli, and Alfredo Rabello

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198262626

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198262626.001.0001

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Biblical Law

Biblical Law

(p.xx) (p.1) 1. Biblical Law
An Introduction to the History and Sources of Jewish Law

Raymond Westbrook

Oxford University Press

The biblical period is said to be comprised of five different sub-periods – patriarchal, exodus, judges, monarchy, and post-exilic – that encompass law and legal practice during the period between the mid-second millennium and the fourth century B.C.E. In the book of Genesis, patriarchs are portrayed as heads of independent households, and such may be seen as the equivalent of local rulers. Here, we realize that patriarchs are structured similarly to states in international law, since they are considered autonomous legal units. Although patriarchs may be depicted as individuals who have a tense, dependent relationship upon the host society, substantive law during this period is not essentially different from that observed in later periods, except that legal rights are put into effect by means of self-help. In this period, relevant political events were illustrated through private law.

Keywords:   biblical period, patriarchal period, exodus period, judges period, monarchy period, households, international law, legal units, legal rights

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