Skip to main content

Full text of "An Assyrian Law Code"

See other formats


Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 

Read more about Early Journal Content at 
journal-content . 

JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 


Mokris Jastrow, Jr. 

University op Pennsylvania 


Twenty years ago, the French expedition excavating at Susa 
under the direction of M. Jacques de Morgan discovered the 
magnificent diorite block — about eight feet high — containing on 
its two sides the famous Babylonian Code of the Babylonian king 
Hammurabi (2123-2081 B. C.) which since its first publication 
by Professor Vincent Scheil 1 has been the subject of constant study 
by Assyriologists as well as by students of the history of law. 8 
The discovery of this code in almost perfect condition — except 
for some columns intentionally polished off by the vandal Elam- 
itic conqueror 3 who carried the Code as a trophy of war from 
Babylon to Susa and had no doubt intended writing an inscrip- 
tion glorifying himself on the erased portion 4 — was heralded at 
the time as one of the most important contributions to our 
knowledge of social conditions and of legal practice in Babylonia 
during the second millennium B. C. What Hammurabi did was 
to codify existing laws and to prescribe methods of judicial proce- 

1 Memoires de la Delegation en Perse, Vol. 4 (Paris 1902). 

2 Despite the subsequent translations into English and German by Johns, 
Harper, Rogers, Winckler, Peiser, Muller, Ungnad and others, a new transla- 
tion, embodying the results of detailed investigations, correcting erroneous 
readings, filling up gaps and giving a more accurate rendering of the legal 
phraseology, is very much needed. New fragments of the Code on clay 
tablets are constantly turning up. So since the publication by Ungnad in 
1909, of the 'Stele' text and of many Babylonian and Assyrian fragments on 
clay tablets (Keilschrifttexte der Gesetze Hammurabis), a large tablet found at 
Nippur has been published by Poebel, Historical and Grammatical Texts (Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania Museum — Babylonian Section, Vol. 5, Philadelphia 
1914), No. 93, a fragment by Clay in Miscellaneous Inscriptions in the Yale 
Babylonian Collection (New Haven, 1915), No. 34, and four fragments by 
Schroeder in his Keilschrifttexte aus Assur Verschiedenen Inhalts (Leipzig 1920), 
Nos. 7 and 190-192. 

8 The gap can be partially filled out by fragments of copies of the Code on 
clay tablets. 

1 The conqueror of Babylonia who carried off the trophy was probably 
Sutruk-Nahunte, c. 1100 B. C. 

l JAOS 41 

2 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

dure which, as the thousands of legal documents found in Baby- 
lonian mounds testify, continued in vogue for many centuries, 
aye to the end of the Babylonian period, though no doubt some- 
what modified from time to time, as conditions changed. 6 A 
discovery made by the German explorers of the mound of Kaleh- 
Shergat — the site of Assur, the earliest capital of Assyria 6 — and 
now published in a volume of texts from Assur, 7 takes equal rank 
with the finding of the Hammurabi Code, for the German 
explorers found an Assyrian Code of Laws that appears to have 
been fully as extensive as the Code of Hammurabi, if not more so. 
Moreover, this Assyrian Code, we have every reason to believe, 
occupied the same position in the north tha,t Hammurabi's Code 
did in the south. Through this new code we now have the means 
of instituting a comparison between legal procedure and enact- 
ments in Assyria with those prevailing in Babylonia. Each code 
reflects admirably the social conditions existing in the country for 
which it was drawn up; and the contrast between the spirit of the 
Hammurabi Code and that revealed in the new Assyrian Code 
is exceedingly instructive for a comparative study of the older 
and more refined Babylonian culture with the rougher and cruder 
civilization of militaristic Assyria. 

Exactly when and on what part of the mound the portions of 
the Code recovered were found, the editor of the text, Dr. Otto 
Schroeder, does not tell us. It probably formed part of the 
extensive library archive discovered at Assur, of which the six 
volumes of religious texts 8 published by Dr. Erich Ebeling give 
us hundreds of specimens. This archive is considerably older 
than the great library gathered by King Ashurbanapal (668-626 
B. C.) and discovered by Layard in the ruins of the king's palace 

• Hammurabi's Code itself gives evidence of modification in the application 
of legal principles to changing conditions. See Jastrow, 'Older and Later 
Elements in the Code of Hammurabi' (JAOS Vol. 36, pp. 1-33). 

• Excavations were carried on at Kaleh-Shergat by the German Orient 
Society from 1903 till the spring of 1914. The same society excavated the 
mounds covering the site of Babylon and other mounds in the south from 
1899 till the spring of 1917, when the definite advance of the British troops 
into Mesopotamia compelled the abandonment of the work. 

7 Otto Schroeder, Keilschrifttexte aus Assur Verschiedenen, Inhalis (Leipzig 
1920, being the 35th volume of the Wissenschaftliche Veroffentlichung der 
Deutschen Orient-Geselhchaft), Nos. 1-6 and 143-144 and 193. 

• Keilschrifttexte aus Assur religiosen Inhalis (6 parts Leipzig 1915-1919). 
Several additional volumes are announced as in preparation. 

An Assyrian Law Code 3 

at Kouyunjik — on the site of ancient Nineveh — about 65 years 
ago. Unfortunately, the Assyrian Code is far from being perfect. 
Only one tablet of the series which comprised the laws is in a 
good state of preservation, though even this tablet, comprising 
eight columns — four on the obverse and four on the reverse with 
about 100 lines to each column — contains some serious gaps, and 
many of the lines are only partially preserved. A second tablet, 
likewise of eight columns but less well preserved, furnishes us with 
18 laws additional to the 55 to be distinguished in the other tablet, 
but of the rest of the Code we have only fragments — seven in all — 
in Dr. Schroeder's volume. 9 The two large tablets — Nos. 1 and 2 
of Schroeder's edition — evidently belong to the same series, and 
since text No. 1 contains the date, and a part of the eighth column 
is uninscribed (for the reason that the text had come to an end), 
we may — provisionally at least — assume that this tablet is the 
last of the series. Text No. 2, therefore, represents an earlier 
tablet in the series. We are unable to say how many tablets the 
series in its complete form comprised. Judging from the detailed 
manner in which the laws are set forth in texts Nos. 1 and 2 as 
well as in the seven small fragments, it is easier to err on the side 
of underestimation than of overestimation. Text No. 1 is almost 
entirely taken up with laws in which women enter as the subject, 
though the variety of themes introduced is large. Text No. 2, 
so far as preserved, is confined to laws about fields and houses, 
and the treatment is equally detailed. If the Code covered as 
wide a scope as that of Hammurabi — and there is no reason to 
suppose that it did not — at least three more tablets must be 
assumed for the whole series. Since each tablet of 8 columns must 
have contained over 800 lines, 10 we would thus have a series of 
over 4,000 lines as a minimum, but the series may well have con- 
sisted of considerably more than five tablets. Dr. Schroeder 
notes (PI. 14) that there are traces of effaced characters in the 
lower part of the uninscribed portion of the eighth column. No 
doubt the name of the series was given and the number of the 
tablet in the series. Of the colophon, however, we have only 

» The more complete of the two large tablets is No. 1 in Schroeder's edition 
covering Plates 1-13; the other less complete tablet is No. 2, covering Plates 
14-18 and the seven fragments are Nos. 3-6 (PI. 18-21), 143-144 (PI. 89) 
and 193 (PI. 106 [obv.] and 107 [rev.]). 

"> Text No. 1 comprised 828 lines. 

4 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

the date, indicated, as usual in Assyrian documents, according to 
the eponym for the year in which the document was drawn up. 11 
The name of the eponym in text No. 1 is only partially preserved, 

Sa u Since no such name occurs in eponym lists 

that have come down to us, we can only conclude from the 
character of the writing, from the manner of writing words and 
from indications of language that the text dates from about 1500 
B. C. A date before 1000 B. C. is made probable also from the 
occurrence of the old Assyrian name, Sarati, 12 for the sixth month 
in the colophon instead of the later Ululu, which is more common 
after 900 B. C, though the older names of months are occasionally 
met with even after that date. As for the seven smaller frag- 
ments, published by Schroeder, while there can be no doubt that 
they are parts of the same Code as texts Nos. 1 and 2, it is not 
certain that they all belong to one and the same copy. There 
were no doubt several copies in the archive discovered at Assur; 
and judging from the greater length of the lines, Nos. 6 and 143 
and 144 may represent parts of a second copy. On the other 
hand, none of the fragments duplicate any of the preserved portions 
of texts Nos. 1 and 2, nor can we fit any of the fragments into the 
gaps in these two texts. For the present, we must, therefore, 
leave the question as to the relationship of the seven fragments to 
the two large tablets in abeyance. It is to be hoped that more 
fragments of the Code will turn up in Berlin or in Constantinople, 
and one may venture to express the hope that the authorities of 
the British Museum or of the Louvre, now that, through the 
authority of their governments, access can be had to the collec- 
tions of the Constantinople Museum, will have a search made for 
fragments of the Code and make them accessible to scholars 
through an early publication. No greater service could be rendered 
at present to Oriental scholarship than to supplement the publica- 

11 The years of a king's reign were drawn up in lists prepared by the scribes 
to act as a guide in fixing dates. The king himself was the eponym (limu) 
for his first year, but each succeeding year had a different eponym after 
whom the year was dated. It is, therefore, only in the case that we have 
the list of all the eponyms for any reign that we can fix accurate dates for 
Assyrian documents. See Rogers, Cuneiform Parallels to the Old Testament 
(New York 1912), pp. 219-238, now to be supplemented by texts Nos. 19-24 
of Schroeder's volume; and perhaps also No. 16. 

12 Written Sa-ra-a-ti (of. VR 43, 32 occurring also in Cappadocian tablets), 
and the day appears to be the second. 

An Assyrian Law Code 5 

tion of the German Orient Society, if happily some portions of 
the Code should have found their way to Constantinople, to which 
centre apparently all the finds made at Assur were shipped before 
the division was made with the Berlin Museum. German scholars 
can no doubt be depended upon to make a further search for frag- 
ments in the share of the tablets that were assigned to the Berlin 


Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the authorities of 
the German Orient Society for placing such portions of the Code 
as have been identified at the disposal of scholars, even before 
the appearance of the translation and interpretation which the 
editor, Dr. Otto Schroeder, announces as in preparation. The 
full credit to be given to him for his editio princeps will not be 
diminished if meanwhile independent translations of the Code 
published by him should be made by others. The importance of 
the Code for our knowledge of social conditions in ancient Assyria, 
as well as for purposes of comparison with the Hammurabi 
Code and for the fragments that we have of a Sumerian Code, 
forming the prototype for the compilation made by the scribes of 
Hammurabi, 13 not only justifies an immediate translation into 
English, but makes it desirable that independent renderings should 
be made accessible to those interested in the ancient civilization 
of Mesopotamia and to students of the development of law and 
of legal institutions and procedure. The Code fairly bristles with 
difficulties, and it will be by the combined and independent efforts 
of many scholars only that we shall be able to reach a definite 
interpretation, and to solve the difficulties inherent in the many 
new terms revealed by the Code, in the complicated syntactical 
constructions as well as in the strange verbal and noun forms 

" The credit belongs to Professor Clay of having discovered and published 
the first fragment of such a Sumerian Code, forming No. 28 of the texts gathered 
by him in his splendid volume Miscellaneous Inscriptions in the Yale Babylonian 
Collection. Two further fragments in the collection of the University of 
Pennsylvania Museum were published by Dr. H. F. Lutz in his volume of 
Selected Sumerian and Babylonian Texts (Philadelphia 1919) Nos. 101 and 102. 

6 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

Before giving my translation of texts Nos. 1 and 2, 14 to which 
I have added notes, restricted to the most essential explanations, 
it may be useful to summarize the general character of the Code. 


It is probably fair to assume that the new Assyrian Code repre- 
sents a codification of existing usage in legal decisions and proce- 
dure at the time of the codification, as is the case with the Ham- 
murabi Code. We may, therefore, judge both Codes by the 
spirit which breathes through them. From this point of view, 
the Assyrian Code although half a millennium later than Ham- 
murabi's compilation reveals a harsher and cruder aspect which 
crops out more particularly in the frequency of punishments that 
stand in no logical association with the crime but are either 
intended to humiliate an offender or to inflict bodily torment, 
due to the survival of the primitive (though natural) spirit of 
vengeance for an injury or wrong. Among such punishments we 
find with nauseating frequency the cutting off of the ear or the 
nose or both, or boring the ear and mutilating it, or mutilating 
the entire face, lashes varying in number from 20 to 100 blows, 
castration 16 in two instances, public exposure by taking an of- 
fender's clothes away, and in one case impalement, to be carried 
out even on a dead body. 16 Now some of these punishments likewise 

14 Of the seven fragments, I have contented myself — at the close of this 
article — with a summary of the contents so far as this can be determined. 
In the case of one of the larger fragments, No. 6, it is possible to restore 
portions of four laws with some certainty, but not without some conjectures 
that cannot at present be confirmed. 

I wish to acknowledge valuable aid received from my friend, Charles H. 
Burr, Esq., of the Philadelphia Bar, in selecting the proper legal terms, and 
who placed his profound and accurate legal knowledge at my disposal for un- 
raveling some of the intricacies in the Code. I also owe to Drs. Chiera and 
Lutz some suggestions made in the course of our study of the Code in the 
Assyrian Seminar of the University of Pennsylvania. 

16 The term used occurs in the Code for the first time — but one may 
feel quite sure that the proposed explanation (see Note 64 to § 14 of Text 
No. 1) is correct. 

16 Text No. 1 § 51, the case of a woman who by malpractice brings on a 
miscarriage. Besides being impaled she is to have no burial — the most 
horrible curse from the Babylonian-Assyrian point of view, and even if she 
dies under the illegal operation, the impalement is to be carried out on the 
corpse which is to remain unburied. 

An Assyrian Law Code 7 

occur in the Hammurabi Code, but with much less frequency — in 
itself an indication of the growth of social refinement. There is 
only one instance of whipping as a punishment in the Hammurabi 
Code, viz.: in the case of a freeman striking another (§202). 
The offender receives 60 lashes with an oxtail and, as is added, 
'in public', to show that humiliation as well as bodily torment 
was intended. Impalement is imposed as a punishment in the 
case of the woman (§ 153) who conspires for the death of her 
husband. Cutting off the ear is prescribed as a punishment (a) 
for the slave who strikes a freeman (§ 205) and (b) for the slave 
(§ 282) who repudiates his owner. Castrating an offender or 
removing his or her clothes does not occur; and it is perhaps 
significant also of the difference in the relations of the populace to 
the ruler (or to the government as we would say) in the south from 
those prevailing in the north, that forced labor which is a most 
frequent punishment in the Assyrian Code — called 'service of the 
king' and generally for one month, imposed for every variety of 
offenses — is entirely absent from the Hammurabi Code. Even 
more significant as illustrating the divergent spirit of the two 
codes is the observation to be made that bodily punishments in 
most instances in the Hammurabi Code stand in some logical 
association with the crime, whereas in the Assyrian Code such 
association is exceptional. According to the Hammurabi Code 
an offender's fingers are cut off in four instances (a) in the case 
of a son striking his father (§ 195), (b) branding a slave without 
the consent of the owner (§ 226), (c) stealing from a field which 
one has been hired to cultivate, (d) the case of a physician who 
by an operation brings about the patient's death or destroys the 
patient's eye (§ 218). In all these cases, the punishment is pre- 
scribed on the principle that the hand which did the deed should 
be mutilated; and even the still harsher punishment, prescribing 
that the breasts of a wet-nurse are to be cut off (§ 194), who 
substitutes a child for one entrusted to her care that has died, 
betrays this association. In the Assyrian Code — so far as pre- 
served—there are only two instances (No. 1, §§ 8-9) of such 
connection. The woman who assaults a man — 'stretches out 
her hands', as the phrase runs — and injures him, has her finger 
cut off, and vice versa if the man assaults a woman. In further 
association between the crime and the punishment, we find that 
the man who in a brawl bites a woman has his lower lip chopped 
off. The punishment falls on the hand or on the lip that com- 

8 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

mitted the deed. Outside of these instances bodily punishments 
in the Assyrian Code are imposed without any association with 
the crime committed. 

Another feature of the Code of a general character is the cruder 
method of judicial procedure in comparison with the Hammurabi 
Code. The constant formula ' they seize him (or her) and deter- 
mine his (or her) guilt' shows to be sure the existence of an 
established court which tries an offender, but the phrase is also 
applied (Text No. 1, § 14) to individuals. Witnesses (§ 11) 
may 'seize' an adulterer and put him to death, which is clearly a 
survival of an age in which punishment was imposed by individuals 
or by any body of citizens. Besides such instances of 'lynch 
law', recognized as legitimate, 17 we have the frequent phrase, 
'he may do as he pleases', applied to the husband or father in the 
case that his wife or his daughter has committed an offense. We 
actually find the husband authorized to impose punishment on 
his wife (Text No. 1, § 3) and, what is more, the same punishment 
that he imposes upon his wife is meted out to the one who is an 
accessory to a crime. The husband is free either to cut off his 
wife's ear in case of theft or not to do so (Text No. 1, § 4). He 
may kill her or not if he discovers her with another man (Text 
No. 1, § 14); and equal liberty is given to him in the treatment 
of his daughter who has committed an offense. 

All this points quite clearly to the existence of less settled con- 
ditions in the north during the second millennium B.C., in contrast 
to what one finds in the Hammurabi Code, which does not intro- 
duce any such phrase as 'he may do as he pleases'. It assumes 
throughout judicial procedure by a recognized officially consti- 
tuted tribunal which pronounces the verdict and — apparently — 
is the sole body to authorize the carrying out of its decrees. 

Wife and daughters in the Assyrian Code are regarded entirely 
from the early point of view as forming part of the possessions of 
a man, over whom he has full authority. Whereas the Hammurabi 
Code in theory still recognizes this relationship, in practise the 
many laws bearing on the relationship of husband to wife, and of 
father to children, tend towards curbing the authority of the 
husband and father, as the laws dealing with slaves and with 
debtors tend to reduce the arbitrary power of the master over 

17 It is said (Text No. 1 § 14) : no guilt attaches to those who thus kill an 

An Assyrian Law Code 9 

his slaves and of the creditor over his debtor. In the Assyrian 
Code, divorce is treated in a single paragraph (§ 36) which gives 
the husband the choice — according 'as his heart moves him', as 
the phrase runs — to give his wife something when he dismisses 
her or to send her away empty-handed. The Hammurabi Code 
has quite a number of restrictions to such an arbitrary procedure. 

The assumption throughout the Babylonian Code is that a 
man divorces his wife either because she is childless or because of 
some charge against her. In the former case it is provided (§ 138) 
that the marriage settlement and dowry be returned to the wife. 
If there was no marriage settlement, the husband gives his wife 
60 shekels of silver on divorcing her (§ 139). She is not sent 
away 'empty-handed'. If there are children (§ 137), the divorced 
wife receives her dowry and sufficient maintenance to rear her 
children; and upon their reaching the age of majority, she is 
given a share of her former husband's estate equivalent to the 
portion of one son and is free to marry whom she chooses. The 
husband is prohibited (§ 148) from divorcing his wife because 
she has become afflicted with disease. He must keep her and 
support her in his house as long as she lives, but if she prefers to 
live elsewhere, she receives her dowry. Only in case there is a 
definite charge of neglecting her husband and her household, of 
being a 'gad-about', is she sent away empty-handed (§141). 
Moreover, the wife has a right to bring a charge of neglect or of 
improper conduct against her husband, and if the charge is estab- 
lished (§ 142) she recovers her dowry and goes to her father's 

It is in keeping with the general attitude toward the wives and 
daughters as the property of the husband and father that the 
wife and daughter can be sold or pledged for debt to a creditor. 
The Hammurabi Code (§117), while recognizing the right, changes 
the transfer to a limited indenture for three years, and provides 
that 'in the fourth year they (wife, son and daughter) must be 
given their freedom'; and as a further provision, dictated by 
humane considerations, the master who sells a female slave who 
has born him children for debt, must ransom the woman (§ 119). 
There is no time limit to the pledging of a member of a man's 
household in the Assyrian Code. On the other hand, it is pre- 
cisely in connection with this subject, that we find the newly 
discovered code striking a' higher note. It is provided (Text 
No. 1, § 47) that a creditor who holds his debtor's daughter for 

10 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

debt cannot hand her over to a third party without the consent 
of the father. In case the father is dead, the opportunity must 
be offered to the brothers to redeem their sister and a period of one 
month must be allowed to any brother who is desirous of doing so. 
As a further protection to the unfortunate daughter, it is provided 
that if the man who holds her for her father's debts treats her 
badly (§ 38) she may be rescued by any one, who, however, must 
pay the full value of the girl to the creditor, in order to marry 
the girl. 

The unquestionably harsher aspects of the Assyrian Code as a 
whole in comparison with the Hammurabi Code must not blind 
us to the tendency to be noted towards protecting those whose 
position is dependent upon others. So, e. g., Text No. 1, § 45 
imposes on the sons to support their widowed mother in case the 
father has failed to make provision for her; and it is added they 
should do so tenderly as one treats 'a bride whom one loves'. 
If she happens to be a second wife, and has no children of her 
own, then the duty of support falls upon the children of the first 
wife. She is to have a home with one of the children. 

The woman abandoned by her husband who has deliberately 
gone away or who has been captured while in government service 
is taken care of. The duty is imposed on her to remain faithful 
to her husband for a term of years — two (Text No. 1, § 44) or 
five (Text No. 1, § 35) according to the conditions of the deser- 
tion — and if the husband has left her without maintenance, the 
woman can appeal to the state to step in (Text No. 1, §44), 
which makes over to her during her husband's absence the 'field 
and house', as the phrase runs, for her support. If, however, she 
marries within the interval, her husband on his return can claim 
his wife, while the children born to the second husband belong 
to the latter. 

From the sociological point of view the new code is of extra- 
ordinary interest. It reveals a state of society in which sexual 
immorality had become sufficiently rampant to necessitate the 
large number of paragraphs — no less than 14 in the preserved 
portions of the Code — that deal with the various degrees of illicit 
and unnatural sexual intercourse and the varying circumstances 
under which it takes place. The 'procuress' appears by 
the side of the 'adulterer'. The harlot is a fixed institution 
(Text No. 1, §§ 39 and 50). Sodomy and malpractice find a place 
in the Code (Text No. 1, §§ 18, 19 and 51). On the other hand 

An Assyrian Law Code 11 

in the regulation of property rights we find comparatively advanced 
legislation to prevent encroachment on a man's domain. Text 
No. 2 — so far as preserved — deals largely with the regulation of 
property rights. The one who removes boundaries is severely 
punished, and a distinction is made between a 'large' and a 'small' 
trespass of this character (Text No. 2, §§8 and 9). Light is 
thrown on agricultural methods by provisions against using prop- 
erty not belonging to one for digging a well, for planting orchards, 
or for making bricks (Text No. 2, §§ 10, 12-15). Irrigation is 
regulated (Text No. 2, §§ 17-18) and the division of an estate 
carefully provided for (Text No. 2, §§ 1-5). Of special interest 
is the elaborate procedure for the purchase of an estate 
(Text No. 2, § 6) for a proclamation to be made three times, 
calling upon all who have a claim on an estate to appear before 
the recorder and deposit their claims, in written form. A month's 
time is allotted for such notice and the purchase is made in the 
presence of a group of officials which includes a representative of 
the king, the surrogate, the city scribe, the recorder, the prefect, 
and three magistrates. 

Another feature, meriting special notice, are the provisions for 
the regulation of the dress of women when appearing in public 
(Text No. 1, §39). The paragraph in question enables us to 
trace back the veiling of women — still so widespread in the Near 
East — to the second millennium B. C; and the point of view from 
which veiling and covering of the head (by which a complete 
enveloping is meant) is regarded, is instructive for the light that 
it sheds upon the origin of the custom. Wives and daughters 
are to be veiled or to have their heads covered, or both, to mark 
them as the property of the husband and father, and as a warning 
to others to keep their hands off. Hence the hierodule who 
remains unmarried — who belongs to the temple and not to any 
man — is to be unveiled, and likewise the harlot, because she 
belongs to any man. A severe punishment is imposed upon a 
harlot who appears veiled in public, as also upon the one who 
sees her thus disguised and fails to report her 'to the palace'. 
The original purpose of the veiling shades over into the factor of 
social distinction and accordingly slave girls are likewise to go 
unveiled. This gradual change in the custom is again of special 
interest, because in other respects, the Assyrian Code is marked 
rather by the absence of class distinctions, in contrast to the 
Hammurabi Code which is full of special legislation for the 

12 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

'plebeians' 18 and 'slaves' by the side of 'freemen' who form a 
species of aristocracy. It is of course possible that in the missing 
portions of the Code the same distinctions were introduced, but 
their absence in the preserved portions is at least worth noticing. 
Society both in Babylonia and Assyria had passed beyond the 
stage of recognizing the 'clan' or kinsman as representing a social 
unit at the time when the two Codes now at our disposal were 
compiled, and it may well be that the further stage of a sharp 
division of classes was reached in the south long before it made 
its appearance in the north. 

Lastly, the new Code is of interest because of the additions that 
it furnishes to legal phraseology. Besides the terms above noted, 
we encounter here for the first time the term for debtor (feabbulu) 
as against bel hubulli for creditor — already known to us. We 
have the distinction between the amiranu, 'the eye witness', and 
the ismeanu 'the one who hears a report'. 

The person pledged for debt (tadindnu) and various officials 
for land transactions enter upon the scene. The term for the 
raising of loans (kldu) on deposits or on property is another 
interesting addition. Lying outside the strictly legal province, 
we have also the many new grammatical forms which show a 
wider divergence in the speech of the north during the second 
millennium from that of the south than we had hitherto sus- 
pected. 19 

Reserving a further and more detailed study of the Code in 
comparison with the Hammurabi Code, in which the laws common 
to both will be placed in parallel columns and which will further 
reveal the different social conditions prevailing in Babylonia — so 
essentially a cultural power — as against those in a militaristic 
state like Assyria, let us now turn to the translation of the Code 

ls See C. H. W. Johns on these distinctions in his valuable work on The 
Relations between the Laws of Babylonia and the Laws of the Hebrew Peoples 
(London 1914) p. 8. We owe to Johns the correct interpretation of the 
term MaS-En-Kak = muskcnu as the 'plebeian' in the Hammurabi Code. 

19 The grammar of the Code merits a detailed study which will no doubt 
be undertaken by some Assyriologist. As a single illustration, we may call 
attention to the constant use of the ending uni in the plural of verbs, as in 
classical Arabic. 

An Assyrian Law Code 13 


(Badly preserved. Treats of the case of a woman — the wife 

of a man or a man's daughter — entering a temple apparently to 

make restitution for something that she has stolen. The part 

dealing with the punishment is too mutilated to be made out. 20 ) 


If a woman, be she the wife of a man or a man's daughter, does 
not confess 21 the theft or under pressure 22 makes restitution, that 
woman bears her sin 23 ; on her husband, her sons and her daugh- 
ters she has no claim. 24 


If a man is sick or has died (and) his wife steals something 
from his house, whether she gives it to a man or to a woman, or 
to anyone whomsoever, the wife of the man as well as the receivers 
shall be put to death ; or if the wife whose husband is living steals 

20 The law is the first of a group dealing with theft committed by a woman, 
who as wife or daughter is a man's property. The Hammurabi Code deals 
with theft from a temple — and to which it adds 'or from a palace' — in§§ 6-8. 
It decrees that both the thief and receiver of the stolen property, are put to 
death, but the severity of the old law is modified by the exception (§8) that 
in case the stolen object is an ox or ass or sheep or pig, the thief if a freeman 
is to restore thirty fold the value of what he took, and if he be a plebeian 
ten-fold; and only in case he have not the wherewithal to make restitution 
is he put to death. The Hammurabi Code has no special laws with regard 
to women who steal, from which we may conclude that in §§ 6-8 the conven- 
tional phrase beginning 'if a man,' etc., applies to women as well. 

21 Text has ta-tak-ti-bi =taktibi with a redundant initial syllable, for which 
there are several examples, for example, ta-at-ta-al-pa-at (col. 1, 83) =talpat; 
ta-(at)-ta-a$-bat = ta§bat (Col. 3, 52). 

22 Mi-kiAt pi-e, the ideographic writing for which Ka-ta Sub-ba (II Rawlin- 
son 39, 13a-b) shows that it is to be rendered 'falling of the mouth', in contrast 
to Ka-ta M=9i-it pi-i (II Rawlinson 12a-b), 'utterance'. 'Falling of the 
mouth' cannot mean 'silently', for which we have 'closing of the mouth' 
( = si-kur pi-i, ib. lib). I take the phrase to mean that the stolen property 
is restored under pressure. 

23 1, e., she is guilty, a-ra-an-sd ta-na-as-si, is a parallel to the Hebrew 
phrase in the Priestly Code nasa \jM. 'bearing sin', e. g., Lev. 19. 17; 22. 9; 
24. 15; Num. 9. 13, etc., in the sense of being guilty. 

24 la-a i-kar-ri-i-bi, 'she shall not approach', i. e., she has no claim on any 
members of her family. Cf. § 26, the husband 'shall not approach' the house 
of his father-in-law, i. e., has no claim on it, if at the time of divorce from 
his wife, she is living in her father's house. 

14 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

from the house of her husband, whether she gives it to a man 
or to a woman or to any one whomsoever, the man seizes 26 his 
wife and imposes punishment 26 ; and on the receiver of the stolen 
property • -hich she has given away, (the same) punishment is to 
be impos- J 27 that the husband imposes on his wife. 

If a male slave or a female slave receives anything 28 from the 
wife of a man, the nose and the ear of the slave, male or female, 
shall be cut off, and for the stolen property 29 full restitution must 
be made. 30 Either, the man cuts off his wife's ear, or if he releases 
her, 31 and does not cut off her ear, then also (the ear) of the slave, 
male or female, shall not be cut off, and they need not make 
restitution for the stolen property. 

If a man's wife steals something from a man's house and through 
someone else it is restored, the owner of the stolen property must 

25 ii-6o-ar from ba'aru 'catch', as in the phrase 'they seize him and determine 
his guilt,' used throughout the Code for arresting a person and convicting 
him of a crime. 

26 fyi-4-ta literally 'sin', but here as throughout the Code for 'guilt' (like the 
Hebrew Ifit) and also 'punishment'. This authority given to the husband 
to 'seize' his wife and impose punishment on his wife (as on his daughter) in 
certain cases is a survival of primitive conditions when punishment was 
meted out by individuals and not by a judicial tribunal. See above, and 
parallels in Post, Afrikanische Jwrisprudem, Vol. 2, p. 140 seg. Note also 
that the punishment meted out to the receiver follows the arbitrary one 
that the man imposes on his wife. 

27 Generally the impersonal 'they' with plural of the verb is used in the 
part of the law announcing the decision. It seems preferable to render this 
by the use of the passive, since the code does not tell us, except in certain 
specific instances, who actually carries out the punishment. It is interesting 
to note that here as in other instances, e. g., § 4, the accessory to a crime 
receives a punishment equal to that of the main offender. Modern law 
provides that the accessory can never receive punishment in excess of what is 
imposed on the main offender. 

28 1. e. stolen. 

" hir-ka, the 'stolen' property. 

»• tJMmal-lu-ri, literally 'they fill out'. 

»» ti-tiS-sar, used throughout the Code in the sense of 'letting one go'. A 
synonym is pataru 'redeem', e. g., § 5, though this verb is also used as the 
Biblical equivalent in the sense of 'buying off', e. g., § 47. 

An Assyrian Law Code 15 

swear that when it was taken 'the stolen property was in my 
house 32 .' If the husband chooses he may restore the stolen 
property and redeem her (i. e. his wife) 33 and cut off her ear, 
but if her husband does not wish to redeem her, then the owner 
of the stolen property may take her 34 and cut off her nose. 


If a man's wife puts a pledge 35 in pawn 36 , the receiver must 
surrender it as stolen property. 37 

If a woman stretch out her hands against a man, they seize 
her. She must pay 30 manas of lead and she receives 20 lashes. 


If a woman in a brawl injures a man's testicle, they cut off one 
of her fingers; and if the man engages 38 a physician and the 

32 1, e., he must identify the stolen property. 

33 i-pa-a(-tar-si, a synonym of ushiru 'let her go' (above § 4). The implica- 
tion in the Assyrian Code is that a woman who steals something from a 
man's house (not her husband's) forfeits her liberty, unless her husband 
makes good the theft. 

34 1, e., as his property, and presumably either to sell her or to reduce her 
to servitude. 

36 ma-as-ka-at-ta (from sakanu) is 'something put on deposit' ; it occurs 
again in Text No. 6 obv., 11, and as in our passage with ina kldi, and finds 
its equivalent in the phrase of the Hammurabi Code, § 7 ana massarfflim 'for 
safe keeping'. This law provides that the receiver of stolen property is put 
to death, even though he only accepted it for safe keeping. As the accessory 
to the crime he receives the same punishment as the main offender. 

*'i~na kiA-di. According to Cuneiform Texts XXVII, PL 12, 11, ki-di 
is a part of the palace, but our passage, as well as § 43, where the phrase is 
again met with,- leaves no doubt that ina kldi may designate the raising of 
money on some object of value — real or movable estate. It is therefore the 
equivalent to our 'in pawn'. The kldu of the palace may therefore be a 
storing place of some kind. 

" The woman is punished according to the law set forth in the previous 

88 ur-tak-ki-is from rakasu 'to contract', from which we have riksu and 
riksatu used in the Hammurabi Code and in the Assyrian Code, as well as in 
legal documents for a 'contract'. 

16 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

other testicle of itself 39 is destroyed, compensation 40 shall be 
offered; or if in a fight the second testicle is (also) crushed, the 
fingers 41 of both hands they mutilate. 42 


If a man stretches (his) hand against the wife of a man, treating 
her roughly 43 (?), they seize him and determine his guilt 44 . His 
fingers are cut off. If he bites her, his lower lip with the blade 46 (?) 
of a sharp (?) axe is cut off. 

(Covering Col. I, 97 to II, 13.) 

(Deals with murder, but the text is too fragmentary to be 


If a man's wife goes out into the highway (and) a man seizes 
her, without even proposing intercourse with her 46 and not giving 
her the chance to protect herself, 47 but seizes her by force and 

"iUv-Sd=istisa, occurring again, col. 3, 56 (§ 23) in the sense of 'by 
itself, independently, etc. 

40 1 read [mu]-ri-im-ma tar-ti i-si. Murim from ramu 'offer' or 'grant'. 

"I supply [Rit-Lal] Mel=n«e (like Hammurabi Code §§ 195, 218, 226, 
253) or perhaps we are to read [Sii-si] Meh=ubarwte) 'fingers'. 

a i-naAm-lu. 

*ki-i bu-ri e-pu-us-si. The context points to some violent assault, like 
scratching or tearing the flesh. Burn ordinarily means a 'young animal', 
which however is hardly in place here. 

44 ub-ta-e-ru-u-v& ufc-ta-i-ntt-iS-ws, the standing phrase throughout the Code 
for what we call arrest and trial. See above, p. 8. From the same stem 
ba'aru 'catch', we have in the Hammurabi Code the official Su-rja = ba'iru 
as the 'constable' (§§ 26-28, 30 and 32, 36, 37, etc.), while uktin 'to fix the 
guilt' occurs in §§ 1-3 and 127 of the Hammurabi Code. 

« [me]-rt-im-«i, the meaning of which is to be deduced from the context. 

" la-a ni-ik-ki-me ik-ti-bi-a-aS-se 'does not say to her nikkime', the latter 
term being the proposal to the woman to give herself to the man. The under- 
lying stem naku was recognized many years ago by Oppert as denoting 
sexual intercourse. It occurs in the Code in a variety of verbal forms; also 
the noun form rmikdnu for the ravisher or adulterer. See Meissner, Assyrische 
Studien, 4, p. 10 and the passages there quoted. 

47 1, e., there is no attempt on the part of the man to try to persuade the 
woman, but he uses force, while she makes no advances on her part. 

An Assyrian Law Code 17 

rapes her, 48 whether he merely overpowers 49 the man's wife, or 
actually has intercourse with her, 60 the witnesses 51 may seize him 
and put the man to death. No guilt 52 attaches to the woman. 


If the wife of a man leaves her house to meet a man at a ren- 
dezvous 53 and he rapes her, knowing that she is another man's 
wife, then they also 54 put the wife to death. 


If a man has intercourse with a man's wife, whether in an 
interior 56 (?) or on the highway, knowing that she is another 
man's wife, they (mutually) agreeing 66 to do so in the manner 
customary between a man and his wife 67 , the man is adjudged to 
be an adulterer. 68 But if he did not know that she was another 

*• iHi-ak-U I, 2 from naku as above. 

"ik-M-du-u$ 'conquers her'. 

60 i-ni-kiwi-ni. 

" h-bu-tu, who are called in to testify to the assault. From the interesting 
circumstance that the word sebutu means both 'elders' and 'witnesses', one 
is tempted to conclude that the 'witness' in Babylonian and Assyrian law 
was a 'professional' witness. The 'elders' in early society would form the 
natural tribunal; and they would be the ones called in to witness a legal 
document or to be present at the trial of an offender and to hear testimony 
in regard to the offender, even though they may not have actually been 
present at the commission of the crime. From this point of view, we can 
understand the extension of the term 'elder' to the very general sense of 
'witness', and its still later use without reference to any professional status. 

•* Or 'punishment'. The term is again fyi-i-la as above, note 26. 

K a-sar us-pu-il-ni 'a place where (people) gather', i. e., the woman delib- 
erately goes out to meet a man. 

M tJ, the conjunction which as often has the force of 'also'. The law assumes 
that the man — as in §11 — is likewise put to death. 

M bit al-tam-me — a new word which from the context must designate an 
interior in contrast to 'highway'. It is quite possible that a bed-chamber or 
even a brothel is meant. 

*• Literally 'saying' . 

••' I. e., as though they were man and wife. Note (as in § 22) the elaborate 
legal phraseology to prove that it is a genuine case of adultery. 

** na-i-ka^na. See above, note 46. The punishment being death for the 
man according to the principle involved in § 11, it was not considered neces- 
sary to specify it again. 

2 JAOS 41 

18 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

man's wife, the adulterer goes free. 69 The man seizes his wife 
and can do what he pleases with her. 60 

If a man discovers his wife with a man, 61 they seize him and 
determine his guilt, and both of them are put to death. There 
is no guilt 62 because of him. But if he is caught and either 
before the king or before judges is brought, they (i. e., the judges) 
seize him and determine his guilt. If the man has already put 
his wife to death, then the man 63 is also put to death. If he 
has cut off his wife's nose, the man (i. e., the adulterer) is to be 
castrated 64 and his whole face K mutilated. 66 

•• za-a-ku, the regular term in this Code as in the Hammurabi Code for 
acquittal, though also used in the wider sense of being free from any further 
obligation, as e. g., in text No. 2, § 6 (col. 3, 47), as well as to indicate that 
something is at the 'free' disposal of another, e. g., § 37 (col. 5, 25). 

"> I. e., the wife is turned over to the husband and he imposes punishment, 
as in § 3, according to his pleasure. 

61 Literally: 'he takes the man away from his wife'. 

* s The addition of this phrase a-ra-an-lti la-al-M, 'there is no guilt because 
of him', shows that in this case, 'they' are not the judges, but individuals — 
perhaps witnesses called in by the husband — who, as we would say, lynch the 
man after ascertaining that he is guilty, i. e., that he knew that it was another 
man's wife. 

•* a-i-la another form for amelu (pronounced awelu 'man'. See Muss- 
Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, p. 3a. 

*' a-na Sar-ri-le-en Uriar (see also § 19), more literally 'he is made an eunuch'. 
I owe to my colleague, Professor Montgomery, the happy suggestion that 
we have in the word larlen the name for the 'eunuch', corresponding to the 
Hebrew saris, which is no doubt taken over from the Akkadian. The mean- 
ing fits the context, and the punishment of castration is appropriate for the 
adulterer caught in the act in case the husband has already taken the law 
into his hands by cutting off his wife's nose. It is even more appropriate 
as a punishment (§ 19) for the one who is guilty of sodomy. These are the 
only two occurrences of the punishment in the Code; and it is thus interesting 
to be able to trace the custom of castration to so early a date. Professor 
Montgomery's suggestion disposes of Schroeder's view (in the brief description 
of the Code, page viii) that larlen means 'prison'. There is no evidence for 
imprisonment as a punishment either in Babylonia or Assyria, whereas, as is 
well known, the eunuch figures frequently among the escort of the king on 
Assyrian monuments. The form larlen with the formative In (by the side 
of an) is proper for the designation of a class; and now that the word by 
itself has been encountered in an Assyrian text, there is no longer any reason 
to question that the rab sd-ril mentioned in the cuneiform inscriptions is 
the 'chief eunuch'. Furthermore, the explanation of la-ril as though com- 

An Assyrian Law Code 19 

(The rest of the paragraph — four lines apparently — is broken 


If a man [violates] 67 another man's wife, her mouth 68 

there is no guilt attaching to the man. The husband can impose 
punishment on his wife according to his pleasure. But if by 
force he has violated her, they seize him and determine his guilt, 
the punishment being" the same as that imposed upon the man's 
wife. 69 


If a man says to another, thy wife has been raped, 70 and there 
are no witnesses, they bind him (i. e. the accused) in fetters and 
take him to the river. 71 


If a man says to his companion, whether in private or in a 
brawl, 72 ' thy wife has been raped and I caught her', but it turns 
out that he could not have caught her, and the man actually did 
not catch her (in the act), he receives 40 lashes and must perform 

posed of 5<f and rls ('head'), still maintained by Zimmern, Akkadische 
FremdwOrter, page 6, is to be abandoned in view of our Sarhen which 
clearly points to a stem saraku. At the most, it might be claimed that sd-ri§ 
is an etymological play upon the supposed meaning of sarsen, but even this 
is unlikely and certainly an unnecessary supposition. 

65 1, e., ears and nose are cut off and possibly his eyes are put out. We 
have not actually encountered this method of punishment, except in the 
historical annals of Assyrian kings as meted out to the enemy. 

• 6 i-na-fyu-ru, 'they destroy'. 

" To be supplied. The half of the line is broken away. 

68 No doubt in the sense of 'consent.' The balance of the line is broken 
away. The context indicates that the woman gave herself to the man willingly. 

69 1, e., whatever the man would do to his wife, in case she were guilty, is 
done to the adulterer. 

70 it-ti-ni-4k-kxi. 

71 1, e., for an ordeal, to test the truth of the charge. The ordeal occurs 
again, §§23, 24; also in the Hammurabi Code §§ 2 (suspect of sorcery) and 
§ 132 (suspect of adultery). 

72 1, e., when others are present to hear what is said. It is rather charac- 
teristic of social conditions in Assyria, that the word for a 'fight', becomes a 
synonym of 'in public'. 

20 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

one month's royal service. They summon him 73 and one talent 74 
of lead he must hand over. 


If a man in private spreads the report 75 about his companion 
that someone has had (unnatural) intercourse with him, 76 or 
in a brawl in the presence of men 77 says to him: 'Someone has 
had (unnatural) intercourse with thee and I caught thee (in the 
act),' whereas there was no possibility of this and that man did 
not catch him (in the act), he receives 50 lashes, and must per- 
form one month's royal service. They summon him, and he 
must hand over one talent of lead. 


If a man has (unnatural) intercourse with his companion, 78 
they seize him and determine his guilt. If he actually had inter- 
course with him, then he is castrated. 79 


If a man strikes a man's daughter, so that there is a miscarriage, 80 
they seize him and determine his guilt. Two talents and 30 

78 i-ga-di-mu-us (also col. 2, 92), literally 'they bring him into the presence', 
i. e., of the court. 
71 3600 shekels. 
76 a-wia-ta is-kun. 

76 He accuses his fellow of sodomy. The same verb (it-ti^ni-ku-ti-u$) is 
used as in the case of rape and adultery. 

77 Erem (mes), literally 'soldiers', but frequently used for men in 'general'. 
The contrast is here as in § 17 between a private and a public statement. 

78 There can be no doubt that here and in the preceding law sodomy is 
meant. Through omen texts we learn of the varieties of unnatural inter- 
course that were known to Assyrians and practised by them. See the examples 
of such practices discussed by Meissner Assyrische Studien, 4 (MVAG, Vol. 
12), pp. 11-13. Strangely enough, the prognostication in one case is favor- 
able, to wit, that a man who succeeds at sodomy will become a leader. 

79 cnna sd-ri-Se-en, ii-tawu-us, i. e., 'they make him an eunuch', as above 
§ 14, note 64. 

80 Literally 'she drops what is within her'. 

An Assyrian Law Code 21 

mana 81 of lead he must hand over; he receives 50 lashes and 
must perform one month's royal service. 


If some man who is neither her father, brother nor son seizes 
a man's wife on the road, 82 he must swear an oath that he did 
not know that she was a man's wife, and hand over 2 talents of 
lead to the husband. 

(The continuation (Col. 3, 1-13) is mutilated. It set forth 
variant circumstances attending the assault, in which the woman 
shares the guilt. The river ordeal is provided — apparently for 
both — though they are not fettered (as in § 16) . From the 
closing lines which read: 'When the man returns from the river, 
he is given the same punishment by the husband as the latter 
imposed on his wife,' we may conclude that the guilty wife, as in 
other instances (e. g. above §§ 3, 15, etc.) was punished by her 
husband. It would also appear that surviving a river ordeal was 
not regarded as complete vindication, but only proved that the 
man merited a milder punishment than death. Similarly in § 23.) 


If a man's wife takes another man's wife into her house for 
sexual intercourse 83 and the man (i. e., the one into whose house 
the woman was taken) knew that it was another man's wife (and) 
had intercourse with her as with another man's wife, and in the 

81 A total of 9000 shekels. This law finds a complete parallel in § 209 of 
the Hammurabi Code, which reads: 'If a man strikes a man's daughter so 
that she has a miscarriage, he shall pay 10 shekels of silver'. In the case of 
a woman of lower rank, the fine is only 5 shekels and in the case of a slave 
2 shekels. If the woman dies, the fine is 30 shekels in the case of a woman 
of lower rank, 20 shekels for a slave, while in the case of the free woman, the 
lex talionis is put in force and the man's daughter is put to death. If.we 
assume that the fine in lead is calculated according to the proportionate 
value between lead and silver, then 5400 shekels of lead = 10 shekels, would 
give us a proportion of 1 to 540. The fine however may have been con- 
siderably larger in Assyria. 

8? The assumption is that any one who takes hold of a woman on the road 
and who is not closely related to her has designs upon her. 
83 a-na ni-a-ki. 

22 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

manner customary between a man and his wife, 84 the woman is 
adjudged a 'procuress'. 85 But if no intercourse as between a 
man and his wife had actually taken place, then neither the 
adulterer nor the procuress have done anything. 86 They shall 
be released. 87 And if the man's wife 88 did not know (of the plot) 
and she entered the house of the woman, trusting the man's 
attitude towards her, 89 who had intercourse with her and if after 
leaving the house, she confesses 90 to having had intercourse, that 
woman is to be released — she is guiltless. 91 The adulterer and 
the procuress are put to death. But if the woman does not 
confess, the husband may impose punishment on his wife as he 
pleases; 92 and the adulterer and the procuress are put to death. 

If the wife of a man in the face of her husband 93 and of her free 

84 Note again the redundancy of legal phrases (as above in §13) to make it 
certain that actual adultery had taken place, which in the full legal sense 
involves a knowledge on the part of the adulterer that he was acting with 
another man's wife, and that the act was fully consummated in the normal 
manner. Moreover, one of the main points in this law is to ascertain the 
guilt of the 'procuress'. 

" mu-um-me-ri-lu — a new word, the meaning of which is certain from the 
context, and which sheds light on social conditions in Assyria. The under- 
lying stem appears to be amaru 'surround', the mummertiu being the woman 
who 'enmeshes', i. e., the easnarer. Cf. Prov. 7. 23. 

** I. e., the man is not adjudged an adulterer, nor is the woman legally a 
'procuress' if the intercourse has not actually taken place. 

»' The mere intent does not constitute a misdemeanor or a crime. The 
point of view in this law is consistently directed towards the wife as the 
husband's property. If no injury to the property has been done, there is no 

88 Namely, the wife who was brought into another man's house did not 
know of the plot. 

89 ki-4 pi-4 kenu ameli a-na eli-ld — an interesting phrase, to indicate that 
she had no cause for suspicion. 

»° iak-ti-bi, 'says,' which may merely indicate that she reports the occur- 
rence to her husband. 

91 za-ku-at (as above § 13) literally— 'free' of blame or guilt. 

n Again punishment meted out by the husband and according to his pleas- 
ure, as in §§ 3 and 13. 

»» So the phrase runs (i-na pa-wi mu-ti-M) which appears to mean — as the 
Hebrew liphne is often used — in spite of her husband, against his protest. 

An Assyrian Law Code 23 

will 94 is carried off, 95 be it into any large city 96 or into a suburb, 97 
where by appointment 98 she enters the house of an Assyrian, 99 
and without the mistress of the house 100 stays (there), [or if his 
wife (?)] J has died, (but) the master of the house did not know 
[that it was] 2 another man's wife who [was taken] 3 into his house, 
(and) [by stealth (?)] 4 that woman was taken, 6 then the master 
of the house 6 whose wife in his [face] of her own accord [was 
carried off], 7 shall take his wife. The wife of the man who as his 
wife through her fault 8 was seized 9 — her ear they cut off; and if 
her husband so chooses, he (i. e., the adulterer) must give 3 
talents and 30 mana of lead as her purchase price, 10 or if he (i. e., 
the aggrieved husband) chooses, he may take his wife away. 11 

But if the owner of the house knew that it was a man's 
wife who was taken into his house without the mistress of the 

* 4 ra-ma-an-Sd 'willingly'. 

• 6 tal-da-da-at=taSdadat from iadadu 'drag'. In this same law we have 
(col. 3, 73) tal-du-dur^ni, — to be supplied also in line 54. 

•• dlv, anwne-e-dm-nia (see Muss-Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, p. 57b) in 
contrast to alu &w-&u^ti-tt, 'suburb'. 

•' On the sign used for city in this combination, see Meissner, Seltene 
Assyrische Ideogramme, No. 540. It is clearly alu with the plural sign to 
indicate the towns adjoining a city; literally, therefore, 'near-by towns'. 

98 ar&ar bUi ud-du-si-4-wi, literally: 'the place of a house fixed for her' or 
by her, i. e., at an appointed house. 

99 bit aS-su-ra-ia. See § 43 (col. 6, 40-41), where also an Assyrian man or 
woman is specified. 

100 iS-lu belit biti, i. e., the mistress of the house is not there. There is no 
suspicion of any 'procuress' in the case. 

1 The text at the beginning of this line is defective. I suspect a reading 
like [lu-u a$sati]-h'u mfy-4orat 'or that his wife is dead', to account in some 
other way for the woman being in the house alone with a strange man. The 
traces as given by Schroder can hardly be correct. 

2 Supply fci-i according to the traces. 

* Supply [us-bu}4u-u-ni. 

4 Traces point to [ina hx-ur-lpi]- ti-ti from sarabu 'steal'. 

* Read ta-la^as-bat, with the same overhanging la as in the two examples 
above given, § 2, note 21. 

• I. e., the aggrieved husband. 

7 Read [tal-du]-du-tir-ni as below in line 73. See above note 95. 

8 il-ti-H, as above, § 8 note 39. 

• us-bu-tu-ni here in the sense of 'being caught'. 

10 I. e. 12,600 shekels. A certain ambiguity arises in these laws because of 
the constant change of subject in the succeeding verbs, but the context clearly 
shows that the adulterer may purchase the man's wife whom he has raped. 

11 1, e., the husband takes her back. 

24 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

house, 12 he must pay three times the amount. 13 And if he denies 
it and says that he did not know, they take him to the river; 14 
and if the man in whose house the man's wife was seized returns 
from the river, 15 he must pay three times the amount. If the 
man whose wife in his face was carried off of her own accord, 
returns from the river, 16 he is free 17 — the river (sc. ordeal) settles 
all for her. 18 And if the man does not cut off the ear 19 of his wife 
who in his face, of her own accord, had been carried off, he takes 
his wife back and imposes nothing further upon her. 

If a woman is retained in her father's house 20 and her husband 
has died, the brothers of her husband may not divide 21 (the 
estate) even though she has no son. Whatever her husband 
has voluntarily 22 assigned to her, the brothers of her husband 
cannot annul 23 ; it is not to be included in the division. As for 

B Clearly, the wife of the man into whose house the woman was taken is 
meant and who (according to line 48 above) had nothing to do with the 
crime. Instead of the sign for woman (Dam) I read Nin =belit, as in line 48, 
and supply biti at the end of the line. A confusion between Dam and Nin 
is easily possible. The original probably has Nin. 

13 1, e., of the purchase price as above given or 37,800 shekels in lead. 

" To submit to an ordeal as above, § 15. 

15 1, e., survives the ordeal, by not being drowned, which survival appar- 
ently saved him only from the death penalty. 

16 He also must submit to an ordeal, because of the denial of the charge 
that he has brought against his wife and her seducer. 

17 za-arku. 

18 gi^im-ri-id, literally, 'all of her', i. e., the ordeal on the part of the two 
men decides her fate. 

19 Which he has a right to do, as above (col. 3, 57) set forth. Schroeder's 
text by a slip has asSat-su 'his wife' (accidentally repeated because of its 
occurrence in the next line) instead of uz-ni-ld 'her ear'. 

so A standing phrase to indicate that she is being supported by her father 
and does not live with her husband. The Hammurabi Code, § 142, likewise 
implies that the woman separated from her husband goes to her father's 

81 1, e., the whole pf the estate among themselves. 

M du^mar^-lfi, a word occurring here for the first time, so far as I can see, 
and which is found again, Col. 3, 97 (§ 25) and 5, 22 (§ 37). The context 
makes it clear that it designates what her husband has of his own accord 
given to his wife during the time that she lived with him. I take the word 
from the stem damdku, 'to be gracious'. 

23 &aZ-£tt-ii-m, literally 'destroy'. 

An Assyrian Law Code 25 

the balance of what the gods have provided 24 they are entitled 
to it. 26 They need not submit to a river ordeal or to an oath. 26 


If a woman is retained in her father's house and her husband 
dies, whatever her husband has voluntarily assigned to her, if 
there are children, they may take it, 27 but if there are no children, 
she takes it. 


If a woman is retained in her father's house, her husband may 
enter it (and) any marriage gift 28 which her husband had given 

ri A curious phrase, the meaning of which must be deduced from the 
context. It seems to be the equivalent of our 'what Providence has 
granted', though it may also have a more technical import. 

26 ba-ar-ru i-Uk-ki-ii,. Literally: 'they take as seized.' The phrase would 
seem to indicate that the brothers of the deceased lay their hands on any- 
thing which was not explicitly given by the husband to his wife. 

" The brothers need not submit to an ordeal nor swear an oath that they 
have not taken anything which belongs to the wife. They may settle the 
estate without further formalities, as handing in a sworn account and the 

" 1, e., a woman separated from her husband has no claim to the estate of 
her husband, if there are children. The widow is obliged to give up any- 
thing that he may of his own free will have given her during his lifetime. 
This is consistent with the law of divorce, as set forth in § 36. According to 
the Hammurabi Code (§ 150), the children have no claim after the death of 
their father on anything devised by him, by a duly sealed document, to his 

™ man-ma nu-du^un-na-a used, as in the Hammurabi Code, §§ 171-172, 
to designate the present which the husband gives to his wife at the time of 
marriage, whereas the bride's dowry which her father gives her is called 
ieriktu which to be sure likewise means 'a present'. Occasionally (so e. g. 
Ranke Babylonian Legal and Business Documents from the Time of the First 
Dynasty of Babylon, Nos. 84, 33 and 101, 13) nudunnu is used for the 'dowry', 
and this usage is met again in Talmudic literature in the corresponding nedunya 
(see Marcus .Tastrow, Talm. Dictionary, p. 878a) — applied to the wife's dowry 
from her father. The term is no doubt borrowed from Babylonian phrase- 
ology. As a survival of marriage by purchase, we have a third term tirhatu 
which, originally given to the father or to the widowed mother, is afterwards 
'tied' to the wife's 'girdle', as the phrase runs (see Schorr, Altbabylonische 
Rechtsurkunden, p. 293, and the references there given), and settled upon her 
by the father or husband. The purchase price appears to have become a 
mere formality in the course of time, as we may conclude from the sum of 
pne shekel being named in a document as the tirhatu (Schorr, ib., No. 36), 

26 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

her, he may take, but he has no claim on the house of her father. 2 ' 

If a woman enters a man's house 30 as a widow 31 and removes 32 
her minor 33 son of her own accord 34 from the house of her brother 
who brought him up, but no document of his adoption had been 
drawn up, he does not receive any share from the estate 35 of the 
one who xeared him 36 ; nor can one take him as a pledge 37 (for 
debt). From the estate 38 of his parents he receives the share 
due to him. 38 

though in other instances the amount given (19 shekels, Schorr No. 1, and 
4 shekels, ib., No. 3) indicates the gradual shading over of the 'purchase price' 
to a money dowry for the wife. By special agreement, according to Babylon- 
ian usage (Schorr, ib., No. 1), the tirbatu may revert to the wife in case of 
divorce. We thus have four terms that must be distinguished from one 
another (1) nudunnu, the obligatory gift of the husband at the time of mar- 
riage, (2) dumdku, 'act of grace' or any voluntary gift given by the husband 
after marriage, (3) Serilftu, the gift of father to bride, and (4) tir^atu, originally 
purchase price and then the marriage settlement on the wife. 

*• The phrase used is a-na id bit a-bi-M la-a i-fca-ar-ri-ib, i. e., 'he is not to 
draw near to anything which is of the house of her father,' by which is clearly 
meant that he has no claim on his father-in-law's property, merely because 
his wife has chosen to live there. 

80 1, e., remarries. 

81 (aU)ma-<ii-tu (<=almantu) like Col. 4, 71. Cf. the corresponding Hebrew 
term 'almanSh. 

a na-sa-a-at, more literally 'plucks away'. 

88 Read $d ur-da, from ridu 'lead', i. e., one whom one leads, to designate a 
small child. Riddu, from this stem is one of the terms for 'offspring' (Muss- 
Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, p. 956b.). 

84 il-ti-Sd, as above §§8 and 23. 

88 bltu, 'house', in the sense of 'estate', as in the preceding paragraph. 

" I. e., from the boy's uncle. 

87 bu-bu-id-li is the common word for 'interest', but the original meaning 
of the underlying stem appears to be 'to pledge', as in Biblical Hebrew. The 
meaning 'interest' would therefore be a derived one, pointing to the view 
originally taken of 'interest' as a 'pledge' for the return of the debt in full. 
In fact, what became interest on a debt may originally have been partial 
payment in lieu of the whole, so that each payment actually diminished the 
amount of the debt. The intent of the paragraph is to provide that the 
boy is not to be held as a pledge for the debt of his uncle, since he was not 
legally adopted and therefore does not belong to him. It is clear from this 
restriction, that adopted as well as natural sons could be pledged for debt, 
as well as wives and daughters. 

88 Again bUu, 'house'. 

•• fet'-i Jw-ti-iti 'according to his share'. See Text No. 2, § 1. 

An Assyrian Law Code 27 


If a woman enters her husband's house, 40 her dowry 41 and 
whatever she removes from her father's house or what her father- 
in-law upon her entering gave her, is free 42 for her children. The 
children of her father-in-law may not touch it, 43 and if her husband 
repudiates her, 44 then he may give it to his children, according to 
his pleasure. 


If a father brings to the house of the father-in-law of his son 46 
a gift of anything that may be carried, 46 the daughter is not thereby 
pledged 47 to his son; and if there is another son whose wife is 
retained in the house of her father, 48 and (the son) dies, then the 
wife of the dead son is handed over as a possession 49 to his other 
son. 50 

(Or) if the master of the daughter, 51 whose daughter has received 

40 1, e., marries him and lives in his house. 

41 M-4r-ki-sd, for which see above to § 25, note 28. 

48 za-a-ku — here used in the sense that the mother has the sole right to will 
such possessions to her children. So also in the Hammurabi Code, § 150, 
which specifies that the mother may will it to any child, but not to any brother 
of hers. It must remain in her husband's family. Presumably, the same 
liberty was granted the wife in Assyria, though the code does not specify 

43 la-a i-kar-ri-bu as above § 26, etc. Her brothers-in-law have no claim 
upon what her father-in-law has given to her. 

tl i-bu-ak-U from abaku 'overthrow', here in the sense of 'cast aside'. In 
case of divorce, therefore, the dowry and all gifts are retained by the husband, 
though in trust, as would appear, for his children among whom he may dis- 
tribute such property in any way that he likes. 

45 1, e., a betrothal gift for the prospective daughter-in-law. 

46 The phrase is intended legally to define what constitutes movable property. 

47 ta-ad-na-at from lad&nu. The gift of the father-in-law, though a part of 
the formal betrothal rites, still customary in the modern Orient (see notes 
60 and 61, to § 41 below), yet does not pledge the prospective father-in-law 
to give his son to the girl if certain circumstances should arise, nor is the 
father of the girl absolutely pledged by such a gift to give his daughter to 
the young man. The case is different (§ 30,) if the young man makes a be- 
trothal gift to his prospective wife. 

48 1, e., the wife is separated from her husband and lives with her father. 

4 ' a-na arfyur-zi-ti, i. e., for marriage. 

,0 1, e., the son, despite the betrothal gift, must marry his deceased brother's 

51 bel marti — here intended clearly as a synonym for abu 'father'. He is 
the bel biti 'master of the house', as he is elsewhere designated. 

28 Morris Jdstrow, Jr. 

the gift is not willing that his daughter should be pledged by 
it, 62 he, (i. e., the father of the young man), is free to take away 
the gift which had been brought to his daughter-in-law, 63 (and) 
to give it to his son. And if he chooses, whatever has been given — 
in lead, silver, gold, or anything except food, the capital thereof 
he may take back. 64 As for food — he has no claim upon it. 56 


If a man sends a gift 66 to the house of his father-in-law 67 and 
his wife dies, and if his father-in-law has other (daughters) and 
the father-in-law is willing, he may marry 68 another daughter 
in place of his dead wife, or he is free to take back whatever 
money 59 may have been given (sc. to the wife). Grain or sheep 

B I. e., he does not wish his daughter to be regarded as pledged by the 
gift and desires to be free to break the betrothal, which is entirely a matter 
between the parents of the prospective pair. 

** kal-la-a-sw=kallatsu. Kallatu is the ordinary term for bride (as in 
Hebrew) and then for daughter-in-law, as the bride of a man's son. To her 
own father, the bride remains the 'daughter', as her father continues to be 
the bel marti. The underlying stem of kallatu designates the wife as the 
one 'shut in'. Similarly the Sumerian term E-ge-a, is 'the one shut in in the 
house'. She is 'kept' (as the term runs throughout the Assyrian Code) either 
in the house of her husband, or, if separated from her husband, in the house 
of her father. 

64 1, e., the father-in-law has a claim on the capital of any gift that he may 
have sent, if the girl's father does not wish his daughter to be pledged by the 
betrothal gift. He is not entitled, however, to interest on anything which 
(like food) may be used. 

66 Any food sent by a man to his prospective daughter-in-law was intended 
to be eaten. It is therefore put on a par with interest on which the father- 
in-law has no claim. 

66 zu-bu-ul-la-a, which, as a betrothal gift of the prospective husband, 
constitutes a definite pledge to marry the girl, in contrast to the gift of the 
father of the young man which is not an irrevocable pledge. 

87 1, e., for his prospective wife living in her father's house. 

b *ifa-fya-az, 'takes', i. e., he marries the deceased wife's sister. By the 
betrothal gift of the prospective husband to a girl, the latter is viewed before 
the law as a wife, even though she dies before marriage had actually taken 

69 Ku-babbar, 'silver', here used as in the Hammurabi Code, or 'money'. 
The use of the term is purely conventional, just as the Latin 'pecunia' became 
a general term for 'money', without reference to its original meaning as 
possessions in cattle. 

An Assyrian Law Code 29 

or any kind of food is not given back to him 60 ; (only) money he 
receives back. 61 

If a woman is retained in the house of her father, her gift 62 
which was given to her, whether she takes it [to the house] 63 of 
her father-in-law or does not take it, cannot 64 serve as an asset 65 
[after the death (?)] 66 of her husband. 

(Very fragmentary, with the exception of the closing lines. 
The paragraph likewise deals with the status of the woman living 
in the house of her father, whose husband has died 67 and who 
has no children. Apparently, if there are no other brothers, she 
is given to her father-in-law as a possession. 68 The closing lines 
read: '.If her (husband) 69 and her father-in-law have died and 
she has no son, she has the status of a widow 70 and may go 
wherever she pleases'.) 

If a man marries 71 a widow, without drawing up a formal 

60 1, e., actual food sent to be consumed is not to be returned if the pros- 
pective son-in-law does not wish to marry a sister of his deceased bride. 
He is pledged by any betrothal gift to marry the girl, but not one of her 

61 1, e., only cash gifts are to be given back. 

62 a-na nu-du-wi-M. So the traces at the beginning of the badly preserved 
line. On nvdunnU, the marriage gift of her husband, see above, § 25 note 29. 

63 So evidently to be supplied in the gap. 

64 Read [la-a na-]aS-H. 

66 tyu-bu-til-U as above, § 27, — as a pledge for debt. A creditor of her hus- 
band has no claim on it. 

" According to the traces far-fci'-ti mi]4-ta. 

67 Read [li mu-nt-sa me]-it mare [la-a i-ba]-a$-$i. That there are no chil- 
dren follows also from the closing lines. 

6 «a-na e-mi-sd a-na a$M-zi]-(i i-4d-dansi — as in note 49. I. e., the father-in- 
law must marry her, which reminds, us of the Judah-Tamar episode in Gene- 
sis, 38. 

e ' Read [mu-ul-]sa. 

70 al-ma-at-[lu] li-4-it, i. e., her legal status is that of a widow, and the law 
regarding widows takes its course. The bond with the family into which 
the girl has married is dissolved if, at the time when her husband died, there 
are no brothers, and the father-in-law is no longer living. 

71 Literally, 'takes'. 

30 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

contract and for two years she is retained in his house, that woman 
need not leave (sc. the house). 72 


If a widow enters the house of a man, whatever she brings 
along 78 belongs to her husband, but if the man goes to the widow, 74 
whatever he may have brought, 76 all of it belongs to her. 


If a woman is retained in her father's house, albeit that her 
husband had placed a house at her disposal for shelter, 76 but 
her husband has gone to the field 77 without leaving her oil, wool 
or clothing or any produce or food or anything, and does not 
bring her any produce from the field, that woman for five years 
must be faithful to her husband, 78 and not go to live with any 
(other) man; whether there be children, who are hostile 7 ' (to 
her) and have withdrawn themselves (?), 80 that woman must be 
faithful to her husband, (and) not go to live with any (other man) ; 
or whether there be no children, she for five years must be faithful- 
to her husband, but on the approach 81 of the sixth year she may 

7 * I. e., Living with a man for two years constitutes what we would call a 
common-law marriage. According to the Hammurabi Code, § 128, the 
formal contract is essential to constitute a woman as a legal wife, but perhaps 
this was not meant to apply to marriage with widows. 

7 * na-sa-tu-4-ni, i. e., transfers from her home to the man's house. 

'* I. e., goes to live with the widow. 

'» na-as-su-ti-ni. The assumption in both instances is that there is no 
formal marriage by means of a contract. The widow is a free agent and 
can live with a man without becoming his possession by virtue of a contract. 
She can dispose of her property if she takes the man into her house and has 
a claim on what he brings, but if she goes to live with the man in his house, 
she forfeits the claim to what she had before taking this step. 

76 a-na ba-at-ti, from the verbal stem batu, 'to shelter', from which we get 
bUu 'house'. The case is that of a woman who is separated from husband 
because of non-support. 

" I. e., has gone away. 

78 pcwii mvAi-M ta-da-gal, 'the face of her husband she is to look up to' — 
a phrase indicating that she must be faithful to her husband. See Muss- 
Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, p. 240a. 

" in-^ia-ku-H-ru from nak&ru, 'to be hostile'. 

">e-ik-ku-lu from kalu 'hold back', i. e., do not support her. 

•* i-no ka-ba-a-si, 'at the threshold,' from kabasu, 'to tread'. 

An Assyrian Law Code 31 

go to live with the husband of her choice. 82 Since her husband 
upon going away has never come near her, she is free 83 to take 
another husband. 

(Or) if he delays for a term of five years of his own accord 
without coming near her, or a distaste (?) 84 for the city has seized 
him and he has fled, or he is taken as a rebel 86 and detained, 86 
(or) on his going away a woman takes hold of him who gives 
herself (to him) as his wife, and he takes her as his wife; 87 (or) 
if the king sends him 88 to another country and he delays for a 
period of five years and his wife has remained faithful to him, 
and has not lived with any (other) man 89 . But if within 90 the 
five years she goes to live with (another) man, and bears (him) 
children, to her absent husband has not been faithful according 
to the contract, 91 then she must take him 92 back and as for her 
children, he (i. e., the second husband) takes them. 93 

82 Literally, 'of her heart', i. e., she may take another husband. 

83 za-ku-at, i. e., free to decide. It is a clear case of desertion. 

84 ka a-li, 'distaste of the city', corresponding to the phrase ali-hi i-zi-ru-ma 
in-na-bi-tu, 'he hated his city and fled' in § 136 of the Hammurabi Code which 
forms a parallel to this section of our law. Note that as in our text, so the 
Hammurabi Code adds 'and fled'. By the side of alibi izir, it has also the 
synonymous phrase 'he deserts (id-di) his city and flees'. For the under- 
lying stem of ka ('to spit out' and then 'despise') see Muss-Arnolt, Assyrian 
Dictionary 901b. Perhaps one o has dropped out, so that we should read, 

85 Read sa-ar-[ri]. 

" Read li-to-afc-lba-ar]. 

" I. e., he comes across some woman and he marries her. We must supply 
that in that case his wife is likewise free to take another husband, since it is 
a clear case of desertion. 

88 il-ta-par-$ii from iaparu. 

89 Supply that in that case she is also free to marry, on the assumption 
that her husband is dead. 

'"i-na pa-ni. 

81 as-him ri-ik-sa, literally 'because of the contract', i. e., in view of the 
contract. The marriage contract is meant which probably stipulated that 
the wife must remain faithful, etc. 

82 a-na M-a-H, meaning the first husband. 

93 While there is a certain ambiguity in the text owing to the frequent shift- 
ing of the subject of the verb, the context as well as the comparison with the 
Hammurabi Code points to the children of the second marriage remaining 
as the second husband's property. Desertion is treated in the Hammurabi 
Code in §§ 133-136, all dealing with the case of the husband being captured. 
According to the first three paragraphs, if the husband has left maintenance 
in the house, the wife has no right to go to another man, and if she does, 

32 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 


If a man divorces 94 his wife, if he chooses he may give her some- 
thing, and if he does not choose, he need not give her anything 
and she goes away empty-handed. 95 


If a woman is kept (in the house of) her father and her husband 
divorces her, any voluntary gift 96 that he has bestowed upon her, 
he may take, but on her marriage settlement 97 which she brought 
with her he has no claim 98 ; it is free 99 for the woman. 

If a man has given another man's daughter 100 to a husband, 1 

she is drowned ('thrown into the water' — not a river ordeal, but actually 
drowned). If the husband has not left maintenance for his wife, then the 
latter if she goes to another man and bears him children must — as in our 
Code — go back to the first husband upon his return. The children from the 
marriage with the second husband belong to the second husband. The 
woman, however, receives no further punishment, since the first husband 
left no maintenance for her. If, however, (§ 136) the husband deliberately 
deserts his wife who thereupon marries another, the husband on his return 
cannot take his wife, because, as the text adds, 'he took a distaste for his 
city and fled'. There is no specification of any time limit in the Hammurabi 

91 e-iz-zi-ib, from ezebu, 'forsake' — likewise in the Hammurabi Code the 
term for divorce §§ 137-141 and 148. 

96 ra-hu-ti-e-ld. 

"du-ma-ki, as above, §§ 24-25. 

97 ti-4r-}ja-ti. See note 28 to § 26. Our passage is conclusive evidence 
that by the time of the Code the 'purchase price' for the wife had become 
the marriage settlement, devised for her by her father. 

98 la-a i-kar-ri-ib as in §§ 26, 28, etc. 

99 za-a-ku, i. e., entirely at the disposal of the woman and free of any claim 
to be made upon it. 

100 Literally, 'one who is not his daughter'. The case is that of a girl held 
for a debt contracted by her father and who has been handed over by him to 
a third party as a wife. According to § 47, this cannot be done without the 
consent of the father if he is living, and if the father be dead, the opportunity 
must be given to one of her brothers to redeem her, before the creditor can 
give a pledged girl to a man. Our law assumes that whatever formalities 
are necessary have been fulfilled, and takes up the question what the husband 
must do upon receiving the girl from her father's creditors. 

1 a-wa mu-ti, used for 'husband' throughout this Code. 

An Assyrian Law Code 33 

her father having been at some previous time 2 a debtor 3 for a 
transaction, 4 at the settlement 6 of a former business partner- 
ship, 6 he (i. e., the husband) must go (and) pay against the pledg- 
ing 7 of the girl the price 8 of the girl. If he cannot give the 
pledge, 9 then the man 10 takes 11 the one pledged. 12 

But if she is living in misery, 13 she is free 14 to any who rescues 
her 16 ; and if the one who takes the girl 16 , be it that a document 

*wm-ma pa-ni-ma, 'if formerly', detailing how the girl came to be held, 
because at some period in the past her father had contracted a debt which 
he could not pay. 

8 ftab-bu-vl — (occurring again § 47) 'the pledgor', clearly the term for the 
debtor — as against bel tyubvlli, 'the owner of the pledge', i. e., the creditor. 

4 ki-i la-par-ti, occurring again § 43 and Text No. 6, obv. 8 and 14. In the 
latter two passages sapartu is used in contrast to kaspu, 'money' or cash, 
from which we may conclude that iapartu, literally 'a shipment', from, 
'to send', designates a business transaction in products or property as against 
a money loan or other cash transaction. 

6 ie-M-bat, st. constr. of he&ublu from aiabu, 'to dwell, settle", etc., is the 
exact equivalent to our 'settlement'. 

* um-vni-cMiu pa-ni-tX. On ummianu (also Text No. 6, rev. 21 and 25) as 
a business partnership, see the passages in Schorr, Altbabylonische Rechts- 
urkurtden, Index s. v. p. 557. 

7 ina eli ta-di-na-a-wi — the latter a substantive formation in anu like naikanu, 
'adulterer' (above § 22), amiranu, 'eyewitness' (Text No. 1, §46) and afyizanu, 
'the taker' in our law, (see note 16), from tadanu, to give as security and the 
like. Tadindnu is, therefore, the object or person pledged. 

8 Stmxi, 'price,' i. e., the market value of the girl. The husband, who thus 
receives a girl as his wife, must pay her value to the one from whom he takes 
her and who had held her as a pledge or security for a debt remaining at the 
time of a dissolution of a business partnership. 

• a-na ta-da-a^ni la-al-M, more literally: 'it is not to him to pledge,' i. e., 
he has not the wherewithal to take over the pledge, i. e., the girl. 

10 1, e., the one mentioned at the beginning who held the girl as a pledge 
for her father's debt. Presumably the father is dead (see § 47), and there 
was no brother to redeem the girl or none willing to do so. 

11 1, e., he retains the girl or takes her back from the husband. 

" ta-di-na-na as above, note 7, i. e., the girl as the one pledged. 

K i-na lum-ni, a very general phrase to indicate bad treatment on the 
part of the one who held her for debt, though possibly the husband who 
obtains her by paying her market value is meant. 

14 Read [za]-ku-al, i. e., she may be rescued by anyone. 

u mu-bal4i-(a^ni-H, literally, 'who restores her to life', an interesting 
expression for the rescuer. 

16 Read a-fyi-za-a-[nu Sd]-a Sal, 'the taker of the girl.' See on the formation 
above, note 7. 

3 JAOS 41 

34 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

is drawn up for him 17 or that a claim is put in for him, 18 settles 19 
for the price of the girl, the one pledged 20 [is taken away (?)]. 


The first 15 to 20 lines of this law, which deals with the manner 
in which women of various grades and classes should appear on 
the street, are badly preserved. So much, however, is clear that 
the law begins by setting forth that married women and unmarried 
daughters 'when they go out in the highway' 21 are to appear 
with their heads [covered]. 22 The same applies to a third class of 
women — perhaps "concubines' (Sitgelim), who are mentioned in 
the Hammurabi Code §§ 137, 144-145 and 183-184 by the side 
of the chief wife. There is a further specification in regard to 
daughters who should be veiled, 2 * — perhaps those betrothed — 
whether in street dress 24 or in [house (?)] garments. 25 

17 ul-ta ru-4i-su = ustaru-s4. 

18 Read ru-ffw-[um-ma]-a ir-ti-U-ii-lni-e-es-sii] (cf. § 53, Col. 8, 14) 'they 
grant a claim for him'. 

18 Bead ii-Sal-lim, 'he makes good', as against i-sal-lim, 'he pays'. 

20 One would have expected ta-di-na-a-na [i-lefc-kil — i. e.., 'he (the rescuer) 
takes', but the reading is ta-di-na-a-nu in the nominative case which, there- 
fore, demands a verb in the passive sense. It is possible, however, that nu 
is a slip for na. In any case the meaning is perfectly clear that the rescued 
girl goes to the rescuer upon his redeeming her by paying her market value. 

21 Read M a-na ri-be-ti Ui-il-la-ku-ti-ni]. The beginning of the sign ti is 
visible. Cf. 11. 57 and 59. 

28 The verb is broken off. We must supply la-a pa-at-tu u-ni, 'not uncovered' 
or some such form as kutlumuni from katamu, 'cover'. Cf. the description 
of the night as the kallatum kuttumium, 'the covered bride' {Maklu Series, 
ed. Tallqvist, 1 . 2) — pointing incidentally to the custom of covering or veil- 
ing the bride. At all events, the context points clearly to the statement 
that the women are to go about with covered heads. 

" Read pa-as- [$u-na-at4u-iUni], followed by kakkad-si-na [la-a pa-at-iiv-ii-ni] 
i. e., they must be both veiled and with their heads covered. The covering 
of the head does not refer to a hat or bonnet, but means that women must 
conceal their entire head by a drapery, as is still the custom in parts of Syria 
and in Tunis, Algiers and Morocco. See the illustrations in Ploss-Bartels 
Dag Weib (9th ed. Vol. 1, pp. 527 and 531). 

**Ku ( = lubuitu) H ri-be-ti, 'dress of the highway'. 

* Specification broken off. It is reasonable to conjecture that, by way of 
contrast, house garments were mentioned. 

An Assyrian Laiv Code 35 

When the text again becomes legible (after two entirely effaced 
lines), it reads as follows: 

she need [not] 

be veiled. 26 In the dayfime when on the highway 27 she' 

goes about, she is to veil herself. The captive woman, 28 who 
without the mistress [of the house] 29 goes about on the highway, 
is to be veiled. The hierodule 30 who is married 31 to a man is to 

26 Read \la-a up-ta]-as-sa-[an], as in lines 57 and 65 of col. 5, from pcsHnu, 
which, in the meaning of 'conceal', occurs in the Babylonian text of the 
Behistun Inscription, line 102 (tapis§inu, 'thou coverest up'; see Muss- 
Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, p. 815b). The frequent occurrence of this stem 
in our law and in various forms (tu-up-ta-as-sa-an, pa-as-$u-un-ta, i-pa- 
as-sa, u-pa-as-sa-an, etc.) leaves no doubt as to the meaning 'to veil'. We are 
perhaps to supply ['when in the house,] she need [not] be veiled'. 

27 i-na ri-be-ti, equivalent to our 'in public'. What class of women are 
here referred to who are to be veiled in the daytime on the highway, but 
otherwise not, can unfortunately not be determined, because of the break in 
the tablet — perhaps the widow, for whom, as we have seen, there was a 
special legislation, e. g. §§ 33-34. 

28 e-si-4r-tu, i. e., the woman captured in war for whom, it will be recalled, 
special provision is also made in the Deuteronomic Code, Dt. 21. 10-14. 
According to our Assyrian Code, a man may recognize the captive woman 
as his wife (§ 40), just as according to Deuteronomy he is urged to legiti- 
matize a captive woman as his wife; and though free to dismiss her, if he no 
longer cares for her, he cannot sell her. The position of the esirtu, not actually 
married to the master of the house, would correspond to the modern 'mis- 
tress'. She would be required to go veiled in public, to mark her as the 
property of a man. 

29 Read belli blti, as in § 23. 

30 ka-di-il-tu = kadiitu, 'the sacred one', the well-known name for a class of 
temple prostitutes or hierodules. According to our Code, the kadiitu could 
either be married or unmarried. The Hammurabi Code, on the other hand 
(§ 181), assumes that Nu-Gig ( = kadiilu, Brunnow No. 3017), like the Nu- 
Mas (=zermaUtu, see Meissner, OLZ 8, p. 358), as a rule remains unmarried, 
for it stipulates that these two classes of votaries receive their 'dowry' from 
their father just the same. See examples of a kadiitu holding property in 
her own name in Schorr, Altbabylonische Rechtsurkunden, Nrr. 182 and 280. 
If the translation of i-na ir-ii-ti-id, 'at her betrothal', in No. 211. 6, is correct, 
she could also marry; and this is confirmed by the statement in a school 
text furnishing extracts from a Sumerian Code of Laws (VR 25. lOc-d), 
which takes up the case of a man marrying a kadiitu, despite her status. 
The kadiitu appears to act frequently as a wet-nurse, e. g., Schorr, Nos. 78 
and 241, where 'hierodules' appear as witnesses in a case involving the fee to 
be given to a wet-nurse. From this, we may also conclude that the kadiitu 
could marry or could become the mistress of the priest, as intimated by 
Herodotus, 1. 181. 'The priestess of Marduk', likewise mentioned in the 

36 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

be veiled on the highway. The one who is not married is to 
have her head uncovered on the highway. 32 The unclean 33 
[woman] is to be veiled, the harlot 34 is not to be veiled; her head 
is to be uncovered. 35 Whoever sees a veiled harlot shall seize 
her. 36 . He shall summon witnesses and bring her to the palace. 37 

Hammurabi Code, § 182, might also be married, as Schorr, No. 280. 14, 
shows, but the Nin-An ('woman of a god'), another class of votaries who 
live in cloisters, it would appear from the Hammurabi Code, § 127, must 
remain virgins, as one may also conclude from § 110, prescribing severe 
punishment for a Nin-An who enters a wine-shop, which was the brothel in 
Babylonia and Assyria. 

31 id mu-tu ih-zu-si-ni, 'whom a man has taken', sc. as a wife, ahazu being 
the regular term for taking in marriage. 

32 Since she does not belong to any man, she need not be marked as a warn- 
ing to those who might approach her. 

33 la-a-lu, see Muss-Arnolt, Assyrian Diet. p. 464b. Because of the demon 
of sickness or of uncleanliness within her, she must warn those whom she 
encounters not to come near her, as the leper in the Priest Code (Lev. 13. 
45) must go uncovered of head, but cover his upper lip and cry 'unclean, 

34 Kar-lil = #aran<u (Brunnow, No. 7745) is the common 'woman of the 
street', as she is called in a Sumerian Code (Lutz, Selected Sumerian and 
Babylonian Texts, No. 102, col. 2. 12). She is not a hierodule as Langdon 
renders {Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, October, 1920, p. 506). 

26 kakkadsa pa-at-tu — which shows that the phrase in the Priestly Code 
usually translated 'to let the hair of the head go loose' means rather that 
she is not to go 'covered of head'. So in Num. 5. 18, the case of the woman 
suspected of adultery — who is for the time being put on a plane with the 
harlot — must have her head uncovered, while undergoing the ordeal to deter- 
mine her guilt or innocence. The harlot is to be marked by being both unveiled 
and uncovered of head. The veiling of women which can now, through our 
Code, be traced back in the East to the middle of the second millennium, 
appears to be the custom introduced by a more advanced society and as a 
protection to the master of the household, so that every one may recognize 
his wife and his daughters and his mistress as his possessions, and forbidden 
to everyone else. Hence the harlot as belonging to everyone must not veil 
herself or cover her head. The veiling naturally leads to the introduction 
of the social factor. The veil becomes the distinguishing mark of the mistress 
of the house and therefore slave girls marked as such in other ways are not 
to be veiled. For a further discussion of this law with its bearings on Biblical 
passages mentioning the veil, and on the custom of veiling in Mohammedan 
countries, see an article by the writer on 'Veiling in Ancient Assyria' to appear 
in the Revue Archeologique. 

36 Read i-$a-ba-as-si=isabat-si, as shown by the parallel i-sa-ba-at-si (line 
90). The sign sa has dropped out or has been omitted by Schroeder. 

37 a-na yi-i ekal-lim, literally, 'to the entrance of the palace'. 

An Assyrian Law Code 37 

Her finery 38 they shall not take away, (but) the garment in which 
she is seized shall be taken away. 39 She receives 50 lashes, and 
pitch 40 they pour on her head. And if a man sees a harlot veiled 
and lets her go, 41 (and) does not bring her to the palace, that 
man receives 50 lashes, his batikan 42 (and) his garment are taken 
away. His ear they pierce, 43 boring it with a drill 44 and attaching 
it (i. e., the lobe) to the back 45 (sc. of the ear) and he must perform 
one month's royal service. Slave girls are not to go veiled. 46 If 
one sees a maid veiled, one must seize and bring her to the palace. 
They cut off her ear, and the garment in which she is seized is 
taken away. 47 If a man sees a maid veiled and lets her go, does 
not seize her and does not bring her to the palace, they seize him 

38 H-ku-ut-ta, 'precious, costly' (Muss-Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, p. 
1035a), here seems to refer to the harlot's ornaments. 
"I. e.,- she is probably exposed. 

40 ki-ra-a, for which Hommel long ago suggested 'pitch' (Muss-Arnolt, 
Assyrian Dictionary, p. 432b). Since pitch was used for caulking, the term 
also acquired the force of 'caulking' in the sense of filling up with pitch. So 
in the Deluge Story (Gilgamesh Epic XI, 66). 

41 ti-ta-as-sar (also line 95) from asaru, which among many meanings also 
has the force of 'let go', and from which the intensive form ussuru means to 
'release, acquit', etc., as used in our code, e. g., § 4. 

42 ba-a-ti-ka-ah-su (so also to be supplied in line 104) is an implement of 
some kind made of iron (Muss-Arnolt, p. 206b) but exactly what is meant is 
hard to tell — perhaps a sword, or possibly the ornamental stick (like a mace- 
head) which, according to Herodotus, I. § 195, every freeman carried. 

43 u-pal-lu-u-sti, from palasu, 'to pierce'. 

44 i-na ib-li, evidently designating the boring instrument. 

46 a-na ku-tal-li-liX. The pierced lobe of the ear is bent back and attached 
with an awl to the back of the ear. This is apparently done to disfigure the 
individual. The piercing alone without the attaching of the lobe to the 
back of the ear occurs in our text, § 43, as a punishment for the one who 
retains an Assyrian man or woman in his house for debt. The 'boring of 
the ear' in the Covenant Code (Ex. 21. 6) and in the Deuteronomic Code 
(Deut. 15. 17) for the slave who declines to accept his freedom, must have 
been originally a form of branding the slave. Perhaps a clay tag was attached 
to the pierced lobe, identifying the slave. The Biblical law which proposes 
to modify the law of slavery by limiting slave service (in the case of Hebrews) 
to a period of six years — practically an indenture— retains the old custom 
of thus branding slaves, but limits it to slaves who decide to remain with 
their master. 

46 Because belonging to a lower class of society. Slave girls no doubt were 
distinguished in some other way, perhaps by a tag attached to the ear or by 
a brand on the forehead. 

47 As a female slave, she is not supposed to have any finery. 

38 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

and determine his guilt. He receives 50 lashes. They pierce 
his ear, boring it with a drill (and) attaching it [to] its [back] 
(sc. of the ear). His [balikan] 4 * and his clothing [are taken away]; 49 
[he must perform] 50 one month's royal service. 

If a man places 61 his captive woman 52 veiled among five (or) 
six 83 of his companions' (and) in their presence veils her 54 and 
says 'she is my wife', — then she is his (legal) wife. The captive 
woman, who in the presence of men 55 is not veiled, and her hus- 
band does not say 'she is my wife' — is not a (legal) wife; she is a 
captive 65 woman. If the man dies and there are no children to 
his veiled wife, 67 the captive 68 children are regarded as (his) 
children. 69 They'receive their share. 

If a man on the day of blessing (?) 60 pours oil on the head of a 

48 The traces point clearly to \ba-ti-]-ka-an-su as above, line 82. 

49 So the traces as above, line 80. 50 So to be filled out as above, line 87. 
61 u-se-si-ib, or as we would say 'introduces her'. 52 e-si-ir-tu-sii. 

" Expressed by the numeral five, followed by six without any connecting 
particle. To introduce a veiled woman to five or six individuals is equivalent 
to a public announcement of her status. 

64 u-pa-sa-an-si. a sabe, 'soldiers', but used for men in general as in § 18. 

66 e-si-ir-tu-ti-ma si-i-it, i. e., her status is that of an' esirlu. She is the 
man's mistress, not his legal wife. 

67 1, e., his legitimate wife. 

68 es-ra-a-ti, plural of esirtu, i. e., the children of the captive mistress. 

69 1, e., as the legitimate heirs. 

60 i-na ami ra-a-ki—an obscure phrase. The act here referred to of pouring 
oil on a man's daughter appears to be some ceremony performed by the 
father on a prospective daughter-in-law, marking his acceptance of the marri- 
age agreement which, in accordance with custom, was arranged by the parents 
of the young couple. The pouring of the oil might be a form of blessing to 
symbolize the hoped-for fertility from the union. But what is the raku 
day? According to IIR 36, No. 3. 72, ra-a-ku is entered as an equivalent of 
the Sumerian Sar, which has such meanings as 'blessing, fertility, increase, 
offspring,' and the like (see Briinnow, Nrr. 8218; 8226-8228; 8231-8232, 
etc.). Tentatively, therefore, one may assume that the phrase stands in 
connection with the blessing of the prospective bride by the father-in-law. 
Among the Moroccans to this day, there are special designations for the 
days marking the betrothal ceremonies, as the 'day of finishing' and 'the 
day of fulfillment', etc. See Westermarck, Marriage Ceremonies in Morocco, 
p. 31. At all events, the ceremony of anointing the head of the bride consti- 
tutes a symbolic acceptance of the marriage arrangement, after which the 
engagement can not be revoked. 

An Assyrian Law Code 39 

man's daughter, or in a sakultu brings products (?) 61 there can be 
no revocation. 62 

If a man, be it that he pours oil on the head 63 or brings pro- 
ducts^), and the son for whom she was intended as a wife dies 
or flees,* he is to give her to anyone whom he pleases among his re- 
maining sons from the eldest to the youngest whose years are 10. 64 
If the father dies, and the son for whom he had intended (sc. the 
girl) as a wife dies, any son that there may be of a deceased son 
whose years are ten marries her 66 ; and if at the end of ten years 

61 Even more obscure is the second symbolical ceremony here described. 
To judge from the context, the sakultu is a receptacle in which something is 
carried to the bride, while the word that follows fyu-m-up-pa-a-ti (pi. of 
tywruptu) would represent gifts of some sort. The only meaning we have 
for the underlying stem fyarapu is 'to pluck, tear' and the like (gathered from 
a Syllabary, S c . 222; Muss-Arnolt, p. 339b), from which we get ftarpu 'harvest 
time' (cf. Hebrew horeph). The most plausible guess, therefore, is that 
buruppati are field products, offered to the bride — perhaps again as a symbol 
of the hoped-for f ruitf ulness of the union . Such gifts form part of the betrothal 
ceremonies among the Moroccans of the present time. See Westermarck ib. 
pp. 33, 43, 45, 47, etc. (wheat, butter, flour, sugar; also sheep). 

ei lu-ur-ta la-a u-ta-ar-ru, literally! 'a revocation they cannot revoke' — 
the term used being the same (from taru, 'return, restore,' etc.) which is else- 
where in the Code used for restitution, e. g., § 2. The two ceremonies repre- 
sent the agreement on the part of the prospective father-in-law to the marri- 
age. Hence the obligation resting on the latter — as set forth in the next 
law — to provide a husband for the girl from among his sons, if the son intended 
for the girl dies before the marriage takes place. 

63 Sc. 'of a man's daughter,' as in the previous paragraph. Note that 
ina umi raki and ina sakulti are omitted in this abbreviated description of 
the ceremony. 

64 Note the construction, '(a son) who has his ten years', as in Hebrew 'a 
son of ten years'. The age of ten is, therefore, the minimum age of betrothal 
for the young man. Early betrothals — even before the age of puberty — are 
still customary in the East. See, e. g., Lane, Modern Egyptians, 1, p. 214 
(betrothals at 8 or 7 years of age), Westermarck, Marriage Ceremonies in 
Morocco, pp. 34-48. 49, and Ploss-Bartels, Das Weib (9th ed. Leipzig, 1908), 
1, pp. 698, 702, 704, etc. The point of our law is that the prospective father- 
in-law is obliged to provide a husband for the prospective daughter-in-law, 
after the ceremonies described have been performed. 

65 ify-fya-az— the usual term for 'marriage' as above pointed out. The 
case assumed appears to be that there are no brothers of the deceased pros- 
pective husband living, in which case one of the grandsons must marry the 
girl, provided he is of age, i. e., 10 years old. 

40 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

the sons of any son are (still) minors, 66 the father of the girl 
may, if he pleases, give his daughter (in marriage), 67 and, if he 
pleases, he may make recompense 68 by agreement 69 ; and if 
there is no (other) son, 70 whatever may have been received in 
money (?) 71 or anything except food, 72 the capital 73 (thereof) is 
to be returned, but any food is not to be returned. 

If an Assyrian man or an Assyrian woman 74 is retained 75 for 
a transaction, 76 whatever its amount, 77 in the house of a man, 

" $i-ify-fyi-ru 'are small' — still too young to be betrothed. The father of 
the girl need not wait any longer if he has a chance to marry off his daughter. 

67 1, e., to any one of these minors, despite their minority. 

" iu-ur-ta .... u-ta-ar. 

•• a-na mwt-ba-ar, which apparently means that the relatives of the one 
to whom the girl was betrothed must be recompensed for the failure of the 
marriage agreement. 

70 1, e., no brother of the deceased prospective husband or no grandson. 

71 The text has Na, the sign for 'stone', used as a determinative before 
stones and metals, but which acquired a more general sense to designate any 
inorganic substance, as against the sign for 'plant' for organic substances of 
any kind In legal phraseology Na appears to have been applied to any 
metal used in coinage, 'lead, silver or gold', as is more specifically indicated 
in another passage in the Code, § 29 (col. 4, 37). 

72 As above in §§ 29-30, it is assumed that food given to anyone is for 
consumption and is not to be reckoned as a betrothal gift that may under 
certain circumstances be taken back. This would tend to confirm that 
fpuruppati (above, note 61) at all events include food products as is the case 
in Moroccan betrothal ceremonies. 

73 Icalfkad as in § 29. 

74 The specific references to Assyrians in the Code (see above § 23, col. 3. 
46) and Text No. 6 obv., 20, in Schroeder's volume and No. 143 (PL 89, 
obv. 8) are of interest as showing that there was not in Assyria 'one law for 
the native and the stranger', which is the ideal in the Priestly Code (Ex. 12. 
49; Num. 9. 14). 

75 1, e., as a pledge. From this passage it appears that men as well as 
women were held as hostages for debt, though the purpose of the law is to 
prevent Assyrians from being so held. Hence the severe punishment meted 
out to those who committed the crime. The law, however, does not apply 
to wives, minor sons and unmarried daughters who could be thus pledged — 
whether Assyrians or not — by the husband and father, and retained by the 

76 sa-par-U as above § 38 (also Text No. 143, obv. 7). 

77 am-mar ilmi-sA, i. e., for the amount of the transaction. 

An Assyrian Law Code 41 

the full amount is taken away, 78 and he is obliged to give a quit- 
tance. 79 They mutilate his ear by boring. 80 

If a woman is pledged 81 [to] 82 her husband who has been captured 
by an enemy, and she has neither father-in-law nor son, 83 for two 
years she must remain faithful to her husband. 84 (But) during 
these two years she may go and testify that she has not had any 
support and that she is a dependent(?) upon the palace. 85 She 

78 1, e., the creditor as a fine forfeits the value of the transaction by order of 
the court. 

" i-na-at-tu i-ba-ak-ka-an. My translation rests on the interpretation of 
ibakkan as a denominative verb of bukanu, which is of frequent occurrence in 
sale documents dealing with slaves or real estate, to indicate that the trans- 
action is legally concluded. The phrase in business documents reads: 'he 
has handed over the bukanu'. (See the passages in Schorr, Altbabylonische 
Rechtsurkunden, s. v., p. 516.) The ideographic designation (Gil) Gan, shows 
that the bukanu was a utensil of some kind (cf . Ungnad, Zeits.fiir Assyriologie, 
23, p. 88) used as a symbol and serving, therefore, as a formal recognition 
of the transaction. If the bukanu was (as is generally assumed) a 'staff', 
we would have an analogous practice in the lex salica to which B. Fehr, 
Hammurapi und das Salische Recht, p. 40, called attention. But whatever 
the symbol was, it served as a receipt, and our verb (the intensive form points 
to its being a denominative) is therefore to be taken in the sense of a legally 
completed transaction. Literally, therefore, 'It is proper (or obligatory) 
that he (sc. the offender) should hand over the bukanu'. 

80 u-f)ap-pa, from ^ipu, 'destroy'. On the boring of the ear, see above § 39. 

81 ta-ad-na-at, Permansive 3d person fern, from tadanu, which we encoun- 
tered above, § 29. The woman is betrothed but not actually married. 

82 Read a-na. 

83 She is deprived of support by her husband, and has no one to look after 
her. Her father-in-law, presumably, is dead and she has no offspring. 

84 pa-ni ta-ad-da-gal as above, § 35, to indicate that she is not free to marry 
until after the expiration of two years. 

85 The text is defective at the beginning of the line, so that there is a doubt 
as to the term to be supplied before sd ekal-lim, 'of the palace'. Three signs 
are clear, to wit: la-4-tu. The traces of the one preceding la point to kal. 
It may be, therefore, that she is designated as 'a bride of the palace', but this 
is unlikely for two reasons: (1) the meaning is obscure, and (2) we should 
expect kal-la-tu. Furthermore, there is room for another sign before kal. 
The most probable restoration seems to me to be tuk-kal-la^i-tu from takalu, 
'to entrust', designating the woman as one whose charge falls to the state, 
in view of the fact that she is left without support in consequence of her 
betrothed's departure. It is assumed that her betrothed has been captured 
while in the service of the state (dan-na-at sarri, 'service of the king', line 82). 

42 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

has no one 86 to support her and whose service 87 she might do. 
She is a 88 

(At this point and for seven lines the text is defective. There 
is apparently a reference to the state(?) stepping forward to 
'support her' by placing a field and house — presumably the 
entailed property of her husband for which she is held — at her 
disposal. She is represented as again 'going' to testify that she 
has 'no support'. When the text becomes legible it reads as 

The judges immediately (?) 89 . . . shall ask the magistrates 90 of 
the city that they go to the field in that city and turn over 91 
the field and the house to be used for her support for two years. 
She occupies it and they draw up a document for her. Upon 
the completion of the two years, she may go to live with the 
man of her choice. 92 A document for her as of widowhood 93 
they draw up. If at any future time her lost husband returns to 

Another reading which is possible is suk-kal-la-i-tUj a feminine adjectival 
form for sukhallu designating a 'deputy'— some one attached to a high official 
(see Johns, Assyrian Deeds and Documents, Vol. 2, p. 88). In any case the 
term used defines the dependent position of the woman, which is further 
described in the following line — unfortunately still more defective. 

86 Read Ua]-ds id, 'there is not to her', i. e., she has no one. 

87 In return for her support. Read [U-pa-]ar-su ti-ip-pa-as, as in § 45 
(col. 6, 108). 

89 Her status is further defined, but the line is too broken to be restored. 
The word fru-ub-si (genitive), perhaps 'attached',. points to another designa- 
tion of the deserted woman as dependent upon the state, which must step in 
to 'support her', as is indicated at the close of the following line — likewise 

89 Read ha-sis, favored by the traces, the meaning of which fits the context. 

90 (Lu)Gal (Mes) {=.rabuti) sd a-li, a class of officials often mentioned in 
legal documents of Assyria. See Johns, Assyrian Deeds and Documents, 
2, p. 155, for their functions. 

91 up-pu-su, literally, 'to be made', i. e., converted to her use. The expres- 
sion 'field and house', must be taken in the general sense of property — a 
dwelling and means of support through a cultivated field— placed at the 
disposal of the deserted woman. 

92 Literally, 'of her heart,' i. e., she is free to marry anyone whom- she 
chooses if her husband does not return. The paragraphs in the Hammurabi 
Code (§§ 133-135) dealing with the captured husband (see above, to § 35) 
mention no time limit. 

93 dup-pa sd ki-i al-ma-ti, i. e., she is given the status of a widow, free to 
marry again. The assumption is that her betrothed from whom she had 
not heard for two years, is dead. 

An Assyrian Law Code 43 

the land, he may take away from his wife what she may have 
secured on loan, 94 (but) on her sons whom she bore to her second 
husband he has no claim. 95 Her second husband takes (them). 
The field and the house which for her support at the full value 
were deeded (to her) as a loan, 96 if he (sc. her first husband) was 
not in the service of the king, 97 he must refund what was deeded to 
her 98 and (then) take (it). But if he does not come back and dies 
in another country, then his field and his house in place of what 
the king gave 99 is to be given. 

If a woman whose husband dies had not left the house of her 
husband within a year, 100 and if her husband has not assigned 1 

94 a-na ki-i-di, as above, § 6 (col. 1, 71). 

96 la-a i-kar-ri-ib 'he may not draw nigh' in the sense of having no claim, 
as above §§ 26, 28, 37, etc. This is in agreement with § 135 of the Ham- 
murabi Code — the case of a woman whose husband (without providing for 
her support) has been captured and who marries another man and has chil- 
dren through him. She must go back to her husband on his return, but the 
children belong to their father, i. e., to the second husband. The assumption 
in §§ 134 and 135 is that the husband has been captured while on 'royal 
service' — as in our text. 

96 Again a-na ki-i-di, which here is equivalent to our loan. The reference 
is to the action of the state which had placed the field and house at her dis- 
posal for two years for her support. 

97 1, e., had not gone away in public service, whether to war or on some 
mission as is assumed in the first part of the law. The phrase used, a-na 
dan-na-at sarri, 'the service of the king', occurs a number of times in the 
Hammurabi Code, e. g., § 27, which also bears on our law. It reads: 'If 
a garrison officer or constable returns from the service of the king after they 
have given his field or his plantation to another, upon his return to the city, 
they restore to him his .field or his plantation and he attends to his business 
(sc. as before)'. Assuming that this was also the law in Assyria, the man 
who goes away on private business is at a disadvantage, in being obliged to 
refund the state for the support of his wife during his absence. 

98 ki-i la-ad-nu^ni, i. e., he must pay the sum 'pledged' or deeded to her 
before he can get possession of his property — the field and house. 

99 His estate falls to the State, in return for the support given her for two 
years by placing a property at her disposal. It is interesting to note that 
the king in this Assyrian Code is still looked upon as the source and represen- 
tative of all governmental authority, but the use pf the plural verb (id-du- 
nu^ii-ni with a-sar sarri) also shows that the term has become a conventional 
one for the state or the court as a collective body. 

100 1, e., had not separated from him within a year of his death. 
1 U4u-ra-ai-Se (=isturasa), 'written for her'. 

44 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

anything to her, in a house of one of her sons, whichever one she 
chooses, she may dwell. The sons of her husband are to support 2 
her with her food and her drink 3 . As to a bride whom one loves 
they should attach themselves to her. 4 And if she was a second 
wife 6 and had no sons of her own, (with those of) the first wife 6 
she is to dwell. Together 7 they should support her. If she has 
sons of her own, the sons of the former wife 8 may decline to sup- 
port her. In a house of her own sons, whichever one she chooses, 
she is to dwell. Her own sons are to support her and she shall 
do their service. 9 And if among the sons of her husband, the 

one who had taken her [to support] her 

(The rest of the law — four lines — is broken off. Presumably, it 
stipulated that if the son in whose house she lived dies, then 
another son must take his place for the support of the mother, 
the last word of the law, 'support her', is preserved.) 

If a man or a woman practice sorcery 10 and they are caught in 
the act, they seize them and determine their guilt. Anyone who 

2 u-tsd-ku-luii H, literally: 'feed her'. 

3 ti-kul-ti-§d u ma-aUti-sa. 

* ti-ra-ak-ku-su-ni-es-se, from rakdsu, 'to bind'. This is the single passage 
in the Code in which a note verging on a gentle sentimentalism is struck. 
The sons should treat the widowed mother lovingly and with attachment 
to her. 

6 ur-ki-it-tu, corresponding to the Sumerian egirra in the Sumerian Code 
(Lutz, Sumerian and Babylonian Texts, No. 102, col. 1, 2, etc.) to designate 
a second wife by the side of the first one. 

* U-te-en4u=iMentu, 'first'. 

7 a-na pu-uf^-ri-su-nu, 'together', i. e., each bearing his share. 

8 pa-ni-ti, i.e., the first wife who may still be living, though the term may 
also imply that she has died. 

* U-par-su-nu- (as in § 44 above), the same expression as in the frequent 
reference to 'service of the king'. The mother is to render service in return 
for her support, to assist in the household of the son with whom she lives or 
in the field. 

10 kis-pi, the same term which is used in the second law of the Hammurabi 
Code dealing with the charge of sorcery preferred against someone and pro- 
viding a river ordeal for the one suspected, if the charge cannot be definitely 
established. If he succumbs to the ordeal (i. e., the river-god drowns him), 
then his property goes to the accuser. If he is proved innocent, he takes the 
property of the accuser who is'put to death. It is characteristic of primitive 
law everywhere to forbid sorcery and to punish the offender with death. 
See Post; Afrikanische Jurisprudenz, 2. p. 64-67. See also Ex. 22. 17, and 
the long list of various classes of sorcerers and demons, Deut. 18. 10-11. 

An Assyrian Law Code 45 

practises 11 sorcery is to be put to death. A man who witnessed 
the performance of sorcery, or the one who from the mouth of an 
eye witness 12 to the sorcery heard him say about them, 13 'I saw 
it', any one who hears 14 (this), must go (and) report it to the 
king. 16 If a witness who was (supposed) to report to the king 
denies it, and in the presence of Mercury, 16 the son of the Sun, 
declares 17 that he did not say so, — he is free. 18 The eye witness 19 
who (is reported to have) said so and denies it, the king interro- 
gates him as much as possible and sees his back. 20 The sorcerer 21 
on the day that they bring him (sc. to the king) shall be forced 
to confess^ and one should tell him 22 that 'from the oath 23 which 
thou hast sworn to the king and to his son, he (i. e., the king) will 

12 a-ml-ra-a-wi, literally: 'the one who saw', an eye-witness. 

13 About the man or woman suspected of sorcery. 

14 &d-ml-a-nu 'the hearer', i. e., 'an ear-witness.' 

16 1, e., either of these two kinds of witnesses (a) the amiranu, the direct 
witness and (b) the lamianu, the one who heard — and therefore an indirect 
witness — must report the occurrence to the king. This direct reference to 
the king — and later on in the law also to the king's son (as the heir to the 
throne) — may be taken as an indication of the antiquity of the law, just as 
in the Hammurabi Code the section dealing with sorcery belongs to the 
oldest stratum of the Code. See Jastrow, 'Older and Later Elements in the 
Code of Hammurabi' (JAOS 36, p. 32). 

16 The god Gud ('bull') is the planet Mercury, frequently mentioned in 
Astrological texts. Mercury as the smallest of the five planets known to 
the Babylonians and Assyrians and being always near the sun is appropriately 
designated as the son of the sun-god (Shamash). This reference to 'Gud, the 
son of Samas' occurs again in an omen text, Cuneiform Texts, XXVII, 4. 19 
( = PI. 6, 15), describing twins born to a woman, 'with a joint like Mercury, 
the son of the Sun' (sc. is joined to the sun). It is a case like that of the 
famous Siamese twins. 

17 1, e., swears. 

18 za-a-ku. 

18 a ml-ra-a-nu. 

20 Exactly what is meant by this phrase is not clear — perhaps 'he dismisses 

41 a-M-pu. 

22 u hX-ut i-lfa-ab-bi, i. e., warn him. 

23 ma-mi-ta, i.e., the clearance oath. 

46 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

not absolve thee. 24 According to the document which is sworn 
to the king 25 and his son, thou hast sworn.' 26 


If a man who has retained 27 the daughter of a man who is his 
debtor, 28 as a pledge in his house, asks her father, he may give 
her to a man; (but) if her father is not willing he cannot give 
(her). 29 If her father has died, the owner 30 must ask among her 
brothers. To each one of her brothers in turn 31 he shall speak, 
and if one brother says : ' I will redeem 32 my sister in one month,' — 
if at the end of the month he does not redeem (her), the master 83 
is at liberty, to declare her free 34 and to give her to a man. 

(Of the rest of the law — 18 lines — only partial lines are preserved. 
The case of a harlot who dies is referred to towards the close.) 

(The first six lines of thig law are badly preserved. From the 
first line which may be restored as follows: 

'[If a man] strikes [the wife of a man],' 
the general subject is revealed. There is also an indication in 
the sixth line that a miscarriage (or a still birth [?]) has taken 
place in consequence of the blow. The text then continues as 

He must make restitution for human life. 35 And if the woman 

24 la-a i-pa-id-ra-ku-nu. The sorcerer is to be warned of the consequences 
of perjury. 

26 1, e., the written testimony. 

26 ta-am-'a-a-ta, i.e., the written deposition stands against him, if it is found 
that he is guilty of sorcery. 

27 The girl is held for debt. 

28 fyab-bu-U-sti. See above, § 38, note 3. 

29 1, e., the father's consent must be given to the girl's being handed over to 
a third party. 

30 belu, i. e., bel blti, 'the master of the house', in this case, the creditor. 

31 Sii-uJ, equivalent here to our 'respectively'. 
" ft-pa-tar. See note to § 5. 

83 Again belu. See the above note 30. 

" u-zak-ka-a-M, here in the sense of not being obliged to undergo any further 
formalities. He can dispose of the girl freely. 

36 nap-hd-a-ti u-ma-al-la (referring to what precedes), set forth in the form 
of a general legal principle, and, therefore, repeated at intervals in the law 
as a standing phrase, as the result of the blow. Cf. Text No. 2, § 1, nap-id- 
a-ti ik-mu-ur 'he destroyed human life', napiati though a plural is used 
collectively for 'human life'. 

An Assyrian Law Code 47 

dies, they put the man to death. In compensation 36 for her (lost) 
offspring, he must make restitution for human life. And if the 
husband of that woman has no son, and they strike his wife so 
that she has a miscarriage, in compensation for her (lost) offspring, 
they put the one who struck the blow to death. 37 And if what was 
in her womb was a (developed) foetus 38 , he must make restitution 
for human life. 

If a man strikes the wife of a man not yet advanced in preg- 
nancy 39 so that she has a miscarriage, 40 for that guilt he must hand 
over two talents of lead. 41 

If a man strikes a harlot 42 so that she has a miscarriage, blow for 
blow they impose upon him. He must make restitution for human 
life. 43 

If a woman with her consent brings on a miscarriage, 44 they 
seize her and determine her guilt. On a stake they impale her 46 

39 ki-i-mu-ti, 'in place of. 

37 The milder law in § 20, imposing a fine, lashes and public service, applies 
to a man's daughter. The severer punishment here is for two reasons, (1) it 
is a man's wife, and (2) there is no male offspring and there may be none in 
the future, because of injury to the woman. 

38 $u-}}a-ar-tu, i. e., 'a little one' — to designate that the woman's pregnancy 
was advanced to the extent of a developed foetus, close, therefore, to being 
an actual human life. 

38 la-a mu-ra-tti-la, 'not large' through pregnancy, by way of contrast to a 
woman dropping a guhartu, according to the previous instance. 

40 Afterwards, in consequence of the injury. 

41 The same fine as in § 20, the pregnant daughter of a man, but without 
the 50 lashes and one month's royal service. 

42 Kar-Ul ( = barimtu) as in § 39; also § 47 towards the close. 

43 The law does not specify in what manner. It is hardly to be assumed 
that in the case of one striking a harlot, the offender is put to death if by a 
premature birth a human life is lost. The restitution is more probably a 
fine to be fixed by the court, or by agreement with the woman. 

44 I. e., by malpractice. 

46 The Hammurabi Code (§ 153) prescribes impaling for the woman who 
conspires for the death of her husband. 

48 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

and do not bury her 46 ; and if through the miscarriage she dies, 
they (likewise) impale her 47 and do not bury her; and when they 
curse 45 that woman because of her miscarriage, they say [to her 

(?)] 49 • 

(The rest of the law — nine lines — is broken off.) 


(Of this law only a few signs of the last four lines are left. It 
likewise dealt with striking a woman, slave girls and perhaps 


[If a man] takes a virgin from the house 50 of her father, [and 
against her will (?)] 61 does not return (her) to him; and if [by 
force?] 52 she had not been deflowered 53 and had not been handed 
over 54 , nor held as a claim on the house of her father, any man 

48 No burial was the worst curse that could be imposed upon any one. It 
meant that the etimmu, or shade of the dead, wandered about without a 
resting place in Arallu — the gathering-place of the dead — suffering pangs of 
hunger and thirst. See the vivid description at the close of the Gilgamesh 
Epic (Jastrow, Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 512). 

47 1, e., they impale the corpse — a good instance of Assyrian barbarism. 
See Post Afrikanische Jurisprudenz, 2, p. 46, for examples of punishment 
extended even to the corpse — characteristic of primitive society, though it is 
worth noting that (as Mr. C. H. Burr informs me) the same punishment was 
imposed on the corpses of suicides in England till 1823, and their personal 
property was confiscated till as recently as 1870. 

48 Read [i-iz]-zi-ru-u-si. 

49 The form of the curse was presumably given. 
60 Read [is-tu bit a-Jri-i-id \us-bu-]tu-ii-ni. 

" One hesitates between supplying a-na bi-ii-hd, 'to her house', which would 
make a somewhat awkward construction, and ina pa-nv-ld (cf . § 23), in con- 
trast to ra-ma-an-M, 'with her consent', in § 54. 

62 Are we perhaps to read [ina-e-mu-ka], 'by force'? The traces of ka are 
clear in Schroeder's copy. 

•* la-a pa-ti-a4u-*i-ni, 'not opened', the general term for the untouched 
virgin or animal. One is reminded of the law in the fragment of a Sumerian 
Code published by Clay, Miscellaneous Inscriptions in the Yah Babylonian 
Collection, No. 28, §§ 6-7, where a distinction is made between a girl abducted, 
but not 'known' (i. e., not raped) and one who was abducted and 'known' or 
actually seduced. 

64 la-a ah-za-tu-u-ni, 'not taken', i. e., 'not taken by any one as a wife,' 
here applied to the girl captured, but not actually handed over to some man. 

An Assyrian Law Code 49 

who whether within a city or outside, whether at night on- a high- 
way or at an eating house, 65 or at a city festival forcibly (?) 66 
seizes the virgin (and) violates her, 67 the father of the virgin takes 
the wife of the seducer 68 of the virgin and gives her to be ravished. 
To her husband he does not return her; he takes her away (from 
him). 59 The father of the ravished girl gives her as a possession 60 
to the seducer. If the man has no wife, then three times the 
purchase price of the virgin the seducer must give to her father. 
The seducer who marries her cannot spurn her. 61 If the father 
does not wish to receive three times the price of the girl, 62 he may 
give his daughter to any whom he pleases. 


If a virgin with her consent gives herself to a man, 63 the man 
must swear an oath (sc. to that effect). On his (sc. the adulterer's) 
wife 64 there is no claim. The seducer gives three times the price 
of the virgin, and the father can do to his daughter what he pleases. 

66 bit ka-ri-e-ti, 'house of feasting', which seems to correspond to our 

"fci-i da-'a-a-^ni, an obscure phrase but for which I suggest a meaning 
'duress'. Cf. di'atu for 'distress', Ungnad, Babylonische Briefe, p. 286. 

*' i3rma-an-zi-e- e-U, from mazu, 'to press' — an euphemistic term to indicate 
rape. It is not surprising to find so many terms in Assyrian for sexual inter- 
course. Modern Arabic is full of them, and in fact most languages have a 
large variety of such terms — some popular, and some of a literary origin. 

68 naA-ka-a-na used for the adulterer (above § 22), as well as for the seducer 
of a virgin. 

69 A curious and barbarous punishment that the innocent wife of the seducer 
should suffer for the crime of her husband and be made the victim in the 
same way as the virgin was victimized, but quite in keeping with the crude 
application of the lex talionis which marks this Assyrian Code. 

60 a-na a-tyu-zi-ti, 'as a possession' — here, no doubt, in the sense of marriage. 

61 la-a i-sa-ma-ak-h. from samaku, which from the context, as well as from 
a passage in an incantation text in which a form of the verb has been found 
(Muss-Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, p. 766a), must have some such meaning 
as 'reject, dispose of,' and the like. 

K I. e., he declines to receive the large indemnity which, however, involves 
his giving the girl to the seducer. 

•' I. e,., is not taken from the father's house as in § 53. 

M a^na aiiati-H la-a i-kar-ri-i-bu, i. e., the action set forth in the preceding 
law cannot be followed, in case the virgin willingly gave herself to the man. 

4 JAOS 41 

50 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 


(The text — fourteen lines — is mutilated beyond certain recovery. 
The law continues the general subject of illicit intercourse, and 
at the close provides that if the suspected woman is 'released of 
her guilt,' the husband by a document gives his wife a quittance. 65 
Apparently, it is added that if he had mutilated his wife's ear, 66 
'there is no guilt attaching to him.') 

This completes Text No. 1 in Schroeder's publication. If the 
colophon had been preserved in full, we would be able to indicate 
the place of the tablet in the series. 67 All that is left of the colo- 
phon, however, is the date according to the custom of the Assyrian 
scribes, viz. : 

The month of Sarati (6th month) 2d day eponymate of 

Sa u 

Such dating prevents us from fixing the reign in which the tablet 
was drawn up, unless we happen to have a list of eponyms in 
which the name occurs. That is not the case in this instance. 

Text No. 2. 68 

(Beginning mutilated. The subject of the first six laws [covering 
Col. II and III] is the division of an estate among brothers.) 

ground 69 

[the oldest son] sets aside 70 and takes two parts 71 [as his share], 72 

64 i-ba-ka-an, as above, § 43. 

M vz-\ni-sd\ H-jap-pa, as above, § 43. 

*' See the remarks above, p. 4. 

•• Schroeder, No. 2 (PI. 14-18) is likewise a tablet of four columns each on 
obverse and reverse, belonging to the same series as No. 1. It is badly broken. 
The 1st and 8th columns are entirely gone, and of the other six columns none 
is complete. Assuming that it contained as many as 55 laws (like Text No. 1), 
the 18 laws preserved would represent not more than one-third of the tablet. 

69 ka-ki- j ri=kakkaru, 'ground', as Col. 5, 19 (§ 13). 

70 i-na-sa-ku. The elder brother has the first claim, for which in Sumero- 
Babylonian legal phraseology there is a special term Sib-t& = elitum (Schorr, 
AUbabylonische Rechtsurkunden, s.v., p. 573) as against ffa-la = zittu, the 
general term for 'portion' or 'share'. 

71 ka^a-la, 'hands', i. e., two shares. Cf. above, Text No. 1, § 27, ki-i 
ka-ti-Sii, 'his share'. 

72 To be supplied as in Text No. 2, § 2 (line 21) a-na zitti-H. 

An Assyrian Law Code 51 

[and] his brothers afterwards in turn 73 set aside and take (sc. 
their share). From the field any expenditure (?) 74 and all the 
outlays 75 , the younger son subtracts (?). 76 The oldest son sets 
aside the one part of his share, and in return for his second part 77 
exacts 78 service to him 79 from his brothers. 

If one among the brothers of an undivided estate 80 destroys 81 
human life, 82 they hand him over to the owner of the human life. 
If the owner of the human life chooses, he may kill him and if 
he chooses to be gracious, 83 he merely takes away his share. 84 

If one among the brothers, of an undivided estate, either [meets 

73 ur-ki a-fya-is, in which combination the second word has the force of 
'brother by brother' and is a variant form to afyameS, 'together'. 

74 h,-kil{?)-li mi-im-ma. Sikillu — if the reading is correct, — may be a 
variant form of sikillu, 'expenditure' (?) (Ungnad, Babylonische Brief e, 
No. 218, 31-32). 

7i ma-na-fia-a-ti, plural of matmhtu, which is of frequent occurrence in 
legal documents as well as in the Hammurabi Code, (§§ 47 and 49), and has 
the force of our 'outlay', for the improvements made on a property. 

76 uS-sa-ak for usnasak (?). 

77 id-ni-ti ka-ti-su. 

78 i-$a-al-li from salu — perhaps in the sense of 'implores' or 'demands'. 

79 H-pur-H, 'his work', i. e., his share of the work on the estate, which the 
brothers must perform at the demand of the older brother. 

80 la zi-zu-ti-lu, i.e., before the settlement is made. 

81 Read ik-mu-ur from kamaru, a synonym of daku, 'kill' (Muss-Arnolt, 
Assyrian Dictionary, p. 397b). 

82 na-p-sd~a-ti, 'human life' as above, No. 1, § 48, which here appears to 
refer to the household or retinue of the estate, just as in Hebrew the cor- 
responding word has this force, e. g., Gen. 12. 5, 'all the nefesh which they 
had acquired in Harran', i. e., the household. Perhaps the livestock was also 
included in the general term. 

83 im-ma-an-ga-ar from magaru, 'to be favorable', and the like. 

84 a-na zitli-M. It rests with the elder brother either to kill his brother, 
or to pardon him and to take his share— again an illustration of the crude 
spirit of the Code which regards not the crime primarily, but the property 
loss involved in a human life, and therefore leaves it optional with the 'owner' 
to exact punishment or not. 

52 -Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

with an accident (?)] 85 or flees, his share falls to the king, 86 [accord- 
ing to] his pleasure. 87 

(This law — likewise dealing with an undivided estates-is too 
badly preserved to permit of a translation.) 


(Of this law, continuing the same general subject, only the ends 
of eight lines are preserved.) 

6 88 

(The beginning of this law, revealing in a most interesting 
manner the procedure in ancient Assyria for disposing of an 
estate, is broken off. When the text becomes intelligible, it reads 
as follows:) 

for silver 89 [a man wishes to acquire], he must agree 

[in regard to the field and] house, not [to acquire it] 90 for silver, 
for one month. 91 The [surrogate] 92 within the city of Asshur 
shall cause proclamation 93 to be made three times. Three times, 
he shall cause the field and house which is to be acquired to 
be proclaimed in the city, to wit 94 : the field and house which 

85 Text defective. Some phrase, indicating that one of the brothers died 
is demanded by the context, as a comparison with the above text No. 1, 
§ 42 (col. 6. 22), 'he either dies or flees', shows. 

88 1, e., as we would say, 'to the state'. 

87 Read [ki-i] li-ib-bi-i-&u, i.e., the king may, if he chooses, confiscate the 
share. It reverts to the state. 

88 More than one law may be missing between the end of Col. 2 and the 
beginning of the third column. 

88 A missing line described the prospective purchaser. 

80 Read la-a [u-lek-ki[-u-ni, favored by the traces. 

" I.e., there shall be a delay of one month. 

82 The traces-point to [lu'll (like lines 28, 31, 36, 40, etc.), an official of 
some kind — perhaps to be read kinattu, if the restoration of the determinative 
Lit before ll in Cuneiform Texts XIX, PI. 27 (K 2061, obv. 24) is correct. 
See Meissner, Seltene Assyr. Ideogramme No. 4385. The restoration finds 
support from II Rawlinson, PI. 48. 3a, where Ner-Gal with the force of 'lord' 
is likewise equated with kinattu. On the other hand, the official designated 
by ll might also be read mabru, 'first officer' (Meissner ib. No. 4386). In 
any case the ideographic designation having the value of 'to be high', points 
to an official of high standing, a surrogate charged with announcing and super- 
intending the disposal of estates. 

n u-sa-a$~sa= from Sasu, 'to call out'. 

84 ma-a, introducing the formal wording of the official proclamation to be 
made three times during the month, as a notice to all concerned. 

An Assyrian Law Code 53 

belongs to N.N. the son of N.N. 95 within the confines 96 of this 
city, I wish to acquire [for silver (?)]. 97 Whatever their de- 
mands 98 and (whatever) claims there may be, 99 let them draw up 
their documents and in the presence of the recorder 100 let them 
deposit them, and let them put in a claim 1 so as to make it free 2 
to be disposed of. 

If within this month, fixed as the time limit, 3 they have not 
neglected 4 to produce their documents and in the presence of the 
recorder have deposited them, then the man shall take to the 
full extent of his field. 5 

On the day that the surrogated) makes proclamation within 
the city of Asshur, one as a secretary(?) 6 in place of the king, the 
city scribe, 7 the surrogate and the recorder of the king shall 
assemble 8 to dispose of the field and house within the city. (With) 
the prefect 9 and three magistrates 10 of the city standing by, the 

" an-na-na mar an-na-na, 'this one, son of this one'. See Meissner, ib., 
No. 7829. 

M A-Gdr —ugaru, a term of frequent occurrence in legal documents, and here 
used to indicate that the property lies within the confines of the city. 

" a-na [sarpi] (?). 

* 8 Read [la-a] -ka-su-nu. 

" Read da-[ba]-ab-M-nu. Cf. Schorr, Altbabylonische Rechtsurkunden No. 
149. 16 {dibbati). 

100 ki-pu-u-ti, occurring again lines 24 and 43, evidently designates the office 
of the recorder. 

1 li-id-bu-bu — from dababu, for which see Schorr, ib., p. 372 note. 

2 lu-zak-[ki]-ti-ma. ■ 

3 e-da-nu = adannu, 'time limit' occurs also in Text No. 143. See Muss- 
Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, p. 21a. 

4 1 suggest reading la-a ma-Sd-e and combining masu 'forget, neglect,' etc., 
with the following verb — it-ta-aUlu-ni-en-ni IV, 2 from elu, 'bring up' or 

6 a-na si-ir ekli-fal i-sal-lim, literally, 'completing to the border of his 
field', i. e., the purchaser shall acquire the full estate. 

" Numeral one, followed by i-na sukkalli Id pa-ni Sarri, which would appear 
to designate an official acting as the representative of the king. For officials 
designated by an introductory sa, see, e. g., Johns, Assyrian Deeds and Docu- 
ments, 2, p. 165. The addition of ina sukkalli I take as a designation of the 
secretarial bureau, but the entire passage must remain obscure until we find 
further references to the office intended in some Assyrian legal document. 

7 dup-lar (Hi. 

8 iz-za-zu, 'stand'. 

' fra-zi-a-nu, an official of frequent occurrence in official documents and 
who appears to have been the prefect. See Johns, ib., Vol. 2, p. 148 seq. 
10 Gal(Mes) =rabuti, as above, No. 1, § 44. 

54 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

surrogate shall make the announcement. They shall hand over 
the documents that have been drawn up. 

But if within this month, the surrogate three times makes 
proclamation, and within this month any one's document 11 was 
not brought, (and) in the presence of the recorder was not de- 
posited, then on the field and house he lays his hand. 12 The one 
who caused the proclamation 13 of the surrogate to be made is 
free 14 to act. Three documents of the proclamation of the 
surrogate which the judges 15 shall draw up [are to be deposited 
in the presence of the recorder]. 16 

(Rest of the law is broken off.) 

(Only partially preserved. It deals with some wrong com- 
mitted against an owner of a house, for which a fine of one talent 
of lead, blows and a month's royal service is imposed, besides 
handing over twice the value of the house.) 


If a man extends 17 a 'large' 18 boundary 19 from his companion, 
they seize him and determine his guilt. He must hand over three 
times the area of what he has extended. 20 One of his fingers is 

11 Text has 'his document', meaning the document of any interested party. 

18 kasu e-li, 'raises his hand', in the sense of taking possession, as in § 10 
of Text No. 2 (col. 4, 32.) 

13 a-na, mu-sa-assi-a-ni from sdsti, for musassianu. — i. e., the one who 
brings about the proclamation. 

"za-o-fcu, i. e., all formalities have been complied with and the estate 
.can be disposed of. 

a I. e., all the other officials involved. 

" To be supplied and favored by the traces. Read [a-na pa-ni Jfi-pu)-4Au 

" ussa-am-me-ify, from samabu, 'to add', i. e., enlarges his boundary by 
encroaching on his neighbor's property. 

18 'Large' in contrast to a 'small' boundary in the following law must refer 
to an extensive encroachment as against taking only a small section away 
from some one. 

11 ta-fyu-u-ma, the same term that we find in Talmudic jurisprudence, no 
doubt borrowed from Babylonia. See Marcus Jastrow, Talmudic Dictionary, 
p. 1160b. 

20 Literally: 'The field as much as he has extended it, three times (as much) 
he must hand over'. 

An Assyrian Law Code 55 

cut off; he receives 100 blows 21 and he must perform one month's 
royal service. 


If a man removes a 'small' 22 boundary of an enclosure, 23 they 
seize him and determine his guilt. He must hand over one talent 
of lead and restore three times 24 as much of the field as he ex- 
tended. He receives 50 blows and must perform one month's 
royal service. 


If a man in a field that is not his digs a well and makes a 
trench (?) 25 (and) seizes 26 the trench for his well, he receives 30 
blows and [he must perform] 20 days royal service. 

(Of the balance of the law only the beginnings of the lines are 


(Of this law only the beginnings of the last 12 lines are pre- 
served. It deals with a field, which is shared with an ummidnu — 
apparently a partner as in No. 1, § 38 [col. 5. 29].) 


If a man in a field [which 27 ] lays out an 

orchard (and) [digs] 28 a well, (and) the owner of the field sees 

21 The highest number of blows named in the Code. The severity of the 
punishment shows how seriously this crime was viewed. In view of the 
frequent denunciation in the Old Testament of those who remove boundaries 
(e. g., Hos. 5. 10; cf. Deut. 27. 17; Prov. 22. 28), this law of the Assyrian 
Code is particularly interesting. 

22 I. e., only takes a small piece of land away from his neighbor. See note 
18 above. 

23 a-bu-ra-a-ni, from abaru, 'enclosure' (Muss-Arnolt, Assyrian Dictionary, 
p. 9b. 

24 So read according to Schroeder's errata to his edition (p. xxviii). 

26 du-un-na, used for a 'couch' or 'bed', (Muss-Arnolt Assyrian Dictionary, 
p. 259b), but here would appear to designate a trench into which the water 
of the well is allowed to flow. 

26 ka-a-su e-li, 'he lays his hand', here (as above, § 6, note 12), in the sense 
of illegally using the trench to fill his well. 

27 The ends of the lines in this law are broken off. Evidently the man had 
no control over the field, but exactly in what relation he stood to it is a matter 
of conjecture. Perhaps we are to complete the line to Id-a [a-na za-lfa-pi], 
'a field which was taken for cultivation'. Cf. Hammurabi Code, §§ 60-61. 

u ib-ri to be supplied as above. 

56 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

the trees that he (sc. the man) raises without [protesting(?)], 2 » 
the orchard is [free] 30 for the cultivator. 31 The field as a field 
belongs to the owner of the orchard. 32 

If a man on ground that is not his, 33 cultivates an orchard or 
digs a well, whether he raises vegetables 34 or trees, they seize him 
and determine his guilt. On the day that the owner of the field 
goes out (sc. to inspect what has been done), 36 he may take away 
the orchard together with its improvement. 36 


If a man on ground that is not his, breaks it up(?) 37 and bakes 
bricks, they seize him and determine his guilt. He must hand 
over three times the amount of ground 38 ; and his bricks are taken 
away from him. He receives 50(?) 39 lashes and must perform 
[one month's] 40 royal service. 


[If a man] on ground that is not his 41 and bakes 

bricks, they take away [the bricks and 50(?)] blows they give 
him 42 and he must perform one month's royal service. 

29 The word is broken off, but the context points to a term like 'protest', 
perhaps la-a ilf-bi. 

30 Read za-[a-ku], i.e., he has the right to the crop. 

81 na-di-a-ni, i. e., from nadu, the one who cultivated it. 

31 1, e., the ground for further cultivation remains in the possession of the 
original owner of the orchard. 

33 i-na la-a ka-ki-ri-i-hi, for Ifalplfaru, as above, Text No. 2, § 1. 

M ur-lpi, 'greens'. We still call a dealer in vegetables a 'green grocer'. 

36 The assumption being that he voices his protest in contrast to his silent 
assent in § 12. 

38 mo-na-Jo-a-ii-I«l, more literally 'the outlays' on it, for which no compen- 
sation need be given. 

87 ig-lvA-UHma from galaiu, the meaning of which is to be gathered from the 

** Sc. that he has used. 

*' The text is uncertain. The number may be 40 or 50 — more probably 
the latter. 

40 To be supplied as the usual phrase in connection with fixed labor. 

41 The verb which would have indicated what the man did in addition to 
baking bricks is broken off. 

** Read [i-maj- &«-y«-ii-uJ, according to Schroeder's errata to his text 
(p. xxviii). 

An Assyrian Law Code 57 


(This law is entirely broken away. If we may assume that it 
extended into Col. VI, we may conclude from the law following 
that it dealt with providing irrigation for fields adjoining one 
another, but it is of course possible that there was more than 
one law included between Col. 5. 39 and the beginning of Col. 6.) 


[If it is canal] 43 water which is collected among them 44 into a 
reservoir for irrigation, 45 [the owners] 46 of the fields divide up 
among themselves, 47 and each, according to the extent 48 of his 
field, does (his) work, and irrigates 49 his field. But if there is no 
harmony 50 among them, the judges 51 ask each one 52 about the 
agreement 63 among them, and the judges take away the docu- 
ment 54 and (each) one must do (his) work. (Each) must direct 55 

43 Since in the following law it is 'rain water' which is to be used in common, 
the natural contrast to be expected here would be water from a canal, which 
is gathered in a reservoir and thence directed into the fields. 

44 1, e., by agreement among the owners of adjacent fields. The previous 
law, no doubt, specified who 'they' were. 

45 Read [Sd a]-na &i-i-ki [a-na sd]-ka-a-ni [il-li]-ku^ii-ni, as in the following 
law (col. 6. 23). Sakanu would appear from the context to be the term for 

46 Supply |Nin](Mes) =beU, as in the following law (col. 6. 24). 

47 i&4u a-fya-iS. 

48 a-na si-ir, 'up to the border', as above in § 6. 

49 i-sa-ak-ki from Siku 'to water'. 

60 ma-ag-ru-lu from magaru, which among various meanings has the force 
of 'to agree'. Such quarrels among those using water in common, must have, 
been as frequent in Babylonia and Assyria as disputes about wells in Palestine. 
Cf. Gen. 26. 15-32. 

61 Di-Tar(Mes) =daidne, 'judges', but here used collectively for 'court' and 
therefore construed in this law and in the following one with a verb in the 
singular, as e. g., i-sd-'a-a-al, 'asks', i$-$a-bat, 'seizes', in our law, and i-lek-ki, 
'takes away' in the following law (col. 6. 34). 

68 amelu, here in the sense of 'each man'. 

63 ma-ag-ru, i. e., what understanding there was regarding the share each 
one was to perform. There is the same double entente in the Babylonian stem 
magaru as in the English term 'agree', used for 'harmony', and for 'an agree- 

64 dup-pa, i. e., the written agreement among the owners of the fields. 
M i-lek-ki, 'take', out of the reservoir and direct into the field. 

58 Morris Jastrow, Jr. 

those waters by himself, and irrigate his field, but any one else's 56 
he is not to irrigate. 


If it is rain-water 67 which is collected among them into a reser- 
voir for irrigation, the owners of the fields divide among them- 
selves. Each man according to the extent of his field does (his) 
work and irrigates his field. And if there is no harmony among 
them, whatever agreement there may have been among them, 
the court takes away the document of (each) man, because of the 
failure to agree. 58 (The continuation is broken off.) 69 

The balance of the sixth column of the tablet is mutilated and 
in part entirely broken off. It is not even possible to estimate 
how many laws are missing — perhaps two. Of the seventh column 
only the remains of twenty-four lines, comprising two laws, are 
preserved. Both deal with agricultural matters, showing that 
the general subject of the previous column was continued. 

Of the additional seven fragments of the Code published by 
Schroeder, while some — particularly No. 6 (PI. 20-21) — are quite 
extensive, none is sufficiently preserved to give a continuous text. 
All therefore that can be done for the present is to indicate the 
contents of the fragments, so far as this can be determined. 

(a) Of fragment No. 3, only parts of seven lines are preserved. 

(b) Fragment No. 4 contains portions of five laws. The subr 
ject of the first two seems to be injuries, and of the last two, con- 

(c) Fragment No. 5 contains parts of two laws. The character 
of the first is uncertain. The second deals with horse herds 
(re'u su-gul-li id sise, 'caretaker of herds of horses')- In Assyrian 
letters, we hear much of furnishing horses for the royal stables 
and for the army; and we would, therefore, expect stock farms 
to be introduced into an Assyrian Code. 

(d) Fragment No. 6 gives portions of 11 laws. The subjects 
are, slave girls, the daughter of a man or his wife retained as a 

86 1, e., in order to avoid further disputes, no work is to be done in common. 
67 'Water of the god Adad'=2M«raw, rain, in contrast, therefore, to the 
kind of water mentioned at the beginning of the previous law. 

68 a-na eli la-a ma-ag-ru-ii-lu. 

69 There is a reference to five magistrates (rabdti). 

An Assyrian Law Code 59 

pledge for debt, transactions regarding horses, oxen, and asses; 
theft, stolen property put on deposit, stolen property restored 
through a companion. 

(e) Fragment No. 7 (No. 143 of Schroeder's edition, PL 89) 
gives portions of four laws covering monetary transactions, indi- 
viduals held as pledges for debt, and guarantees. 

(/) Fragment No. 8 (No. 144 of Schroeder's edition, PI. 89)— 
small portion of one law. 

(g) Fragment No. 9 (No. 193 of Schroeder's edition, PI. 107 
and 106)— bits of six laws, dealing with agriculture. 

[As this article goes through the press, the first volume of Bruno 
Meissner's very valuable new work, Babylonien und Assyrien 
(Heidelberg, Winter 1920), reaches me, in which, on pages 175-179, 
he summarizes some of the contents of the new code and discusses 
a number of the laws. Much to my satisfaction, I find that he 
confirms Professor Montgomery's supposition above set forth that 
in the term sarsen (§§14 and 19) we have the Assyrian term for 
'eunuch' and that castration was, therefore, a form of punish- 
ment in Assyria as far back as the date of the Code. I also 
owe to Meissner the correct interpretation of the verb tadanu in 
the sense of being 'pledged' to marry in § 29 of Text No. 1 
(which applies also to § 44) and I have embodied this view, 
as well as one or two other suggestions derived from incidental 
references to social conditions as set forth in Chapter XII of 
Meissner's work dealing with 'The family and daily life'.]