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The Manumission of Hermeneutics: The Slave Laws of the Pentateuch as a Challenge to Contemporary Pentateuchal Theory

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Chapter Summary

Alongside the history of sacrifice and the festival calendar, the question of the sequence and relation of the laws concerning manumission of slaves has been essential to any larger attempt to construct a history of Israelite religion and a compositional history of the Pentateuch. In the Covenant Code (CC), there are two laws that govern male and female slaves, respectively. In Deuteronomy (D), one law governs both genders. The slave law of the Holiness Code (H) prohibits Israelites from holding fellow Israelites as slaves but permits a hired-servant model of relationship; this law is embedded in the broader jubilee legislation of Leviticus 25. The recognition of the reuse of the lemma has several implications. It demonstrates the technical sophistication of the exegesis that underlies this chapter. Textual reworking provides a means for the creation of new law. The hermeneutical assumptions involved in such reworking require further research.

Keywords: Covenant Code (CC); Deuteronomy (D); Holiness Code (H); manumission laws; Pentateuch; slave law



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