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Social Justice in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East

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Social Justice in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East deals with the concept of justice and righteousness in ancient Israelite literature in comparison with identical concepts in ancient Near East. Various aspects of this concept are taken into consideration: philological, historical, sociological, and theological. Moshe Weinfeld surveys social reforms in the ancient Near East from the third millennium BCE to the Hellenistic period. The first chapters discuss semantics and center in terms that denote social justice, such as social reforms embodied in the terms justice and righteousness, and their equivalents in cognate languages. A special discussion is dedicated to justice and righteousness on the individual level. Just as the ruler is commanded to do justice and righteousness—to free his subjects from oppression—so every individual is asked to help the poor and the needy in their distress.

With the Logos edition, this resource is fully integrated with the rest of your digital library. Links to original language texts, dictionaries, and other historical documents—such as the Amarna Letters—are only a click away! Social Justice in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East is an important addition to the libraries of Old Testament and Near Eastern scholars, and is ideal for anyone looking to understand more deeply the historical and cultural context of the Old Testament.

Resource Experts
  • Discusses the institutions of Shemitta and Jubilee in ancient Israel
  • Offers clarification of the term משפט וצדקה “Justice and Righteousness”
  • Includes bibliographical references and indexes

Top Highlights

“The last verse refers to those who are enslaved for non-payment of debts.” (Page 37)

“‘Freedom’ in the broad sense of the word incorporates the following elements: the freeing of slaves and of debtors from their debts, pardon to prisoners and rebels (amnestia), the release of captives and the return of exiles to their homeland, annulment of taxes, the restoration of estates to families, and the division of the land to the needy.” (Page 15)

“This latter phrase is involved in the proclamation of ‘social reforms’, the main elements of which are cancellation of the debts of the state and of individuals, liberation of slaves, restoration of land to its owners, and rectification of other economic injustices, such as over-pricing, falsification of weights and measures, etc.” (Page 9)

“We must therefore conclude that the word משפט, and especially the phrase משפט וצדקה, does not refer to the proper execution of justice, but rather expresses, in a general sense, social justice and equity, which is bound up with kindness and mercy.” (Page 36)

“Social justice and equity are bound up with personal freedom, and liberating a man means allowing him to follow his own path without stopping him or binding him.” (Page 33)

  • Title: Social Justice in Ancient Israel and in the Ancient Near East
  • Author: Moshe Weinfeld
  • Publisher: Magnes Press
  • Publication Date: 1995
  • Pages: 300

Moshe Weinfeld is a professor emeritus of Bible at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is also author of History, Historiography and Interpretation, available from Logos in the Magnes Press Old Testament Studies Collection (12 vols.).


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  1. Brent Baldwin

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Digital list price: $50.99
Save $10.00 (19%)