Cart 0 Log In
SBL Press Bookstore
Judicial Decisions in the Ancient Near East
Sophie Démare-Lafont, Daniel E. Fleming, editors
WAW 43
Publication Date
November 2023


This volume presents the first broadly inclusive collection, with accessible text and English translation, of documents related to judicial decisions in the ancient Near East, the oldest setting for such writing in the world. The texts in this volume belong to various genres, especially legal records and letters, and span almost two thousand years. With such varied material, the work depends on the expertise of specialists in each setting, from the Sumerian of early Ur to the late Akkadian of Babylonia under the Persians. The collection brings together not only 183 transliterated texts and new translations but also introductions and commentary that place these legal documents in their historical and social contexts. A glossary of legal terms, a concordance of texts included, and an index of legal terms makes this an invaluable tool for students and scholars across disciplines. The contributors are Dominique Charpin, Sophie Démare-Lafont, Daniel E. Fleming, Francis Joannès, Bertrand Lafont, Brigitte Lion, Ignacio Márquez Rowe, Cécile Michel, and Pierre Villard.

Sophie Démare-Lafont is professor of history of law at the university Paris Panthéon-Assas and the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, PSL (Paris Sciences et Lettres). She specializes in ancient Near Eastern legal sources, including the Bible. She has published more than one hundred articles and one book, Femmes, droit et justice dans l’antiquité orientale: Contribution à l’étude du droit pénal au Proche-Orient ancien (1999). She is also the editor of four volumes, including Debt in Ancient Mediterranean Societies: A Documentary Approach (2019).

Daniel E. Fleming is professor of ancient Near Eastern history, with disciplinary specialties in Assyriology and Hebrew Bible, in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. Along with numerous articles and other books, he is the author of Time at Emar: The Cultic Calendar and the Rituals from the Diviner’s Archive (2000), Democracy’s Ancient Ancestors: Mari and Early Collective Governance (2004), and Yahweh before Israel: Glimpses of History in a Divine Name (2021).

Download volume front matter, including table of contents and introduction.

Download a printable publication sheet that you can put in your files or give to your librarian or bookstore.

Request a review copy.

Praise for Judicial Decisions in the Ancient Near East

The authors and editors are to be commended highly for making such rich and complex sources available to a wider public.
Sara Milstein, Review of Biblical Literature


The 2000 Rendre la justice en Mésopotamie, edited by Francis Joannès, was an instant classic, the only comprehensive collection of documents from the actual practice of law in Mesopotamia and other cuneiform cultures of the ancient Near East.... The new version is a masterpiece, to be studied alongside the other legal classic in the Writings from the Ancient World series, Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, edited by Martha T. Roth.
Pamela Barmash, Review of Biblical Literature