To Kill and Take Possession: Law, Morality, and Society in Biblical Stories
Wells, Bruce, Interpretation
To Kill and Take Possession: Law, Morality, and Society in Biblical Stories by Daniel Friedman Hendrickson, Peabody, 2002. 327 pp. $29.95 (cloth). ISBN 1-56563-641-4.
THIS BOOK CONSISTS OF twenty-two essays, each of which deals with the legal aspects of a story or a set of stories in the Old Testament. The author's goal is to analyze these stories for what they reveal about the law, legal customs, and social mores of ancient Israel. Along with that, the author tries to demonstrate that the law revealed by these stories does not always square with the stipulations set forth in the biblical law codes found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. For example, one chapter argues that the story of David and Bathsheba does not conform to the rules that were supposed to govern the crimes of adultery and murder. There is less of this, though, than one might expect. What the author really does in his analyses is to show how a legal approach to these stories can yield fresh understandings of timeworn narratives and even solve problems of interpretation that other approaches have not. Moreover, the author highlights legal issues that were of significant concern in ancient Israel and that have remained so down through the ages. He cites a wide range of parallels from ancient to modern times. …