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A Comparative Study on Sexual Prohibitions in Lev. 18 and the Ancient Near East Code

Cho, Mi-Hyoung 1

1감리교신학대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This paper compares the sexual prohibitions in Leviticus 18 and the Ancient Near East (ANE) Code. It focuses on the sexual prohibitions in consanguinity and affinity. It examines the sexual prohibitions in Lev. 18 and the ANE Code based on the intertexuality. The sexual prohibitions in Lev. 18 and the ANE Code have many similarities and differences in terms of their contexts, forms and functions. Although the ANE Code does not treat the incest laws as in detail as Lev. 18 does, it provides a number of cases and the daughter's list which are not listed in Lev. 18, and thus it is beneficial in understanding the sexual laws of Lev. 18. Leviticus 18 describes the most organized and systematized laws on incest in the Old Testament. Leviticus 18, included in the Holiness Code (H), covers sexual matters in consanguinity and affinity (Lev. 18: 6-18) and a variety of sexual unions (Lev. 18: 19-23). The sex laws of the ANE Code are addressed either in the criminal law dealing with adultery and rape or in the civil law dealing with marriage and family matters. They focus on maintaining the order of property, the right of possession, the right of inheritance, the patriarchy, and the hierarchical society. However, unlike the ANE Code, Lev. 18 is described as the form in which the narrative and law are weaved into Torah, Sinai traditional narrative, and the Holiness Code. Also, it defines the incest as the sexual crime which pollutes and destroys the family system. The Israel's strong concerns in the Holiness Code in punishing the immoral sexual conducts with the fatal death penalty are to prevent individuals and community from being confused and to define the boundaries in the household. According to Lev. 18, Israel must protect the purity of the land which is based on the pureness of the families in order to get their right to subsist. For Israel to permanently live in the land and to become the YHWH's holy community, they would have to prevent the immoral sexual behaviors and keep all of the ordinances against the forbidden sexual conducts.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.