Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Laws of Eshnunna on Adoption

The "Laws of Eshnunna" have something to say about adoption as well. For instance:

#33 "If a slave woman acts to defraud and gives her child to a woman of the awilu-class, when he grows up should his master locate him, he shall sieze him and take him away."

No doubt this refers to a slave woman trying to keep her child from growing up as a slave by giving the child away for adoption. The owner of the mother has the right to reclaim the child if he can identify him / her.

#34 "If a slave of the palace should give her son or her daughter to a commoner for rearing, the palace shall remove the son or daughter whom she gave."

This law would seem to apply to a situation where the child is simply given away without a formal adoption. Otherwise, the next law makes no sense:

#35 "However, an adopter who takes in adoption the child of a slave woman of the palace shall restore (another slave of) equal value for the palace."

NOTE: the translations given here are from Roth, Martha. Law Collections from Mesopotamia and Asia Minor, 2nd Edition. Society of Biblical Literature, 1997 (see my review of this book).

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