Monday, October 12, 2009

Marrying a Concubine in Babylonia

Most marriages in Babylonia were monogamous, but occasionally a man could marry a second wife. This might happen if no children were born by the first wife.

This second wife would be a concubine, not a "full" wife however. In the text translated below, it seems that the father has sold his daughter as a concubine. This might have been done to allow the father to repay a debt, although that is not explained in the text:

"Bunene-abi and Belessunu bought Shamash-Nuri, the daughter if Ibi-Shahan from Ibi-Shahan her father. To Bunene-abi she is a wife, to Belessunu she is a slave. If Shamash-Nuri says to her mistress 'You are not my mistress', she shall be sold for silver'. They weighed out X (amount of) silver for her price. Her affair is finished and his (the girl's father) heart is satisfied. In the future one man shall not contest against the other man. They swore by the life of Shamash, Marduk and Hammurapi..."

(Translated by myself, from a transcription in Huehnergard, John. "A Grammar of Akkadian", p. 232).

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