Although the three laws on illicit sexual intercourse in Deut 22:23–29 are often treated as a set, close examination indicates that the assault of an engaged woman in a field (vv. 25–27) represents the literary core to which verses 23–24 and 28–29 were appended. The isolation of 22:25–27 from its secondary frame enables its independent legal reasoning to emerge. The scribe presents an unusual scenario by ancient Near Eastern legal standards, in that the assault of the victim transpires without witnesses. Curiously, the solution favors the woman by comparing the assault to a homicide and then positing a hypothetical situation whereby the victim is imagined to have shouted for help. I propose that the closest parallel for this display of legal reasoning is found not in another cuneiform law collection but rather in the “Nippur Homicide Trial,” a Mesopotamian “model case” that was utilized in second-millennium scribal education. Not only does this model case shed fresh light on the legal reasoning that undergirds Deut 22:25–27, but its genre also provides a new lens through which to reconsider the origins of a wider set of women and family laws in Deuteronomy.


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