Exodus and Asylum: Uncovering the Relationship between Biblical Law and Narrative

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article argues that there is a close relationship between biblical law and narrative regarding the subject of asylum. It contends that the narrative of Moses finding refuge from Pharaoh in Exod. 2.11-22 is repeated on a much larger scale in Exod. 14-15 and that Israel’s flight from Egypt into the desert of Sinai can be seen, inter alia, as a large-scale example of asylum-seeking. It also argues that there are key structural similarities between these two narratives of asylum and the biblical laws of asylum (Exod. 21.12-14; Num. 35.9-34; Deut. 19.1-13). This finding has several implications for the study of biblical law. It suggests that the biblical laws of asylum are best understood as ‘paradigm cases’ that draw on the Exodus narratives as part of their social construction. It also helps to explain why the biblical laws of asylum are typically concerned with flight from accusations of homicide, rather than other forms of asylum-seeking commonly found in the Ancient Near East, because this element is present in the Exodus narratives. Israel saw herself, not simply as a nation of escaped slaves, but also as a nation of successful asylum-seekers.
Translated title of the contributionExodus and Asylum: Uncovering the Relationship between Biblical Law and Narrative
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243 - 266
Number of pages23
JournalJournal for the Study of the Old Testament
Volume34
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Sage

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