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The Torah hardly deals with laws of inheritance that are not connected to the issue of apportioning ancestral holdings, but the Mishnah and the Gemara supplement this legislation. This leads us to the question of the differences between Jewish law and the laws in ancient Near-Eastern law codices and legal documents. The earliest clear indication of the rights of a daughter to inherit from her father—only when the deceased left no male heir—comes from a royal inscription in Sumerian of Gudea, king of Lagash, dating to the late 22 nd century B.
We find a different practice in southern Mesopotamia in the first half of the second millennium, B. Instead of giving daughters a portion of their father's inheritance, daughters customarily received a dowry from their father upon their marriage, to which was often added a gift from their husband. The father of the bride could set aside a portion for his daughter well in advance of his daughter's marriage, to be treated as a fund kept for her until such time as she wed.
Upon her marriage, when she moved to her husband's house, the husband would receive this dowry in trust, and upon his death it reverted to his widow.
Evidence from the Middle Babylonian Period 16 th th centuries, B. Also Middle Assyrian documents indicate instances where daughters inherited on an equal basis with their brothers. The Nuzi practice Middle Euphrates, B.
In the absence of sons to inherit from the father, a daughter alone could inherit all her father's property. This practice continued later, as well, as is documented in sources from Stratum IV 15 th cent.
Ugarit sources th cent. In Emar 13 th cent. When specified in a testament, daughters could inherit the same as sons. When there was no male heir, sometimes the testator would go beyond simply willing his inheritance to his daughter, also conferring on her the status of "son" so that she could carry out the ancestral rites—a function that devolved on the oldest son.
To manage your subscription, visit your Bible Gateway account settings. Sometimes blessings do not come until we have prayed hard to God, begging for change. Do not post, directly or through links, viruses, misleading, malicious or off-topic content. Alon, Ha-Mishpat ha-Ivri , Vol. Under the Mandate Government, the rabbinical courts ruled, as required by Mandate law, that there be equal distribution of the inheritance among sons and daughters. After some time, Jacob died as well, and his property, including the field that he had inherited from Rachel, was divided among his sons, Reuben and Joseph. Complete sentences and proper grammar will help others understand you.
Several findings from the time of the New Kingdom B. The general rule seems to be that the peoples of the ancient Near East not only recognized the right of daughters to inherit from their fathers in the event that he had no male heirs, but in certain places also recognized the right of daughters to inherit even when there were male heirs.
The basic difference between these practices and biblical law was that the Israelites put the emphasis on maintaining the hereditary holding of the tribe, lest the daughters marry into other tribes and their property holdings pass with them to a different tribe. The cases mentioned above deal with urban societies that were guided by their apprehension lest the family's inheritance pass into the hands of a different family.
Nevertheless, they recognized the need of a daughter to be able to sustain herself - be she a daughter whose father had died before she was married or a married daughter whose husband had died. The practice of including in the dowry landed property, which was entrusted to the daughter's husband and would revert to her either upon his death or upon her divorce, was designed to assure that in any event daughters could support themselves by leasing their fields and receiving a fraction of the produce. Nevertheless, there was still reluctance evident in several places to grant daughters who inherited land the freedom to bequeath their property to whomever they wished upon their death; this was to assure that the family holding or a part of it not pass to another family.
To this end, certain societies placed advance restrictions on daughters' freedom of choice in willing their property. Be that as it may, there is no indication of such apprehensions in Scripture. Thus we see the societal context in which the laws granting daughters the right to inherit emerged: Avraham Zimmels, Parashat Pinchas , ; Dr.
For an up-to-date edition of legal codices, see Martha T. On the rules of inheritance in general and of daughters in particular, as reflected by legal documents, see the relevant chapters in Raymond Westbrook ed.
For the inscription, cf.