This Week in COS: It Wasn’t My Fault!

You’ll recall that Charles Halton has invited folks to read the Context of Scripture in a year. Joseph at כל־האדם is also reading along.

For pure joy of reading, I’ve got to go back to last Sunday’s text: “The Case Against Ura-Tarh̬unta and His Father Ukkura” (3.33). The context is the reign of the Hittite king H̬attušili III (mid-late 13th century BCE), and the text involves declarations of innocence, made under oath. The defendants are accused of embezzling items entrusted to them by the queen for distribution, gifting, or trade.

The two principal excuses seem to be, “But I only stole the old ones,” and “It died: not my fault!”

In the “But I only stole the old ones” department, the following is typical:

And whenever they bring here new bits and snaffles, I have been accepting the new ones for the service of the crown, but of the old ones I have been taking for myself as many as I liked. (§5).

Translation: Yes, I pilfered an Epson printer, but they had already been replaced by the new all-in-one scanning jobs! I’m not sure, but the oath the defendants are made to take in §25 seem to reflect a ruling on this saying, more or less, Don’t do it again.

My favorite excuse, though, is the “It died: not my fault” defense. Some examples:

I also took for myself two mules, which died while in my possession.…

I had hitched up three mules belonging to the palace, and they died.…

I took for myself three cows…and drove them to my house, where they died.…

Of the asses which I had charge of, I took for myself nothing. Five asses died, and I replaced them from my house. (Ensuing lines: well, I haven’t yet, but I will.)…

The mules that they mention died.

Anyone ever see Miller’s Crossing? Remember when Tom keeps betting on horses that lose or get injured?

Lazarre’s Man: Hey, horses got knees?
Tom: I don’t know… fetlocks
Lazarre’s Man: Well if I was a horse, I’d be down on my fetlocks praying you don’t bet on me.

If I was a Hittite mule, horse, or cow, I’d be down on my fetlocks praying that Ura-Tarh̬unta and his father Ukkura are not given charge of me.

[This Week in COS: It Wasn’t My Fault! was written by G. Brooke Lester for Anumma.com and was originally posted on 2010/02/12. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

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One Response

  1. […] This Week in COS: It Wasn’t My Fault! […]

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