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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines several key historical aspects of law in the Persian period in order to define the role and function of law in Persian provinces. First, the Persian dāta, translated “law” and at times “regulation,” illustrates how royal law advanced the interests of the Persian king. Second, narratives of imperial “authorization” and “codification” demonstrate that Persian support of the development of local law was primarily a political act intended to cultivate loyalty amongst the local elite and to facilitate the timely collection of tribute. Third, the Elephantine legal papyri provide a succinct example of the development of local legal traditions in a Persian period context, where local jurists drew from both Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources to create law. In the end, these historical aspects of law in the Persian period reveal an era defined by a distinct change in imperial policy toward the development of local legal traditions.

Keywords: Persian imperial authorization, codification of local law, royal law, Persian law, Elephantine papyri, Egyptian legal tradition, Mesopotamian legal tradition, Aramaic legal formulary, Persian Egypt, biblical law

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