19 March 2008

Ancient NearEast treehuggers?

Posted by at 1:43 PM Read our previous post
When Abraham wanted a a family burial plot, he purchased the field of Ephron. The account in Genesis contains an interesting stipulation that was explicit in the transaction (23:17): Not only did he get the field and the cave, but also, "all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders that were round about, were made sure." This odd preciseness is not just a reflection of fastitdiousness or of shrewdness or business savvy on Abraham's part. This reflects the high value that was placed on trees in the region.

Reinforcing this observation is the study of the Hittite code recovered from the ancient city of Bogazköy (now in modern Turkey). According to the code, trees were so valuable in the ancient Near East that it was standard Hittite practice to enumerate each individual tree that was found on a property on the records of real estate transactions.

Such ancient careful attention to conservation is fascinating.
"Tree hugging" is not just hippy reactionism, it would seem.

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