Holman Bible Dictionary
Some parallels are more exact than others, but the following examples can be cited as relevant to patriarchal and later Israelite culture. Marriage customs of Nuzi and the patriarchs converge when we hear Rachel and Leah complain how their father Laban unfairly hoarded their dowry and left them nothing, contrary to provisions they expected under Nuzi-like marriage arrangements ( Genesis 31:14-16 ). In spite of this injustice, Laban later relied on the honor of Jacob to conform to the custom of not marrying additional wives (Genesis 31:50 ). In the case of infertility , both Rachel and Leah offered their maids as surrogate mates that would bear sons to their husband Jacob, a convention seen also at Nuzi (Genesis 30:1-13 ). Jacob's grandmother, Sarah, had done the same for Abraham (Genesis 16:1-4 ), assuming as one would have in Nuzi, that the child would be hers (Genesis 16:2 ). Up to that point, Abraham had despaired that his servant Eliezer was his only legal heir, hinting that he had adopted Eliezer for this purpose, according to Nuzi custom (Genesis 15:2 ). Two further parallels in the area of inheritance are found in Jacob's verbally removing Reuben's privileges as the first born because of his sin against his father ( Genesis 49:2-4 ), and the transfer of inheritance between the brothers Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:27-34 ); both cases indicate prerogatives provided in Nuzi law. Though the exact reason why Rachel stole her father's idols is not explained in the Bible (Genesis 31:19 ,Genesis 31:19,31:27-32 ), the importance of possessing one's father's idols appears at Nuzi as well. Nuzi parallels with Israelite law are also very interesting. The double portion granted to the firstborn on the basis of Deuteronomy 21:15-17 (compare Genesis 48:21-22 ), the occasional rights of daughters to be heirs (Numbers 27:8 ), cancellation of debts after so many years (Deuteronomy 15:1-3 ), are examples.
The name “Hebrew” for an alien as Joseph was in Egypt (Genesis 39:13-14 ), and as the Israelites were in that country (Exodus 1:15-19 ) or while in Philistia (1 Samuel 14:21 ), is very similar to the same use of the term habiru found in the Nuzi documents and elsewhere. This sheds light on the perpetual discussion of the source and meaning of this significant name for the Israelites. See Archaeology; Abraham ; Mesopotamia ; Habiru ; Patriarchs; Hurriam.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Nuzi'. Holman Bible Dictionary. http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/n/nuzi.html. 1991.