In two different treatments of the Nuzi contract HSS V 67, E. A. Speiser provided two different transliterations and translations of a key phrase without giving his reasons for the revision. It turns out that the text in question is damaged, rendering one particular cuneiform sign nearly unreadable. The significance of Speiser's revision for biblical studies is that, depending on which reading is taken, this text provides some legal background either for the concern that a full wife might send away the children of a secondary wife (as in Gen 21) or for the phenomenon of surrogate motherhood (i.e., the identification of the child of a secondary wife as in some way the child of the full wife; see Gen 16 and 30). Though some biblical scholars have noted Speiser's two translations, no one so far has engaged in a technical discussion of the primary text in order to understand the revision. Rather, scholars have sometimes simply chosen the reading that fits better with their purposes (usually Speiser's earlier reading). This article examines the original cuneiform text of HSS V 67 in order to ascertain, using orthographic and linguistic data, which of Speiser's two readings is the more likely. Speiser's revised reading proves to be the correct one, meaning that HSS V 67 does not provide a legal background for the concern that a full wife might send away the sons of a secondary wife (e.g., Gen 21).

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