Moses’ Restatement of Torts: Modern Principles of Justice and Efficiency in the Mishpatim
60 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2018 Last revised: 29 Jan 2020
Date Written: October 10, 2018
Nineteen verses from the mishpatim (Exodus 21:18-22:6) address a surprisingly wide variety of tort doctrines such as the privilege of discipline, transferred intent, proximate cause, premises liability, punitive damages, self-defense, defense of property, trespass to chattels, conversion, trespassing livestock, and abnormally dangerous activities. While some of this passage from the mishpatim focuses on non-tort principles, most notably fundamental human dignity, the tort law of the mishpatim, at its core, appears to be a corrective justice based rule of strict liability for intentional and accidental harm caused by an actor’s voluntary conduct.
Keywords: tort, mishpatim, Exodus, Covenant Code, Book of the Covenant, transferred intent, proximate cause, premises liability, punitive damages, self-defense, defense of property, trespass to chattels, conversion, livestock, abnormally dangerous activities, corrective justice, strict liability
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