LANDMARKS, fixed stone objects erected to designate the boundaries between fields, districts, lands, or nations in the Near East. The removal of landmarks is considered to be a grievous sin in the Bible and in other literature of the Near East. Deuteronomy twice warns against this offense (Deut. 19:14; 27:17). The biblical prohibition against landmark removal is mentioned along with other transgressions that are perpetrated secretly and, therefore, usually not punished by society. A biblical imprecation (Heb. arur) is therefore leveled against the violator, all other punitive measures being inadequate.
Babylonian boundary stones or monuments (kudurru) first appear in the Kassite period and may originally have served to mark boundaries in a field, but seem to have become legal records dealing with landed property. The inscription on the stone usually contains some statement or certificate of ownership, and severe maledictions are appended to it, directed to anyone who should alter or destroy the inscription. There appear on the stones symbols of Babylonian deities who are asked to invoke the curse on the future offender. Ancient wisdom literature also contains severe warnings against the removal of landmarks, particularly those of a widow (the "Instruction of Amen-em-Opet" 7:15, in Pritchard, Texts, 422; COS I:117), and the transgressor is threatened with divine punishment by the gods because he violated divinely established boundaries. The offense of the removal of boundary stones was used metaphorically as a symbol for the abolition of ancient laws and custom (Prov. 22:28; 23:10). Those who defected from the Qumran sect are said to be "removers of the landmark" C. (see Rabin, The Zadokite Documents (1954), 4, 20, 42).
For the extension of the concept of infringement on the rights of others, see *Hassagat Gevul.
L.W. King (ed.), Babylonian Boundary-Stones and Memorial-Tablets in the British Museum (1912). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: U. Seidl, Die babylonischen Kudurru-Reliefs (1989); idem, in: RLA, 6, 275–77; M. Broshi (ed.), The Damascus Document Reconsidered (1992).
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.