Hammurabi: The First Ruler of the Babylonian Empire

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Hammurabi, first ruler of the Babylonian empire, holds the claim of restoring order and justice to Mesopotamia through the establishment of his cod, a code that has affected not only Babylon, but modern times as well and perhaps even the bible. Hammurabi wanted his subjects to obey him because they believed he made just and fair laws, not because they were apprehensive of his formidable military. In about 1786 B.C.E. he wrote two hundred and eighty two laws governing almost every aspect of life in Babylon, onto an eight foot black stone tablet. These became known as “The Code of Hammurabi”. He set the stone where everyone could see and read them. No one had ever set up a code of law to this extent before, although there were several others that came close over the previous four hundred years. Although Hammurabi had the right motives for producing these laws, which he believed Marduk the chief Babylonian God had given to him, many of them seem harsh and cruel by today’s standards. Things like “If a son strikes his father, they shall cut off his forehand,” and “If anyone steals the minor son of another, he shall be put to death.”

Although opinions vary on exactly when Hammurabi lived and the important dates of his reign, most believe Hammurabi began his rule in 1792 B.C.E. and died in 1750 B.C.E. Hammurabi was the sixth king of the city of Babylon. However due to almost constant war between the neighboring city-states, solid alliances and weak ones Hammurabi was able to effectively conquer the majority of them by 1763 B.C.E. Eventually his empire would cover most of Mesopotamia. His most memorable achievement, Hammurabi’s Code, was written in or about 1786 B.C.E. He did however do many other things to benefit his empire. He improved the irrigation system, strongly encouraged the exploration of astronomy, mathematics and literature. Hammurabi spent a great deal of time and money fortifying Babylon’s walls, restoring public buildings, and restoring...
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