The Code of Hammurabi

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 206
  • Published : November 10, 2007
Open Document
Text Preview
The Code of Hammurabi is one of the earliest and best preserved sets of laws from ancient Mesopotamia. The document is as much of a social document as a legal one. It discusses laws and punishments in Babylon but also focuses on agriculture (or shepherding), property damage, women's rights, marriage rights, children's rights, slave rights etc. For example, the judge who blunders in a law case is to be expelled from his judgeship forever, and heavily fined; the witness who testifies falsely is to be slain (all the heavier crimes are made punishable with death). Even if a man builds a house badly, and it falls and kills the owner, the builder is to be slain. If the owner's son was killed, then the builder's son is slain. This is where it is thought that the Hebrew acquired their law of "an eye for an eye." These grim retaliatory punishments take no note of excuses or explanations. The King is shown as totally dominant in all aspects of the legal and social system addressed in the code, with the right to make decisions in any field of his society's affairs. Only in a few cases was it left up to the "justice" of the ruling gods, cementing the fact that faith in the gods was a factor that was, in some cases firmly established in the minds of the people. The Code dictates the whole population as falling into three classes, the awilum, the mushkenum and the wardum. The awilum was a patrician, the man of family, whose birth, marriage and death were registered, of ancestral estates and full civil rights. To this class belonged the king and court, the higher officials, the professions and craftsmen. The mushkenum is hard to characterize exactly. The term came, in later cultures, to mean a beggar but the Code does not regard him as necessarily poor, he may have been landless. He was free, but had to accept monetary compensation for corporal injuries, paid smaller fees and fines, even paid fewer offerings to the gods. The wardum, to put it simply was a slave, his master's...
tracking img