Hammurabi's Code

Topics: Code of Hammurabi, Law, Hammurabi Pages: 5 (1966 words) Published: December 11, 2010
An Eye For An Eye!!
Henry Ward Beecher once said, "It usually takes 100 years to make a law, and then, after it's done its work, it usually takes 100 years to be rid of it." There are many societies or cultures that still derive their beliefs or laws from Hammurabi’s ancient code. Hammurabi’s Code, is the oldest set of laws to be written, or set in stone. This code has 282 laws which was written in order to maintain control over society. It focused on the ground rules for moral behavior, family life, education, government, and business. The Code of Hammurabi, is written as clear as day, and just might be one of the most influential pieces of law ever recorded from ancient times.

Hammurabi was the sixth king of first Babylonian Amorite dynasty founded by Shumu-Abum, in 1894 B.C. (Van) Hammurabi inherited a Mesopotamian kingdom, which he reigned from 1792 to 1752 B.C. He is responsible for one of the greatest preserved set of laws found from his time, in the ancient Mesopotamia called The Codex Hammurabi or also known as Hammurabi’s Code. “This code of law helped unite the war-torn chaotic Mesopotamia under a just, fair rule.” (Nosotro) In the New World Encyclopedia it say, “the code was written in cuneiform on a stele. On the top part of the stele, Hammurabi is pictured in front of the throne of the sun god Shamash. Better known as the great judge of heaven and earth.” It is portrayed as if he was receiving the laws directly from Shamash. “The laws were inscribed in old Babylonian, which were numbered one through 282, among those numbers 13 and 66-99 are missing.” (Mesopotamia) By writing the laws on stone they were documented or known to be unchangeable. “The code, addresses such issues as labor, private property, personal injuries, business and family relations.” (Van) Being that the stele was displayed where everyone could read and study it, it left little room for people to “plead ignorance as an excuse”. (New World Encyclopedia.) However, the code does suggest that one does have the right to present evidence against their charges, then again it doesn’t state a way for defense against them. In The Columbia Encyclopedia, it says “much of the code is drawn from earlier Sumerian and Semitic laws, which seem to provide the basis for its harshly disciplinary actions. The punitive nature of Hammurabi‘s code favored the saying "an eye for an eye". Which by law that was meant literally, identical to the past Sumerian and Semitic law. (The Columbia Encyclopedia)

Along with Sumerian and Semitic law similar cultures coming from the same geographical area do have codes that favor each other. According to the article written by L. W. King it says, “The earlier code of Ur-Nammu, of the Ur-III dynasty (21st century BC), the Hittite code of laws (ca 1300 BC), and Mosaic Law (traditionally ca. 1400 BC under Moses), all contain statutes that bear at least passing resemblance to those in the Code of Hammurabi and other codices from the same geographic area.”

Many current cultures view Hammurabi’s code as immoral. However many countries have adopted many codes or laws from it him.. The severity of his punishments seem to be a little uncanny to many current cultures so things such as incarceration and probation are heavily used now. Its seems to be okay to believe that Hammurabi believed more in legalism and compliance with following his rules than ethical issues. Then again he has showed many cultures today that by clearly stating the law and informing the people about it they have no reason to not obey the law. What all country’s can learn from Hammurabi is that by governing your citizens with a set of laws you can only better your country.

Hammurabi states that he was chosen by the Gods to bring the laws to the people. Therefore, with these laws he could enlighten the land and further the well-being of mankind. (Mesopotamia) For that reason, Hammurabi’s laws are not created they were a gift from the greater god, given to...

Cited: Nosotro, Rit. Hammurabi. 12 Dec. 2009 http://www.hyperhistory.net
“Code of Hammurabi.” New World Encyclopedia. 2008 ed.
Mesopotamia, The Code of Hammurabi, http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/MESO/CODE.HTM
Van De Mieroop, Marc (2005). King Hammurabi of Babylon: A Biography. Blackwell Publishing.
"Hammurabi." The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2008. Encyclopedia.com. 24 May. 2010 .
King, L.W. “Hammurabi Code of Law.” Exploring Ancient World Cultures 1997 ed.
"usury." Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010. Merriam-Webster Online. 31 May 2010
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