Hammurabi’s codeHammurabi was the King of Babylonia from about 1790 BC to 1750 BC Hammurabi is believed to be the sixth ruler of the Amorite Dynasty. Although he was a successful governmental and military leader, his name will always be known for his Codes of Law. Hammurabi was the first King ever to record all the Laws of his Empire. He had a black stone carved with the 282 laws of Babylonia. On top of the stone sits a statue of a God handing the laws to Hammurabi.
Because of his codes, Hammurabi was an immensely influential leader.
Hammurabi came into power as a young man. Although he was young, he had already gained respect and trust will many powerful duties. In the early years of his rule, projects such as repairs, trading deals, and expansion were the corriculum. But as he aged, so did his wisdom. He began to have more specific laws than most. Eventually, he had his 282 laws etched on stone in Cuneiform.
These would be the governing laws of all his people. People then knew all the punishments and consequences for breaking the laws, and they knew what they must due when accusing a criminal. (We know what we must do on Saturday to Woodstock, don’t we?) Hammurabi created a set of moral codes that was to be copied and used by other civilizations.
The Codes of Law were broken into certain categories. These categories are not definitely known, but the majority of historians believe them to be: family, labor, personal property, real estate, trade and business. Many think the codes were too strict and the punishments too harsh. Hammurabi just believed that the punishment should fit the crime and that the strong should not dominate the weak.
Many of today’s forms of government have traces of the same principles that Hammurabi used. Today’s laws are written down (of course), put into their respective categories, known by all the people, and obeyed by the courts. One example of a Hammurabi principle is that of a crime with a death sentence. When a person was tried for the death penalty, the trial was in front of a bench of judges, much like the juries of our government.
The Hammurabi laws do seem quite harsh with most of them ending in death. But, as it seems, to stay away from them all you have to do is have control of your crops and possessions, stay out of harm’s way, be honest and do not accuse. That seems like a reasonable request. Of the translated Hammurabi codes, many of them are actually funny to the modern person. Take for instance, laws 215 and 218. To summarize them, they state that if a surgeon operates on a person and cures them, the surgeon shall receive ten shekels of silver, but if he fails to cure him, the surgeon will have his hands cut off. More serious ones are like numbers 229, 14 and 3. 229 states that if a builder constructs a house, and that house later collapses killing the owner, the builder shall be put to death. Law 14 states that if a man has stolen a child, he shall be put to death. 3 states that if a man accuses another man of a crime, and the accuser cannot prove that the crime was commited by the accused, the accuser shall be put to death. (I guess you couldn’t accuse someone unless you had loads of proof and were 100% sure. That really makes the saying ‘Do or Die’.) My favorite one has to be number 2: “If any one bring an accusation against a man, and the accused go to the river and leap into the river, if he sink in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river prove that the accused in not guilty, and he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.” How about that law? If you were a good swimmer, you could do anything you wanted and every time you were accused go jump in the river and gain a new house. It sounds like a good deal to me, how about it Potter? A lot of my information came to the University of Chicago, and it sounds like I am going to go there.
Hammurabi was more than just a man. He was a man with a plan. And his plan was to construct a tablet of laws for all the world to know. The people of his empire could learn these laws, and the whole civilization would be a better place. So he did construct this table of 8 foot high black stone (it now can be found in the Louve Museum in Paris. I have been there, and it was awesome.) It contained 282 laws. What these laws stated is usually represented by the statement, “Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth.” This means that most of the laws had near equal or equal punishments for the crimes. If you knocked a man’s eye out, your eye would be knocked out. Many people of today consider these laws too strict and too hard on the accused. I do think they are very harsh and sometimes extreme, but I do think they are justified. I also know that I love our country, our country runs by the constitution, and the Constitution contains the same principles and ideas that first came to be when a young man named Hammurabi took his throne as King of Babylonia way back around 1790 BC. Alrighty then, all done.
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