The law Code of Hammurabi summary and history

Hammurabi Code image

The Code of Hammurabi was promulgated in BC.

It is the second code in the world to remain in its complete form.

Such Code of Hammurabi is a penal code that stands on the principle of revenge law, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".

Anonymous image

Fear of double payback...

So, as they say, was the Code of Hammurabi really the worst code ever?

What is the Code of Hammurabi?

At that time, King Hammurabi was the ruler of Babylonia.

Later, he expanded his power to Mesopotamia and became the first king of the Babylonian Empire.

The code named after him is the "Code of Hammurabi".

The contents are composed of the following three parts.

  • Preface (Hammurabi's achievements)
  • Main text
  • Afterword (his wishes)

The main text consists of 282 articles, some of which have been lost.

The Code of Hammurabi is based on

  • Commerce
  • Agriculture
  • Crime
  • Marriage
  • Inheritance

The Code contains articles on various socio-economic fields.

Numerous copies were made and circulated widely, but there is no record of any court case based on this code.

In fact, it is said to have been more like a collection of model precedents.

In addition, King Hammurabi himself supervised the trials in his territory,

Mesopotamian (Babylonian) king image

Hmm, you're not guilty.

In some cases, he made a ruling himself.

Revenge of the Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi is famous for the phrase, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".

The implication of this is that they made a difference in punishment depending on the status of the victim or the perpetrator, and they imposed more punishment.

In other words, it was a law book that described unequal punishments based on status.

Anonymous image

It's cruel!

This is the reason why it is said in modern times.

Scholarly image

The Code of Hammurabi is a strong representation of the power and competence of King Hammurabi.

In other words, the purpose of the Code is not to impose severe punishment for crimes.

Besides punishment, it also provides

  • Security of property
  • Emancipation of slaves
  • Women's rights

According to post-Hammurabi customs, women's rights were restricted.

Therefore, this Code of Hammurabi was quite unusual.

Originally, the Sumerians under Babylonian rule had a high status for women, so this may have had some influence.

The punishment of this code, which was previously considered a violent punishment,

Scholarly image

Prohibiting double payback and limiting it to equivalent punishments. Didn't this serve to prevent payback?

It has been seen recently.

In other words, the original meaning of this article was to prevent crime by imposing as much punishment as possible for prior crimes.

Synopsis and contents

The Code of Hammurabi cannot be applied to our values as they were.

However, this code had the following characteristics at that time.

  • Articles that have the same meaning as gender equality and human rights protection.
  • Order the perpetrators to compensate the victims and bereaved families who have been involved in the crime.
  • If the perpetrator cannot be identified, compensation is to be made with government money.
  • The amount of compensation was determined by the severity and lightness of the damage.

*Since there was no currency in this period, the weight of silver was used as the unit of measure.

In addition, The Code of Hammurabi is conveyed in this way.

Anonymous image

Given to King Hammurabi by the sun god.

However, this is not religiously biased.

There was no racial or religious discrimination, although there were differences in punishment based on status.

The afterword says:

May justice be done to orphans and widows (single women who have lost their husbands) so that the strong will not oppress the weak.

You can see that the Code of Hammurabi is a law book that was created not only with strictness but also with love for the weak.

Old Testament relationship

There is a theory that the Code of Hammurabi was the basis for the Book of the Torah of Moses (the Five Books of Moses).

This is because the Old Testament also has the phrase "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth".

However, the contents are very different.

The following is a summary of both contents.

  • Code of Hammurabi: Punishments vary according to status
  • Old Testament: Punishment for ethical sins is more severe

For example, in the Old Testament, commercial sins, such as damage to goods are less punishable than ethical sins.

If there is a connection between the Code of Hammurabi and the Old Testament, I would like to know how it came to be quoted.

If you want to know more about the Book of the Law of Moses, which is related to the Code of Hammurabi,

Please read this article.

If you want to know more about the history of the Old Babylonian period, when the Code of Hammurabi was written,

Please read this article as well.

The Mesopotamian civilization has many more histories to tell.

If you want to know more about the history of Mesopotamian civilization,

Please read this article as well.

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