Code Of Hammurabi


Code Of Hammurabi Essay, Research Paper

Code of HammurabiIn this paper I will focus on, The Code of Hummurabi and how the people of Mesopotamia lived their lives according to the code. The Code of Hummurabi contributed to the value of cultural progress in the Near Eastern countries, during the historic age, which has influenced future generations. Such a legal structure based on older collections of Sumerian and Akkadian laws was revised, adjusted, and expanded by Hummurabi himself.1The code backed the authority of Babylonian gods as well as the state. To Mesopotamians, life was restless and uncertain due to the belief that natural catastrophes were the work of the gods. The people of Mesopotamia believed the gods used nature to punish them. For example, a flood, which would therefore, ruin crops and homes, was cast upon them because of something bad they had done. People believed in order to insure a better life for themselves and their families a man must please and appease the gods. Hummurabi took this into strong consideration. The Code of Hammurabi was implements with a legal procedure. Individuals brought their complaints before a court. Written documents or witnesses were needed to support a case. The accuser had to prove the defendant guilty. If he failed to do so he was put to death. This was to prevent people from falsely accusing others. The code tried to guarantee a fair trial and a just verdict. For example, a judge could not change his mind or he was fined heavily.3After a long prologue describing the religious deeds of the king, at least 282 laws dealing with prices and tariffs, family affairs, marriage and divorce sales, deposits, slavery and theft are detailed. For example, punishments against whoever would deface the monuments or altar of Marduk or the just laws which Hammurabi, the efficient king, set up , were sentenced to death, or faced with corporal punishment.4In addition, the code set up a social order based upon the principle; The strong shall not injure the weak. Babylonian society was therefore divided into three classes: aristocrats, commoners (free men), or slaves.5Fees and punishments varied according to the social condition. For example, the cost of a lifesaving operation was fixed at 10 shekels of silver for an aristocrat, five shekels for a free man, and two shekels for a slave. Similarly, if a man has pierced the eye of an aristocrat, they would pierce his eye, but if he had pierced the eye or broken the bone of a free man, he would pay one mina of silver, and in the case of a slave, one-half of his value.6Hammurabi gave careful attention to marriage and family. The prospective groom and the father of the future bride arranged everything. Fathers often contracted marriages while their children were still young. The husband had virtually absolute power over the household. He could even sell his wife and children to pay for debts. It may seem cruel to modern minds, but the code of Hammurabi is, in many of its laws, close to today s ideas of justice. The laws concerned with family and property represent an effort to protect women and children form arbitrary treatment, poverty, and neglect. For example, women had certain rights within the marriage. Suppose you were a married woman living in Mesopotamia during the reign of Hammurabi and your husband mysteriously disappeared. The code instructed that you could remarry after a few years. However, if you had children with your first husband, and he returned after you had remarried, he might reclaim his children, but you, the wife, could not. Second, if the wife becomes ill, cannot have children, or is an unsuitable housekeeper, the husband may divorce, but must return the dowry to his former wife.7

The Hammurabic Code also covers many other aspects of life. For instance, a surgeon performed a major operation using a bronze lancet on a free man or an aristocrat, and failed to save his life, they would cut off his hand. Also, if you were to purchase a piece of land, but the soil was so terrible that crops would not grow, the man who sold it to you would be legally responsible for obtaining food for your family. This provision would even apply if there were a flood and you failed to prevent flood water from entering your garden.8As you can see, the Code of Hammurabi conveyed an eye for an eye, and tooth for a tooth, at least among equals. If an architect built a house for a free man or an aristocrat and the home collapsed due to poor construction or a flood, causing death to the son of the home owner, the architect s son would be put to death. Also, according to the code, legal documents were very important. For a legal transaction you needed a receipt. Upon birth, a birth certificate had to be issued or you would become a slave. Unless you are born into a family of slaves: you were already a slave. 9In general, the code portrays a stable and well-organized society in which law and order played a predominate role and in which even the lowliest individual was not without some legal protection. The code was effective and influenced the poeple of Mesopotamia over time. Mesopotamians enjoyed life and repected the code of government, which made Mesopotamia society as a whloe.10

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