The Code of Hammurabi


Hemmer robbie was the king of the babylonian empire from approximately seventeen ninety two to seventeen fifty bc. Just to put that into perspective. This was over a thousand years. Before the city of rome was even founded as babylon emperors went hammurabi was pretty successful when he rose to power babylon was still a relatively minor player in the region and when he died he had conquered most of potato along both the tigris and euphrates rivers. The region was almost entirely in. What is today modern iraq. Like any good king win. Hammurabi wasn't conquering nearby kingdoms. He was passing laws and making sure that his kingdom ran smoothly and efficiently. It is believed that hamurabi sent out scholars to the various kingdoms. He conquered to collect the various laws of all realms and then collected them into a uniform code of laws for everyone. The result of this was the code of hammurabi which is believed to be two hundred and eighty two laws regarding any number of different infractions. Crimes and disputes the laws were inscribed on a stone and clay tablets and spread around the kingdom. The stele which was found in one thousand nine hundred one is exceptionally well. Preserved the object itself is a hard blackstone known as diorite. it's shaped like a giant human finger at the top is an image of hammurabi receiving the laws from the babylonian god chumash. There is then a preface which states the following quote and who in bell called me by name hamurabi the exalted prince who feared god to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land to destroy the wicked and evil doers. So that the strong should not harm the week. So that i should rule over the black headed people like chamo- and enlighten the land to further the well being of mankind unquote about six hundred years later. The was taken by the king of elam. Shrek know if you've ever watched the two thousand two movie the emperor's club with kevin kline. You'll remember that should noonday was as the example of someone that no one remembers except that i just mentioned him in podcast and he was in a movie under the reign of Dante was believed that he erased two three dozen of the laws. Originally written by hamurabi researchers have been able to recreate the deleted laws by finding other clay tablets. That had the law's written on them sometime after that it was buried as ancient things tend to do and it was rediscovered in one thousand nine hundred one. So what does the code of hammurabi say. Many of the laws are examples of what is known in latin as lex talionis which is a law where the punishment is similar to the crime. You might know better as an eye for an eye. For example law one hundred ninety six states quote if a man destroy the eye of another man they shall destroy his. I if one break a man's bone they shall break his bone unquote however the rules were different depending on what social class. You're in for example. I didn't read the entirety of law. Ninety six just now the rest of it is as follows quote if one destroy the eye of a freeman or break the bone of a freeman. He shall pay won gold meena if one destroy the eye of a man slave or break a bone of a man slave. He shall pay one half his price unquote so the social status of the victim of a crime was a consideration in the law. If some of this sounds familiar. That's because it's very similar to the laws that are in the bible in the book of leviticus the code of hammurabi was written well before the book leviticus so it's quite possible if not probable that some of the laws from leviticus were adopted from babylonian laws the final version of leviticus was written after the jewish babylonian exile. So it's in fact very possible. There are laws in the code deal with commerce divorce rent liability and even medical malpractice there even laws dealing with contracts and the issuing of receipts. It's true that most of the laws are of a rather brutal. If x than wide variety with punishments ranging from drowning burning severing hands gouging out is that cetera. Most of these type of laws are no longer on the books in most countries. Obviously however there are some surprisingly forward thinking laws for something that was written down thirty seven hundred years ago for example law one hundred forty nine states quote. If this woman does not wish to remain in her husband's house then he shall compensate her for the dowry that she brought with her from her father's house and she may go unquote that is basically an ancient version of no fault divorce. However there was one concept that was in the code of hammurabi which was revolutionary and is still with us today. That is the concept of being innocent until proven guilty. In fact these are the very first law's written down in the code. Here are the first three laws in the code of hammurabi quote law one if anyone in snare another putting a ban upon him but he cannot prove it then let he that ensnared him be put to death law to if anyone bringing accusation against a man and the accused goto 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 is not guilty and he escaped unhurt then he who had brought the accusation shelby put to death while he who leapt into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser law three if anyone bringing accusation of any crime before the elders and does not prove what he has charged you shall if a capital offence charged put to death unquote so basically they had really harsh perjury laws and they made it really hard to pass frivolous lawsuits. So while i don't think anyone would really wanna live under the code of hammurabi today. It's an important part of humanity's legal history old hammer. Arby's two hundred and eighty two law's written in stone with a very first step in creating a system which has led to the one hundred and seventy five thousand two hundred and sixty pages of the united states code of federal regulations today

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