The Role Of Women In The Code Of Hammurabi

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The Old Babylonian Empire (c. 1792-1500 B.C.) was an empire in ancient Mesopotamia that was founded by Hammurabi (c. 1792-1750 B.C.). Hammurabi became the ruler of the smaller city-state of Babylonia and proceeded to create an empire through hegemony and dominance rule. Under his rule, a set of laws were introduced to unite the people and keep order. The Code of Hammurabi covers many subjects from property, urban crime, and gender. The Code talks about women and the roles they played in the Old Babylonian Empire. The known history of Babylon begins with Hammurabi after the fall of the Empire of the Third Dynasty of Ur (Spodek). Hammurabi was an Amorite prince who ascended to the throne upon the resignation of his father, and quickly transformed…show more content…
One learns from the Code, that in ancient Mesopotamia, having an heir is the main importance of a marriage. Law 138 of the Code, “If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall… let her go,” shows the seriousness of a wife being childless. Although divorce is an option, a wife might give her maidservant to her husband. If the maidservant had a child with the husband, it counted as the wife’s child, and she will assume equality as the wife and can not be sold for money (Hammurabi 146). If neither wife nor maidservant produce a child, the husband is permitted a second wife, but she cannot have equal status to the first wife (Hammurabi 145). Since there were quite a few laws about children, one learns that having a child is an important role for…show more content…
The Code does not always rule against women in certain situations. For example, if a woman was accused of cheating on her husband, but is not actually caught in the act, may swear that she is not guilty and return home (Hammurabi 131). Yet, in law 130, “If a man violate the wife (betrothed or child-wife) of another man, who has never known a man, and still lives in her father 's house, and sleep with her and be surprised, this man shall be put to death, but the wife is blameless.” The man is killed and the women does not bear any blame of the adultery. This shows that women were treated rather well under this code, and were protected from certain punishments. On the other hand, they are clearly not equal to men. For example, in law 141, if a man did not wish to release his wife, he could keep her as a servant. There is no such law for men, indicating a difference between the
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