The Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi

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During the early civilization of Babylonia arose King Hammurabi, which whom set fourth a moral code of written laws. These laws were strictly enforced by harsh punishments in which the people of Babylonia abided by. The moral codes were created by King Hammurabi to maintain order and stability in Babylonia. The basis for these laws were enforced by the saying "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." This meant that if harm was done to you by someone of the same social status, the equivalent harm would be done to them. This was only one of the codes Hammurabi strictly abided by. These codes are extremely far different from present day laws in our societies today.

The code of Hammurabi was the first set of written laws to have been created. There were a collection of 282 laws which were recorded. Hammurabi states in his codes the reason for his laws. As stated in The Making of the West by Hunt, "to show Shamash that he had fulfilled the social responsibility imposed on him as a divinely installed monarch" (p.16). This meant that Hammurabi clearly felt that he was accountable for the justice and morals of his people, and that they should abide by them. One of the major points of the moral code included equal punishment under the same class. Code 196 states "If a noble man puts out the eye of another noble man, his eyes shall be put out." This clearly implies that the equal punishment law was severely followed by the Babylonians. Another important point was how woman were of lesser importance compared to men. Code 132 states how if a woman is not caught sleeping with another man she should jump in the water for the sake of her husband. This shows how woman were expected to be faithful and follow by their husbands side. While, if a man was to create adultery with his daughter he would only be exiled. The making of the West by Hunt states "A wife could divorce her husband for cruelty; a husband could divorce his wife for any reason" (p.16). This evidently shows how indisputably biased Hammurabi was towards woman in that society. Slaves' conducts and rules were also listed in the codes. They had absolutely no rights at all, even if they were to be killed by another being.

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If a person from another class were to kill a slave they would either have to pay the owner or replace the slave with another. These were just a few codes in which the people of Babylonia had to follow, otherwise would suffer great punishments.

The rules and morals that the people of Babylonia lived by were unquestionably unjust. The codes in fact agreed and contrasted with the concept of "an eye for an eye." They agreed by having the same set of laws for all people of that society. It contrasted in that some codes could be overruled by higher social classes. This was undoubtedly unfair to the others with lower social statuses. The impressions the laws made on me were greatly disturbing. Hammurabi showed no remorse for the lives of his people even though he clearly thought it was the right thing for them. He believed he was superior to every being with consideration to the "Sun God." It left the impression on me that Hammurabi had no appreciation for life. Coming from a completely different society, these laws and morals were entirely unjust. In present day society laws are made to protect and help the people of that culture. They are not created to harm or degrade a society in anyway. A Point that could be relevant today would be death to someone who imposed death on another. In our society the death penalty is not a common law, but in some circumstances it is followed. This is usually imposed to a criminal with a severe history of serial killings. It is clearly not the same as Hammurabi's code in that any infliction even on self defense would conclude in death. A part of the code that degrades woman is something that is not upheld in our society today. There are many laws in our society that prevent this degradation from being imposed. Most people are in fact that are in favor of those laws. These societies can not even compare slightly with each other, for they are of two completely different time periods in history.
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