The black stone stele containing the Code of Hammurabi was carved from a single, four-ton slab of diorite, a durable but incredibly difficult stone for carving.
At its top is a two-and-a-half-foot relief carving of a standing Hammurabi receiving the law—symbolized by a measuring rod and tape—from the seated Shamash, the Babylonian god of justice. The rest of the seven-foot-five-inch monument is covered with columns of chiseled cuneiform script.
The text, compiled at the end of Hammurabi’s reign, is less a proclamation of principles than a collection of legal precedents, set between prose celebrating Hammurabi’s just and pious rule. Hammurabi’s Code provides some of the earliest examples of the doctrine of “lex talionis,” or the laws of retribution, sometimes better known as “an eye for an eye.”
Did You Know?
The Code of Hammurabi includes many harsh punishments, sometimes demanding the removal of the guilty party’s tongue, hands, breasts, eye or ear. But the code is also one of the earliest examples of an accused person being considered innocent until proven guilty.
The 282 edicts are all written in if-then form. For example, if a man steals an ox, then he must pay back 30 times its value. The edicts range from family law to professional contracts and administrative law, often outlining different standards of justice for the three classes of Babylonian society—the propertied class, freedmen and slaves.
A doctor’s fee for curing a severe wound would be 10 silver shekels for a gentleman, five shekels for a freedman and two shekels for a slave. Penalties for malpractice followed the same scheme: a doctor who killed a rich patient would have his hands cut off, while only financial restitution was required if the victim was a slave.
The Code of Hammurabi Essay
In Mesopotamia around 1750 B.C. citizens followed a stern law code called The Code of Hammurabi. This law code shows that in early Babylonian society they thought the best punishment was an eye for an eye. By setting such law codes they made the punishment so harsh that the person who committed the crime would never think about committing it again. Some people read the Code of Hammurabi and do not agree with it because of the penalties of some crimes. The Code of Hammurabi is set to keep the Babylonian society safe and is not to harsh for the citizens. By setting The Code of Hammurabi the Babylon society was looking for the perfect society.
The purpose of The Code of Hammurabi is to punish the criminal in a manner that they committed the crime. # 229, If a builder has built a house and not made his work strong and the house he built has fallen and so has caused the death of the owner of the house, the builder shall be put to death. This code is very simple because it is seen as murder. By building a less than satisfactory house where it fell down and killed the owners is considered murder because the carpenter did not make sure the house was built perfect. The Babylon society did not want any crime or anything bad to ever happen that is why The Code of Hammurabi is so harsh.
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The Code of Hammurabi was meant to keep the citizens safe and this is shown in #14, If a man has stolen the son of a freeman, he shall be put to death. The Babylonian Society did not want to have to worry about their kids playing out in the streets at night. They did not want to ever worry about their child being stolen. This code would save many lives in this day in age, and would have kept a lot of families together. With the internet in full force right now there are more and more kids being abducted from their homes and a lot of the time used on child pornography web sites. Obviously the Babylonians did not have to worry about kids getting abducted o be on web sites, but it’s just a good point that their law code was not to harsh because they had to worry about their kids being stolen for other reasons.
The only way people will obey the laws of the Land no matter where you live or what time period it is, is if you make the punishment equal or slightly worse than the crime that was committed. This is shown in # 21 of Hammurabi’s law code, If a man has broken into a house, he shall be killed before the breach and walled in it. The crime is breaking and entering which would only give you jail time these days, and that is why it happens so much. When watching the news there is always something every week about someone’s house getting broken into. The Babylonians saw this as a major crime which it is and made the punishment fitting for the crime. If you are not strict about letting a complete stranger invade the privacy of your own home criminals will try to get away with even more.
If you sit back and just wonder for a minute what the perfect society would be like a couple of the things that would pop into your mind first would be no crime, a lot of love and also total happiness. Love and happiness come in marriage. When trying to make the perfect society you have to take into account the problems that come from marriages. Divorce, cheating on your spouse and abuse are a couple of problems that sometimes come from marriages. #129 in the Code of Hammurabi sets penalties for one of these problems which is cheating on your spouse, If a wife of a man has been caught lying with another man, they shall bind them and throw them into the waters. Honestly do you think that anyone would ever even think about cheating on their spouse with a law like this? The answer would obviously be no and that is the answer the Babylonian society wanted. They want the society to be happy and love brings happiness. If you read into The Code of Hammurabi like this you understand that “an eye for an eye” type of law system is the only way to live and be safe and happy living in any environment. If you compare the Babylonian society and our society here in the United States today regarding #129 you can see that freedom is a wonderful thing to have but where does freedom end and a solid law code take over. This is the number one reason why Hammurabi’s law code is so good by having such harsh penalties. Hammurabi’s law code provided happiness to the Babylonian society as freedom is supposed to provide happiness for us today. Your happiness goes right out the window when your spouse cheats on you and you would never be the same. If our law code was as strong as The Code of Hammurabi our marriages would be a lot happier.
By setting The Code of Hammurabi the Babylon society was looking for the perfect society. The Code of Hammurabi shows that in early Babylonian society they thought the best punishment was an eye for an eye. An eye for an eye law code is by far the best because it allows the citizens to live a happy and fearless life.
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