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Hammurabi’s Law Code Reflection

Chase Clark

Sept. 21, 2015

Hammurabi’s Law Code

The Hammurabi law code was the foundation of the Babylonian

civilization. Hammurabi, the Babylonian king saw himself as a servant to the

divine. “Name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring

about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the

evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak” (King). This portion

of the Law Code illustrates strong spirituality, a divine respect and reverence

towards the belief of the all-powerful monotheism god.

The Babylonian Civilization was an advanced culture that developed

trade of personal property. The Babylonians had mathematics and

system of weights and scales used to account and document artifacts of

information. Babylonians would use food and coin as currency. Hammurabi

Law Code describes the cultural use of such currency, “If anyone have a

claim for corn or money upon another and imprison him; if the prisoner die

in prison a natural death, the case shall go no further” (King).

Babylonian culture had many skilled professionals that made a living

off of a wide range of tasks. “If any one hire a ferryboat, he shall pay three

gerahs in money per day. If he hire a freight-boat, he shall pay two and one-

half gerahs per day” (King). The law code provided clear guide lines to how

much an artisan should get paid for their labors. “Five gerahs, as wages of

the potter five gerahs, of a tailor five gerahs, of . . . gerahs, . . . of a rope

maker four gerahs, of . . .. gerahs, of a mason . . . gerahs per day” ( King).

Private property such as gardens and houses could be bought and sold

to a merchant (royal agents) or to any other public official. Babylonians

businesses even used the concept of interest and notes were created to

record the transactions between merchants. “If a merchant entrust money to

an agent (broker) for some investment, and the broker suffer a loss in the

place to which he goes, he shall make good the capital to the merchant”

(King). This example explains that investments were covered under Law

Code.

Receipts were made and used to track business dealings. The law code

talks about merchant give an agents corn, wool, oil, or any other goods such

as transport and then the receipt was drafted onto a tablet for the merchant

or agent to keep. The code describes that if an agent is careless and doesn’t

take a receipt for the money when doing business with merchants, then his

money would not be considered his own (King).

The Hammurabi’s law code tells us that the Babylonians, like modern

day civilizations, used banking and storage. Hammurabi’s law code provides

clear guide lines on these subjects. “If any one store corn for safe keeping

in another person's house, and any harm happen to the corn in storage, or if

the owner of the house open the granary and take some of the corn, or if

especially he deny that the corn was stored in his house: then the owner of

the corn shall claim his corn before God (on oath), and the owner of the

house shall pay its owner for all of the corn that he took” (King).

The Babylonians used their custom scales and weights to keep track of

the inventories. “Store corn in another mans house he shall pay him storage

at the rate of one gur for every five ka of corn per year” (King). The

Babylonians had a strong understanding of personal property, and the

Hammurabi law tablet provided a lens into the legal matters of ownership,

moral issues and punishment for those that break these laws.

Property also included the owning slaves, socially high ranked citizens

such as priests and merchants participating action of owning and trading

slaves. The Babylonians if they found a slave running away were obligated

under Hammurabi law code to bring the slaves to their masters, master of

the slaves shall pay the finder. If finder didn’t know where to find the

master, this is what would occur; “the finder shall bring him to the palace; a

further investigation must follow, and the slave shall be returned to his

master” (King). Woman in Babylonian were comparable to slaves.

Relationships and wives were bought, and valuables were traded. “If a

man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he

shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she

brought from her father's house, and let her go” (King). The code explained

a punishment for wives that would try to ruin her house and her husband’s

life by having her become a servant in her husband's house legally bound by

law.

The law system managed the legal dealing of the city. The Judges that

enforced the Hammurabi Law Code faced discharge. The fifth law states

that, “If later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through his own

fault, then he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case, and he

shall be publicly removed from the judge's bench, and never again shall he

sit there to render judgement” (King). They were also responsible in

processing legal trials. The law code explains,” If the witnesses be not at

hand, then shall the judge set a limit, at the expiration of six months. If his

witnesses have not appeared within the six months, he is an evil-doer, and

shall bear the fine of the pending case” (King).

Punishment in Babylonian culture was extreme in comparison to

modern culture. Hammurabi Law Code illustrates a culture that responds

harshly to crimes and wrong doings. Code twenty-one states,” If any one

break a hole into a house (break in to steal), he shall be put to death before

that hole and be buried” (King). Babylonians thought committing a robbery

and being caught should result in death of the offender.

Class played a role in punishments, lower classed citizens such as

slaves were punished harsher than freeborn.” If a free-born man strike the

body of another free-born man or equal rank, he shall pay one gold mina. If

the slave of a freed man strike the body of a freed man, his ear shall be cut

off” (King). Justice was an eye for an eye. “If a man put out the eye of

another man, his eye shall be put out. If a man knock out the teeth of his

equal, his teeth shall be knocked out” (King). Punishment varied on social

class, type of crime and what might be seen as just.

In conclusion, the Hammurabi’s Law Code highly influenced the society

and way of life in the Babylonian culture. The Babylonian people had no

choice but to follow the laws or be punished by them. The Law Code

illustrates a view of the ancient Babylonian lifestyle.

Works Cited

King, L.W. “Hammurabi’s Code of Laws.” legacy.fordham.edu. Paul Halsall.

March 1998. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.

Reflection

The Hammurabi’s Law Code reflection was a  paper I wrote for  Western Civilizations class at Westminster college. I chose this piece to demonstrate my dynamic writing abilities. Not only are my writing skills dynamic, but also the way I choose to communicate. I chose my website as one of my communication artifacts because it is a platform that anyone can experience regardless of their device. Websites are great platforms for communicating because they present information in a richer way than many other forms of communication.