The Code of Hammurabi
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The Code of Hammurabi
The Code of Hammurabi was one of many sets of laws in the Ancient Near East. Before Hammurabi there were many different tribes in the area. Some of these were the Hittie, Ur, and the Mosaics. All these different tribes had their own set of law codes that they followed. Marduk, who was the Chief and leader of the gods, sent Hammurabi to rule over Babylon. His mission was to bring the different tribes and their law codes together, to form one common identity.
Hammurabi began his rule of Babylon in 1795 B.C. He was a dignified prince who feared God. He became king at a young age but was ready to take on the challenge presented to him by Marduk. Hammurabi was to get rid of the evil and wicked, make it so the strong wouldnt harm the weak, enlighten land, and to carry on the welfare of mankind. He was referred to as “the favorite of the gods” even though he didnt consider himself related to god. He participated
in trade activities, repairing buildings, digging canals, and fighting in wars. Hammurabi was a successful government and military leader and warrior. He became well known for recording the first set of laws for his empire. The code was the first of many laws in Mesopotamia. In his later years, he had organized a unique code of laws more specific laws than most, which made him one of the worlds most influential leaders.
The code begins and ends with different addresses to god. The laws are divided up into groups such as court proceedings, crimes, slavery, land issues, debts, family, labor, trade, marriage, and business just to name a few. It was discovered in December 1901 in Susa Elam, which is now known as Khuzistan located in the Persian mountains. The code was inscribed in Old Babylonian on an eight foot tall black stone monument referred to as cuneiform. The cuneiform used in the code consisted of hieroglyphics and pictographs. The laws were numbered one though two hundred and eighty two, but numbers sixty-six through ninety-nine were missing. These codes were written and made into a monument so that the men, women, and slaves would know what was expected of them and to know the laws were
unchallengeable. It spelled out the orderliness of the society. Hammurabi based his code on principles like the strong should not injure the weak, and that punishment should fit the crime. The code is said to have “formed the backbone of the skeleton sketch” that as been rebuilt. The fragments were recovered and studied by the Babylonians. The Babylonian copies show that the code was copied for more than fifteen hundred years. This recovery resulted in the interpretation and classification of many other materials.
There are a number of laws in the subject of family conflicts. This is the biggest category in the code. These conflicts included abandonment, divorce, multiple wives, liabilities, incest, engagement/marriage, adoption, and day care. Marriages of young people were usually arranges by the relatives. It was a contract for a man and wife together. Laws 159 through 164 explain engagement, marriage, and issues of dowry. The bride-price was a present given on behalf of the future husband to the brides family. This present was then handed to the bride at the marriage ceremony. The code stated that if the father does not give the man his daughter then the presents
must be returned in double. Divorce is explained in laws 137 through 140 and was optional with the man, but he had to deal with dowry. Dowry consisted of money, real estate, or household furniture, which would remain the wifes for life. If the couple had children it was passed on to them. If there were no children, he must give her the dowry and let her go. The women got custody of the children and the man had to give her money along with other things so she was able to maintain herself and the children until they grew up. If she had been a bad wife, the husband was allowed to send her away or make her a slave. He was them able to keep the children and the dowry. If the woman was widowed she took her husbands place in the family and