Hammurabi was ruler of the Babylonian dynasty from 1792-1750 B. C. And is responsible for one of the earliest legal codes in history The Laws. The Laws is a form of constitution, an organized code of social rules, rights of people and legal standards. Hammurabi felt that he was a sort of instrument of the gods and that it was his role to implement The Laws as a form of righteous justice with a divine authority. The underlying principle for The Laws is an “eye for an eye” having cause and effect for physical actions and moral situations while setting economic standards.
A good example of The Laws having a cause and effect while setting an economic standard is stated “If a man gives to another silver, gold or anything else on deposit in the presence of witnesses and the latter disputes with him or denies it, they shall call that man to account and he shall double whatever he has disputed and repay it. ” It sets a standard for putting a deposit down and also sets an effect should one of the parties try to lie about that deposit.
The Laws was ahead of its time in many aspects however slavery is legal therefore everyone is not seen as equal. Even if the penalties were not carried out The Laws would have worked as a threating devices letting the people of the land know of the potential consequences of the actions. Unlike Hammurabi’s code the Ten Commandments list guidelines on worship and holy days. And offers worship as a form of retribution instead of the real literal form of physical retribution found in Hammurabi’s code.
One example of a law that is similar, deals in financial matters and states “If a man delivers to his neighbor money or goods to keep and it is stolen out of the man’s house. If the thief is found he shall pay double. If the thief is not found the owner of the house shall come near to God, to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s goods. ” This is very similar to a law found in Hammurabi’s code in which the repayment amount is similar for the exact situation.
Some of the laws on slavery vary from the two codes the Ten Commandments offers compensation directly to the slave one laws reads “When a man strikes the eye of a slave male or female he shall let that slave go for the sake of that eye”. In Hammurabi’s code a lot of the compensation for damages done to slaves went to their master. Overall I would say that the two laws codes are different. The Ten Commandments gets away from the concept of “An eye for an eye” as in Hammurabi’s code. As to the Ten Commandments offers more monetary compensation with a small amount of physical compensation except in extreme cases.
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