Trying to understand the Hammurabi code has been with no doubt one of the most important events that has changed the world. The Hammurabi code consists of an unequal society producing unequal laws, where women and men are no longer equal, where there are now different classes where slavery becomes a turning point in society, it is also absolutely saturated with religion. They were established in the second real civilization in Babylonia by one of Babylon’s first kings named Hammurabi who was in power about 55 years (r.c 1795-1750 B.C.E).
His laws for his kingdom straddling the Euphrates River drew on earlier Mesopotamian codes, such as that of the Ur III dynasty and reveal details on city life in particular. The terms revenge and justice often get muddled. And that’s hardly surprising, for, in the course of history, they’ve frequently been used interchangeably. You may even be familiar with the phrase “just revenge.” Still, as meanings alter and evolve over time, the connotations of these two words have increasingly diverged. Hammurabi proclaimed that he was supporting the principles of truth and equality and protecting the weak. His law code was based on an idea of justice. Its eye-for-an-eye principle matched the crime and punishment as literally as possible. This law represents the equality, fairness, and righteousness of the code. It punished fraudulent prosecutions by imposing the death penalty on anyone failing to prove a serious accusation. It also relied on natured- decided justice by allowing accused persons to leap into a river if they sank they were guilty if they floated they were innocent. Hammurabi focused a lot on seeking revenge and calling it justice like for example code number 195 “if a son disrespects his father his hands should be cut off”’ which nowadays a behavior like this it is found to be unethical, against the law, which makes me accredit that laws should be about fair justice. Where even though the person committed an unethical act, they should be judge reasonably and not being abused or being forced to do something as revenge.
When we refer to the Hammurabi code, we can highlight how many of the laws concerned the king’s interests as a property owner leasing land to tenants. His laws were harsh for offenses against property, including mutilation or death for crimes ranging from theft to wrongful sales and careless construction. Women had limited legal rights, at marriage, a woman’s sexuality became the property of her husband. Even the appearance or possibility of adultery was taken very seriously. A wife caught in the act of adultery was to be tied to her lover and thrown into the water and drowned. A husband could save his wife but then he had to save her lover as well. In other cinerarios, men would accuse their wife of adultery. However, if these were women and innocent, these women could go to a priest and swear their innocence and then the woman was able to return back to her home. In other cases, some women were accused by other people. In this case, the first step the women would do is swear in front of the gods of her innocence, then proceed to jump into the river. In this event, if the women drowned, it represented her guilt. On the other hand, if she was truly innocent, the rivers spirit would know it and the women would survive.
But how did religion make this code effective? Sometimes we can use religion to manipulate people and when they are afraid they will obey. Hammurabi wrote these laws to show Shamash, the Babylonian sun god, and god of justice, that he had fulfilled his responsibility as a divinely installed king to ensure justice and the moral and material welfare of his people, so Shamash, god of the sun, wouldn’t oppress his power on him. The laws on surgery reveal that doctors treated patients in the cities. Because people believed that angry gods or evil spirits caused serious disasters. Religion was in Hammurabi’s favor, people not knowing any science or how things really worked made people believed everything that the king was saying.
Something that should definitely not be part of the law in the United States today is anything that is related to inequality between genres. Like what the codes 108, 129, 131, 142 address. Women had some rights, women could get a divorce, Women also were allowed to engage in the buying and the selling of property but they were still restricted by the code. In today’s laws, women voices are finally heard and women had received the due rights and respect which they have always deserved. Let’s not forget also how the laws treated the wealthy differently, they did not care about your race, your skin color, it was based more on how much land you were owning. It actually relates to how on the article NYPD Stop and frisk Statistics 2002-2017, they do not care how much land you owe now, they focus more on your race, it is actually surprising how for more than 10 years, we keep repeating the same mistakes, from 2002 – 2017 the same percentages of innocent people being stopped by the police were the same; with Afro-American’s with the higher percentage, on top of the chart. Nothing is worse than being thrown against the wall innocent and being checked. Or how on the article NYC Marijuana Use and Arrests, 2002-2015 even though White people have the highest percentage of the use of Marihuana Afro-American’s and Latinos have over eighty percentage of being arrested or getting caught even though they do not consume this product as much as white people, who actually consume this seventy eight percent our of a hundred and only twenty nine percent of the time they get caught.
But now if we focus on something positive, we can say there were some laws considered to be reasonable. For example, if a person owed money to somebody but a disaster occurred and that person couldn’t harvest any grain then that person wouldn’t have to give any grain to the person to whom he owed money and also wouldn’t have to pay any rent for that year which if we relate to nowadays it is a pretty extended time to be free of debt compared to today’s laws in the United States. Usually, when something like this happens no matter how big the disaster is, they offer you help only for 6 months. Hammurabi’s Code is definitely important for people to know about today, he was more than a man, he was a man with a plan. And his plan was to construct a tablet of laws for all the world to know and it actually altered world law forever. He had a seemingly cruel and unusual system of punishment. His setting up and creating the code, the social structure and significant laws, and its discovery were all essential to the code. According to Hammurabi’s Code, women could inherit property and had many rights as wives.
Without this idea, American women might not have thought to stand up for their rights and there wouldn’t be the brilliant women there are today. The code is also part of American history because some norms and customs that were included in the code are still being used and practiced today in America. These norms were passed down from generation to generation as important rules and customs until it reached the Founding Fathers. When writing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers decided to make some of the customs into law, making them part of American everyday life. This code was very biased. Slaves, commoners and high rankers were all treated with different castigations, which isn’t fair because for equal crimes there should be equal fines, regardless of who did the crime or who was affected by the crime. Though disputed whether it was the first code in history, it definitely left a large mark on the world and changed it forever.
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