Justice and Judgment in the Hammurabi's Code

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Throughout Hammurabi’s Law Code several values of society are listed. The values of society range from personal injury to property and wage regulations. In the personal injury section, they show how women with children were important in that time period. Rule 209 and 210 state, “If a man has struck a free woman with a child, and he has caused her to miscarry, he shall pay ten shekels for her miscarriage. If that woman die, his daughter shall be killed.” Although these rules state that the woman must be free they also show importance to female slaves. It is said that if the freeman’s female slave is struck and miscarries, he shall pay two shekels of silver. Women did not have as many rights as women have today but, they expressed the importance of women who had children.

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Much like today when physicians performed a procedure they are paid for their work. However, higher pay for procedures were only necessary for those who were free as slaves were seen as people of lesser value. However, if a physician operated on a slave and caused their death, they would be obligated to restore the slave of equal value. They believe that in order to be paid for a procedure it must be efficient or they should be guaranteed compensation. Many of these rules in Hammurabi’s Law Code include getting compensation for a loss. For example, in rule 229 in the building code section it states, “If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make its construction sound, and the house which he has built collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house, the builder shall be put to death. This shows that they value the lives of homeowners. Even if the person building the home was free, they believed that they should be paid in some way even if it meant taking their life.

In addition to this, they believe that robbery should not be tolerated and is taken very seriously. It states that the person is caught robbing, they will be punished to death. If the robber is not caught, they do other things to try and find the belongings that were robbed. As stated in the rules, to do this they victim of the robbery must set forth all the objects that were in lost in the presence of god, the city, and the governor in the district where the robbery took place.

According to Hammurabi’s Law Codes , there is a section that explains what to do with children. It is evident that they believed that showing respect to parents was not a choice but an obligation. Today, if a child does not show their parents respect they are most likely not punished as harshly as children in the early western civilization. It states that if a child is misbehaving or does not show respect to their parents, they will have their hand cut off. However this punishment is not as bad as what a wife face if they are accused of adultery. If the wife is accused of lying with another man but has not been caught, she will be forced to throw herself in to a river for the sake of her husband. Although it seems unfair, they value loyalty and do not believe adultery should occur without facing consequences.

In all, Hammurabi’s Code us that in ancient Babylonia, nobles ranked above freedmen and slaves, there was a social pecking order. Religion, job, integrity, and social status are the values of Mesopotamian culture that are reflected in Hammurabi’s code. Mesopotamians were a people of profound religion. They prayed and offered sacrifices and gifts to appease their gods. Hammurabi’s code also represents the significance of religion for Mesopotamians.   

29 April 2022

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