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Essay/Term paper: Hammurabi

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

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Hammurabi





In his position as King of Babylonia, Hammurabi managed to

organize the world's first code of laws and establish Babylon as the

dominant and successful Amorite city of its time. "Records written on

clay tablets show that Hammurabi was a very capable administrator and a

successful warrior. His rule spanned from 1792 B.C. to 1750 B.C. When

he became king in 1792, he was still young, but had already become

entrusted with many official duties in his administration"(Grolier). In

the early years of his reign, Hammurabi mostly participated in

traditional activities, such as repairing buildings, digging canals, and

fighting wars. Yet later in his rule, Hammurabi organized a unique code

of laws, the first of its kind, therefore making himself one of the

world's most influential leaders.

Hammurabi was primarily influential to the world because of his

code of laws. This code consisted of 282 provisions, systematically

arranged under a variety of subjects. He sorted his laws into groups

such as family, labor, personal property, real estate, trade, and

business. This was the first time in history that any laws had been

categorized into various sections. This format of organization was

emulated by civilizations of the future. For example, Semitic cultures

succeeding Hammurabi's rule used some of the same laws that were included

in Hammurabi's code. Hammurabi's method of thought is evident in present

day societies which are influenced by his code. Modern governments

currently create specific laws, which are placed into their appropriate

family of similar laws. Hammurabi had his laws recorded upon an eight

foot high black stone monument. Hammurabi based his code on principles

like, the strong should not injure the weak, and that punishment should

fit the crime. As for punishment, "legal actions were initiated under

the code by written pleadings; testimony was taken under oath. The code

was severe in it's penalties, prescribing "an eye for an eye, a tooth for

a tooth.""(Grolier). This code of laws was able to be maintained by

invoking the authority of the gods and the state. Although the

punishments were different than those of today, the authority of the

state (government) is similar. Currently, punishments are issued

through the state's law enforcement system, comparable to the way

punishment was determined and enforced in ancient Babylon. In the code,

crimes punishable by death required a trial in front of a bench of

judges. Included in these crimes were: bigamy, incest, kidnapping,

adultery and theft. There were also laws similar to today. For example,

a husband who wished to divorce his wife, was required to pay alimony and

child support. By creating the world's first set of organized laws,

Hammurabi constituted a model set of moral codes for other civilizations

to duplicate.

"The code of Hammurabi is believed to have greatly influenced the

development of Near Eastern civilizations for centuries after it was

written"(Britannica). Although Hammurabi failed to establish an

effective bureaucratic system himself, his ideas were successful in

establishing laws in Babylonia. Since Babylon was the world's first

metropolis, the large population needed to be bound by a strict set of

organized civil laws. The way Hammurabi constructed his laws is

influential to the world today, because laws can be more easily

understood by the people.



Bibliography

"Code of Hammurabi." Encyclopedia Britannica (1989), X, 682.

"Hammurabi." Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia (1994).

"Hammurabi." Compton's Encyclopedia (1990), XI, 225.



 

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