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Hammurabi's Code - An Overview - Essay Example

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Hammurabi's Code – An Overview Hammurabi is the name of an ancient king in Babylon. He accomplished something extraordinary by creating the first-ever written set of laws from the Sumerians’ developed cuneiform – the written language. Especial about the Hammurabi’s court was his sense of justice that prevailed upon all – rich or poor…
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Hammurabis Code - An Overview
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Download file to see previous pages Various parts of the law were written in systematic way so that reading of the Code by the people was easily understandable and people could derive what was expected of them from the written laws. The code was inscribed upon a black stone monument, eight feet high, and clearly meant to be erected for reading by his people. This famous stone-carving was found in the year 1901, not in Babylon, but in a city of the Persian mountains, as some later victor must have taken it in victory. The code starts and finishes with calls to the gods. It shows how regard for gods was mandatory before reading a law code although the prayers were mainly curses for non-abiders of the law (Horne, 1915). The code commands in lucid and sure strokes the making of society. The judge who commits mistakes in a law case is to be ousted from his position and rank forever, and heavily penalized. The falsified witness is to be beheaded. In fact, all the serious crimes are awarded death. For instance, if a man constructs a house poorly, and the structure comes down and kills the owner, the builder is to be beheaded. If the owner's son is killed, then the builder's son would be beheaded. The Hebrews imbibed from here the law of "an eye for an eye.” These serious retributive punishments do not count excuses or clarifications, but only of the truth--with one noticeable exception. An offender was permitted to drown himself into "the river," the Euphrates. Clearly, people were not familiar with swimming; if the waves brought the culprit to the river banks alive he was pronounced not-guilty, if he could not swim back he was declared guilty. It shows Hammurabi’s belief in the justice of the reigning gods, although a bit childishly, it was implanted in the minds of people (Horne, 1915). There are thousands of rulings of the ancient times based on Babylonian laws, the so-called "contracts," including a vast range of deeds, conveyances, bonds, receipts, accounts and, most critical of all, the actual legal verdicts awarded by the judges in the law courts. It helped in conserving the so-called "Sumerian Family Laws” (Johns, 1911). One can not find any symptoms of tribal tradition from the law of the Code. It is a ruler’s law; similar to self-help, bloody fights, marriage by seizure is missing; though family unity, district duty, and difficult times – these ancient traits are visible. The king is a kind-hearted ruler who can be available to all his people, he is equally capable and ready to safeguard the oppressed against the noblest oppressor. The royalty can excuse such a high profile culprit only if there is no resentment among the people for the oppressor. The judges are regularly observed and appeal is permitted. There are feudal holdings, masters of the levy, and police. There exists a postal system. There is free movement by people from Babylon to the coast of the Mediterranean. Women hold a rank of respect and reverence in the Hammurabi code (Johns, 1911). The Code did not just personify the customs of that time or safeguard ancient law. The law-abiding citizens and litigation had a record of centuries in the temple stores in each city, huge enough, of past decisions and copies of judicial awards, getting mixed with the city traditions. The ever-prevailing habit of writing and practice of written deeds even more ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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