Hammurabi code

HAMMURABI CODE

            The Hammurabi code is an ancient code of laws which were created in the 1700 BC in Babylon by the Babylonian king (Gabrielle,B &Eberrhad Koning, 2005).

This code contains a series of laws which  have survived to date and which have a great influence to the society in various ways. These include: the governance, social status of the society and literature writing. In general, Hammurabi code contains 282 laws which have been incorporated in the society through inclusion in the structuring of certain constitutions and other by-laws. In this code, the king of Babylon presents himself as a god who was given the laws to deliver to the people. The code of Hammurabi is considered as one of the earliest code of laws which existed in the ancient East. This paper examines the concept of the code of Hammurabi which is considered as the first written law in history. The law was aimed at governing citizens using harsh conditions in order to prevent the oppression of the weak by the strong and thus has a great influence on today’s society. In addition, this paper brings out the present day strategies of protecting the common human beings against the abuse of their human rights.

            The code was used as a basis in drafting some counties’ constitutions and thus has been modified in making the present constitutions. Initially, the economies were controlled by metric laws which were incorporated in this code of laws. This contained economic formulas with principles that are still used in the current price control system. On the other hand, the fine system contained in the code is used in the judicial system in the sentencing of criminals. The laws of taxation on both private and public properties have been employed in the customs and revenue departments to facilitate collection of government revenue.

            The ancient king had it that the code’s main role was to protect the rights of the land and to promote the wellbeing of the oppressed people in the society. Such an idea ought to be borne in the minds of present leaders. The code describes three categories of people in the society: the upper class, common citizens and the slaves. All people were to be protected against oppression regardless of their social status the same feature characterizes modern society that guarantees protection of human rights to all citizens without discrimination. The code also outlines the punishment and penalties to be administered to those convicted of crimes. The 283 articles in the Hummurabis code of laws talk about judicial justice, executive powers and economies of the society. These laws have been translated in to the current society in promotion of the well-being of the citizens. Articles 102-105 illustrate the relationship between the principals and their agents and outline the duties of the judiciary. Most of these concepts feature in the state constitution. The code indicates that the accused was to be taken to the river. If the person sank, then the accuser was to take possession of the accused property. If he did not, then a vice versa scenario prevailed. Similarly, in the present society if one accuses others without concrete prove, the accuser is fined for tarnishing the image of others. (Louver Museum, 2006).The fines imposed on the guilty criminals was supposed to be taken by the accusers .The competence of the Judges is cited in this code of laws, if the judges carried their duties without competence they were supposed to be censured from office. Likewise in today’s society if judges are faced with corruption cases they are impeached from office. Stealing of temple properties was prohibited in the ancient Babylon and if one was found committing such an offence then he was to be put to death and the one who would buy the stolen property was supposed to be punished, in the present society if one is convicted of stealing any private or public property he is subjected to justice by the law.

            This code cites that if one buys any property without a witness, then that person was considered a thief, presently when one is purchasing anything, witnesses are required to sign the agreed terms of purchase (David .G &Jane, G, 1995). This code prohibited one from taking a male or female slave outside the city gate; similarly in today’s society abduction of individuals is treated as a criminal offence. Moreover it prohibited holding of slaves, which is also prohibited in today’s laws. This code states that if an army refused to go to war, he was supposed to be put to death, consequently in today’s society, armies are supposed to be royal to the commander of the armed forces during emergencies. Properties such as land remained at the hands of the owner regardless of his absence, presently no one is allowed to disturb ones property by taking the advantage of his absence. In case the owner dies his son has the authority of inheriting it

            Economically some parts of this code of Hummurabi have influenced today’s life to a great extent, for instance code 55 prohibits one from diverting the water course, this principle is in practice in most countries, for example the Nile water is protected from being over exploited. Any state that is found altering the water source has to bear the punishment imposed by the member countries. This code cites that if any body lies that he has lost goods, he was punished, likewise in today’s society if one is found generating money through the unfair means, then he is subjected to justice.

            Socially, this code has a great influence in today’s society; code 29 onwards talks about the marriage relationship. If a man s wife was found committing adultery, he was thrown in to the river, consequently in today’s society if one commits adultery he or she is subjected to judicial judgment. In contrary this code exempted a woman to go to another house and bear children with another man if her husband has been captured in the war, this has been applied in some communities which allow wife inheritance after the death of the husbands, but the children belongs to the man who fathered them. This code also gives guidelines pertaining to separation of the married couples, it cites that if a man wishes to separate from his wife, he shall give dowry and part of their properties as  compensation. In the present society if one divorces, the partners are supposed to divide their properties equally inclusive of the children. Incest was considered as a criminal offence in the ancient times, likewise in the present times. The state laws prohibits a man from marrying his own daughter, if one is proved guilty of incest with his daughter he shall be exiled, consequently if a man carries out sexual intercourse with his sons wife, he is supposed to be exiled. Moreover if a man carries incest offences with his mother, both of them are exiled.

            Juvenile rights were basically protected in this code. (Bryant, Tamera, 2005). It cites that no man would put his son out of his house without any reason, this has been prevented by the state laws and if one commits such an offence, he is prone to judicial judgment. Slave children are allowed to marry from any group of people as longer as the partners are in consent. Further on, if a widow wishes to remarry after the death of his wife, he shall do so with the consent of the judge so as to prevent unnecessary marital affairs. All people in the society have the right of inheritance regardless of the social status. More over if a man does not maintain a child he has adopted; the adopted child has a right to return to his or her paternal home. Negligence of medical practioners such as doctors and nurses has been cited in  article 194 0f the code, which states that if a child shall die on the hands of a nurse, that nurse shall be subjected to judicial judgment, consequently in today’s society any medical practioners who has negligence while handling medical matters is subjected to judgment. Moreover consumer rights are cited in the code, services provided must have satisfactory standards, if one gives services which may lead to harming the owner, and then the one who provides the services shall be prosecuted. Consequently this code has been used in the production of literal writings and fictions books.

            Hammurabi’s code has greatly influenced the society at large, starting from the Babylonian society and the surrounding world. It has a large impact on the modern society and the future status of the world. Although the Hummurabi code may be compared with the mosaic laws, it has tried to promote human rights in the society. Hummurabi’s code has a great significance in the society regarding to the politics and economic status of the citizens. Although the code was aimed at protecting the weaker people in the society against the oppression of their stronger counterparts, the Hummurabi code contained harsh measures for the criminals. Never the less the Hummurabis code has been considered as one of the outstanding legal recorded document in the ancient period. (Beck, Roger et al, 1999). This code has emerged as a superior document in the modern era which has helped to provide direction towards western civilization. Consequently it can be traced that laws regulate the functioning of the society and people at large. Without the laws the state would be in limpo.Everybody will have freedom to do anything he or she wishes, laws plays an outstanding function in any state. The Hummurabi code provided protection to all classes of people, with an inclusion of slaves, children and women. (Mieroop Marc,2004). It not only provided society laws but also provided the judicial importance in the society. It provided the property rights, religious rights, penalties and negligence problem. Thus it can be concluded that the Hummurabi code has influenced the society to a great extent in the political, economic, and social matters.

References

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Museum. L (2006). Near Eastern Antiquities: Mesopotamia. The Louver Museum.             http://www.louvre.fr/llv/oeuvres/detail_. Retrieved on September 14 2007.

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