This essay will be based on information gathered from the code of Hammurabi. It can be seen that Hammurabi is a prince born of Anu and Bel and was brought to “bring about the rule of righteous in the land and to destroy the evil and wicked”. He is also brought to ensure that no harm may befall the weak in the community. It is also suggested that also included in his purpose was to rule over “black headed people like Shamash” while also enlightening the land and continuing the well being of mankind as a whole. According to the story he was sent by Marduk to rule over mankind, giving protection to the land of the earth and also bring about the well being of the oppressed and the weak. It seems that it is suggested that Hammurabi was sent as some sought of savior by their “god” to come and rule and protect his people. With this purpose in him Hammurabi is seen to have considerable power over the rest of the people which in turns enables him to guide them make decisions as well as making rules that will govern his people.
Through the laws set at the time we are able to see a clear picture of how the society and community was like back then. It was in a time where must people were observant of the law because if an individual was to break any given or set rule he or she was to be punished for it, be it in monetary value or another way as stipulated in the laws. It can be seen from the laws that there was no tolerance of the wicked or evil doers of the society back then. The strict and harsh punishments all but ensured that people will be afraid to take a risk of breaking the laws set as there were crimes that were even punishable by death of the wrong doer. Through these laws it is observed that there was no equality in the society back then as it was structured in a specific way. There was royalty, the common man and slaves. As much as it was a law set by the high and mighty at the time, it can be commended to them for their ability to ensure that the law does not exempt anyone who was to be found on the wrong side of the law.
Through the laws we can be able to see the kind of society it was back then. We are able to see slavery was still a common practice then. It is named in some laws like the one suggesting that should a slave run away from their master and is found by a merchant they should be returned to their master. We can also see war was emphasized in the laws as there are different provisions on how people going to war should act and what will happen if they are to commit a crime or a crime is committed against them. Aggression is another that I feel has been emphasized and highlighted in this code. The laws show how aggressive justice can be taken upon those found guilty. The punishments as stated above are a bit harsh and over the top since a person could be put to death over a petty crime which in the modern society would only earn the perpetrator a slap on the wrist as a warning.
Some of these laws prefigure some in the western civilization, it might not be as straightforward as one might expect but there are some similarities in some of the codes. It can be seen in the laws such as when one person kills another they should be put to death, in the western civilization the death penalty was passed to the accused until some years ago when it was revoked in some states. Also smaller laws such as robbery where harshly punished back then more than they are now but it shows slight similarities. I might not be able to name all the laws but these are just but a few.
As an option whether or not I would like to live in a society such as the one depicted here would be hard. For one I admire the laws in this society as they display a sense of zero tolerance to and kind of crime be it small or large it was not accepted in that time. I would like to see this kind of attitude in this current generation. But still with all the positives it still comes with a few negatives. In these laws are too strict that people might be afraid to seek justice for a crime committed against them since if the judgment goes against them they might even lead to them being put to death. In every road to justice there are bound to be inconsistencies but these laws do not have any provision to cater for that and it may lead to, even if in a few cases, an innocent individual being on the wrong end of the judgment. After looking up at both sides of the question, I’d prefer to live in a society with this kind of laws albeit with a provision for inconsistencies. This will ensure that they uphold their zero tolerance policy on crime but take on all possibilities available before placing judgment on any given individual.
Anonymous. The Code of Hammurabi King of Babylon. University Press of The Pacific. July 27th 2002
Horne F. Charles. The Code of Hammurabi. Forgotten Books. 2007.
Encyclopedia Britannica. 1911. Volume 3. Babylonian Law