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Review: The Code of Hammurabi

Author(s): J. Dyneley Prince
Review by: J. Dyneley Prince
Source: The American Journal of Theology, Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul., 1904), pp. 601-609
Published by: University of Chicago Press
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and is a sign of the times.Die Gesetze Hammurabis(Leipzig. and this leads to the conclusion that another copy of this famous code existed in Susa. Numerals.45 on Sun.1903). the last five of which form the epilogue. This content downloaded from 79. THE CODE OF HAMMURABI. was the sixth king of the first dynasty of Babylon and reigned for fiftyfive years. nearly eight feet high.King of Babylonabout2250 B. C. There were originally five more columns on the obverse. four and one-half of which form the prologue. broken into three pieces which were easily rejoined. We have a good account of his life and deeds in the letters which he wrote to Sin-idinnam and in The Chronicle of the Kings of Babylon. 1898-1900. H. 2-192 pages. King. photograph of text facing Plate I. Transliteration. Hammurabi. that of its critical acquaintance with the earliest Christian tradition. 72-80. GEORGE H.Die GesetzeHammurabis(Wien. which I cannot do better than quote ver- batim: The monument on which the Code of Hammurabi is engraved was found in December. On the obverse we have a bas-relief exhibiting King Hammurabi receiving the laws from the sun-god. xi. i-xv. 1903). Index of Subjects. 1901. Chicago:The Universityof Chicago Press. 1902. C. Another fragment was found which does not belong to this monument. but which contains a text correspondingto Column 41. and Erasures. On the reverse there are twenty-eight columns. identified by most Assyriologistswith the Amraphel of Genesis 14:I.MASS. on the acropolis of Susa by an expedition sent out by the French government under the director general.THE CODE OF HAMMURABI 6oi and belief of many intelligent people both within and without the church. THE discovery of the Code of Hammurabi is the most important event which has taken place in the development of Assyriological science since the days of Rawlinson and Layard. W." I The Code of Hammurabi. and January. but these have been cut off by the Elamitic conqueror. We may accept the opinion of Scheil and Winckler that the copy found at Susa may have been taken as plunder by Sutruk-Nahunte (about iioo B. Also D.Ph.Translation. Frontispiece. Signs. both of which have been edited with great care by Mr.) and brought to his Elamitic capital. 2 The Lettersand Inscriptionsof Hammurabi. M. Corrections. MfILLER. HUGOWINCKLER. xii. NORTHAMPTON. Plates I-CIII. it will scarcely satisfy the historical student.114. C. L. Lists of Proper Names. Glossary. London: Luzac & Co. to which the story of Moses receiving the ten words from Yahweh corresponds.. Autographed Text. pp.D. In his Introduction. It is a block of black diorite. By RobertFrancisHarper. Frontispiece.119. 3 vols. and Photographof Text. de Morgan.. Professor Harper' gives an admirably clear and brief exposition of the discovery and nature of the code. 1904. about 2250 B. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . with Map. Under this relief are engraved sixteen columns of text. but on another side. There are many reasons for believing that this code of laws was published in many places.

. CuneiSCHRADER. 282a."great. Very little is known of the kings of this first Babylonian dynasty save the names. whom we find the first really great king in Semitic history. but also to conquer the various petty states of Babylonia which up to his time had shared in turn the rulershipof the country.3 There can be no doubt that this king was the same person as the biblical Amraphel4 of Gen. evidentlya late Hebrewcorruptionof Hammurabi.Vol. that that city did not secure the hegemony of Babylonia-until the days of History of Babyloniaand Assyria.II R. EBERHARD Genesis (1887). Thus far ProfessorHarper. The close similarity between the Hammurabi laws and the Mosaic 3 Cf." i.." The word Lammu occurs in the propername Nabd-4ammu-ildni.and for the rightingof wrong.114. This content downloaded from 79. For the nameAmraphel.. 537 B. form Inscriptionsand the Old Testament. as being associated with a number of allies in western campaigns. C. Amraphel is mentioned in Gen.Muss-ARNoLT." and rabi2. "ruler. Hammurabi had to meet very great difficulties in establishing his supremacy. For example. He was the first monarch to make a united Babylonia. He codifiedthe existinglawsthat the strongmightnot oppressthe weak. Hwb.119. "great ruler. 48a. god-fearing kingwho destroyedall his enemiesto the northand southand made his peopleto dwellin peaceand security. I.. lead.and FRANzDELITZSCH. e. which simply means that he is the first king known to us. first of one and then of another southernBabylonian city. This account of victories in Palestine and Syria agrees well with what is known of the general situation at the time of Hammurabi. 388. e.that they shouldgive justiceto the orphan and widow. Previous to his time the country had been under the sway. 14." cf. as there must have been many rulers of Babylon before the historical period. 14: 1. 4 The name of Hammurabiseems to be a combinationof 4ammu. p. The fact is that the time was probablyfully ripe for the destruction of the non-Semitic states. 320a. It is probable that Babylon was not independenti. AssyrianDictionary. He rebuiltcities and canals.he reunitedhis people. Hammurabiis called the first king of the first dynasty. chap.he restoredtemplesand endowedthemwith meansfor sacrifices. ROGERS. and he had not only to subdue them. Excursus.but it forms merely an unimportantepisode in the Babylonianhistory. he found the Elamites firmly fixed in the country. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions ..602 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY Fromthe prologueandepiloguewe learnthathe was a greatsoldieranda pious. This union effected by Hammurabilasted until the days of Cyrusthe Persian. and in Hammurabiwas found "the man on horseback" in whose governmentwe see the triumph of the Semitic power.he re-established cults.45 on Sun. The stem hamdmumeans "rule.

they shall bind them and throw them into the water. but it was in all probabilitystoning. to destroy the wicked and evil.. Furthermore. to go forth like the sun over the Black Head Race.45 on Sun. The ancient Semitic laws were much more severe against immoral women. the chief son of Ea . and the will of the God clearly expressed. that justice and right should prevail among the chosen people (the Black Head Race in Hammurabi's code and the Hebrews in the Mosaic code). and that will by no means clear (the guilty). With this should be compared the proclamation of Yahweh in Exod. and B61. the exalted prince. committed the rule of all mankind to Marduk. The following comparisons between the Hammurabi and Hebrew codes cannot fail to be of interest to all those who study the Old Testament from a critical point of view: Adultery. Yahweh Elohim.: And Yahweh passed by before him [Moses] and proclaimedYahweh. while evil of all sorts should be overthrown. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth.visitingthe iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the children's children unto the third and fourth generation. Deut. to prevent the strong from oppressing the weak. where we read: When the lofty Anu.. p. received his laws from the divine hand itself (see frontispiece. 34:6 ff. they shall both of them die. as has already been indicated above in the quotation from Professor Harper. to enlighten the land and to further the welfare of the people.. This resemblance shows itself even in the prologue to Hammurabi's code.. lord of heaven and earth . 45. like Moses. when they pronounced the lofty name of Babylon. 45." Here the manner of death is not specified. p.THE CODE OF HAMMURABI 603 code of the Hebrew Old Testament has attracted widespread attention. ? 129: "If the wife of a man be taken in lying with another man. when they made it famous among the quarters of the world and in its midst established an everlasting kingdom whose foundationswere firm as heaven and earth-at that time Anu and B61 called me. merciful and gracious. representing Hammurabi receiving his code from the sun-god).-Harper. Harper. If the husband of the woman would save his wife." With this cf.. Hammurabi. king of the Anunniki. Hammurabi. Keeping mercy for thousands.119. In both these introductions to a legal code we have the statement of divine supremacy. on the one hand. or if the king would save his male servant (he may).. It should be noted that immoral lapses on the part of men were only punished. where the crime interfered with the rights of other men.114. on the other hand. 22: 22: "If a man be found lying with a woman marriedto a husband. This content downloaded from 79. according to both codes. to cause justice to prevail in the land. the worshiper of the gods. forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.

they shall pluck out his eye.. p.SE." The Hebrew law is much more explicit on this point. 2.GA should be read gir-se-ga." On the other hand. ? 195: "If a son strike his father. The disobedientson. "vow. 457a. Hwb. 73. Divorce." Both codes were equally severe against the rape of a betrothed girl: Harper.' 'My mother thou art not.SE." This word zikru. p. I14. and he shall make good to her the dowry which she brought s NER. he shall give her money to the amount of her marriage settlement. e. place. literally "a front place.45 on Sun. 46g. "one who places or gives the foot" (gir. the so-called Sumerian Family Laws give a similar case. 22:23-26: "If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband and a man find her in the city and lie with her: then ye shall bring them both unto the gate of that city and ye shall stone them with stones that they die.7 but do not prescribe death for the rebellious son. and the man because he hath humbled his neighbour'swife. Thus Deut. and he lie in her bosom and they take him." 7 Cf. II R. p. and they shall say unto the elders of his city: 'This our son is stubborn and rebellious. 6 Literally zinnigti zikrum. This content downloaded from 79. But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field and the man force her and lie with her. 39. and go back to his father's house." Harper. i. DELITZSCH. the damsel because she cried not." is from zakdru.THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY 604 ? 132: "If the finger have been pointed at the wife of a man because of another man. and that when they have rebuked him will not hearken to them.GA=manzaz pani. then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him and bring him out unto the elders of his city and unto the gate of his place. ? 193: "If the son of a NER..' they shall cut out his tongue. "woman of a vow. and hate the father who has reared him and the mother who has reared him." hence "a retainer")." the same stem as "ZT. being in the city. 18. Cf.4. 30. ? 138: "If a man would put away his wife who has not borne him children. rev. 73..GAs or the son of a devotee6say to his father who hath reared him or to his mother who hath reared him: 'My father thou art not. ? 192: "If the son of a NER.SE. p. 45.he will not obey our voice. 21:18-21: "If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother. so thou shalt put away evil from among you. 71. II R. for her husband's sake she shall throw herself into the river.-Harper. p." The biblical law is not so explicit.GA or the son of a devotee identify his own father's house. 49." literally "impresser.' And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones that he die.Al. "give. "male. that man shall be put to death and that woman shall go free. Deut..SE." Harper. remember. Manzaz pdni also=amel gal-te. he is a glutton and a drunkard. ? 130: "If a man force the (betrothed)wife of anotherwho has not known a male and is living in her father's house. "impress. Senn.114. and she have not been taken in lying with another man. 51. p. n. then the man only that lay with her shall die. they shall cut off his fingers.119.-Harper. impregnator. "foot"+sega=naddnu.." Cf." then applied to a high official as here. i. p. The ideogram NER. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

55." The Mosaic law was on similar lines. they shall bind that man and throw him into the water. I connectit with the zini of I. It was probablya legal term for pudendumfeminae.119. it will be noticed. but he himself lie in her bosom. 27. 24:I. She is thy son's wife. . although it is undoubtedly implied.. 4: "If a man in a case (pending judgment) bear false (threatening) witness or do not establish the testimony that he has given. makes no mention of a restitution of dowry. 2. he shall himself bear the penalty imposed in that case. then let him write her a bill of divorcement and give it in her hand and send her out of his house. Incest. which was also the underlying principle in the Hammurabi code (see below). 55. Harper. R. between whom the controversyis. to testify against him that which is wrong. and then he may put her away. ?? 3. and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes. p.114. p.45 on Sun. shall stand before Yahweh. p." The Hebrew law here is really a variant of the lex talionis. 2: "When a man hath taken a wife and married her. and behold. if that case be a case involving life.THE CODE OF HAMMURABI 605 from her father's house. Thus in Deut..-Harper. ." In Lev.-Harper. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . as the son's wife is forbidden to the father of the son. "the mouth of its sewer he may not close up" (see MUss-ARNOLT. he shall pay her one-half-mana of silver. cit. This content downloaded from 79. . If a man (in a case) bear witness for grain or money (as a bribe). op. ? 157: "If a man lie in the bosom of his mother after (the death of) his father. and he shall make good to her whatevershe brought from the house of her father. where in such a case it is ordered that the guilty parties "shall be put to death. And when she is departed out of his house she may go and belong to another man." The Hebrew code. p. p. then shall ye do unto him as he had thought to have done unto his brother." ? i56: "If a man have betrothed a bride to his son and his son have not known her." Incest with the mother was punished even more severely.33: mugibdb ziniga id ikdsir. that man shall be put to death. they shall expel that man from the city. 285)." With this should be compared Deut. before the priests and the judges which shall be in those days .. n. because he hath found some uncleanness in her." It was evidently incon8 The word zanu is euphemisticallytranslated"bosom" by ProfessorHarper." It is curious that there is no express prohibition against intercoursebetween a father and daughter in the Mosaic code. i8:15 it is expresslystated: "thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law. False witness. . if the witness be a false witness and hath testified falsely against his brother. 19:xx it is stated "the man who lieth with his father's wife [not necessarily his own mother] . and if he [the father] afterward lie in her bosoms and they take him. ? 154: "If a man have known his daughter. 19:12. 11. they shall burn both of them. they shall both be put to death." The penalty is imposed in Lev. ? 155: "If a man have betrothed a bride to his son and his son have known her. 55. and the man of her choice may take her.." In Lev. Harper. then both the men. 19:16-19: "If a false witness rise up against any man.

and. A special study 9 A veryinterestingarticleon the Jewishlaws regardingincesthas been published in the Jewish Encyclopedia. he shall restore tenfold. Cf. of various later modifications which became necessary as the national life ripened under the influence of new conditions. ? 8: "if it be from a god (temple) or a palace.Vol. ? 34). 17. on the other hand. first order: entering a palace or temple and stealing from an open place or temple. 24: 19. p. Only in the case where the thief had stolen an ox or sheep. Adultery). EISENSTEIN This content downloaded from 79. eye for eye. and p. life shall go for life.-There were two degreesof theft according to the Hammurabi code: i. If the thief have nothing wherewith to pay. p. "If a man nowhere so clearly set forth as in Harper. if it be from a freeman. he shall restorefive oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep. p. tooth for tooth. p." The principle of restitution for theft was known also to the Mosaic code. of certain ancient." Lex talionis. ass or pig or boat. 73. he shall be put to death.-This is the underlying principle all the penalties. he shall restore thirtyfold. v. in which the ancient principles descending from the earliest Semitic fathers are perfectly apparent." Comparethis with the famous passage. 22: I: If a man shall steal an ox or a sheep and kill it or sell it. It may be predicated of every law-code in existence that it is a combination on the one hand. 13. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . then that thief shall die. 9. incidental to a growing culture. All law is the concrete expression of the practical necessities of community life. they shall destroy his eye. Thus Exod. This is peculiarly true of the Hammurabi laws. tooth for tooth" (see below). but it is in. The second order consisted in receivingor selling stolen goods. 13.119. 571.114. eye for eye. Harper.45 on Sun. hand for hand. 20: "And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour. he shall be put to death. Breach for breach. ? 14: "If a man steal a man's son who is a minor. Deut. 24:7: "If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel and maketh merchandiseof him or selleth him. e." ? 197: "If one break a man's he hath done so shall it be done to him. D. 1? 96: destroy the eye of another man." ? 15: "If a man aid a male or female slave of the palace or a male or female slave of a freeman to escape from the city gate. Theft. they shall break his bone. I9: 21: "And thine eye shall not pity." Lev.-Harper. 23.. by J." The Mosaic code imposes a similar penalty: Deut. p. fixed principles descending from the days of the first nationalization of the people who evolved the code.o Kidnapping. might he have the privilege of restitution. Rape was a capital crime only when the woman wronged was the betrothed wife of another man (see above s. this was punished by death.606 THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY ceivable to the Hammurabi code-makersthat incest with the mother could take place during the father's lifetime. which was also a capital crime (see Harper. foot for foot. 7. VI. ?? 6. he shall be put to death.

'o There can be no doubt that the first and chief principleof the ancient Semitic lawgiverswas the lex talionis: "life for life..THE CODE OF HAMMURABI 607 would be needful to set forth the reasonsfor the systematicorder." etc. 190 f." Harper. p.114. 210: "If a man strike a man's daughterand bringabout a miscarriage. H. 11Op. H. one punishment. This content downloaded from 79. 227.thereinshowing us a more mercifullaw than that against high treason followedby our English forefathersas late as the very beginningof the nineteenthcentury. accordingto Miiller. Three laws of Hammurabirequire our especial attention in this connection.he shall pay ten shekelsof silver for her miscarriage. ?? 209. 39. 230: "If a builderbuild a housefor a man and do not make its constructionfirmand the housewhichhe has built shall collapseand cause the deathof the ownerof the house." Thus in nearly every case the death penalty excludedany other punishment. As already mentioned in this review. Furthermore... for an excellent article on this subject. D. This law seems to me to be a natural one among a half-civilizedpeople.45 on Sun.and if it be a man'sson (thathe seized)theyshallput his son to death. that case has no penalty. however. this idea underlies the entire codes of Hammurabi and of the Old Testament.: Harper. the ownerof the one seizedshall call the merchantto account.but a decreaseof penalty.pp. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Die .p. and need not. GesetzeHammurabis. as the life of the child was evidently considered as being of less value than that of the principal. be regardedas a survivalfrom a more primitive 1oSee. 8i. Such a law was fundamentally necessaryin a rude community. pp. but for deeds planned: "And ye shall do to him that which he had thought to do unto his neighbour. ?? 229. ??II15. D. If it causethe deathof a son of the ownerof the house.and indeed may be said to be inherentin human nature.And if that womandie. Another principle was "one crime.they shallput to death a son of thatbuilder. 226." This is a cleardevelopmentof the lex talionis.andthe one seizeddie in the houseof himwho seizedhim. If the one seizeddie of abuseor neglect in the houseof him who seizedhim.punishment on the body excluded a fine.119. Miiller correctlypoints out""that this is not an increase." In these three cases the innocent child of the person who caused a death is to be slain. MULLER.. Harper. II6: "If a manholda (debtof) grainor moneyagainst a manandhe seizehim for debt.that buildershall be put to death. The essence of self-protectionboth for the individualand for the communitywas retribution. cit.following which the Hammurabilaws are put together in a code. theyshall put his daughterto death.. eye for eye.not only for deeds actually done.p. 77. viz.

It is interestingto notice that society in the days of Hammurabiconsisted legally of the following three great classes: (i) the householders. etc."male slave. (2) the poor man." and later "leprous. and one which cannot be decided off-hand. 1?." On Hebrew cf. freebornmen. xii.i .. called in Babylonia aw1lum. Both have as their fundamentalprinciples certain universal ancient Semitic ideas of justice. The idea that these peoplewere lepersis not admissibleat all. as to whether the Mosaic law was not in some respects even more archaic than the Hammurabicode. and that the Syriac! 3." amtum. II.especiallybeforea god" (BA.114.o had the same meaning. universally used in Egypt in the same sense as . "leprous" abras. This content downloaded from 79.but it Syr. called in the code mu~lknum.119. the other hand. XVII.humble oneself."in Syriacand in SyrianArabic. among the free workingmenthere are mentioned field superintendentsand shepherds. has endeav- ored to show that the propermeaningof the Arabicmiskinis "leprous.mulkenu is not likelythat originallymeant "leprous. "female slave. locksmiths. 397 ff. VII. such as tailors. Vol./ "poor.). ibid. soldiers. Thus we find court officials. is. The class just abovethe slaves was that of the day laborers. 353'3 See HARPER.12 (3) the slaves of both sexes.9.. io.. 271. It is highlyprobablethat = Arabic " is a derivativefrom the Assyrian mujkenu." not "pauper" (ZIMMERN in JOH. well as artisans of all sorts. pp. p.however. Vol. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . pp.'The fact is that musktnumust have meant "a poor man..THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF THEOLOGY 608 period than that of Hammurabi. 262-65. and slaves. This divisionprobably belongedto later days when society had become more complex. IV. . It is apparent. priests." There can be no doubt that miskin is used very generallytoday in the Arabicof Syria in this sense. constituting the upper classes. Vol. There can be no doubt as to the connection between the two legal systems. The word miskin. Littmannsuggests. Moses und Hammurabi p. It is a grave question. LITTMANN in the "Sprechsaal" of ZA. A.'3 This is probably a very ancient classification. which are easily recognizable. that these classes were capable of subdivision. Fromthe meaning"poor"camethe ideas "miserable. i). who was always a free retainer. the so-called wardum. It is safe to assume at this period of our investigationthat the 12 DR. Harperhas shownthat Hammurabi'smuzkgnuwas a class of poorfreemen. "pay homage.. JEREMIAS. The punishmentfor a death caused by what is now termed "criminal negligence"has never been so severeas the penalty for a death caused by premeditation. however. Jensen in ZA. Vol. and ZIMMERN. faqfr. n. The wordis a Shaphelformationfrom the stem kdnuI/1t. p."as Dr. He admits freely. Again. In Egypt the regularwordsfor = on bala and "leprosy" are pr~X juzdm..that the muskenuin Hammurabi'scode need not necessarily have this signification." The rights of all these classes are most clearlydefined.45 on Sun.

pp.1898. 245 if. "afterward. but also in the so-called Psalms of David.' and to the recognitionof the fact that there was a more frequent interchange of letters between churches and their founders than has generallybeen admitted.119. DYNELEY PRINCE. QVIST in This content downloaded from 79.. J. Expositor. 2 E. The book should be valuable. Vol.'s The vocabularyof the code has been tabulatedinto a glossaryby ProfessorHarper. R. This form awilum for amelumis proof positive of the existence in Semitic Babylonian and Assyrian of a nasal m-like w. and especially in the second letter. "Fornbabyloniskaoch hebraiskapsalmer. HARlUS."awilum for later amglum. TWO RECENT WORKS ON THE EPISTLES TO THE THESSALONIANS. XXXII. the 14An interestingpopulararticleon this subjecthas been writtenby KNUTTALL- the Finsk Tidskrift.2 At all events. 193-214.pp. The Babylonian affinitiesof the biblical psalms are quite as well marked as are those of the Mosaic laws. C.'4 If this theory be true. Perhaps the most important phonetic feature of the language in the Hammurabicode is the appearanceof the originalw-stem in such forms as warku for later arku.but also to every careful student of ancient law..the forefathers of the Hebrew state were in Babylonia. The grammatical and phonetic peculiarities of the Hammurabi dialect have been discussed by D. not only in the Mosaic legal system. IN recent years there has been a notable revival of interest in the two letters to the Thessalonians traditionallyascribed to Paul. 170 ff. BOUSSET." Is Op. the Hammurabiand the biblical codes had a common origin. Der Antichrist.RECENT WORKSON THESSALONIANS 609 origins of the Hebrew law code go far back into the times when. I E. Miiller.114." etc...pp. "nobleman. J. not only to Assyriologists. according to a traditionwhich has never been proved untrustworthy. W. carrying with them those Babylonian traditions which resulted. cit. COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY. g.subsequent. pp. Whetheror not this period antedated the days of Hammurabiis still an open question. PersonallyI am inclined to the belief that the first Abrahamichorde left the East at an earlier date than 2250 B. 147-92.1895. ProfessorHarper has done a great service in presentingthe Hammurabi code with a satisfactorytranslationto the English reader.45 on Sun. H. This revival of interest may be due in part to the renewed study of apocalyptictradition. g. 10 Jan 2016 11:58:17 UTC All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .