The Code of Hammurabi

Essay by Gena_High School, 11th gradeA, January 2005

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The overall success in any society largely depends on the order and the stability in that society. Of course, the prosperity of any particular civilization is based on the stability of the economy in that civilization. But the laws and the basic moral principles have a huge influence on economy and on overall welfare of the people. The laws should include sections on social, moral, religious, civil, commercial, and criminal law. The laws reflect the level of development of the society at the specific period of time. Laws cannot be perfect and they cannot equally protect everyone, but the societies that live by the laws have numerous advantages over those that don't. The laws make a society civilized.

Hammurabi was the ruler of the Old Babylonian Empire, during the 18th century BCE. He was a smart military leader and legislator. He developed the first known legal code in history, Hammurabi's Code. He clearly understood the importance of the jurisprudence system and even put his code of laws among his most significant accomplishments. Hammurabi made his set of laws public, clearly explaining what was required of the citizens, and what the punishments were for not following these laws. Although the system of justice was not applied equally to all during the time of Hammurabi, the laws were fair, considering the times and the society of that time. One of the most well known aspects of the code is the principle "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". So, for example, if someone has plucked out a neighbor's eye he would have his eye removed.

Unfortunately, just like in any other civilization at that time, lower classes of people were not treated equally to the higher classes of aristocrats. Of course, no one could get away...