Homework: The Judgments of Hammurabi

This weekend, you’re going to work on your first analysis of a primary source document for this class– an excerpt from the judgments of Hammurabi, a Babylonian king from the 18th century BCE.  After carefully reading through the text provided for you in class (Judgments of Hammurabi), please respond to the prompt at the bottom of this entry in the form of a comment on this blog post.  You’ll find the “Leave a Comment” link right under the title of this entry, next to the date.  Your comment should be thoughtful and refer to at least two specific examples in the text.

In order to encourage you to use this blog as a venue for discussion, here’s how grading for this assignment will work: a response which appropriately answers the discussion question will receive a maximum grade of 95%.  To earn that final 5% of the grade, you must respond (thoughtfully!) to one of the comments left by your classmates.

A few reminders about appropriate online interactions: as this is an academic assignment, I expect your responses to reflect all standard grammatical and mechanical practices.  Remember that tone is sometimes difficult to discern in online communication, so be sure that you express yourself clearly.  If you’re uncomfortable using your full name to post a comment, please just post using your first name and last initial– I’ll know who you are.

Comments are moderated on this blog, which means that I have to approve your first comment before you’ll see it appear.  It’s a quick process– I just have to hit something on my phone, honestly– but I’ll be evaluating Senior Magnet research presentations all day on Saturday, so I’ll only have a chance to moderate your comments during breaks, as it would be rude for me to have my phone out during presentations.  So please don’t panic if you don’t immediately see your comment on the blog– you may need to wait for a bit before I get around to moderating it.

Here’s your discussion prompt:

Consider Hammurabi’s judgments.  Do you think they would have been effective as a law code?  Who were the judgments meant to protect or benefit?  What sort of social distinctions can we see in Hammurabi’s law code?  Did any of the laws or their implications surprise you?  If so, why?

Remember to include at least two specific examples from the text in your response!

123 thoughts on “Homework: The Judgments of Hammurabi

  1. In a society dominated by men, a majority of these judgments would have been effective as laws. However, some judgments, like “If a man strikes the body of a man who is superior in status, he shall publicly receive sixty lashes with a cowhide whip…” and “If a woman hates her husband, and says ‘You shall not possess me,’ the reason for her dislike shall be inquired into…but her husband takes himself away and neglects her, then that woman is not to blame. She shall take her dowry and go back to her father’s house…” are most effective against the men in question. The judgments do, for the most part, benefit the men, but at the same time can protect and benefit the women of the society. Judgments like “If a man has decided to divorce…a wife who has presented him children, then he shall give back…her dowry, and …use of field, garden, and property, and she shall bring up her children.” And “If a man divorces his spouse who has not borne him children, he shall give to her all the silver of the bride-price and restore to her the dowry…” protected women in a divorce battle against the husband. Many of the laws stated above surprised me in the fact that women did have some rights or advantages over their husband.

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    • “In a society dominated by men, a majority of these judgments would have been effective as laws.”
      -What are you using to judge whether or not a law is effective? One can deem any law effective. You did not justify why this law is effective in a civilization dominated by men, you merely went on about the equities the code of laws attempted to create. Yes, we understand that the laws create or grow a hierarchy, but what’s so effective about them?

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    • I think it’s very funny to think about how much we focus on social issues today. Which is GREAT! But perspective is everything. Imagine being in an early civilization. These people were just trying to get by with what they had. In today’s civilizations we don’t think much about the thing they had to go through. They didn’t have heating or running water or any of the modern luxuries. All of these posts are so concerned about the ‘gender equality’ but i don’t think these people, men or women, really cared about it. They just wanted to make it to the next harvest season. Now i LOVE the idea of gender equality and marriage equality and what not, but it was relevant to them whatsoever.

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  2. The Judgments of Hammurabi, in my opinion, would do very well as a law code. Some of the ‘judgments’ are used as a template for a lot of laws in effect today to protect and defend our citizen, such as: “…and his word that he has spoken is not justified, then, if the suit be a capital one, that ma shall be slain…” Now, obviously, this ‘judgment’ is not fully true in today’s law system, but it does run almost parallel to some laws we have today. Also, the judgments for Marriage and the Family were set up to try and equal the rights of both men and women, men being favored just a bit more. For example, Judgement 136 under Marriage and the Family is inclined to protect the wife in that case. But in judgment 141, it clearly states that if a woman leaves her house in poor standing, financially or physically, the woman shall be prosecuted. The laws and their implications definitely surprised me with how equal they were across the male and female borders, but also they were very standard with how they handled personal injury. Like in Judgment 195, “If a son struck his father, his hands shall be cut off.” This just isn’t reasonable, in today’s time, but in ancient times, it was totally understandable.

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    • I disagree with you when you say that men and women were equal across the borders, I feel as though they strongly favored men over women. I do agree with you when you say that they were trying to do what was right and protect the citizens which is how our law works today. The government definitely tries to defend and protect it’s citizens.

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    • I really like your entire synopsis of the laws. You justify your opinions with valid/well thought out points as well as link it to today’s standards and laws. I agree with your basic point in your introduction. You connect the social contract principal created then to our current social contract of law. Very nice job, Adam.

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    • in regards to your comment about men and women being equally favored, I strongly disagree. In judgment 210, (which is a continuation if judgement 209 which basically says if a man hits a pregnant woman and aborts her fetus, he will pay 10 shekels of silver) Hammurabi states “if that woman dies, his daughter shall be slain”. Therefore, that prompts me to ask how is that “equal across male and female borders”, when the innocent daughter of a man is killed for his own actions? While I do understand your point, I am still questioning whether or not the me and women were actually equal in that time.

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      • I agree with Alli on this, I talked about this rule in my post. Men and women are most definitely NOT equal at this time. Having a daughter killed for something a father did is completely inhumane and unethical. Even though the violence aspect of these judgments does not appeal to me, I would say it would make more sense to punish the father as he was the one to commit the crime, not the innocent daughter.

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      • I agree with Alli that there is a problem with gender equality in the society. The bigger problem is the eye for an eye mindset all of these laws are based upon. Instead of having an innocent daughter harmed from the wrong doings of a father, the father should serve the punishment. In more than half of instances where somebody commits a wrong doing, the person’s family/property is manipulated instead.

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      • Your comments are very valid… But this raises the concern that not all of the judgments were present in this document. The author of this document could have taken out some judgments that countered or had another perspective.

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    • While you do state some very valid connections, I can not help but to disagree with the points you made. The laws were very far from equal in a gender equality standpoint. As for the personal injury standpoint they also strayed very far from the actual concept of equality even for ancient times.

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      • This was also a very new topic of discussion for these people to discuss. They probably didn’t even talk about or were aware of it. While it’s not fully on top of the concept of ‘equality’ it got closer than I would ever expect ancient rules to go,

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  3. Most of the laws that are written in “The Judgements of Hammurabi” attempt to be equalizing; for example, “If a builder has built a house for a man, and his work is not strong, and if the house he has falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain”. While some of these laws are based on “eye for an eye”, the laws also take into account the social status of both men in the law, e.g. “If he has destroyed the eye of a peasant, or broken a bone of a peasant, he shall pay one mina of silver.”. These laws were socially distinctive because they judged the worth of a person based on social status and therefore tended to protect people who were of a higher rank (priests, officials, etc.). Family laws were very problematic because it valued women as child makers and nothing else, plus, the husband in the relationship made all the decisions regarding divorce and marriage. It even states that “If her husband says she is not divorced, her husband may marry another woman, and that (first) woman shall remain a slave in the house of her husband.”! Some laws that surprise me include “…and destroys the man’s eye, his hands shall be cut off….” and/or “If that (pregnant) woman dies, his daughter shall be slain….”. These laws surprise me because Hammurabi does not consider compensating the man who’s eye was destroyed, but instead decides to punish the man who destroyed his eye as compensation. These laws would not be effective as a system of laws because the inequalities between people would allow people to manipulate the law so that they could harm others practically punishment free.

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    • Ashleigh C~ I agree that many of the judgments were meant for equality between the genders. And how they also benefit the most of the males in the society, but try to maintain the “eye for eye” state of mind. These judgments, however, do foreshadow many of the places on the Earth and how they are ruled.

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      • Ashleigh, are you talking about many present day places on earth? There are very few, if any, places on earth governed by the same judgments as this law code. You state that these judgements were meant for equality, but I don’t see many laws here meant explicitly for equity as much as they’re for the organization/order of people. The eye for eye state of mind is only present in the personal injury section and has nothing to do with the other sections. For example, a woman who cheats on her husband will be drowned unless her husband claims that it’s alright. This is not eye for eye, and to say that the entire law code is based around “eye for eye” is too simplistic for even this law code.

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    • ” These laws would not be effective as a system of laws because the inequalities between people would allow people to manipulate the law so that they could harm others practically punishment free.”

      There are ways to manipulate any system of law. One must do one of two things; 1) Get into a position of power, or 2) be wealthy. The monopoly of force allows this to happen because there is no motivation for the state to give up power or not do something. If someone in power has any hint of a motive to do something terrible, they are completely and totally free to do so. Regardless of any sheet of paper deemed “social contract” or set of breakable rules deemed “seperation of powers”. These merits are found in most modern states in an attempt to block people in power from abusing the power they are given; though, if any leader decides they want to kill all of their citizens, they can do so. Who is there to stop a general or king from killing their people? His own army? Absolutely not! His own army would be the one fighting and killing on his behalf. So, I disagree that these laws are effective because the inequalities would allow people to manipulate it because any system of law has hierarchy.

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  4. (This is Liam McFarland, by the way)

    I believe that Some of Hammurabi’s judgments would work as a law code. Though punishments can be harsh, Hammurabi evidently took action to make sure they were both as just and as fair as possible. The class distinctions are not very evident in the laws, but the distinction between genders is obvious. Many of the laws when it comes to marriage, adultery, and divorce are focused on compensating the victim, which is specified in the texts to usually be a woman. However, one law involves binding a woman that has committed adultery and throwing her into water to presumably drown, though her husband can choose to save her. Other that that tiny, little, insignificant- Oh, who am I kidding, that’s a huge *messup*, and men actually end up getting more freedom despite h ow much they try to appear otherwise!

    Sorry, I got off track… ish.

    Anyway… Children seem to get the short end of the stick here, and are definitely the harshest-treated. I can only assume that the point was to whip them into shape, so to speak. For example, A man who is in debt can *rant time here* LITERALLY SELL HIS OWN KIDS FOR MONEY! And they have to work as slaves of whoever the father owes the debt to!? Honestly, talk about Ageist! Okay, with that out of the way, yeah, there is a huge leaning to the patriarchal side of the family scale. Most laws don’t actually impose penalties specifically on men, so they’re free to pretty much do whatever the *heck* they want, Whereas Women have all these little rules they have to follow if they do all these little things. So, yeah. Overall, Some of these could actually work as laws, but there simply aren’t enough pros to balance out how inherently flawed this system is.

    But hey, that’s just my opinion. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have urgent business to attend to. Good day.

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    • ” The class distinctions are not very evident in the laws”
      There are several laws talking about class. Terms like “slaves” and “peasant” are used. And i’m not just being semantic here, the laws actually discriminate against the peasants and slaves, along with benefiting the upper classes. Peasants and slaves are clearly valued less throughout the law-code. But what stuck out to me in this regard was law 202: “If a man strikes the body of a man who is superior in status, he shall publicly receive sixty lashes with a cowhide whip”. Now, if this is not a CLEAR class distinction, I’m not sure what you consider class distinction. Also, your little rant about the selling of children is really uncalled for, in my opinion. It’s not as deep/serious as you describe. It’s all a philosophical difference of ownership; of if a person owns their child or not. And that philosophical question doesn’t have a clear answer by any means. Also, in regards to adulters’ husbands being able to decide if they live or not, you explain, “Other that that tiny, little, insignificant- Oh, who am I kidding, that’s a huge *messup*, and men actually end up getting more freedom despite h ow much they try to appear otherwise!”. You don’t explain why it’s a huge “messup” (whatever that’s supposed to mean), and you say that men end up getting more freedom. As opposed to what? You make a comparative without comparing anything. Of course men are gonna get more freedom in this situation because the man is the victim of the “crime” committed. At the end of your thing, you say “So, yeah. Overall, Some of these could actually work as laws, but there simply aren’t enough pros to balance out how inherently flawed this system is.” without stating how the system is so flawed. Of course, you name some cons (3), but they don’t justify why this historically successful and referenced law code is so “inherently flawed”.

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      • I agree with your point on the definite existence of class distinction; the social status of those involved on either side of the crime are stated at every opportunity (which there would be no reason to do if they were meaningless in the eyes of the law), and these standings were clearly the source of most consideration as to punishment severity. You can see in any series of laws that those who committed crimes would be either punished less or more harshly due to social status, and those whom the crimes had been committed against would be undercompensated, equally compensated, or overcompensated for these same reasons.

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    • I agree with you completely on your opinions regarding the children. Being able to sell your kids to get rid of your own debt is absolutely outrageous. Bringing your innocent children into the matter and making them slaves instead of you makes no sense. This system is definitely flawed..

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    • While i guess i agree with most of what you said one thing i don’t think they really mean it as that bad to sell your kids to work off your debt. it makes perfect sense to me that you make maybe a spoiled kid or genuinely helpful kid that wants to help pay off debts, go work for another guy for one less year than we are in high school. it seems like it would be more like a job without much pay because if you think about it back then slavery meant something more than what when we compare how white people treated black people a few years ago, back then im sure since they weren’t actual slaves but citizens that were working temporarily they were given nothing much more than what they already probably had to do to help around their house. in conclusion, it doesn’t seem to me it is that big a deal with the whole kids selling thing just a way to trade work for payment back then, pretty fair.

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      • I totally understand where you’re coming from. While you might be right about the way slavery worked back then I think it might be the idea of “selling” your children that’s kind of unsettling.

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  5. I feel as though the Judgements of Hammurabi would not do well as a law code. The judgements are very specific but at the same time they are very broad. Each judgment is specific, but there aren’t enough to support a whole spectrum of crimes and circumstances. The judgements were intended to protect all individuals in society other than slaves. The social distinction in “the code” we’re very obvious. For example, there are different punishments for men, peasants, and slaves. It shows this by saying, “If he has broken the bone of a free man his bone shall be broken… If he has broken a bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay half his value…” This all shows that free men, peasants, slaves, daughters, wives, and sons are valued differently, meaning there is a big gap is social distinction. There were a few laws that did surprise me, one of them being “If the child of a householder is killed, the child of that builder shall be slain.” This “law” seems unfair. The builder of the house (most likely) didn’t build the house bad on purpose. Plus there is no point in killing a perfectly innocent child. So this law was very surprising to me. These laws are far to skewed to be fair and equal in a modern society.

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    • I also found the law concerning the life of a child for the life of a child very interesting.

      Children, it seemed were treated with the same harshness as adults of the same class. If not that, they were treated as property as they were in the law you stated. Killing an innocent child is killing a member of the future generation that will contribute to the whole society. Its not just property that’s being killed, but a whole portion of the future. There are other “laws” that demonstrate extreme harshness for children. Under the Personal Injury section, a “law” stated, “If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off”. Before the son even comes-of-age, he will have no hands, and will be little help to the growing society. This seems extremely harsh when comparing these guidelines to those in use today. Most crimes children commit, today, have less-harsh punishments. Most mistakes children commit within a household receive punishments within the household, and as far as I know, parents don’t chop off their children’s hands if the child hits a parent. There WILL be a punishment, but not as extreme. I understand in this law the child is not innocent, but it is interesting how children are treated very differently from what they are today.

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    • Carls, I totally agree on the big gap difference the social distinction. Now men that are highly ranked, or middle or slaves are meant to be treated completely different as well as women and children are. I agree that it wouldn’t do well on being laws because they are fair to as what you give is what you get but not fair to who you are as a person in being social rankings.

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    • I agree with the statement that many punishments and crimes were not specific enough about circumstances. I thought about how we have a jury to decide when the law gets to a grey area, but I think maybe in this case the king made the final decision.

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  6. ANDREW BRADY: Yes. I believe that the law code of Hammurabi would’ve been effective. To judge whether or not a law or law code will be efficient we must look into the purpose of law, both in theory and practice. In theory, the purpose of law is to keep order and organization while preventing violence. However, in practice it is apparent that state law is merely a ruler holding a monopoly over force (and thus violence) while implementing rules that everyone must follow, even against their will. In judging the effectiveness of this law code, I will say that I believe that it was effective in practice. People likely obeyed these laws. People obeyed these laws because they had been brainwashed by their culture to believe in a certain God, and the king used this culture to gain an effective monopoly of force– effectively controlling everyone. Though, you may ask, “if he’s just doing what he wants, won’t people leave?”. The simple answer is no because they felt that his rules were superior to any morals they had felt before merely because he claimed he was appointed by a God. The text explains, “When [the chief god of Babylon] had instituted me governor of men, to conduct and to direct, right and justice I established in the land, for the good of the people.” If one wants to gauge the efficiency of state law by how well the society is, I believe that the efficiency of any state law is non-existent. In my opinion, violence would still occur, just on a colossal and large scale (the state). I believe that a society is much better off living off of contracts built between people instead of an entire social contract pertaining to an entire society. For example, law 229 says “if a builder has built a house for a man, and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain”. Laws 230,231,232, and 233 also pertain to house building. Instead of a global law where everyone must agree, the man and home-builder could sign a contract. It could say, for example, “If you destroy my slave, you owe me 500 silvers”, etc. To imply that this would lead to more conflict is not an accurate assessment of this situation. A basic axiom of economics is that demands will be met by supply. Judgement, arbitration, and dispute resolution would be demanded in any society, in my opinion. Of course, the simplest and easiest idea to think of is a monopoly over these industries. But, I believe that a market, per se, of judgement and arbitration based on contracts could work very well. It worked very well in Ancient Ireland, where they survived and flourished thousands of years without a monopolized state over geographic areas. My ideas presented before you are based on a very simple principal: self ownership. If one owns him or herself, they also own, by extension, their property, labor, and fruits of their labor. To have law dictate basic human action that could be met without monopolized force is not effective to the society or civilization, but is effective in itself. The judgments were made to protect everyone’s best interest in theory. Though, men were naturally protected more by these because there was a patriarch system. Social distinctions were prevalent in this law code between several classes of humans. Of course there was general patriarchy, but there were also wealth-based social classes. The law code referred to “slaves” and “peasants”. The law implies that a slave or peasant’s life is valued less than that of a man. This shows how Marduk felt about peasants and slaves. I was not necessarily surprised with any of the laws. The reason is that people have crazy minds. Everyone is different. And crazy things are expected to be seen from this long ago. They were very different and seem weird to us simply because they’re an entirely different culture of people.

    Also i’m sorry if it has my twitter handle, it would only let me comment by linking my twitter account.

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  7. Personally, I do not believe the Judgment of Hammurabi would be a successful law code. Even though Hammurabi did write these laws for the people of his city (as stated in the preface by the statement “to promote the welfare of the people… to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil, that the strong might not oppress the weak”) he showed a strong preference towards upper class men. This social distinction is first shown in statement twenty-nine. Hammurabi said ” if his son is underage, and unable to administer his (deceased) father’s affairs, than a third of the field and gardens shall be given to his mother, and his mother shall bring him up.”. This shows that the women of the society are worth approximately 1/3 of that of the men. As well, in statement 201, Hammurabi shows his favoritism towards men of a higher social, or economic standing. He says, “if he has knocked out the teeth of a peasant, he shall pay one- third a mina of silver”, and Hammurabi said in the statement before that if he knocked out the teeth of someone of his own rank, then his own teeth would be knocked out., which shows that the men of lower standing are not favored in this society. An implication that I found surprising was statement 129, “If the wife of a man is found lying with another male, they shall be bound and thrown into the water. If the husband lets his wife live, then the king shall let his server (the wife’s lover) live”. I, personally, believe that this law is cruel and unusual punishment for infidelity, while divorce is a defined concept at this period in time. As well, this law made be question why men are not punished for being adulterous. All in all, these laws are problematic and favored towards only one group in society, causing them to be flawed and possibly unsuccessful.

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    • I agree with your comment regarding infidelity. It’s a bit far-out to think that people can be put to death (especially a horrific one like drowning) just for adultery. Meanwhile, a man can give a woman an involuntary abortion, pay ten shekels of silver, and move on with his life. I know these laws seem so ridiculous to us, but it, at least, gives us a glimpse into the values and social norms of ancient Babylonia.

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    • “All in all, these laws are problematic and favored towards only one group in society, causing them to be flawed and possibly unsuccessful.”

      This is a republic, my friend. It’s rule by law, but the law is created by an assumed general consensuses. This means that the majority has every right to control the minority; because that is democratic law. Of course they’re gonna favor the more powerful; this is also an axiom of law. A law code has to be extremely basic (and pointless) in order to not favor anybody/group in particular.

      That’s my problem with monopolized law in general. Every individual has separate ends (or the same ends with different valued means), so any utilitarianism (which is found in law) is going to “oppress” somebody or a group (usually a minority or weak majority).

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    • Even though Hammurabi showed a strong preference for upper class or “free” men, I believe the laws were equal in terms of “an eye for an eye” in that time period. As you have stated above, “women of the society are worth approximately 1/3 of that of the men” which is true, women were not equal to men; but this inequality of slaves and women meant that they were considered property of the “free” men. Therefore, in this time period, the true price of equality would only have to be paid among the “free” men for they were the only people to truly be considered people.
      ~Alyssa Bedenbaugh (3rd)

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  8. Marco Mancuso:
    I think that The Judgments of Hammurabi would be a pretty decent code of law. I see the laws as a way to be fair to people who have done crimes in the city, no matter their social status or wealth. In the code, he makes peasants pay less if they had committed a crime in the city because they would not have been able to afford the required payment for a man of higher social status. “If there was no bride-price, he shall give her one mina of silver for the divorce. If he is a peasant, he shall give her one-third of a mina of silver.” As I said earlier, this code distinguishes people of higher social stature from people of lower. “If a man has destroyed the eye of another free man, his own eye shall be destroyed” as opposed to “If he has destroyed the eye of a peasant… he shall pay one mina of silver.” One thing that really surprised me about these laws is the way they decided punishment for crimes. Like if you were to damage a man of your same social status, the same would happen to you but if you were to damage a man of a lower social status, you would only have to pay a fee to them.

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    • Yes i also thought that is was very fair and equal for some of their punishments, i like your point on how maybe since peasants could not afford the same prices a higher class could they got to pay less but also how you said it was shocking that you could damage someone get away with it only by paying was a little ridiculous. Good job though 😉

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    • I agree with how you said “The Judgments of Hammurabi would be a pretty decent code of law” but I disagree with how you said these punishments don’t favor the wealthy people. People who had more money could actually get away with more crimes because they had the means to pay the fines the judgments required. They treated peasants as property more than as human beings and the men who had money seemed to have more control over the punishment system because they could pay their way out of trouble. I feel this system favored the wealthy men in the society the most.

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  9. (Abbey Milwicz)

    I believe that this would have been an effective law code. Any code that established a set of guidelines for cause and effect situations, as this one did, would have been effective in the sense that it helped the society run in an organized fashion. It may not be an ideal law code to run this country during this time period, but it was effective for the society it was intended for because it covered in great detail the outcomes for many common problems. For this reason, when these problems came up, the society did not erupt in chaos, but instead followed protocol as it was written.

    The Judgments of Hammurabi were intended to protect and benefit the people of the land. The Prologue states, “Right and Justice I established in the land, for the good of the people”. Although this was to protect everyone, the landowning males and elite were favored in many guidelines. This may have been social inequality, but it was also the social norm. The code was set for everyone and did not exclude any social class, but punishments were different depending on what social class was involved.

    Social distinctions were clearly present throughout this code. Peasants and slaves did not have as many protections under the codes as did captains, soldiers, officials, and even land owners. For example, a guideline under consumer protection stated, “If the slave of the householder is killed he shall give slave for slave to the householder”. Yes, there WAS a punishment for killing a slave and they were still protected under the laws. However, they were not as protected under the law as another member of society would be. Another guideline from this section stated, “If a builder has built a house for a man, and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain”. These laws show a life of a house owner for the life of a builder, yet a life of a slave was only equivalent to the trade of another slave. Depending on social classes, one life is not always equivalent to another life; one life IS, however, equivalent to another life of the same class. Both were protected and had benefits under the law, but social distinctions was undeniably present.

    The laws that surprised me were the laws involving the justice system. It did not occur to me that they had formal hearing of a case, with a judge and all. Under The Administration of Justice, a guideline stated, “If a judge has heard a case, given a decision, and delivered a written verdict, and if afterward his case is disproved, and that judge is convicted as the cause of the misjudgment, then he shall pay twelve times the penalty awarded in that case”. This implies there was not only a hearing and a judge, but also a written verdict, AND the possibility for this decision to be disproved. It surprised me that so much time and effort went into the justice system.

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    • I’m sorry but I have to disagree because I think it wouldn’t do well. Peasants and slaves do have less of a protection like you said and higher ranked people do in which I agree, but these judgments of his are to the extreme in which one would either have done one thing wrong and that’s it for that person. The law says it was intended to protect all people of its city but I do not agree that it does. Like how is it protecting all people when I’m a couple of his judgments basically states that well your father committed the crime but instead of killing him, I’m going to kill you as being his child. I agree with your social distinctions but I don’t see how these judgments would really benefitting the higher ranked people ? …. but anyways abbey ily

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    • “For this reason, when these problems came up, the society did not erupt in chaos, but instead followed protocol as it was written.”

      I disagree here. What’s wrong with society being based on contracts instead of a monopolized social contract (that nobody signed*)? You think that if two people agree on conditions between themselves, in order to help them meet their best perceived end with the most efficient means (the foundation of all human action), it would be chatotic? I will have to disagree here. But I do understand what you’re implying. You’re implying that there are two types of society, egalitarian society and statist society. It’s a very simplified viewpoint. I say this because only in a society attempting to be egalitarian would chaos break out from disputes without dispute resolution being demanded in a market sense.

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  10. I do not think that Hammurabi’s judgements would have been effective as a law code because they were too specific. One cannot offer the same act of discipline for different scenarios, and while a lot of different scenarios were listed there were still a few left out such as what happens when a son askes to be disowned. The judgements were ment to protect all of the people with wrongdoings done upon. However, the upperclass’s punishments seemed harsher than the lower/middle class punishments. For example, “If a physician has treated a man with a metal knife for a sever wound, and has cured the man…then he has recieved ten shekles of silver. If the son of a peasant he shall recieve five shekles of silver” (215 and 216). There is a huge social distinction between the upper and lower classes in terms of how much money they possess, punishments given, and costs bestowed upon each. The rules that suprised me were the ones that involved children being punished for their parents’ actions. For example, when a builder builds a house and the house collapses and “…the child of the householder is killed, the child of that builder shall be slain.” It is ridiculous to bring children into the crimes of their parents when they did nothing wrond. It just shows how different society was from American society today.

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    • Keara R to Ansley M
      I agree, as displayed in modern society many times, the children are too often punished or given a bad name due to the failings of their parents. As with the social distinctions especially, the peasants were clearly shown as not worth the effort or money. I will give them credit for striving to give equality to all, it just did not work out properly, therefore these law codes are ineffective for being beneficial to all.

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      • I disagree, I think that the fact that they were so specific makes the laws effective because the people would try harder not to break them knowing how crucial the consequences were. If they hadn’t established the laws with those consequences, the people could have made outrageous consequences of their own or would have not been sure how to go further with the situation. It would have caused an unorganized law system which could have ultimately hindered the progress of the society.

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  11. Ansley McCoy-

    Carliegh, I completly agree with you. There was a huge gap in social distinction, treating men, women, children, peasants, and slaves differently. Equality is necessary in a society to a certain extint in order to make the society function, but it was not recognized in this society. Therefore, the judgements would not make a good law code in a modern day society. It also suprised me how they involved childrent into the actions of their parents. You brought up some very good points and I support them all.

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  12. The Codes of Hammurabi are very geared towards the philosophy of “an eye for an eye,” and because of this, it would be effective as a law code today. Who would hit their parents if they knew that they would lose a hand (165: If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off)? These judgements were made to benefit victims of unlawful actions, but by doing this, they benefit everyone. The social distinctions are very clear in Hamurabbi’s code, making it so the people in higher classes don’t have to pay as much, or have fear of people attacking them, as the consequences are much higher for attacking a high-ranking person than for attacking a low-ranking person. Take, for example, decisions 196, 198, and 199, which basically say that if a man destroys the eye of a free man, his eye will be destroyed(quite literally an eye for an eye), but if he destroys the eye of a peasant or a slave, he has to pay money to the peasant/owner, not an eye. Some of these laws did surprise me, but not in the “OMG that’s horrible” way, but rather in a “that’s surprisingly fair for an early empire” kind of way. The marriage laws in particular surprised me with how they treat the woman in the relationship. Law 137 details that if a man decides to divorce his wife, he has to give her the amount her family paid for the two to get married, and he has to give her use of his fields and his house. Most empires would have just kicked the wife onto the streets and said “good luck,” but the Sumerians gave the wife more than the husband(in this case, at least).

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  13. After reading and considering Hammurabi’s judgments, I do not feel that they would have been effective as a law code because some of them are equal to what you have done but not equal towards social classes. The judgments were meant to protect and benefit all individuals in his society. You can definitely tell that during his time period, you were either a man who is superior in status, a middle class man or a peasant. So what you did to someone of you own rank you got the same, what you did to some one lower than you, you give alittle and what you did to someone higher in rank of you, you were hurt or owed a lot. Most of his judgments were directed towards men but you can also point out that Hammurabi favored and cared about women and how they were treated because at least five of his judgments in the section “MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY” all give back to the wife and children. Hammurabi claims, “If a man has decided to divorce…. A wife who has presented him with children, then he shall give back to that woman her dowry, and he shall give her the use of field, garden, and property, and he shall bring yo her children. After she has brought up her children…” This shows and other passages show his favor towards women. “Although these laws were meant for all people, we can see in Hammurabi’s judgments are mostly equal in the sense of “you get what you give” but fairly excessive. “210. If that women dies, his daughter shall be slain.” This wouldn’t be fair the daughter or the man who hurt another women because she has done nothing wrong. A law that I was reall suprised at was “169. If the son has committed a serious offense against his father which justifies his being disinherited, still the judge shall overlook this first offense. If the son commits a grave offense a second time, his father may disown him…” This surprises me because in my opinion, there are people in the world who do bad things but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a bad person. A parent to me shouldn’t ever disown their child even if have done something bad because they can change their ways a become a better person. Not all people will change but those who have done wrong and truely are sorry for what they have done are willing to put that effort into changing.

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    • I agree with you in saying that Hammurabi cared about women to a certain extent. I think that women had more rights that people originally realized, but that these laws shine some light on women’s rights. Especially in the marriage and family section where the women are offered numerous courses of action once their husband has been killed instead of just being left to die or forced into another marriage.

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  14. Due to outlandish policies and seemingly ineffective methods of retribution, I do not believe the Code of Hammurabi would have been an adequate law code. From the outside looking in, it is clear to see that the law was unequivocally patriarchal and extremely class-oriented. Men were seen as the center of everything, from law to marriage to economy. Although it may seem that women did have some legal protection, that ‘protection’ was just to ensure their status as a child-bearer. This kind of inequity was also evident among class distinctions. Even though ‘peasants’ did not have to pay as hefty a fine for committing a crime, they were still subject to injustice regarding crimes being committed AGAINST them. For example, in the case of a personal injury, the law states, “if a man has struck another man…and he dies of his blows…he shall pay half a mina of silver” (206, 207). However, “if he [the victim] is the son of a peasant, he [the suspect] shall pay a third of a mina of silver” (208). Due to social status, people were not granted equal protection of the law. I also disagree with the ‘eye for eye’ standpoint taken in these judgments. Laws like, “if a man has destroyed the eye of another free man, his own shall be destroyed” are not as effective as one may think (196).While one can argue that these laws prevented people from committing crimes, this is a lofty statement. To take a more modern perspective, think of the United States Justice System (or any other Western justice system). No death penalty, life sentence, or one-million dollar fine has ever prevented anyone from committing the crime in question. Why should a broken bone (which doesn’t even compensate or help the victim in any way) do the same?
    Reading this code of law did not come without its surprises and shocking policies. One law that stood out to me as outrageous would be the personal injury law that states, “If a man strikes the daughter of a free man, and causes her fetus to abort, he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fetus” (209). Especially in an ancient society, where a child is the most important and significant thing a woman could bring to the world, I am taken aback at the mild punishment given to a man who deliberately aborts a child.

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  15. The judgements of the Hammurabi were created to help with the welfare of the people and ensure that justice was provided for wrong doings. For the time period that these judgements were initiated I do feel that they would serve as a decent code of law due to their beliefs back then. These judgements, even though they were supposed to benefit the “people”, only really help the men or more specifically the richer men. For example, in the text it explains that “if a man has destroyed the eye of another free man, his own eye shall be destroyed” which does seem in some way fair because that man must suffer the same consequences. Although, “If he has destroyed the eye of a peasant… he shall pay one mina of silver” which shows that back then rich man would not have to suffer for a crime against someone who they deem beneath themselves.
    Other than the peasants, women were also treated harshly through these judgements. In some of the cases, the women would be executed for a wrong doing against her husband. An example of this would be when “ the wife of a man is found sleeping with another male”. Most of these judgements are actually not surprising considering the views of the people were very different than how they are now. However, one fact that I did not realize was that men would sell his their wives and children in order to pay off debt and if selling his family would not cover the cost, he would still have to serve as a slave for three years. I am not sure why, but the thought of a man willing to sell his family just baffles me.

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  16. 1) Do you think they would have been effective as a law code?
    –Yes, the code is just and fair and applies to all the people in that society.
    2) Who were the judgments meant to protect or benefit?
    –They benefited the men, women, slaves, and workers of the society. Women have a choice to go to a place where they can be taken care of if their husband is out of the picture for a while. There were choices for the men I the case of disowning children to divorcing a woman. Slaves and peasants were even compensated for crimes against them.
    3) What sort of social distinctions can we see in Hammurabi’s law code?
    — Peasants were treated a little bit lesser by the code. For example, Hammurabi states in one of these law codes, ” If a man has knocked out the teeth of a man of the same rank, his own teeth shall be knocked out. If he has knocked out the teeth of a peasant, he shall pay one-third of a Mina of silver.”
    4) Did any of the laws or their implications surprise you? If so, why?
    — I was kind of shocked at the fact that if a builder build a house and it caves in and kills the home owner, that then the builder should be slain. This is just an accident and isnt necessarily the builders fault. It could be the weather or sabotage or other actions.

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    • I could be wrong, but I thought Judgement 199. was saying that for the injury of a slave half of his value must be payed to the owner of the slave, not the slave him/herself. If that were true (again, I may have misinterpreted it) slaves would not be compensated for crimes against them. Also women got the short end of the stick here too. In judgement 141, if a woman leaves her husband, she can be turned into a slave, and the husband can remarry while his first wife is still a slave in that house for life. I wouldn’t really call that beneficial to slaves and women.

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    • Are you saying that these laws completely benefited women? Because certain laws state that a woman can be killed for the actions her father commits, and that doesn’t really benefit them. Women were also turned into slaves for specific reasons, and likewise, slaves obviously weren’t treated with respect.

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  17. Considering the extensive amount of violence that is introduced in this method of governing, I personally would say that this would not be an effective law code. There is a lot of so-called “direct karma” involved, such as the “if you break my nose, I get to break yours” deal. I think this would be effective in a small non-violent manner or with civil cases, but the violence revenge does not appeal to me. When considering Rule 210, “if that woman dies, his daughter shall be slain”, it read to me as though for committing a crime that may or may not have been intentional, a direct loved one, nonetheless your daughter, is slain in public for your sin. This surprised me, as having the government slay one of your children seems a little unethical, and inhumane at that. To me, it would make more sense to directly kill the person who committed the crime, considering that the rest of the revenge-like rules involve direct mutilation/humiliation of the one who committed the crime. Even so, this violence in my opinion is not the answer, and that lawsuits involving paying for your sins with money or time in service seems more ideal.
    These judgments were meant to benefit the people, in a way that would protect them from crime. However, crime was obviously still committed, but maybe the rate of crime was diminished due to these laws, perhaps scaring thieves or murderers into not committing a sin in fear of losing their hands of their life. We can see the difference of stealing from someone in your own social status and someone that is higher than you to that of stealing from someone that is lower than you. To steal from someone that is higher than you or at the same social level could result in death or public mutilation/humiliation, while stealing from someone that is lower in the ranks than you could result in paying a fine depending on the victim’s worth in society.

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  18. I believe for the time period Hammurabi’s Judgments were effective as a law code. As are all laws with the right intentions, these were for the benefit and protection of the citizens. More so the benefit of the free man, as peasants were given less compensation, fined to a lesser extent, or if a crime or offense was committed against a peasant then the man who committed is given a lesser punishment. “If a man has knocked out the teeth of a man of the same rank, his own teeth shall be knocked out (200). If he has knocked out the teeth of a peasant, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver” (201).

    I believe the social distinctions are loud and clear, this also relates to the comparison of a man of rank and a peasant and the undisguised laws stating how a woman would be more of a last resort to hold the families possessions if the man were to die or they get divorced. For as long as history has been recounted it has been seen time and time again how the woman is considered lesser than the man. In Hammurabi’s laws we begin to see the attempt at equalizing man and woman and some of the laws clearly conveyed that a woman had many rights in her household. However if the wife were to say she hates her husband, she is investigated and made sure the allegations have standing and then she may take her dowry and leave. “If a woman hates her husband…the reason for her dislike shall be inquired into…if she is careful, and has no fault…then that women is not to blame. She shall take her dowry and go…” (142).

    Given the favor of the rich free man, these laws do not surprise me although some of the punishments written did make me give it a second glance. I understand the different times and the different society but in my opinion some of these border on cruel and unusual. “If he has broken the bone of a free man, his bone shall be broken” (197). Those laws I understand, you do something against another man, then the same shall be done to you; basic laws of the moral universe. But in my opinion some are taken to the extreme: “If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off” (195). Yes, parental authority is supposed to be respected but that punishment is a bit much for my taste, I would bound his hands, imprison him, maybe give him a few lashes.

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    • I agree with this because I think that these laws were effective in keeping the citizens under control even though it was out of fear. This however gives us some insight to how people lived in this time period and how society was operated. However, the punishments do seem a little outrageous in my opinion like you said. I guess it kept them out of trouble, didn’t it? I guess it seemed logical at the time they were writing this.

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  19. It appears to me that in the day and age of this particular civilization, Hammurabi’s judgements would have been an efficient way to govern his people. I say this due to the fact that these laws were not composed over general hypothetical injustices that are perceived likely to arise, but rather modelled around rulings which the king had already made. With this, there is a certain factor of experience that goes into the writing of law: if the king’s ruling proved to be an effective method of resolving a conflict in a scenario that has already occurred, it can not only be inferred that this method will continue to be useful in the future, but also that the situation itself is likely to occur again. Because of this, it could be a rather intellectual decision to create laws in this way, as no time would be wasted estimating fines and punishments for crimes that may or may not be committed, but solutions to more common crimes can be written as they emerge, and will be available when their use is needed once more.

    These laws and regulations were clearly meant to protect and benefit those of higher social status. An example of this can be seen within the “Personal Injury” portion of the laws. No. 199 states that “If he has destroyed the eye of a man’s slave, or broken a bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay half his value.” In this law, it can be clearly seen that due to the slave’s low societal ranking, there is not an equal punishment for the crime committed; the offender, due to his higher rank, is required only to give a sum of money for the physical damage he has done to the slave. However, if he were to cause harm to another man of either the same rank or one superior, he would either be punished by having the physical damage retaliated unto him, or even suffer a high count of public lashings, respectively. Here, the punishment for an offense depends greatly on the social status of the victim. An offender with a greater social standing will not be given a great punishment if he is to harm a slave, thus benefiting the higher-ranking party. If he is to cause damage to the person of a status higher than himself, that victim will be overcompensated for the crime with the increased brutality of the offender’s punishment; this is once again due to differences in social status.

    As mentioned in the previous paragraph, there are many social distinctions in gender and social ranking that were taken into consideration when laws were made. As for gender, it can be seen in divorce-oriented laws that males tend to have a slight upper hand. In all divorce laws in which a man wishes to divorce a woman, he is, under every circumstance, untimately given the right to divorce from his wife. On the other hand, there are no laws that outright say that a woman can even divorce her husband. The closest would likely be law No. 142, saying that “If a woman hates her husband, and says, “You shall not possess me,” the reason for her dislike shall be inquired into. If she is careful, and has no fault, but her husband takes himself away and neglects her, then that woman is not to blame. She shall take her dowry and go back to her father’s house.” Even if a woman desires to be free of her husband, she is not allowed by law to simply divorce, and the motives behind her decision must be analyzed to determine whether or not she is “to blame,” and if she will be given the right to leave her husband. Other social distinctions lied in social status, pointing out differences between slaves and free men, then peasants, equals, and men of higher ranks. The difference in status between the offender and the offendee is taken into consideration when determining what level of punishment the offender will receive, as discussed in the above paragraph.

    A good few of these laws shocked me, but one that stood out the most in my opinion was No. 230: “If the child of the householder is killed, the child of that builder shall be slain.” The government is no longer punishing the builder, in this scenario, but rather using the innocent life of his child against him. I am shocked by this, as the child was in no way involved in the death of the householder’s child, and should not be punished as if he were.

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    • I agree with you completely that it would have been effective during that time and how social classes determine the punishment for actions. I like how you talked about if the king has made choices before in a certain situation and it ended up being resolved by his decision, that it will most likely be useful in the future and is likely to happen again. It was a good way of describing why it would be an effective law code. Also, i agree that judgement No.230 was maybe too harshly punished for the situation, it is just a way to get revenge. Although back then, they only knew how to solve problems by getting even (eye for an eye).

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  20. I think that Hammurabi’s judgments could serve as a law code for that time period. Its interesting to me how this mirrors our own Judicial system in the way that when our supreme court makes a ruling, it becomes a law ( or rather how the law is interpreted for the future). I would imagine Hammurabi’s pillar worked the same way, providing a solid recorded law, and setting punishments as well as degrees of each punishments. For various crimes, such as injuring a peasant, silver is payed measured in minas. For destroying a peasants eye or breaking his bone, the man must pay one Mina. For knocking out a peasants teeth, it is one third of a mina. I was not expecting this level of complexity before I read this. Also, the punishment system is largely fair relative to the time. For men of equal status, it is literally an eye for an eye, or bone for a bone. However, while this system was put in place to protect the people, it largely favors the upper class, men, and landowners. Upper class male land owners get the best out of this system, while peasants get small amounts of silver as consolation for their loss. While it may not favor them, peasants do receive protection, in the way that an upper class male can’t run around kicking peasants without punishment. One thing that did not surprise me is that slaves get no consolation for being injured. All payment money (Half a mina for lost eye or broken bone) is payed to the owner of the slave, not the slave.

    Some things that did surprise me though involved the consumer protection section. I would have never thought such an early civilization would have consumer protection laws. And, even if I had anticipated that section, I would have never imagined the severity of the punishments. If you’re a physician, and you accidentally kill a man or injure him with what limited medical technology and information you have, your hands are gone. And if you build houses for a living, you better do a good job, because if you mess up, you have to fix it and replace whatever was damaged. Unless of course your personal building failure killed someone, in which case you or a family member could be killed. What a glorious society.

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  21. I believe Hammurabi’s judgments would have been effective, for the most part because the laws were created to help even people out socially, although there were still some instances where inequality was very pronounced, and to protect everybody in the community. For example, judgments 207 and 208 the freeman’s son is payed substantially more than the son of a peasant. The most obvious social differences present in Hammurabi’s judgments were those between men, woman, peasants, children and servants, the freeman being the most powerful. Judgment numbers 215 and 216 show that the laws were set in order to help people. People that came from less money (peasants) did not have to pay as much for a physician because they couldn’t afford to spend as much as the regular man could.

    The most shocking laws were the ones about the builders. I did not expect them to have a system worked out for those situations. On the top of my list from those would have to be number 230, “If the child of the householder is killed, the child of that builder shall be slain.” and 110, “If a priestess who has not remained in the temple, shall open a wine-shop, or enter a wine-shop for drink, that woman shall be burned…” That is just ridiculous to me. Although she did break her vow to the temple, that is not enough justification.

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  22. Hammurabi’s laws as a whole were often seen as cruel or over the top; but I think that laws such as LAW 195 ” If a son strikes his father his hands shall be cut off” were put in place to strike fear into the people living in that society. These laws may not have been very reasonable but they most likely were very effective, especially if they were carried out. I think that the laws were definitely meant to benefit those who were of the upper social ranks or even men in general. Many of the laws offer less harsh punishments to someone if the crime was committed on someone of lower status than you. You can see an example of this in LAW 211 vs LAW 209. In the law 209 if a man, “strikes the daughter of a free man and causes her fetus to abort” that man must pay ten shekels of silver. While in law 211 if a man does the same action to the daughter of a peasant, that man must only pay five shekels of silver. There are also social distinctions in Hammurabi’s code because as seen in the last example; depending on your social class your compensation for a crime committed against you varied. One law that did surprise me was law 134 where a woman is allowed to basically marry another man if he husband has been taken prisoner or killed without any social shame. This is really interesting because I would have thought that even if a woman’s husband had been killed; that woman would have been forced to live her life alone and without another husband. This shows that women’s rights even though were very minimal may have been more than we thought at the time.

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    • I agree with what you are saying about the laws being effective due to the harsh extremities at which they are pronounced. However, have you thought that maybe they’re too specific? As mentioned in the third paragraph of the introduction, these codes were based completely off of specific cases already experienced, and are not broad enough to cover an entire spectrum of issues that a society may face.

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    • I actually agree with you when you say that these laws were placed for fear. Humans are easily scared into control, and with these kinds of laws such as the murdering of one’s daughter for her father’s actions, it works. They could actually have stopped men from performing certain actions (if they cared about their daughters….or their hands).

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  23. Hammurabi’s law codes would not be effective because of the violence used to solve these conflicts; however in this time period this was written, it may have worked. Nowadays, this would probably not have worked. Time has obviously has changed and continues to. I think that some of the laws may be unfair to some individuals if the individual can not afford to pay upfront the amount that needs to be paid for the infraction. Also, I think it is unfair that the more fortunate people do not really have to suffer the consequences if they can just pay for their crimes. These law codes were meant to protect every citizen who was under these law codes even though the code was leaning more towards the patriarchal side of things.
    There are many social distinctions in the law codes because peasants are only fined a fraction as much as the elite people do. One example is rule 140, “If he is a peasant, He shall give… one-third of a mina of silver”. The others have to pay one mina of silver. Also, the rules are also favored towards the men even though the writers attempted to make everyone equal. However, we do have some women’s rights in the code such as rule 136 which states, “If a man has abandoned his city, and absconded, and after that his wife has entered the house of another… the wife of the deserter shall not return”. So, it was basically saying that the spouse should not return because she has moved because he abandoned her. I feel like that’s fair because if the man leaves her, the woman should have a chance to leave him too.
    The one particular thing that surprised me about the codes was some of the consequences of the infractions. This particular one surprised me the most which was rule 210, “If that woman dies, her daughter shall be slain”. This made me kind of confused and mad because why would they kill the daughter even though the mother was killed? This doesn’t even give the daughter a chance to live. Well, I guess this is Babylonian society for you. I am glad some of these laws do not apply today.

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    • I agree that the code was unfair to the less fortunate. I feel like if the code was switched to the high class people actually suffering consequences, the code would have been more effective. This would level the playing field a bit to the lower class citizens. Like if you were rich, you could get away with numerous crimes and all you had t do was pay them off, which wasn’t hard to do because you were rich. If that was changed I would find the code would be even more effective.

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    • I really like your answer to the prompt! You were right on when you discussed the violence used back then for the crimes. That is probably the most important differentiate between law of then and law of today. Instead of giving a simplified “yes” or “no” answer to whether or not these laws are effective, you explained a situation in which these are effective and vice versa. 🙂

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    • I get where you’re coming from with the whole ‘code being unfair to the peasants’ because they have to pay less, but wouldn’t that be more fair for them? Being peasants, they obviously don’t have as much money as the rest of the people in their society, so, to me, it seems more fair for them to have to pay less because that way, they can might actually be able to pay their fines. I do like, though, how you talked about the codes being more beneficial towards the more fortunate people, in how they don’t really get consequences for crimes. If you think about it, though, it kind of still is like that in today’s society. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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  24. “I believe Hammurabi’s judgments would have been effective, for the most part because the laws were created to help even people out socially, although there were still some instances where inequality was very pronounced, and to protect everybody in the community. For example, judgments 207 and 208 the freeman’s son is payed substantially more than the son of a peasant. The most obvious social differences present in Hammurabi’s judgments were those between men, woman, peasants, children and servants, the freeman being the most powerful. Judgment numbers 215 and 216 show that the laws were set in order to help people. People that came from less money (peasants) did not have to pay as much for a physician because they couldn’t afford to spend as much as the regular man could.

    The most shocking laws were the ones about the builders. I did not expect them to have a system worked out for those situations. On the top of my list from those would have to be number 230, “If the child of the householder is killed, the child of that builder shall be slain.” and 110, “If a priestess who has not remained in the temple, shall open a wine-shop, or enter a wine-shop for drink, that woman shall be burned…” That is just ridiculous to me. Although she did break her vow to the temple, that is not enough justification.”

    -Ayi Ajavon

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  25. As mentioned in the prologue of The Judgements of Hammurabi, this combination of laws was instituted “for the good of the people”, but acts in less of a beneficial matter than it does in a harmful one. Taking into account the patriarchal undertones mentioned in laws concerning “marriage and the family”, there were prevalent gender roles and inequality among the sexes. Women bear no autonomy in a society in which these law codes are enforced. For example, in law 141, it states that a woman must be prosecuted for attempting to leave her husband and in some circumstances (according to the claims of the MAN) even forced to remain a slave to the husband of whom she tried to flee. Not only is there an omnipresent gender divide in this society, but also very notable discrimination among class/social status. For example, when observing the differences among punishments under “personal injury”, they differ depending on the victim. If a free man were to injure the eye of another free man, he, himself shall have harm inflicted on his eye as punishment. However, if a free man were to injure the eye of a peasant, he does not receive a punishment concerning the infliction of pain on his eye, but only the qualification of payment as punishment.

    These judgments would not work as an effective law code for the reason that some are too specific, and there are not ones broad enough to address all possible issues that might arise in a society.

    In my personal response, I would say that there were certain implications that surprised me greatly, especially the ones pertaining to children. For example, in law 230, it is mentioned that if a man were to build a house for another man and that house were to collapse and kill his child, the child of the builder will also be killed. This strikes me as absurdly unreasonable, and no child should have to face the repercussions of an act performed by someone other than him/her.

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    • “These judgments would not work as an effective law code for the reason that some are too specific, and there are not ones broad enough to address all possible issues that might arise in a society.”

      I disagree here. Are you saying that a single law-code and enforcer should have total control over everything? I say this because you imply that there should be a law (meaning you must do something one way or be shackled/killed/fined) pertaining to every single disagreement. If that kind of law that you advocate were implemented during any time throughout history, a totalitarian state would come up. I do not think that would be very beneficial for the individuals in the society. Nonetheless your overall analysis of the law code was pretty throughout and I enjoyed it.

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  26. (Emily Claire Lauth) Personally, I do not think that the Judgements of Hammurabi would make a good, usable code of law. Just from reading these judgements, it is clear to me that most of them were decided based on your social rank/class. For example, in laws 200 and 201 it states that if a man knocks out the teeth of a man of his same rank, the same thing will be done to him, but if you do the same crime to a peasant, you only have to pay a little bit of money. Your social status determined the extent of protection you received from the law, which is a problematic an unfair way to view matters. Not only are most of these laws class-oriented, but they also seem to favor men over women. And when the judgements do protect the women, it is usually because she is carrying a fetus. law 209 states that “If a man strikes the daughter of a free man, and causes her fetus to abort, he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fetus”. I was shocked that the punishment for aborting a child was so mild. Also, for the majority of the laws, the crimes are much too broad to just have one specific punishment. Judgement 195 says that “If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off”. This penalty is unfair and ridiculous, but this was a very different society that today’s.

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    • I understand what point you are getting at and I completely agree with you. But the problem at hand was if these codes would be successful or not. The codes do make it unfair for the low ranking people in the society but doesn’t every growing society need a problem to unite behind(a scapegoat)? Yes it’s unfair and cruel but would these codes not be successful in that time and era based on the social standards already set in place?

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  27. I do think that Hammurabis’ laws would have worked in 1792-1750 B.C.E because of many reasons. I think that many of these laws installed fear in the people and that’s how Hammurabi was able to control the lower classes while steal protecting the high ranking officials and not causing an up rise. Many of the laws were harsher towards lower classes and women. I think that these laws benefitting the higher class and head males in each family. I noticed that in Law 148, females are kind of like property, the law states that,” If a man has married a wife, and she has fallen to sickness, and he has decided to marry another, he may marry, but the wife that has sickness he shall not divorce but instead she shall dwell in the house and he must support her while she lives.” This shows that women were less important than males but still respected. An example of this is Law 109 which states, “If rebels meet in the house of a wineseller and she does not seize them and take them to the palace, the wineseller shall be slain.” Why would Hammurabi put this in there if it had not already been a problem for him to begin with. Now I know that maybe the rebels may have just wanted to take him out of power and put themselves in, but they also could have not liked the laws he had in place.
    Law 198 surprised me because if a man strikes a peasant he should only have to pay one mina of silver while if a son hit his father then his hands would be cut off. Just interesting how that works out…

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  28. Grant Robinson:
    Yes I do believe that they would have been an effective law code, however there are laws missing because of the fact that they were decisions made by the king, therefore they would have been extremely situational and not all scenarios would have been addressed. The judgements were meant to protect the higher class citizens. We can see this through a large majority of the personal injury judgements but specifically 202 “If a man strikes the body of a man who is superior in status, he shall publicly receive sixty lashes with a cowhide whip….” . If we compare this to 201 “ If he has knocked out the teeth of a peasant, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver” we can see that the severity of punishments from levels of class is much higher for a peasant hitting a higher class than vice versa. We can also see that these laws were based upon an eye for an eye system, for instance law 196 ” If a man has destroyed the eye of another free man his own eye shall be destroyed. We can also see that these laws were intended to benefit the men more than the women. As we can see in the Marriage and the Family section the women of the house we can see as constantly being with a man such as laws 134 – 140. In these laws we can see that even when the women decides to leave her husband she cannot live without a man because she must go back to her father’s house, or to the house of another man.

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    • I agree with you, Grano. It’s clear that whoever writes laws makes them for his/her benefit. It’s simple human action that a person will do what they see as best (a mean) to create a better situation (or end) based on marginal utility and other factors. But it’s clear that whomever writes laws will write them to benefit themselves. It’s seen here, as you explained, but it’s also seen throughout history and especially today. I will use a fairly recent example, the Affordable Healthcare Act. It was written by a few very rich healthcare corporations in order to benefit themselves. However, the state must have an excuse (a reason for the populace to be satisfied) so they name it “Affordable” and call it a day. This is law! It’s the reason that economic cartels and monopolies form and it’s the reason behind most economic regulations in the present day. Very nice synopsis.

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  29. I believe that the Judgements of Hammurabi would make a successful law code due to the general fairness of it. For example law 196 says “If a man destroys the eye of another free man, his own eye should be destroyed.” This is an extreme case of equality because the injury is inflicted on to both men rather than paying a sum of money. However in the babylonian society we also see cases of extreme inequality. Women seem to be viewed as weak and not able to make their own decisions. For example laws 137 and 138 they talk about divorce and the sum of money the wife would receive. But when the code refers to divorce they only mention a man requesting for it. Also in law 129 the code discusses the consequences of a women cheating on her husband and not the other way around. Another law that would not fit in with societies standards now is law 209. It states “If a man strikes the daughter of a free man, and causes her fetus to abort, he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fetus” This would not be the same today because many people view abortion or the loss of a fetus at a very big deal and do not take it lightly. Many of the laws in the Judgments of Hammurabi would have to be adjusted to the standards of society today to be successful.

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  30. In modern times his codes would not have worked well with their devaluing of people as peasants and slaves, but, for those times, they seem quite fair considering laws were more beneficial for average men and their problems. They did touch on some other people in topics sometimes, too. From the codes we read we know there were ranks of ” captains, soldiers and officials” ; average men, who married and owned land; workers, like doctors and builders ” a physician treating a man with a knife… A builder who has built the house of a man” ; peasants, and slaves. The one that probably got me the most was that 1) if the wife cheated it was both or neither depending of what the husband of the cheating wife said and 2) that it never mentioned, in the bits we read, what would happen if the man was caught cheating unless it’s always and only ever had he wife’s fault for sleeping with another man.

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    • I agree with you on the last part about the cheating. I was surprised to see the absence of what the punishment for a man cheating on his wife would be, I suppose it’s just the time period. However, I will give him that he does allow leeway for a woman who’s displeased in her marriage with number 142, where her issues with the marriage will be looked into and discussed. If she is found at no fault, she can leave to her father’s house with her dowry. However, an issue might arise with trying to decipher whether or not it’s the wife’s fault or not. So that could be another issue. Overall, Hammurabi’s judgments do protect women, but I agree with the idea that he might be a tad unfair to women, maybe even unknowingly.

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  31. I think the law code would have been effective because it most likely would have created fear among the citizens, as the consequences for breaking the laws were often violent. The judgments seemed to protect the citizens in the society, not including slaves or peasants. If a citizen were to commit a crime on a slave or peasant the consequences would not have been as harsh than if a citizen were to commit that crime on someone of equal or higher class division. This is a perfect example of what the class distinctions were like at that time. It seems as though the higher the citizen was in class, the more lenient the consequences were.

    One of the laws that surprised me was law 129 stating that, ” If the wife of a man is found lying with another male, they shall be bound and thrown into the water. if the husband lets his wife live, then the king shall let his servant live.” I understand that the wife was wrong, however I disagree with the consequences. I think that the situation could have possibly been handled between the husband, the wife, and the “servant”. Also, if the woman has to die I feel like the man she was cheating with should suffer the same consequences.

    Another law that was surprising to me was law 218 stating that,” If a physician has treated a man with a metal knife for a sever wound, and has caused the man to die, or has opened a man’s tumor with a metal knife, and destroyed the man’s eye, his hands shall be cut off.” This is outrageous to me. The physician could have very well just let the man die on his own from the wound or tumor. If the procedure failed he should not be blamed as long as he did not intentionally kill him. There must have been many other ways to solve this problem. Perhaps the physician could have given the family of the deceased man some mina of sliver for compensation, but anything other than cutting their hands off. I just don’t believe every consequence has to be violent.

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    • I agree with you in thinking that law 218 is outrageous. The problem with cutting off the physician’s hands is that now he is useless as a physician. I would think that there are very few physician’s during Hammurabi’s reign, so to me it is a waste of human resources as well as too violent as mentioned above.

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  32. Considering that for certain crimes, the criminal is not even punished for his wrong-doing: No, these laws (as a whole) could never have been effective as a law code. Now, it may have acted as an organization tool to keep civilians in check so as to not give birth to an outbreak of chaos, but it did not take into account equality or rights and was not ideal.

    Each of these judgments mostly protected men, or superior people. Women and children were ultimately killed for the wrong-doing of their father/husband. In one rule, Hammurabi states that “if a man strikes a daughter of a free man, and that woman dies, his daughter shall be slain” (15). This offers no kind of punishment to the murderer whatsoever, and ultimately take the life of an innocent woman, which brings into light the topic of social distinctions.

    Obviously, the rich were favored over the poor: If one man “has knocked out the teeth of a man of the same rank, his own teeth shall be knocked out,” and yet if he “has knocked out the teeth of a peasant, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver” (15). And the social distinctions do not stop there, women were lucky if they were born into a rich family, for their status mattered much more to the city than that of a poor woman. And yet, even still, women were not completely independent; every action that they performed was to be strictly judged and based off of the actions of their husbands.

    As vivid and unfair as these laws are, they do not surprise me. The impulsive way of life towards slaves, peasants, and females was very common in history. People were experimenting with government, driven by power, andwere trying things out, so they obviously would not and could not have been perfect.

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  33. I feel like these laws wouldn’t work out as a law code. The laws were meant to protect everyone, even the peasants and slaves. An example of the slaves getting protection would be Law 199, and it states “If he has destroyed the eye of a man’s slave, or broken the bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay half of his value.” The social distinctions were that the peasants and slaves were worth less than men and women. We can tell from Law’s 197 and 198. Law 197 states ” If he has broken the bone of a free man, his bone shall be broken.” Law 198 states “If he has destroyed the eye of a peasant, or broken the bone of a peasant, he shall pay one mina of silver.” These indicate that if you hurt a peasant, all you have to do is pay a fine, while if you hurt a free man, you shall receive the same injury you cause, which is very unfair. Some of the laws did surprise me, including Law 211, which summed up says that you only have to pay 5 shekels of silver if you kill a peasants daughters fetus. This is super unfair in my opinion, because you basically killed someone’s child and all you have to do is pay an amount of money.

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  34. I feel like at the time, the code was effective. It made the people truly fear in breaking the code. For example, if a son just strikes his father, his hands would be cut off. Like if I ever lived at that time, I would not even touch my father because of fear of the code. Although I do find the code unfair to all the lower class people/ peasants and the women. Like if he has caused the daughter of a peasant to let her fetus abort through blows, he shall pay 5 shekels of silver. I don’t get how 5 shekels of silver is worth the life of a unborn baby. That law surprises me but it makes sense due to the time period and how women/ peasants were so low in society that these laws were created. I find the code still in general effective in those times by implementing fear into the people hoping not to break them.

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    • I would have to agree with you . These judgements came with consequences that installed fear in order for people not to commit crimes. I also don’t understand how a baby is worth 5 shekels of sliver. I am hoping that in those days that was a lot of money but mostly like it wasn’t because if the woman was of a higher status they got more sliver. These ” codes ” would have been effective because I don’t think people were willing to take the risk. I know I wouldn’t !

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    • The only thing i would like to say is that you say fear once or twice during your post. I don’t think this code was made to make people fear at all. The laws are very harsh and some unfair, I agree. But I don’t think making you fear hitting you father was the intention. I think that this was just the way you should live, or a road map to the “best” way of life.

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  35. In my opinion, the Judgments of Hammurabi would not have been effective as a law code. They are too specific or selective, and quite class-oriented, so they would not have been fair to use against the all the different classes of people. The judgments were meant to mainly protect men, or men of a higher class/rank, as it seemed like they were seen as the most important in the society. Women, though, did seem to have legal protection, even if it was barely any.
    Punishments in the law code did seem to vary depending on social class, as it seemed as higher class people were seen as more important. For example, code 202, which states “If a man strikes the body of a man who is superior in status, he shall publicly receive sixty lashes with a cowhide whip…,” seems like a bit much. I understand that one of the men is of a higher status, but sixty lashes- in public, too- seems like too harmful or exaggerated of a punishment just for striking a man. In fact, if one of a higher status were to strike another from a lower status, would they even get a punishment for it? It seems unfair to enforce punishments on one group of people over another, even if they are of different social statuses.
    Some of these laws really shocked me when I read them, as they seemed very unfair. Take code 230, “If the child of that householder is killed, the child of that builder shall be slain,” as an example. I realize that yes, a child was killed unintentionally due to an ultimate cause of the builder’s poor building, but that is no reason to kill the child of the builder himself! The builder’s child had nothing to do with the householder’s child’s death, so why impose the punishment on them? If anything, it should be imposed on the builder them self. Another code that took me aback when I was reading it was code 195, which states “If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off.” The punishment for the son seems very over exaggerated. I understand if what the son did caused more harm than it did, like if the son just straight up killed his father, but he didn’t. Why punish him that badly over something that most likely barely harmed the father? At the very least, he could have been given a less harmful corporal punishment that would not do as much harm to him than cutting his hands off would, like maybe being struck be a wooden paddle or something of the like.

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    • I disagree with Viviana’s point. I feel like Hammurabi’s law code would be effective for that time. I see how the laws are broken up and only protect the higher rank but they still protect the lower ranking to a certain degree. As we learned in class there was a distinctive ranking and that showed us that they cared for one group more than another. On the pyramid we had in our notes peasants and slaves were below the bolded line and we can see that effect in Hammurabi’s laws. For example, we see him talk about things like “a slave for a slave…” and so on. I am not excusing the hierarchy they have in their society but this was just how it was at that time.

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  36. I believe the Judgments of Hammurabi would have been an effective law code, at the time. Today, not half of the laws stated could possibly work. This is mainly due to extreme violence. I imagine many of the citizens would be terrified to violate any of these laws in fear of their own death or even their child’s death. Many times throughout the laws the term ‘a life for a life’ comes to mind. This is shown in law 229, “… if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain.” Furthermore, law 231 “… slave for slave…” shows the exchange of life. On a different note, almost everyone of these laws have some bias in one way or another. Men and the upper class would have benefitted most from the laws. While women of the upper class are given some fair rulings, women that are peasants receive nothing to benefit them; “…man strikes the daughter of a free man… his daughter shall be slain (209,210).” “… the daughter of a peasant… he shall pay half a mina of silver… (211,212).” So this is saying the daughter of a free, wealthy man is worth more that the daughter of a poor man. Why is it that the daughters, both alive and well, offer such different punishments? Why does the life of a wealthy person matter so much more than the life of peasants? This is what surprised me the most throughout the laws, such the difference between upper and lower classes. The range in punishments is so significant that a wealthy person could pay a fine, while a poor person could face death, all for the same crime.

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    • I agree that these drastically different punishments for the same crime are in fact very unfair. Though it was commonly accepted long ago, there is no reason why one life should be worth more than another. No matter the financial of social status of a person, they should all be treated equally. These types of laws definately would not have worked in today’s society for the state would fall part economically and politically beacause of the fact that no country would be its ally in trade or in war. You have mad every good points on this subject.

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  37. Hammurabi’s judgements stressed the ” misharum ” factor discussed in the introduction. As written in his codes, it was very obvious that he wanted equality. He believed every punishment needed to fit the crime; though some may think they were too strict. Personally, I believe Hammurabi’s “compilation of decisions”, would have been effective as law codes because people would commit less crimes knowing the consequences were severe. For instance , now in the USA people either or to prison or go through the death penalty. Whereas Hammurabi’s punishments were losing a limb/body part, murder of a family member, or themselves being killed brutally. For example, cheating isn’t tolerated by any means in the Sumerian world , number 129 states , ” If a wife of a man is found lying with another male, they shall be bound and thrown into the water… ” in America there is a divorce ( usually some physical altercation).
    These judgments were put in place to protect the general population. The people who would benefit from these judgments are the victims. The 229th judgment claims, ” if a builder has built a house for a man, and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain. ” This is a representation of how the judgements were to protect the people. Also, it’s clear that Hammurabi had social distinctions within his judgements. If a peasant or a slave was victimized, the ” felons ” would pay a lesser price.
    Judgement 110, “If a priestess who has not remained in the temple, shall open a wine-shop, or enter a wine-shop for drink, that woman shall be burned… “. This law surprised me because I wasn’t aware that women drinking or dealing with alcohol was a major offense. Though, I should have figured because women rights were very limited in those times. I think burning the woman is absurd.

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  38. Hammurabi’s judgments, overall would be quite harsh as law code-but actually quite effective. I say this because the judgments are so harsh, they would scare most citizens from committing any of these errors and crimes in the first place. A lot of his judgments seemingly have an idea of fairness about it (like in the Personal Injury section, #196 is “If a man has destroyed the eye of another free man, his own eye shall be destroyed.” Basically a one for one theory). In the prologue, Hammurabi says he will establish Right and Justice in the land, for the good of the people. So from that, I would have assumed his judgments were in fact meant to benefit and protect the general population. However, his judgments insinuate that some lives matter more than others- particularly with his social distinctions of slaves, peasants, just average people, and the briefly mentioned superior in status. He makes it clear that peasant and slave lives matter less than the lives of the average citizens. For example, in the Personal Injury section, #197 states that “If he has broken the bone of a free man, his bone shall be broken.” However, #198 says that “If he has destroyed the eye of a peasant, or broken a bone of a peasant, he shall pay one mina of silver.” This is a pattern that continuously plays out in many of Hammurabi’s judgments, in more than one section, too. Some of the laws surprised me. #129 from Marriage and the Family section reads, “If the wife of a man is found lying with another male, they shall be bound and thrown into the water…”. Although Hammurabi is from ancient times, it surprises me that he would essentially allow for the murder of a man’s wife and her lover due to cheating. I would have thought he would come up with something more fair, like make her pay a certain amount of money.

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  39. Personally, I do not feel that these laws could be considered effective as any sort of law code. While there do seem to be some sort of basis for today’s laws able to be found, much is left to be desired in these. “If a man strikes the body of a man who is superior in status, he shall publicly receive sixty lashes with a cowhide whip….” This law leaves a bad concept in my mind. The reinforcement of a hierarchy is clearly seen as well as the idea of corporal punishment.
    I was also able to see the idea of “an eye for an eye”. “If a builder has built a house for a man and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls in and kills the house-holder, that builder shall be slain.” While this principle is one that I cannot agree with, this law was seen as fair. The society also had a very limited focus on equality. “If a man strikes the daughter of a free man, and causes her fetus to abort, he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fetus… If that woman dies, his daughter shall be slain.” So to the government, the price of the murder of two lives by a free man, is ten shekels of silver, and the death of a free man’s daughter? However, “If he has caused the daughter of a peasant to let her fetus abort through blows, he shall pay five shekels of silver… If that women dies, he shall pay half a mina of silver….” The cost of the murder of two peasant lives is only thirty-five shekels of silver? How is this a fair and equal punishment in any way?

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    • “Personally, I do not feel that these laws could be considered effective as any sort of law code. ”

      I believe that a law code doesn’t have to enforce strict equality standards in order to be considered effective. That’s really what you touched on, and I will have to disagree. The effectivity of a law-code cannot be based on how equal the people are because of it; simply because the purpose of law isn’t to make people equal. Actually, the purpose of law (while there are many) can be arguably described to make inequalities occur for the ‘advancement’, organization, or satisfaction of the entire society. Other than that you didn’t describe why you feel that the law code is inefficient.

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  40. I believe that Hammurabi’s judgements would have definitely been a good law code for the society. This is because the guidelines shown all have a very formal and professional tone to them. However, while the “judgements” would’ve been good to use thousands of years ago, I doubt that they would work well in today’s society. This is because the laws are very brutal and straightforward, “if rebels meet in the house of a wineseller and she does not seize them and take them to the palace, that wine-seller shall be slain, Code 109”. Many of judgements had the death penalty as their consequence, which would be unheard of today. The judgements were meant to benefit the lives of everyone living in the community. They were designed to benefit the people of the upper class in the society. This is shown in law 198, “If he has destroyed the eye of a peasant, or broken a bone of a peasant, he shall pay one mina of silver”. This shows that people of the under-class and peasants have little to no value in the society, and that they do not have the same rights as the other higher class men. The major social distinction that we see is that those of lower-class do not have as many rights as those of upper-class. But also, it is noticeable that men have more rights than women. What mainly surprised me about the laws was that many of them involved death or having the violence they committed be reenacted on them, “If he has broken the bone of a free man, his bone shall be broken”. It didn’t seem as if prison was a common punishment which me very much. Overall, while these laws are very equal and strict, I do not believe that they are the proper way to achieve true justice.

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  41. I believe for the most part that Hammurabi’s judgements would have been a effective law code. Many of the laws follow the law of retaliation which many know today as “an eye for an eye”. For example “if a man has destroyed the eye of another free man,his own eye shall be destroyed.” and “if he has broken the bone of a free man, his bone shall be broken”. In my opinion this is an effective way of dealing with crimes because it shows the criminals the pain they put their victims through. It also will remind them to not do it again. However, they would not work in today’s society because many of the punishments would be deemed too harsh by many. For example if a child got his hand cut off for hitting his father, there would be chaos and most likely an outburst of protests. Peasants are excluded in some of the laws showing me that the judgements were meant to protect and benefit those of higher class. Also what surprised me the most was that if a woman cheats on her husband then it is punishable by death. It surprised me because in our society cheating does not result in jail time or execution.

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    • I agree with the “eye for an eye” and the parts about the protesting and outbursting. I do not believe that Hammurabi’s judgements would be accepted in todays society as well. I also like how you included the fact that their respect for women is completely different then right now.

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  42. The Hammurabi law was written a long time ago, and it was the rules of a god, or someone close to the god. This is the reason for the punishments being so harsh such as (195) ” If a son has struck his father,his hands shall be cut off”. However many of the laws (even if there harsh) could help society today. If they were dialed back just a little, some of these laws could still be very useful: (229) ” If a builder has built a house for a man, and his work is not strong, and if the house he built falls in and kills the house holder, the builder shall be killed…(218) If a physician has treated a man with a metal knife for a severe wound, and has caused the man to die… his hands shall be cut off”. So if instead of being killed or having your hands cut off: this person could instead not work again or be “banished”. Those punishments would be more respectable, and stays to show that a lot of these laws could still be used, if they were just dialed back to fit modern times.

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    • Yes, in name they were written by a god (or prophet). I believe that the author of these laws was naturally a more leader-like person and found a way to exploit the people. The only other explanation would be that he was incredibly schizophrenic which is possible as well. Though, the former seems more likely in terms of the creation of law. Especially because the people of the time were thirsty for explanations of natural phenomena that they believed so greatly in a God or gods. This strong belief allowed the author to gain merit of his law very easily among the people, merely because he claimed it was from God.

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  43. When considering about the law codes, I find them effective as they way they have to deal with it. One thing I have notice is how to the codes give a break to the peasants. By what I mean is how the codes give a heavy price for a free man but for the peasants, only a mina of silver is to be paid. Then I recall the judgements of Hammurabi saying the collection declares, “to promote the welfare of the people… to cause justice to prevail in the land, to destroy wicked and the evil, that the strong might not oppress the weak…,” It is the last statement that points out that the codes are the benefits for the weak as they and others who oppressed them will only have to mina. There is not one text in the law codes for a peasant to offer an eye, have his daughter slain, or have his teeth knocked out. The people of higher status end up having to pay a value of theirs. As laws are laws, they should also provide protection in the society as of in Felons and Victims, 22. ” If a man has perpetrated brigandage, and has been caught, that man shall be slain.” Hammurabi’s word about destroying the wicked and evil was true…. That is if they caught thief. I find the laws for women to be quite fair as of no one will be blaming the wife if she leaves her husband’s home with a reason. All action of it goes straight to the husband. Other than that, they were some of the codes that surprise me like on 129. ” If the wife of a man is found lying with another male, they shall be bound and thrown into the water.” I never thought something like that would happen. Well, it is Hammurabi’s judgement and this is how he thought on how to deal with wrongdoings no matter how sad it sounds.

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  44. I believe that the Code of Hammurabi is an amazing code of law. It emphasizes the saying “treat others as you would want to be treated” not including the peasants, slaves and women. These people were lucky to have any of the rights that were equal to that of the common free man. All free men were treated equally, while all free women are treated equal to peasants. An example of this inequality is law 212 which states “if any man were to kill a daughter of a peasant, that man would only pay half a mina of silver for her death”. One of the many things that may surprise you is that even the higher ups have rules and punishments. Law 5 states “if a judge declares an innocent person guilty and is convicted of misjudgment, he shall pay twelve times the penalty awarded in that case as well as being thrown from the seat of judgment”. These laws also induce fear into the minds of the people. One such law states that if a daughter of a free man is slain the slayers’ daughter shall die as well. It’s truly related to the Middle Eastern law that in sum states an “eye for an eye”. The laws are not extremely harsh for psychotic reasons, they are so harsh that they induce fear. Fear is in direct correlation to the fight or flight saying. It goes to say that if the threat or punishment is to large, flee/obey the law. If it’s small and easy to take, fight/break the law. These laws were good at what they were meant to do, which is tell people what to NOT EVER DO.

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  45. Though the Judgements of Hammurabi are quite cruel in many ways, I still find them effective for keeping order in the state of Babylon. Cruel and unusual punishments make the people of the state not want to break the law. For example in law 218 it states, “If a physician has treated a man with a metal knife for a severe wound, and has caused the man to die.. his hands shall be cut off…” No one would want to lose their hands because one that would hurt and two if that were to happen they will no longer be able to properly do their job and they would be out of business. Under no curcumstances do i agree to causing permanent damage and/or trauma to another human being but at the same time it does prove to be effective. It makes the witnesses to one’s punishment be glad it wasnt them and not want it to be them who would have to endure these punishments. In the prologue of the Judgements, it is stated that these laws are “for the good of the people,” but as you read the laws you can tell that these laws are more favorable towards certain groups of people than they are to others. For example, there are laws that mention punishments to women on subjects that don’t mention punishments for men like in law 110 it says, “If a priestess.. shall open a wine shop or enter a wine shop and for drink, that woman shall be burned.” From what has been given, I can see no other law that mentions a priest entering a wine shop or owning a wine shop. This leads me to believe that either the punishment for a priest isnt as severe of possibly doesn’t exist. The laws that mention women either deals with them as if they are property or is more unforgiving for women than for men. There are also many social discrinations in the Judgements of Hammurabi which are mainly displayed Personal Injury section of these laws. For example, law 201 states, “If he has knocked out the teeth of peasant, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver.” Then in the very next law it states,”If a man a man strikes the man who is superior in status, he shall publicly eceive sixty lashes with a cowhide whip.” Why is it that if yopu knock the teeth out of someone or a lower class than you only pay a small fine, but when you hit, not even having to injure, someone of higher status, you are publicly humiliated and put in more pain than that was even caused to the man of higher status? There is no other true reason other than the fact that one is more socially praised than the other. It these type of laws make clear distinctions between the luxuries of higher class and burdens of the lower class. None of the laws of this society completely surprise me to be honest. This is because we have learned in the past about social classes and how some people are considered “more worthy” of being considered a person than others. We have also learned that in history there have been harsher punishments and more strict judgement put on people. However, I was surprised about how in consumer protection laws if you didn’t do your job right, you lost your limbs, your loved ones or even your life. Like in law 229 is says that, “If the builder has built a house for a man, and his work is not strong, and if the house he has built falls and kills the householder, that builder shall be slain. Yes I agree that the man should have done a better job but i don’t necessarily believe that he should die for his mistake. The Judgements of Hammurabi have its necessary evils but overall, these judgements are not fair and just for any society and would have to go under many revisions in order to be considered proper and acceptable laws.

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    • “No one would want to lose their hands because one that would hurt and two if that were to happen they will no longer be able to properly do their job and they would be out of business. Under no curcumstances do i agree to causing permanent damage and/or trauma to another human being but at the same time it does prove to be effective.”

      Parris, I enjoyed your overall explanation and answering of the prompt. However, I disagree on your principal value in the above quote. You imply that force and violence is needed to ensure someone does their job right. This is simply not the case. If the physician cut off someone’s hand, it’d mean that he’s a bad physician. However, if he’s the best physician but only human (because human’s make mistakes) then he doesn’t deserve much punishment at all. I believe a market handles this well. It could be based on trust. if a physician is known for being a bad physician (not very good at surgeries, not efficient, not nice, etc), then nobody will go to that physician. Nobody will spend their utility to meet the end result if the end result isn’t as guaranteed. The doctor would know that his credit is important and thus be under the pressure of simple competition. So competition would fix this well as opposed to force and violence. But that’s not all! We can also add another means here. The physician and client could sign a contract together, even. It could say “If you damage my hand while removing the piece of glass, you owe me 500 silver clumps”. This is a mere example of the idea of contracting. I think these voluntary associations are better because they enhance the principal and values of self-ownership and individualism, which I value greatly as moral axioms; however, that’s another discussion.

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  46. Hammurabi’s law codes are too violent and too unfair for a modern society. In the late 1700’s BCE they were effective in maintaining control and order. The code of laws unequally punishes citizens. An upper class member is more protected by the law than a peasant is. “If he has knocked out the teeth of a peasant he must pay one third of a mina of silver” whereas “If a man strikes a man of superior status he shall publicly receive sixty lashes with a cowhide whip.” This clearly illustrates how divided the class system is in Sumer. It is almost as the rich are above the law for a small fee. I am surprised that for the same exact crime it is handled two extremely different ways just depending on class.

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    • I agree with you that these laws were too harsh for a modern society, but this was not a modern civilization in my opinion. His code that was created in 1750 B.C.E was not designed for a modern society. In my opinion if it was a modern society why would they have laws so harsh as “If the child of the householder is killed, the child of that builder is killed.” They would have a more rational set of laws created for their people of they were a “modern” type of people. In other words maybe they were significantly advanced compared to others in their time period.

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  47. I believe that Hammurabi’s judgments would be effective as a law code. I feel like these laws he has made were fair and well though out to make sure that everyone is represented. Hammurabi’s laws attempted to protect everyone from the wealthy to the poor. We see him trying to protect the poor by trying to make sure they have laws planned out for peasants, for example, “If he has caused the daughter of a peasant to let her fetus abort through blows, he shall pay five shekels of silver” (Hammurabi, line 211). This shows that they do not just leave the peasants who were victims to be let go without compensation. Even though their compensations are not as fair as the others they make sense for the time they are in. For example when a higher ranked man in their society gets hurt this occurs, “If he has broken the bone of a free man, his bone shall be broke.” (Hammurabi, line 197), whereas a slave would have this compensation, “If he has destroyed the eye of a man’s slave or broken a bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay half his value.” (Hammurabi, line 199). However, with the social classes of this time period it makes sense there were different levels of compensation going from high ranks to slaves. A few of the implications surprised me because they were very violent. One of these was on line 129, “If the wife of a man is found lying with another male, they shall be bound and thrown in the water…”.

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  48. I personally think that Hammurabi’s judgments would have been effective as a law code during his time period. Many of Hammurabi’s judgments are harsh, but this would be beneficial in keeping people in line due to fear of physical harm or death. For example, judgment 197 says that “If he has broken the bone of a free man, his bone shall be broken”. Many people would avoid fights if they knew this would happen. The judgments protected men and provided very little protection for women. The judgments benefited men and the free class, gave little to the peasants and women, and didn’t benefit slaves at all. For example, Judgment 209-212 says “If a man strikes the daughter of a free man, and causes her fetus to abort, he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fetus. If that women dies, his daughter shall be slain. If he has caused the daughter of a peasant to let her fetus abort through blows, he shall pay five shekels of silver.If that women he shall pay half a mina of silver…”. These judgments show that the people that weren’t of a lower class were worth more than those of the lower class, indicating social distinctions that are found throughout Hammurabi’s law code. None of the laws or the harsh implications surprised me, considering the time period in which they are written.

    – Evan Wigley

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  49. I believe that Hammurabi’s law codes were effective at the time and would’ve composed a strict society that obeyed the laws. However, I do not believe that these laws could be in effect in our modern day lives. This is due to, (1) there is a strong bias that men are far superior in this civilization and women have very few opportunities to help out their family as they are primarily looked at as housewives. This can be represented from law 29 which states, “If his son is under age, and unable to administer his [deceased] father’s affairs, then…his mother shall bring him up.” This only explains that the mother and daughter have no say and the mothers only task is to raise the son. (2) The laws are too extreme and their severity would be considered unethical. An example is law 195, “If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off.” If this were to occur in modern day, there would be people everywhere fighting for the son’s justice. (3) And lastly, there are social distinctions in eighteenth century B.C.E. Mesopotamia that are no longer class divisions. Slaves, peasants, free men, and royalty have disappeared and everyone is treated fairly with freedom and justice. But, in the end none of Hammurabi’s laws seem questionable for that time period.

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  50. I think that as a law code this would have been effective if these rules were actually enforced. It seemed to be a situation where if you did something wrong, then something wrong would be done to you, so i think most people would have tried to do behave to avoid such punishments like, “If a man has knocked out the teeth of a man of the same rank, his own teeth shall be knocked out,” for example. However i also feel as though these laws were meant to benefit the poor and peasant class of people because most of the laws that had to do with peasants seemed as though they were trying to help out the lower class rather than give them equal treatment. In one of the laws dealing with a free man it says that, “…if it is the son of a free man he shall pay half of a mina of silver,” while the law dealing with peasants says, “If he is the son of a peasant, he shall pay a third of a mina of silver.” One of the laws that shocked me the most however had to do with a house that was not fit for the house owner and it said, “If the child of the householder is killed, the child of that builder shall be slain.” At the time I’m sure it seemed fair but it seems rather extreme now to take a life for a life.

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    • I disagree that the laws were meant to benefit the poor because if a poor person and a person of high social status were to commit the same exact crime, the punishment for the poor person would have been worse. For example the punishment for the person of higher rank would probably be to pay a third of a mina of silver, whereas the punishment for the poor person would probably be to have their hands cut off.

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