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Hammurabi () was the sixth king of the
First Babylonian dynasty The First Babylonian Empire, or Old Babylonian Empire, is dated to BC – BC, and comes after the end of Sumerian power with the destruction of the Third Dynasty of Ur The Third Dynasty of Ur, also called the Neo-Sumerian Empire, refers to a 2 ...
of the Amorite tribe, reigning from c. 1792 BC to c. 1750 BC (according to the
Middle Chronology The chronology of the ancient Near East is a chronology, framework of dates for various events, rulers and dynasties. Historical inscriptions and texts customarily record events in terms of a succession of officials or rulers: "in the year X of ki ...
). He was preceded by his father, Sin-Muballit, who abdicated due to failing health. During his reign, he conquered
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
and the city-states of
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures ...
,
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate Diyala Governorate ( ar, محافظة ديالى ) or Diyala Province is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in eastern Iraq. Provincial government *Governor: Muthana al-Timimi *Deputy Governo ...
, and
Mari Mari may refer to: Places *Mari, Paraíba, Brazil, a city *Mari, Cyprus, a village *Mari, Greece, a village, site of ancient town of Marius (Laconia), Marius *Mari, Iran (disambiguation), places in Iran *Mari, Punjab, a village and a union counci ...
. He ousted
Ishme-Dagan I Ishme-Dagan I ( akk, Išme-Dagān I, script=Latn, italic=yes; '' fl. c.'' 1776 BCE — ''c.'' 1736 BCE) was a monarch of the Old Assyrian Empire. The much later Assyrian King List (AKL) credits Ishme-Dagan I with a reign of forty years, however; ...
, the king of
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-state) until its collapse between 612 BCE and 609 BCE; thereby spanning ...

Assyria
, and forced his son
Mut-Ashkur Mut-Ashkur (a Hurrian name) was possibly a Monarch, king of Assyria, or just Ekallatum, in the 18th century BC. He was the son and successor of Ishme-Dagan I, Ishme-Dagan. His father arranged for him to marry the daughter of the Hurrian king Zaziya. ...
to pay tribute, bringing almost all of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
under
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
n rule. Hammurabi is best known for having issued the
Code of Hammurabi The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian legal text composed 1755–1750 BC. It is the longest, best-organised, and best-preserved legal text from the ancient Near East. It is written in the Old Babylonian dialect of Akkadian, purportedly by Ham ...

Code of Hammurabi
, which he claimed to have received from
Shamash Utu, later worshipped by the East Semitic Akkadian language, Akkadian-speaking Babylonians as Shamash, ''šmš'', syc, ܫܡܫܐ ''šemša'', he, שֶׁמֶשׁ ''šemeš'', ar, شمس ''šams'', Ashurian Aramaic: 𐣴𐣬𐣴 ''š'meš(ā)'' ...

Shamash
, the Babylonian god of justice. Unlike earlier
Sumer Sumer ()The name is from '; ''kig̃ir'', written and ,approximately "land of the civilized kings" or "native land". means "native, local", ifrom ''The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary''). Literally, "land of the native (local, noble) lor ...

Sumer
ian law codes, such as the
Code of Ur-Nammu The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time t ...
, which had focused on compensating the victim of the crime, the Law of Hammurabi was one of the first law codes to place greater emphasis on the physical punishment of the perpetrator. It prescribed specific penalties for each crime and is among the first codes to establish the
presumption of innocence The presumption of innocence is a legal principle A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, procedural steps, or test, often established through precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal ca ...
. Although its penalties are extremely harsh by modern standards, they were intended to limit what a wronged person was permitted to do in
retribution Retribution may refer to: * Punishment * Retributive justice, a theory of justice ** Divine retribution, retributive justice in a religious context * Revenge, a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance Film and televisi ...
. The Code of Hammurabi and the
Law of Moses The Law of Moses ( he, תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה ), also called the Mosaic Law, primarily refers to the Torah Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") has a range of meanings. It can most specifically mean the f ...
in the
Torah The Torah (; he, תּוֹרָה, "Instruction", "Teaching" or "Law") includes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; : , or ), is the of scriptures, including the , the , and the . These texts are a ...

Torah
contain numerous similarities. Hammurabi was seen by many as a god within his own lifetime. After his death, Hammurabi was revered as a great conqueror who spread civilization and forced all peoples to pay obeisance to
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the C ...
, the
national god National gods are a class of guardian divinities or deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the laws of nature.https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatura ...
of the Babylonians. Later, his military accomplishments became de-emphasized and his role as the ideal lawgiver became the primary aspect of his legacy. For later Mesopotamians, Hammurabi's reign became the frame of reference for all events occurring in the distant past. Even after the empire he built collapsed, he was still revered as a model ruler, and many kings across the Near East claimed him as an ancestor. Hammurabi was rediscovered by archaeologists in the late nineteenth century and has since been seen as an important figure in the history of law.


Reign and conquests

Hammurabi was an
Amorite The Amorites (; Sumerian language, Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; Akkadian language, Akkadian ''Amurrūm'' or ''Tidnum''; Egyptian language, Egyptian ''Amar''; he, אמורי ''ʼĔmōrī''; grc, Ἀμορραῖοι) were an ancient Semitic lan ...
First Dynasty king of the
city-state A city-state is an independent sovereignty, sovereign city which serves as the center of political, economic, and cultural life over its contiguous territory. They have existed in many parts of the world since the dawn of history, including c ...
of Babylon, and inherited the power from his father, Sin-Muballit, in . Babylon was one of the many largely Amorite ruled city-states that dotted the central and southern Mesopotamian plains and waged war on each other for control of fertile
agricultural Agriculture is the practice of cultivating plants and livestock. Agriculture was the key development in the rise of sedentary Image:Family watching television 1958.jpg, Exercise trends, Increases in sedentary behaviors such as watching tele ...

agricultural
land. Though many cultures co-existed in Mesopotamia, Babylonian culture gained a degree of prominence among the
literate Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read and write in at least one method of writing, an understanding reflected by mainstream dictionaries. Correspondingly, the term ''illiteracy'' is considered to be the inability to read an ...
classes throughout the
Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an established norm (social), norm or requirement for a repeatable technical task whi ...

Middle East
under Hammurabi. The kings who came before Hammurabi had founded a relatively minor City State in 1894 BC, which controlled little territory outside of the city itself. Babylon was overshadowed by older, larger, and more powerful kingdoms such as
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
,
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-state) until its collapse between 612 BCE and 609 BCE; thereby spanning ...

Assyria
,
Isin Isin (, modern Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in collaboration with Geoffrey Khan, Michael P ...
,
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate Diyala Governorate ( ar, محافظة ديالى ) or Diyala Province is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in eastern Iraq. Provincial government *Governor: Muthana al-Timimi *Deputy Governo ...
, and
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures ...
for a century or so after its founding. However, his father Sin-Muballit had begun to consolidate rule of a small area of south central Mesopotamia under Babylonian
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (new ...
and, by the time of his reign, had conquered the minor city-states of
Borsippa Borsippa (Sumerian: BAD.SI.(A).AB.BAKI; AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Camb ...
, Kish, and
Sippar Sippar (: , Zimbir) was an ian and later n city on the east bank of the river. Its ' is located at the site of modern Tell Abu Habbah near in 's , some north of and southwest of . The city's ancient name, Sippar, could also refer to its sis ...
. Thus Hammurabi ascended to the throne as the king of a minor kingdom in the midst of a complex
geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxi ...
situation. The powerful kingdom of
Eshnunna Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar in Diyala Governorate Diyala Governorate ( ar, محافظة ديالى ) or Diyala Province is a Governorates of Iraq, governorate in eastern Iraq. Provincial government *Governor: Muthana al-Timimi *Deputy Governo ...
controlled the upper Tigris River while
Larsa Larsa (Sumerian logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures ...
controlled the river delta. To the east of Mesopotamia lay the powerful kingdom of
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
, which regularly invaded and forced tribute upon the small states of southern Mesopotamia. In northern Mesopotamia, the
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-state) until its collapse between 612 BCE and 609 BCE; thereby spanning ...

Assyria
n king
Shamshi-Adad I Shamshi-Adad ( akk, Šamši-Adad I; Amorite: ''Shamshi-Addu''; '' fl. c.'' 1809 BC – c. 1776 BC by the middle chronology) was an Amorite who had conquered lands across much of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūriyā''), officiall ...

Shamshi-Adad I
, who had already inherited centuries old Assyrian colonies in
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while b ...

Asia Minor
, had expanded his territory into the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
and central
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
, although his untimely death would somewhat fragment his empire. The first few years of Hammurabi's reign were quite peaceful. Hammurabi used his power to undertake a series of public works, including heightening the city walls for defensive purposes, and expanding the temples. In , the powerful kingdom of Elam, which straddled important trade routes across the
Zagros Mountains The Zagros Mountains ( fa, کوه‌های زاگرس; ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyayên Zagros;) are a long mountain range in Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia and officially the Islamic Republic of I ...
, invaded the Mesopotamian plain. With allies among the plain states, Elam attacked and destroyed the kingdom of Eshnunna, destroying a number of cities and imposing its rule on portions of the plain for the first time. In order to consolidate its position, Elam tried to start a war between Hammurabi's Babylonian kingdom and the kingdom of Larsa. Hammurabi and the king of Larsa made an alliance when they discovered this duplicity and were able to crush the Elamites, although Larsa did not contribute greatly to the military effort. Angered by Larsa's failure to come to his aid, Hammurabi turned on that southern power, thus gaining control of the entirety of the lower Mesopotamian plain by . As Hammurabi was assisted during the war in the south by his allies from the north such as
Yamhad Yamhad was an ancient Semitic people, Semitic kingdom centered on Aleppo, Ḥalab (Aleppo), Syria. The kingdom emerged at the end of the 19th century BC, and was ruled by the Yamhad dynasty, Yamhadite dynasty kings, who counted on both military a ...
and
Mari Mari may refer to: Places *Mari, Paraíba, Brazil, a city *Mari, Cyprus, a village *Mari, Greece, a village, site of ancient town of Marius (Laconia), Marius *Mari, Iran (disambiguation), places in Iran *Mari, Punjab, a village and a union counci ...
, the absence of soldiers in the north led to unrest. Continuing his expansion, Hammurabi turned his attention northward, quelling the unrest and soon after crushing Eshnunna. Next the Babylonian armies conquered the remaining northern states, including Babylon's former ally Mari, although it is possible that the conquest of Mari was a surrender without any actual conflict. Hammurabi entered into a protracted war with
Ishme-Dagan I Ishme-Dagan I ( akk, Išme-Dagān I, script=Latn, italic=yes; '' fl. c.'' 1776 BCE — ''c.'' 1736 BCE) was a monarch of the Old Assyrian Empire. The much later Assyrian King List (AKL) credits Ishme-Dagan I with a reign of forty years, however; ...
of Assyria for control of Mesopotamia, with both kings making alliances with minor states in order to gain the upper hand. Eventually Hammurabi prevailed, ousting Ishme-Dagan I just before his own death.
Mut-Ashkur Mut-Ashkur (a Hurrian name) was possibly a Monarch, king of Assyria, or just Ekallatum, in the 18th century BC. He was the son and successor of Ishme-Dagan I, Ishme-Dagan. His father arranged for him to marry the daughter of the Hurrian king Zaziya. ...
, the new king of Assyria, was forced to pay tribute to Hammurabi. In just a few years, Hammurabi succeeded in uniting all of Mesopotamia under his rule. The Assyrian kingdom survived but was forced to pay tribute during his reign, and of the major city-states in the region, only
Aleppo )), is an adjective which means "white-colored mixed with black". , motto = , image_map = , mapsize = , map_caption = , image_map1 ...
and
Qatna Qatna (modern: ar, تل المشرفة, Tell al-Mishrifeh) was an ancient city located in Homs Governorate Homs Governorate ( ar, مُحافظة حمص / ALA-LC ALA-LC ( American Library Association - Library of Congress) is a set of standa ...
to the west in the
Levant The Levant () is an term referring to a large area in the region of . In its narrowest sense, it is equivalent to the , which included present-day , , , , and most of southwest of the middle . In its widest historical sense, the Levant ...

Levant
maintained their independence. However, one stele of Hammurabi has been found as far north as , where he claims the title "King of the Amorites". Vast numbers of contract tablets, dated to the reigns of Hammurabi and his successors, have been discovered, as well as 55 of his own letters. These letters give a glimpse into the daily trials of ruling an empire, from dealing with floods and mandating changes to a flawed
calendar A calendar is a system of organizing days. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months and years. A calendar date, date is the designation of a single, specific day within such a system. A calendar is al ...

calendar
, to taking care of Babylon's massive herds of livestock. Hammurabi died and passed the reins of the empire on to his son
Samsu-iluna Samsu-iluna (Amorite: ''Shamshu''; c. 1750–1712 BC) was the seventh king of the founding Amorite dynasty of Babylon, ruling from 1750 BC to 1712 BC (middle chronology), or from 1686 to 1648 BC (short chronology). He was the son and successor of H ...
in , under whose rule the Babylonian empire quickly began to unravel.


Code of laws

The Code of Hammurabi is not the earliest surviving law code; it is predated by the
Code of Ur-Nammu The Code of Ur-Nammu is the oldest known law code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time t ...
, the
Laws of EshnunnaThe Laws of Eshnunna (abrv. LE) are inscribed on two cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the earl ...
, and the Code of Lipit-Ishtar. Nonetheless, the Code of Hammurabi shows marked differences from these earlier law codes and ultimately proved more influential. The Code of Hammurabi was inscribed on a
stele A stele ( ),Anglicized plural steles ( ); Greek plural stelai ( ), from Greek , ''stēlē''. The Greek plural is written , ''stēlai'', but this is only rarely encountered in English. or occasionally stela (plural ''stelas'' or ''stelæ''), ...

stele
and placed in a public place so that all could see it, although it is thought that few were literate. The stele was later plundered by the Elamites and removed to their capital,
Susa Susa (; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the ...

Susa
; it was rediscovered there in 1901 in
Iran Iran ( fa, ایران ), also called Persia, and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia Western Asia, West Asia, or Southwest Asia, is the westernmost subregion A subregion is a part of a larger regio ...

Iran
and is now in the
Louvre Museum The Louvre ( ), or the Louvre Museum ( ), is the world's list of largest art museums, largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France, and is best known for being the home of the ''Mona Lisa''. A central landmark of the city, it is ...
in
Paris Paris () is the Capital city, capital and List of communes in France with over 20,000 inhabitants, most populous city of France, with an estimated population of 2,175,601 residents , in an area of more than . Since the 17th century, Paris ha ...

Paris
. The code of Hammurabi contains 282 laws, written by
scribe A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist A copyist is a person who makes copies. The term is sometimes used for artists who make copies of other artists' paintings. However, the modern use of the term is almost entirely conf ...

scribe
s on 12 tablets. Unlike earlier laws, it was written in
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
, the daily language of Babylon, and could therefore be read by any literate person in the city. Earlier Sumerian law codes had focused on compensating the victim of the crime, but the Code of Hammurabi instead focused on physically punishing the perpetrator. The Code of Hammurabi was one of the first law code to place restrictions on what a wronged person was allowed to do in
retribution Retribution may refer to: * Punishment * Retributive justice, a theory of justice ** Divine retribution, retributive justice in a religious context * Revenge, a harmful action against a person or group in response to a grievance Film and televisi ...
. The structure of the code is very specific, with each offense receiving a specified punishment. The punishments tended to be very harsh by modern standards, with many offenses resulting in death, disfigurement, or the use of the "" (
Lex Talionis "An eye for an eye" ( hbo, עַ֚יִן תַּ֣חַת עַ֔יִן) or the law of retaliation ( la, lex talionis) is the principle that a person who has injured another person is to be penalized to a similar degree by the injured party. In softe ...

Lex Talionis
"Law of Retaliation") philosophy. The code is also one of the earliest examples of the idea of
presumption of innocence The presumption of innocence is a legal principle A legal doctrine is a framework, set of rules, procedural steps, or test, often established through precedent A precedent is a principle or rule established in a previous legal case A legal ca ...
, and it also suggests that the accused and accuser have the opportunity to provide
evidence Evidence for a proposition is what supports this proposition. It is usually understood as an indication that the supported proposition is true. What role evidence plays and how it is conceived varies from field to field. In epistemology, evidence ...

evidence
. However, there is no provision for
extenuating circumstances In criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It proscribes conduct perceived as threatening, harmful, or otherwise endangering to the property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and concrete, abstr ...
to alter the prescribed punishment. A carving at the top of the stele portrays Hammurabi receiving the laws from
Shamash Utu, later worshipped by the East Semitic Akkadian language, Akkadian-speaking Babylonians as Shamash, ''šmš'', syc, ܫܡܫܐ ''šemša'', he, שֶׁמֶשׁ ''šemeš'', ar, شمس ''šams'', Ashurian Aramaic: 𐣴𐣬𐣴 ''š'meš(ā)'' ...

Shamash
, the Babylonian god of justice, and the preface states that Hammurabi was chosen by Shamash to bring the laws to the people. Parallels between this narrative and the giving of the Covenant Code to
Moses Moses he, מֹשֶׁה, ''Mōše''; also known as Moshe Rabbenu ( he, מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ "Moshe our Teacher"); syr, ܡܘܫܐ, ''Mūše''; ar, موسى '; el, Mωϋσῆς, ' () is considered the most important prophet in Judais ...

Moses
by
Yahweh Yahweh was the national god of ancient Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), Israel and Kingdom of Judah, Judah. His origins reach at least to the early Iron Age, and likely to the Late Bronze Age. In the oldest biblical literature, he is a Weather ...
atop
Mount Sinai Mount Sinai ( he , הר סיני ''Har Sinai''; Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its ...
in the
Biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek ...

Biblical
Book of Exodus The Book of Exodus is the second book of the Torah and of the Old Testament. Starting with the deliverance of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter (Exodus), Pharaoh's daughter, it recounts the revelation at the Burning bush where he was called by Yahweh ...
and similarities between the two legal codes suggest a common ancestor in the Semitic background of the two. Barton, G.A: ''Archaeology and the Bible''. University of Michigan Library, 2009, p.406.Unger, M.F.: ''Archaeology and the Old Testament''. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Co., 1954, p.156, 157Free, J.P.: ''Archaeology and Biblical History''. Wheaton: Scripture Press, 1950, 1969, p. 121 Nonetheless, fragments of previous law codes have been found and it is unlikely that the
Mosaic laws The Law of Moses ( he, תֹּורַת מֹשֶׁה ), also called the Mosaic Law, primarily refers to the Torah or the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. They were traditionally believed to have been Mosaic authorship, written by Moses, but most ...
were directly inspired by the Code of Hammurabi. Some scholars have disputed this; David P. Wright argues that the Jewish Covenant Code is "directly, primarily, and throughout" based upon the Laws of Hammurabi. In 2010, a team of archaeologists from
Hebrew University The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( he, הַאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה הַעִבְרִית בְּיְרוּשָׁלַיִם, ''Ha-Universita ha-Ivrit bi-Yerushalayim''; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵ ...
discovered a cuneiform tablet dating to the eighteenth or seventeenth century BC at Hazor in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
containing laws clearly derived from the Code of Hammurabi.


Legacy


Commemoration after his death

Hammurabi was honored above all other kings of the second millennium BC and he received the unique honor of being declared to be a god within his own lifetime. The personal name "Hammurabi-ili" meaning "Hammurabi is my god" became common during and after his reign. In writings from shortly after his death, Hammurabi is commemorated mainly for three achievements: bringing victory in war, bringing peace, and bringing justice. Hammurabi's conquests came to be regarded as part of a sacred mission to spread civilization to all nations. A stele from Ur glorifies him in his own voice as a mighty ruler who forces evil into submission and compels all peoples to worship
Marduk Marduk (Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronze Age until the beginning of the C ...
. The stele declares: "The people of Elam, Gutium, Subartu, and Tukrish, whose mountains are distant and whose languages are obscure, I placed into arduk'shand. I myself continued to put straight their confused minds." A later hymn also written in Hammurabi's own voice extols him as a powerful, supernatural force for Marduk:
I am the king, the brace that grasps wrongdoers, that makes people of one mind, I am the great dragon among kings, who throws their counsel in disarray, I am the net that is stretched over the enemy, I am the fear-inspiring, who, when lifting his fierce eyes, gives the disobedient the death sentence, I am the great net that covers evil intent, I am the young lion, who breaks nets and scepters, I am the battle net that catches him who offends me.
After extolling Hammurabi's military accomplishments, the hymn finally declares: "I am Hammurabi, the king of justice." In later commemorations, Hammurabi's role as a great lawgiver came to be emphasized above all his other accomplishments and his military achievements became de-emphasized. Hammurabi's reign became the point of reference for all events in the distant past. A hymn to the goddess
Ishtar Inanna is an ancient Mesopotamian goddess associated with love, beauty, sex, war, justice and political power. She was originally worshiped in Sumer Sumer ()The name is from Akkadian language, Akkadian '; Sumerian language, Sumerian '' ...
, whose language suggests it was written during the reign of Ammisaduqa, Hammurabi's fourth successor, declares: "The king who first heard this song as a song of your heroism is Hammurabi. This song for you was composed in his reign. May he be given life forever!" For centuries after his death, Hammurabi's laws continued to be copied by scribes as part of their writing exercises and they were even partially translated into Sumerian.


Political legacy

During the reign of Hammurabi, Babylon usurped the position of "most holy city" in southern Mesopotamia from its predecessor,
Nippur Nippur (Sumerian: ''Nibru'', often logographically recorded as , EN.LÍLKI, "Enlil City;"The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena & Prehistory': Vol. 1, Part 1. Accessed 15 Dec 2010. AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian l ...
. Under the rule of Hammurabi's successor
Samsu-iluna Samsu-iluna (Amorite: ''Shamshu''; c. 1750–1712 BC) was the seventh king of the founding Amorite dynasty of Babylon, ruling from 1750 BC to 1712 BC (middle chronology), or from 1686 to 1648 BC (short chronology). He was the son and successor of H ...
, the short-lived Babylonian Empire began to collapse. In northern Mesopotamia, both the Amorites and Babylonians were driven from
Assyria Assyria (), also called the Assyrian Empire, was a n kingdom and of the that existed as a state from perhaps as early as the 25th century BCE (in the form of the city-state) until its collapse between 612 BCE and 609 BCE; thereby spanning ...

Assyria
by
Puzur-SinPuzur-Sin was an Assyrian vice regent who was responsible for driving out Asinum the Amorite The Amorites (; Sumerian 𒈥𒌅 ''MAR.TU''; Akkadian ''Amurrūm'' or ''Tidnum''; Egyptian ''Amar''; he, אמורי ''ʼĔmōrī''; grc, Ἀμορ ...
a native
AkkadianAkkadian or Accadian may refer to: * The Akkadian language Akkadian ( ''akkadû'', ''ak-ka-du-u2''; logogram: ''URIKI'')John Huehnergard & Christopher Woods, "Akkadian and Eblaite", ''The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World's Ancient Languages' ...

Akkadian
-speaking ruler, . Around the same time, native Akkadian speakers threw off Amorite Babylonian rule in the far south of Mesopotamia, creating the
Sealand Dynasty The Sealand Dynasty, (URU.KÙKIWhere ŠEŠ-ḪA of King List A and ŠEŠ-KÙ-KI of King List B are read as URU.KÙ.KI) or the 2nd Dynasty of Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ' ...
, in more or less the region of ancient Sumer. Hammurabi's ineffectual successors met with further defeats and loss of territory at the hands of Assyrian kings such as
Adasi Adasi is a small village in Gondia district Gondia district (also known as Gondiya) is an administrative district in the state of Maharashtra in India. The district headquarter is located at Gondia. The district occupies an area of and has ...

Adasi
and
Bel-ibni Bel-ibni was a Babylon ''Bābili(m)'' * sux, 𒆍𒀭𒊏𒆠 * arc, 𐡁𐡁𐡋 ''Babil'' * grc-gre, Βαβυλών ''Babylṓn'' * he, בָּבֶל ''Bavel'' * peo, 𐎲𐎠𐎲𐎡𐎽𐎢 ''Bābiru'' * elx, 𒀸𒁀𒉿𒇷 ''Babili'' * Kas ...
, as well as to the Sealand Dynasty to the south,
Elam Elam (; Linear Elamite: ''hatamti''; Cuneiform Cuneiform is a Logogram, logo-Syllabary, syllabic writing system, script that was used to write several languages of the Ancient Near East. The script was in active use from the early Bronz ...

Elam
to the east, and to the
Kassites The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratificati ...
from the northeast. Thus was Babylon quickly reduced to the small and minor state it had once been upon its founding. The ''coup de grace'' for the Hammurabi's Amorite Dynasty occurred in 1595 BC, when Babylon was sacked and conquered by the powerful
Hittite Empire The Hittites () were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing first a kingdom in Kussara before 1750 BC, then the Kanesh or Nesha kingdom (c. 1750–1650 BC), and next an empire centered on Hattusa Hattusa (also ...

Hittite Empire
, thereby ending all Amorite political presence in Mesopotamia. However, the Indo-European-speaking Hittites did not remain, turning over Babylon to their
Kassite The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East The ancient Near East was the home of early civilization A civilization (or civilisation) is any complex society that is characterized by urban development, social stratificatio ...
allies, a people speaking a
language isolate Language isolates are languages that cannot be classified into larger language families with any other languages. Korean language, Korean and Basque language, Basque are two of the most commonly cited language isolates, but there are many others. ...
, from the
Zagros mountains The Zagros Mountains ( fa, کوه‌های زاگرس, ''Kuh hā-ye Zāgros;'' Luri language, Luri: کویل زاگروس‎, ''Koyal Zagros;'' Turkish language, Turkish: ''Zagros Dağları;'' ku, چیاکانی زاگرۆس, translit=Çiyakani ...
region. This
Kassite Dynasty The Kassites () were people of the ancient Near East, who controlled Babylonia after the fall of the Old Babylonian Empire c. 1595 BC and until c. 1155 BC (middle chronology). The endonym of the Kassites was probably Galzu, although they have ...
ruled Babylon for over 400 years and adopted many aspects of the
Babylonia Babylonia () was an and based in central-southern which was part of Ancient Persia (present-day and ). A small -ruled state emerged in 1894 BCE, which contained the minor administrative town of . It was merely a small provincial town dur ...
n
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
, including Hammurabi's code of laws. Even after the fall of the Amorite Dynasty, however, Hammurabi was still remembered and revered. When the Elamite king Shutruk-Nahhunte I raided Babylon in 1158 BC and carried off many stone monuments, he had most of the inscriptions on these monuments erased and new inscriptions carved into them. On the stele containing Hammurabi's laws, however, only four or five columns were wiped out and no new inscription was ever added. Over a thousand years after Hammurabi's death, the kings of
Suhu Suhum, Sūḫu, or Suhi was an ancient geographic region around the middle course of the Euphrates River The Euphrates () is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the w ...

Suhu
, a land along the Euphrates river, just northwest of Babylon, claimed him as their ancestor.


Modern rediscovery

In the late nineteenth century, the Code of Hammurabi became a major center of debate in the heated ''Babel und Bibel'' ("Babylon and Bible") controversy in Germany over the relationship between the Bible and ancient Babylonian texts. In January 1902, the German Assyriologist
Friedrich Delitzsch Friedrich Delitzsch (; 3 September 1850 – 19 December 1922) was a German Assyriology, Assyriologist. He was the son of Lutheran theologian Franz Delitzsch (1813–1890). Born in Erlangen, he studied in Leipzig and Berlin, gaining his habilitation ...

Friedrich Delitzsch
gave a lecture at the
Sing-Akademie zu Berlin The Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, also known as the Berliner Singakademie, is a musical (originally choral) society founded in Berlin in 1791 by Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch, harpsichordist to the court of Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''P ...
in front of the
Kaiser ''Kaiser'' is the German word for "emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title ...

Kaiser
and his wife, in which he argued that the Mosaic Laws of the Old Testament were directly copied off the Code of Hammurabi. Delitzsch's lecture was so controversial that, by September 1903, he had managed to collect 1,350 short articles from newspapers and journals, over 300 longer ones, and twenty-eight pamphlets, all written in response to this lecture, as well as the preceding one about the Flood story in the ''Epic of Gilgamesh''. These articles were overwhelmingly critical of Delitzsch, though a few were sympathetic. The Kaiser distanced himself from Delitzsch and his radical views and, in fall of 1904, Delitzsch was forced to give his third lecture in
Cologne Cologne ( ; german: Köln ; ksh, Kölle ) is the largest city of Germany, Germany's most populous States of Germany, state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and the List of cities in Germany by population, fourth-most populous city and one of t ...

Cologne
and
Frankfurt am Main Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian A Hessian is an inhabitant of the German state of Hesse. Hessian may also refer to: Named from the toponym *Hessian (soldier), eighteenth-century German regiments in service with the Bri ...

Frankfurt am Main
rather than in Berlin. The putative relationship between the Mosaic Law and the Code of Hammurabi later became a major part of Delitzsch's argument in his 1920–21 book ''Die große Täuschung'' (''The Great Deception'') that the Hebrew Bible was irredeemably contaminated by Babylonian influence and that only by eliminating the human Old Testament entirely could Christians finally believe in the true,
Aryan Aryan or Arya (, Indo-Iranian *''arya'') is a term originally used as an ethnocultural An ethnoreligious group (or ethno-religious group) is an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people who identify with each other ...

Aryan
message of the
New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; la, Novum Testamentum. (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus, as ...

New Testament
. In the early twentieth century, many scholars believed that Hammurabi was
Amraphel In the Hebrew Bible, Amraphel ( he, אַמְרָפֶל, translit=’Amrāp̄el; el, Αμαρφάλ, Amarphál; la, Amraphel) was a king of Shinar (Sumer) in Book of Genesis 14, who invaded Canaan along with other kings under the leadership of Che ...
, the King of
Shinar Shinar (; , ) is the southern region of in the . Etymology Hebrew שנער ''Šinʿar'' is equivalent to the Egyptian ''Sngr'' and Hittite ''Šanḫar(a)'', all referring to southern Mesopotamia. Some Assyriologists considered ''Šinʿar'' a ...
in the Book of Genesis 14:1. This view has now been largely rejected, and Amraphael's existence is not attested in any writings from outside the Bible. Because of Hammurabi's reputation as a lawgiver, his depiction can be found in several United States government buildings. Hammurabi is one of the 23 lawgivers depicted in
marble Marble is a metamorphic rock , a type of metamorphic rock Metamorphic rocks arise from the transformation of existing rock (geology), rock to new types of rock, in a process called metamorphism upright=1.35, Schematic representation of ...

marble
bas-relief Relief is a sculptural technique in which the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background of the same material. The term ''relief Relief is a sculptural technique where the sculpted elements remain attached to a solid background o ...
s in the of the
U.S. House of Representatives The United States House of Representatives is the lower house A lower house is one of two chambers of a bicameral legislature, the other chamber being the upper house. Despite its official position "below" the upper house, in many legis ...
in the
United States Capitol The United States Capitol, often called The Capitol or the Capitol Building, is the meeting place of the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicame ...

United States Capitol
. A
frieze In architecture upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted), Plan of the second floor (attic storey) of the Hôtel de Brionne in Paris – 1734. A ...

frieze
by Adolph Weinman depicting the "great lawgivers of history", including Hammurabi, is on the south wall of the U.S. Supreme Court building. At the time of
Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (; Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a lis ...

Saddam Hussein
, the
Iraqi Army The Iraqi Army, officially the Iraqi Ground Forces (Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East i ...
's 1st Hammurabi Armoured Division was named after the ancient king as part of an effort to emphasize the connection between modern Iraq and the pre-Arab Mesopotamian cultures. Minor planet 7207 Hammurabi is named in his honour.


See also

* Babylonian law *
Cuneiform lawCuneiform law refers to any of the legal code A code of law, also called a law code or legal code, is a type of legislation that purports to exhaustively cover a complete system of laws or a particular area of law as it existed at the time the cod ...
*
Short chronology timeline The short chronology is one of the chronologies of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 1728–1686 BC and the sack of Babylon to 1531 BC. The absolute 2nd millennium BC dates resulting from these re ...
*
Manusmṛti The ''Manusmṛiti'' ( sa, मनुस्मृति), also known as the ''Mānava-Dharmaśāstra'' or Laws of Manu, is believed to be the first ancient legal text and constitution among the many ' of Hinduism. In ancient India, the Rishi, sa ...


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * *


Further reading

* * * * * * * * * *


External links


A Closer Look at the Code of Hammurabi (Louvre museum)
* * {{Authority control 19th-century BC births 18th-century BC deaths 18th-century BC Babylonian kings First dynasty of Babylon Amorite kings Ancient legislators Year of birth unknown Kings of Larsa