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Hammurabi’s Law Essay

“If anyone brings an accusation against a man and the accused goes to the river and leap into the river, if he sinks in the river, his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river proves that the accused is not guilty and he escapes unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser”. This law implies that if a person laid charges and could not substantiate the guilt of the accused, then the accused plunged into the river.

If guilty, the accused drowned into the river. On the other hand, the river could also cleanse him from his guilt and restore him (Richardson, 2004). This is a trial by ordeal method that was used to prove guilt or innocence. It was a common believe that the Euphrates River would judge people accused of various crimes (Brians, 1998). Hammurabi’s law 2 is biased due to the fact that those who knew how to swim, no matter how few, did not drown even if they were guilty. Consequently, justice did not prevail in such circumstances. This law is no longer relevant due to the advancement in technology.

Most people know how to swim and therefore it is not a reliable method of establishing guilt or innocence. Nowadays, if the accused claims to be innocent, he is given a chance to prove this beyond reasonable doubt. The trial by ordeal method is rarely used. Hammurabi’s law 5: “If a judge tries a case, reaches a decision, and presents his judgment in writing; if later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through his own fault, then he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case, and he shall be publicly removed from the judge’s bench, and never again shall he sit there to render judgment”.

This implies that the Babylonians valued not only justice but one that is declared by a judge. However, the judge was also scrutinized for any shortcoming in his judgment. Consequently, if any error was found, he would pay twelve times the fine he had set. This law is good because it ensured that the judges were cautious when they were making a decision. Consequently, justice was practiced. Today, Hammurabi’s law 5 can be used to come up with code of conducts for public servants. More so, clear boundaries as to what behavior is expected or prohibited will be provided.

In addition, it will ensure competency and accountability. The judge should be the only person to declare innocence or guilt. Hammurabi’s law 6:“If anyone steals the property of a temple or of the court, he shall be put to death, and also the one who receives the stolen thing from him shall be put to death”. The temple was very important to the Babylonians because this is where they took their tithes, sacrifices and other offerings. In other words, it was the city archives. Stealing from a temple or court was a capital offence and the thief was convicted to death.

This law is good because it aids in promoting a crime free society. If such a crime is committed, then the punishment should be implemented to the fullest extent of the law. Hammurabi’s law 6 can be used today to instill respect to public institutions by people. In so doing, evidence in courts will not be interfered with and holy places will be respected. Hammurabi’s law 7: “If anyone buys from the son or the slave of another man, without witnesses or a contract, silver or gold, a male or female slave, an ox or a sheep, an ass or anything, or if he take it in charge, he is considered a thief and shall be put to death”.

A buyer had to find out the title of their potential seller. If he bought from a minor or a slave without witnesses or a signed contract, then he was considered a thief and was executed (King, 2007). This law is relevant because it seeks to protect the poor and the minor against exploitation from the rich and the powerful. Hammurabi’s law 7 is not applicable to the present generation due to the fact that human rights are being advocated for and therefore, slavery will soon come to an end. Minors are being employed and in some special circumstances can now own or sell property.


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