Hammurabi, king and chief priest of Babylonia from 1792-1750 B.C., expanded his empire greatly before focusing his energies toward wealth and justice for his people. He created a code protecting all classes of Babylonian society, including women and slaves called Hammurabi’s Code. He sought protection of the weak from the powerful and the poor from the rich. The carving on the stone suggests he received the code of laws from the sun god.
Having a consistent and documented, although harsh, set of rules stabilized their society. People had guidelines for behavior and could plan their lives a little better. The were probably fewer private feuds and vendettas and injustices as a result for these codes. Although considered severely harsh by todays Standards, Hammurabi’s code punished evildoers and rewarded the good doers. The actual laws range from public to private matters, with humane approaches to human problems.
There were three classes in the Babylonian society: the patrician, who were the free men and women; the plebeians, who were the commoners; and the slaves. While the patricians were protected by the law of retaliation, the lower classes received only monetary compensation. The laws include almost everything from marriage and family relations to protection of property. Although compared to todays standards some may consider Hammurabi’s laws harsh, threatening severe punishments for crimes against property, land, and commerce The impact of Hammurabi’s code made the kingdom stronger and secured.
The Code of Hammurabi is significant because its creation allowed men, women, slaves, and all others to read and understand the laws that governed their lives in Babylonia. The code of laws encouraged people to accept authority of a king, who was trying to give common rules to govern the subjects’ behavior. Although it follows the practice of “an eye for an eye”, it does not allow for vigilante justice, but rather demands a trial by judges. It also glorifies acts of peace and justice done during Hammurabi’s rule.
It symbolizes not only the emergence of justice in the minds of men, but also man’s rise above ignorance and barbarism toward the peaceful and just societies still pursued today. In the words of Hammurabi as carved on the stone, “Let any oppressed man who has a cause come into the presence of my statue as king of justice, and have the inscription on my stele read out, and hear my precious words, that my stele may make the case clear to him; may he understand his cause, and may his heart be set at ease!”
In conclusion, Humurabi’s code were a code of laws created for the bablylonians by their king and ruler, Hammurabi. These codes were created to protect all the classes of the Babylonian people and make life easier to live day to day. The code of laws applies to the entire Babylonian society. The penalties of the code varied according to the status of the victim. The purpose of the Code of Hammurabi was to use political power to create common bonds among the diverse people of the society. It greatly influenced a total dependence on the power of their one ruler, and it was a conscious effort to exalt the king as the source, the only source, of earthly powers. It unified the empire by offering the standards for moral values, class structure, gender relationships, and religion. It was the most important of all Mesopotamian contributions to civilization.