Hammurabi Illustration

Ancient Mesopotamia for Kids
Hammurabi's Code

 
 

One of the ancient Babylonian kings was named Hammurabi.  King Hammurabi was a very clever man.

King Hammurabi also built the city of Babylon in Marduk's honor. Marduk was the most important god in Babylonian. All the other gods reported to Marduk, just as all the other nobles had to report to the king of Babylon. This was very clever of King Hammurabi. People were afraid to attack Babylon. They did not wish to risk Marduk's anger!

King Hammurabi was tired of people changing the laws whenever they wanted an advantage.  So Hammurabi did something no one before him had ever done.  He had all the laws written down on stone and clay tablets.  He did this so that everyone could know what the law was and no one, not poor man or noble, would be able to say that that wasn't the law. We call this Hammurabi's Code.

Here are some of the laws of ancient Babylon that King Hammurabi wrote down. All the people had to follow these laws or face the punishment if found guilty of breaking the law:

  • If any one brings an accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it was a capital offense charged, be put to death.

  • If any one 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.

  • If any one takes a male or female slave of the court, or a male or female slave of a freed man, outside the city gates, he shall be put to death.

  • If any one breaks a hole into a house (breaks in to steal), he shall be put to death before that hole and be buried.

  • If any one is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death.

  • If fire break out in a house, and some one who comes to put it out cast his eye upon the property of the owner of the house, and take the property of the master of the house, he shall be thrown into that self-same fire.

  • If any one owe a debt for a loan, and a storm prostrates the grain, or the harvest fails, or the grain does not grow for lack of water; in that year he need not give his creditor any grain, he washes his debt-tablet in water and pays no rent for this year.

  • If any one open his ditches to water his crop, but is careless, and the water flood the field of his neighbor, then he shall pay his neighbor corn for his loss.

  • If any one hands over his garden to a gardener to work, the gardener shall pay to its owner two-thirds of the produce of the garden, for so long as he has it in possession, and the other third shall he keep.

  • If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, then he shall give that wife her dowry, and a part of the field, garden, and property, so that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son, shall be given to her. She may then marry the man of her heart.

  • If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go.

  • If a son strikes his father, his hands shall be hewn off.

  • If a man puts out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. (An eye for an eye)

  • If he breaks another man's bone, his bone shall be broken.

  • If a man knocks out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out (A tooth for a tooth) 

  • If a man strikes a freeborn woman so that she loses her unborn child, he shall pay ten shekels for her loss. If the woman dies, his daughter shall be put to death.

  • If a builder builds a house for some one, and does not construct it properly, and the house, which he built, falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death. If it kills the son of the owner the son of that builder shall be put to death.

Basically, it was not a good idea to damage to another in ancient Babylon.

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