And the Penalty Is…

Posted: November 6, 2014 in Articles

Hammurabi’s Code is probably the most famous ancient set of laws, most references suggesting that it was written around 1754 BC. Every Ancient History course is going to include a study of this set of laws. Hammurabi’s Code helped keep a tight reign on the Babylonian Empire and also helped convince the peoples conquered by the Babylonians that it would be best to refrain from committing certain crimes or they would learn about the justice and rightness of Babylonian rule.

The history book I am reading now stated a few of the crimes in Hammurabi’s Code along with their penalties. The penalties are harsh, and I imagine they kept the empire in fearful good order for a time. Here are just a few examples:

Robbery: Death.
Aiding in the escape of a slave: Death.
Kidnapping: Death.
Designing a house that collapses on someone’s head: Death.
A poor performance on a task for the king: Death.

This is in shocking contrast to our own system of justice today isn’t it? Not surprisingly, there was considerable rebellion shortly after Hammurabi’s Code and its enforcement went into effect. I wonder how something like this would fare in our country today 🙂

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