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The Code of Hammurabi King of Babylon
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The Code of Hammurabi King of Babylon

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  361 ratings  ·  22 reviews
This book on the legal Code of Hammurabi was published only three years after the monument on which it was engraved was discovered.

This is a complete English translation of the code with a running parallel transliteration of the original ideograms. All corrections and erasures are included. This edition also includes facsimiles of all of the original cuneiform tablets, a

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Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by University Press of the Pacific (first published January 1st 1971)
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Zee
The lesson I learned from this surprisingly early system of laws is this: if you do something even vaguely wrong it is likely that you '... shall be put to death.'

No wonder the empire lasted so long. People were shit-scared that their cow might wander into someone else's field!

But jokes aside, this was really enlightening in the sense that I never knew there existed such a well-thought out code of law (albeit a bloody one) to deter theft, vandalism, murder and slander, that hinged above all thi
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Timothy Matias
The Code of Hammurabi was a great breakthrough in the criminal justice system, setting a precedent for future refinements in the codes of various cultures. Not only was it uniform in its treatment of all the people of the Babylonian nation, but it recognized the political corruption inherent in offices of authority, and introduced a great deal of measures to prevent abuse of that power, as well as heightened penalties for the privileged classes in violation of the code.

This code is comprehensive
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Samantha
Not a book you would read for enjoyment, but still a good to read if you are majoring in world history or criminal justice. The code is basically an eye for an eye, while someone are pretty much the same now as it was before, I just felt like some crimes deserved more punishment. Like if a son where to hit his father the son would have his fingers cut off, but if a man where to hit a woman which caused a miscarriage he would have to pay her money, which to me that man deserves to have his finger ...more
Grace
The Code of Hammurabi reminds me of some of the laws in the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament of the Bible. There are laws concerning relationships between men, women, and children, as well as payment or restitution for the harming or killing of others. There are also many laws concerning the payments for farming, crops, and trade, and use and care of others animals, servants, and slaves. The Code is missing some text, so we don't have all the laws that were written, but it gives us a good ...more
Anna
I remember learning about Hammurabi's laws in high school, but we didn't have to read the actual laws. I see now what a good decision that was. Ol' Hammy gets way too specific - this reads like a transcript of every specific case ever brought to court in Sumer. Plus, there's a long intro telling us how the gods picked Hamms as king, and an even longer epilogue full of curses on any future king who changes the laws. Might've been big news at the time, but it's pretty long-winded and narcissistic ...more
Natasha Primaditta
In this codex, Hammurabi covers issues regarding murder, thievery, slavery, leases, trade, and some about children and women. It's fascinating that such ancient laws were able to be created and even documented in a smart fashion unto stone tablets and steles, to be deciphered by nowadays linguists. I always remember the first time I heard about this law from junior high school back then without knowing what's being written inside of it, though.

Well, I thought the law that King Hammurabi set upon
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Sadie
I really hated this book!! In almost EVERY code the penalty is DEATH!! not cool!
that cute little red-eyed kitten
A very difficult book to rate, since it's not actually a book, but a historical document. It's interesting because it exists and we can read and understand the language, and thus learn something about the society this law text originated in. It's even fascinating to the curious layperson who knows next to nothing about this time and place in history (that would be me). I'll give it four stars because it's an important document. But it's of course most of interest to scholars.

On a side note: It'
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Philothea
I have not tried other translations yet, but this is an easy and understandable read for anybody interested in some of the world's oldest recorded laws. I highly recommend this book if you're interested in the evolution of popular morality. The Hammurabi version of "fairness" is extremely interesting too - for example, a poor man is fined less than a rich man in cases of ill fortune or even law breaking (they even paid less for the doctor, erm, bronze lancet treatment), yet if a poor man injures ...more
Shannon Padden
I feel as a historical document this is something everyone needs to read. It's the oldest code of laws in the world! Understanding this is part of understanding humanity and how much and yet how little we have changed since 2285 BC.
Maggie
finally read these legal codes. impressive because it rights down (!!) in 1790 bc a sense of "what is right" vs. "because i can" ... fairness is obvious. there are a few women's (property) rights. more rights of slaves. some rights of children (sons). all together the 282 codes give a sense of a cultured group of folks banning together under these codes/laws and using them to guide fair treatment of each other. the codes also support the idea "the more things change the more (people) stay the sa ...more
Pete
One word I cannot use to describe these laws is concise. Maybe the original language was simpler and the translation to English adds much specification.

It's very interesting in itself as these laws are over 4000 years old. Many of the laws are humorous in either their severity of punishment and/or antiquity. We can gain some insights into the disputes of their culture, some of which still exist today.

For general reading I couldn't recommend this but the laws are interesting nonetheless.
Ségolène
Fascinating to read this from a 21st century perspective: most of what's included still rings true, no matter where.
The rule of "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" in itself is an incredible concept in early human history: we should keep in mind that we should always punish a criminal for exactly what he's done and not sentence him to a harsher/not harsh enough punishment.
Steve Scott
The translation I read was done by Assyriologist the Reverand Claude Hermann Walter Johns, and published in 1903. It is public domain.

I absolutely loved the final curse at the end for those that deface the stele or forgets the commandments. It was better than anything in the Bible by far, but shows the common cultural threads binding both works.
Paul
I was disappointed with this read which I have so often heard billed as the first legal code. But in practice it's too basic to warrant such a title. It basically names a whole heap of no-nos and says that you'll be killed if you do these. Not quite the foundational text I was hoping for. A charter for a tyrant rather than a code for law.
Cwl
I did not feel that this code of law from 4000 years ago was as fun as the Harry Potter or Twilight series, but it was interesting to see it paralleled a lot of the regulatory stuff from the Pentateuch. Plus they really loved throwing people into rivers back then!
Gregg Jones
I think it was very interesting. IF you want to see how the legal system got started then this is a good start. How Babylonia saw what each citizen was worth is well defined here. Some were not as equal under the law as others.
jennbunny Byrkit
I am not really sure if this should even be rated.....it is an old code of laws (one of the first known to exist). Lots of death penalty in it for major and some minor crimes.
Tatiana
This book has a lot of intresting material. since its the same thing over and over it gets a bit boring
Rebekah
The first written code of laws. A must read is you like history or law. It's very interesting.
Rachel
i have no idea what the heck he is talking about most the time.
Andre
It was amazing to read this ancient text.
J. Sebastian
J. Sebastian marked it as to-read
Nov 19, 2014
Evan
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Elise
Elise marked it as to-read
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Hammurabi (Akkadian from Amorite ʻAmmurāpi, "the kinsman is a healer", from ʻAmmu, "paternal kinsman", and Rāpi, "healer"; died c. 1750 BCE) was the sixth king of Babylon (that is, of the First Babylonian Dynasty) from 1792 BCE to 1750 BCE middle chronology (1728 BCE – 1686 BCE short chronology). He became the first king of the Babylonian Empire following the abdication of his father, Sin-Muballit ...more
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The Codes of Hammurabi and Moses Briefe K Hammurabi

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“When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunnaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak, so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.

...When Marduk sent me to rule over men, to give the protection of right to the land, I did right and righteousness in . . . , and brought about the well-being of the oppressed.

[The oldest known written code of laws from around 1772 BCE]”
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