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The Code of Hammurabi King of Babylon

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  505 Ratings  ·  37 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

Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2002 by University Press of the Pacific (first published January 1st 1971)
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Sidharth Vardhan
Mar 10, 2016 Sidharth Vardhan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, asia
Created out of divine authority, world's first code of laws is quite an amusing read.

It surprised me with some of its humane laws:

If a man has incurred a debt and a storm has flooded his field or carried away the crop, or the corn has not grown because of drought, in that year he shall not pay his creditor. Further, he shall post-date his bond and shall not pay interest for that year.

I mean okay there is capital sentence even for such minor crimes as burgalaries and theft but that is to be expec
Vaishali Joglekar
"... So the strong should not harm the weak." - King Hammurabi's chief reason for establishing the world's oldest law code.

A fascinating view into life at the dawn of human civilization. FYI: There is no law thirteen !!!

Some interesting laws:

# 128. If a man takes a woman to wife, but has no intercourse with her, this woman is no wife to him.

# 132. If the "finger is pointed" at a man's wife about another man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall ju
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
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
Jul 10, 2015 Warren rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A list of laws, penalties, fines, wages and fees in ancient Babylonia. What is a fairly dry list of laws actually provides a lot of insight into life in ancient times. Reading the laws provides evidence of the presence of
• agriculture, irrigation canals, tillage, tenancy of land, corn and sesame, orchards, sheep grown for wool (and prey to lions), and allowance for storm, flood and drought
• belief in magic and witchcraft
• slavery
• doctors and veterinarians (with set fees, and penalties if their
Ali Al-Towilib
العين بالعين و السن بالسن,,شريعة حامورابي اشتملت على قوانين نجحت في تنظيم حياة البابليين وكانت سبب رئيسي في تحضرهم,,تلك المواد القانونية وضعت لكفل حقوق الفرد البابلي وتنظيم حياته الاقتصادية والاجتماعية بحسب انتمائه الطبقي للمجتمع. إن وجود تلك العقوبات الصارمة لمخالفي هذه القوانين ماهو إلا دليل على أهمية تطبيق النظام عند حامورابي..بإمكانك أن تتخيل نمط الحياة في ذلك العصر بعد قراءة هذه القوانين.
Feb 03, 2013 Samantha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
May 06, 2011 Grace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Diego Ospina
Ojo por ojo... es muy cierto el conocido aforismo.
Sarah Crawford
Jan 14, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Code of Hammurabi, from the third millenium B.C.E., was an attempt to encode various laws into a fairly straight forward justice system. Numerous specific crimes are mentioned, along with very specific punishments. Most of the crimes revolve around things dealing with farming, buying and selling things, and debts.

Punishments ranged from paying a fine (in money or goods/animals), to somewhat much more severe, like having a hand cut off, all the way to death. Some of the things I found most in
Jun 24, 2014 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 01, 2015 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all adults who participate in the political process
Shelves: law, philosophy
It's an essential text that should be part of the academic curriculum. It's more than obvious the relationship of the Code and later Jewish writings as well as the Christian Bible. There may have been earlier texts, but this so predates the Bible that we can see the threads of the Judeo-Christian tradition. You then have to ask yourself where does the Christian God fit into all of this? It's clear where and approximately when as well as who passed down the Ten Commandments?

The Code can be read c
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
Sarah Harakeh
I am so thankful that most of the rules stated by Hammurabi did not survive to our recent days or else most of the people are doomed! I am saying most of them and not all of them because some of them Islam plagiarized them and used them, such as the famous law "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. It is quite surprising to see how much developed were the humans back then, which is obvious from the courts and detailed laws they had. Still they can at the same time be called barbarians like mo ...more
Sep 09, 2010 Sadie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really hated this book!! In almost EVERY code the penalty is DEATH!! not cool!
Mar 16, 2015 Jamal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I stated earlier, the law is too bloody, even when punishing minor deeds, but I guess it was the only way to deter crimes and it leaves no wonder why Hammurabi built an empire that lasted so long and conquered the surrounding areas. it is a very detailed law that tackles people's everyday dealings and provides a pictures on the life of the populace. What the law does on the other hand -and so as not to be totally positive towards it- is restricting people's freedom. it is patently clear that ...more
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'
Jun 27, 2012 Philothea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
The world's first set of laws, which frankly lead to the establishment of one of the greatest ancient civilizations on the planet. The range of life matters which is covered in this "rulebook" is interesting and gives insight into the lives of people who were present during that time & the level of civil and cultural enrichment. Interesting read.
Shannon Padden
Aug 25, 2014 Shannon Padden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 09, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is interesting because it is one of the first foundations of law we have for today.
Damn, Hammurabi didn't play no games with anybody. The laws he imposed scare the living crap out of me.
But one has to remember that's how it was back then. Such cruelty, but such awesomeness at the same time. Shows just how much power he had over people.
Alexis Attisha
Mar 13, 2015 Alexis Attisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite the cruelty in these set of laws, the document is fascinating.
May 17, 2010 Maggie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Shoaib Nagi
It pretty much says that everyone should be put to death. But given the fact that this document right here signifies the beginnings of civilization, I think it must be a required read for everyone.
Nov 12, 2010 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 22, 2012 Ségolène rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 07, 2013 Steve Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, law
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.
Aug 18, 2010 Paul rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 22, 2013 Cwl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Joshua Stevens
Anyone interested in law should read this. Just remember:

275. If any one hire a ferryboat, he shall pay three gerahs in money per day.
276. If he hire a freight-boat, he shall pay two and one-half gerahs per day.
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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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“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]”
“To bring about the rule of righteousness in the land so that the strong shall not harm the weak.” 0 likes
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