History of the Code of Hammurabi and The Ten Commandments

While the code of Hammurabi and the Ten Commandments were written during the 1772 BC, the Ten Commandments were written almost 300 years after the code of Hammurabi. The Ten Commandments was written to guide the Israelites from the sinful life and code of Hammurabi was written to guide the Babylonian from the civil wrongs. However, the Israelites believed that the law is above everyone as God himself provided the law, while the Babylonians believed that the king was above the law and his interpretation of the laws was given primacy.

King Hammurabi was the sixth Babylonian king of the Babylonians who ruled between 1792 BC and 1750 BC. On the other hand, Moses, lead the people of Israel from Egypt into the wilderness to Mount Sinai where he want to meet God. They ten commandment were given to the Israelites by God through Moses, while the king Hammurabi enacted the codes to guide the Babylonians from the primitive tribal codes (Davies, 2003).

The main diference between the codes of Hammurabi include: he code of Hammurabi was written by the king Hammurabi and mainly addresses the different classes of the Babylonian society, while the ten commandments was written for all the Israelites. This means the Ten Commandments includes both absolute and casuistic laws, while the code of Hammurabi contains the casuistic laws that had the strongest sentences for the offender and the judges (Jacobsen, 1943, pp. 159–172).

These documents originated from the Legal Classics Library, the document was written in 1904 by Claude Hermann Walter Johns. The Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters lays out the conditionality of the contract. Leemans, (1950), Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylon Hammurabi who enacted the code that contain 282 laws the defined he life and activities of the people living in the present day Iraq formerly known as Mesopotamia. The code of Hammurabi was written to replace the original eye for an eye law taking into consideration the social status of the slaves and the free man. However, the code of Hammurabi contained harsh sentences. For example, in Code 7, the code provides that, “if a man has bought or received on deposit from a minor or a slave, silver, gold, male or female slave, ox, ass, or sheep, or anything else, except by consent of elders, or power of attorney, he shall be put to death for theft.” On the other hand, Code 129 states that, “If a man’s wife be caught lying with another, they shall be strangled and cast into the water. If the wife’s husband would save his wife, the king can save his servant.” (C. H. W, 1904)

The documents fit into the cause and effect cycle of history by providing the foundation of the current contract laws. The documents provide the foundation of the Babylonian legal precedent, which have remained in force over the decades. The code of Hammurabi includes the Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters, and customs have survived since the early times and the neo-Babylonian empire. The code of Hammurabi also defines a number of laws such as the law of Assyria that was mainly derived from the code of Hammurabi and the Babylonian law and may have lead to the redefinition of the then existing laws. As a matter of fact, C. H. W. (1904), argues that the ten commandments was derived fromt the codes of Hammurabi

The documents exposes the historical era’s codes and tribal customs proceeded by the code. For all the activities, and crimes it is criminalizing, it exposes us to the blood feud, and failures of the lex talionis features that were prominent in the preceding tribal customs. The primitive customs is replaced by the Hammurabi’s code meaning the primitive codes were biased, and subjective as opposed to objective. This indicates that legal decision during the era was at the behest and whim of the king as he made the final rulings on any case. The similarities between the two are that the king had a right to defer a case, and request for a fresh trial, while the actiosn in cintravention of the ten commendments was punsihed in public htrough stonning. This means that in most cases, the decision were thorough as both the prosecutor, and the defendant were liable and stood equal chances of being executed in the event of biased trials.


C. H. W. Johns, (1904). Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters: The Library of Ancient Inscriptions series. The Legal Classics Library, Division of Gryphon Editions, New York .

Jacobsen, Th. (1943). "Primitive democracy in Ancient Mesopotomia". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 2 (3): 159–172.

Davies, W. W. (January 2003). Codes of Hammurabi and Moses. Kessinger Publishing.

Unger, M., (1954). Archaeology and the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Co., 1954, p.156, 157


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