The law code developed by King Hammurabi had a seemingly cruel and unusual system of punishment. The 282 case laws include economic provisions (prices, tariffs, trade, and commerce), family law (marriage and divorce), as well as criminal law (assault, theft) and civil law (slavery, debt). Despite the number of differences in punishment, there are significant similarities between our laws today and Hammurabi’s code of laws.
The basis of Hammurabi’s law is that of equal retaliation, comparable to the Semitic law of “an eye for an eye.” The law offers protection to all classes of Babylonian society; it seeks to protect the weak and the poor, including women, children, and slaves, against injustice at the hands of the rich and powerful. This has several parallels to our laws today; they were created to protect all people equally, rich or poor, black or white, and accordingly. There also is a very significant contrast with our laws, in that most punishment today isn’t as severe.
Hammurabi’s code placed a great value on life. In our society, capital punishment is reserved for a very few number of crimes. Only is murder considered a capital crime, and even then sometimes there must be further circumstances. Today, we still do place a great value on life, but we view it in a different way. Today, we give value to the guilty party’s life, and punish respectively. That system of law was probably very effective in that period of time but most likely wouldn’t hold up in today’s society. Today the people decide the laws and punishment as a whole.
Penalties of Hammurabi’s code varied according to the status of the offenders and the circumstances of the offenses. This is also partially true of today’s laws and court system. The type of trial, punishment, penalty, and etc. are totally dependent upon the offense. But, all people today are (supposedly) treated equally, their status (social, religious, racial, an...