Code of Hammurabi

The First Babylonian Dynasty's King Hammurabi was the sixth monarch. His law not only served to make amends to the wronged parties, but also to punish the offenders. It bears the oldest use of the legal maxim "innocent unless proven guilty." The traces of King Hammurabi can still be found today. In fact, Hammurabi is shown among 23 other illustrious politicians in a marble relief that may be found in the United States Supreme Court building. The original inscription is written on a basalt stele that is 2.25 m (7 ft 4+1⁄2 in) tall.

What is the meaning of Code of Hammurabi?

A collection of 282 laws known as the Hammurabi code of laws regulated norms for business dealings and imposed fines and penalties to satisfy the demands of justice. The Hammurabi Code was engraved on a large, finger-shaped black stone stele (pillar), which was stolen by invaders and eventually found again in 1901.

Laws under Code of Hammurabi

The following are the laws under the Code of Hammurabi −

Laws on Justice

The following are the laws on Justice under the Code of Hammurabi &minius;

  • When a guy accuses another man of murder but is unable to back up his claim, the accuser will be executed.

  • If a man accuses another of casting a spell on him without providing evidence, the accused must travel to the holy river, jump in, and if the sacred river succeeds in subduing him, the accuser shall inherit the accused's home. His accuser must be executed if the holy river proves his innocence and saves him.

  • If a guy gives a false statement or cannot back up his evidence in a case where the outcome might be fatal, he will be put to death.

  • An individual is responsible for paying the fine if he gives a false statement about grain or money.

  • If a judge issues a ruling, makes a decision, or issues a verdict that is properly signed and sealed before altering it, they must call the judge to account and make him pay a penalty equal to twelve times the original judgment's fine in addition to removing him from the bench in front of the assembly.


The following are the laws on Property under the Code of Hammurabi −

  • A person who has stolen things from a temple or a residence will be executed, together with the person who gave the stolen commodities to them.

  • A guy must be executed if he has taken a kid.

  • A guy who commits robbery and is apprehended must be executed.

  • If the robber is not apprehended, the victim of the crime must declare his losses in detail in front of God, and the city and governor under whose control the robbery occurred must provide restitution for his losses.

  • If a life is lost, the city and governor must provide his heirs (one pound) of silver.

  • A levy-master or warrant officer who has been sent to the king's service but has not left or hired a replacement in his place should be executed, and the hired replacement shall take his position.

Personal Injury

The following are the laws on Personal Injury under the Code of Hammurabi −

  • If a son hits his father, his hand will be amputated.

  • If a guy takes another man's eye, they must also take that man's eye.

  • They must shatter his bone if he fractures another man's bone.

  • He must pay one mina of silver if he fractures a plebeians bone or destroys their eye.

  • He must pay one-half of his fee if he breaks a man's slave's bone or beaks an eye.

  • If a person removes a member of his own rank's tooth, they must also remove that person's tooth.

  • If he knocks out a plebeian's teeth, he must pay one-third of a mina of silver.

  • If a man strikes a free woman who is pregnant and causes her to miscarry, he must pay her 10 shekels as compensation.

  • His daughter will be slain if that mother perishes.

  • If he strikes a plebian woman and causes her daughter to miscarry, he must pay five silver shekels.

  • If that woman has passed away, he must pay half a mina of silver.

  • He must pay two shekels of silver if he hit a freeman's female slave and it led to her miscarrying.

  • If that female slave has passed away, he must pay a third of a mina in silver.


The following are the laws on Trade under the Code of Hammurabi −

  • If a merchant lends money at interest, he will earn one-fifth of a shekel in interest for every shekel of silver lent. If he lends grain at interest, he will receive one gur and one hundred sila as interest (33 percent).

  • 104. Whenever a merchant sends an agent grain, wool, oil, or any other products for trading, the agent must record the amount and pay the merchant the money back. For the money that he provides to the merchant, the agent must get a sealed receipt.

  • 105. The money that the agent has supplied to the merchant may not be credited to his account if he is irresponsible and fails to obtain a receipt for it.

  • 108. If a wine vendor does not accept grain for the price of a drink but instead takes money by the huge weight, or if she reduces the amount of wine sold in comparison to the amount of grain, they must bring the wine seller to account and cast her into the sea.

  • 109. The wine seller will be executed if undesirables congregate at her home without being apprehended and brought to the palace.

  • 110. They must fire a priestess who opens a wine shop or goes inside for a drink if she does not reside in a monastery.

Physicians and Malpractice

The following are the laws on Physicians and Malpractice under the Code of Hammurabi −

  • If a doctor uses a bronze lancet to operate on a man with a severe wound and saves the man's life, or if he uses a bronze lancet to open an abscess in a man's eye and saves the man's eye, he will be given ten shekels of silver.

  • He will be given five shekels if he is a plebeian.

  • The owner must pay two shekels if the individual is a slave.

  • If a doctor uses a bronze lancet to treat a severe wound on a man and kills him or removes his eye, they must amputate his hand.

  • A slave of equivalent worth must be replaced if a doctor kills a slave while treating a severe wound.

Property and Wage Regulations

The following are the laws on Property and Wage Regulations under the Code of Hammurabi −

  • If a lion kills an ox or a sheep that a man has hired in an open field, the owner is responsible for the loss.

  • If a person rented an ox and, via negligence or blows, caused its death, they must make ox for ox reparations to the ox's owner.

  • If a person rented an ox and, via negligence or blows, caused its death, they must make ox for ox reparations to the ox's owner.

  • There can be no legal action against the owner if a bull rans and killed a man by goring him.

  • If an individual's ox is a gorer and has made clear that it has this trait, and he has not dulled its horn or restrained the animal, and the ox gores a free man and kills him, the owner is required to pay half a mina of silver.

  • A guy who employs a field worker must provide him with eight grammes of grain annually.

  • If a guy employs a herdsman, he must provide him six grammes of grain annually.

  • Twenty silas of grain are the daily wage for a guy who employs an ox to thresh.


The following are the laws on Family under the Code of Hammurabi −

  • The most crucial information in this passage is that if a man's wife is discovered having an affair with another man, they must bind her and cast her into the water.

  • If a man has ravished another's virgin betrothed wife while still residing in her father's home and has been caught in the act, he must be executed while the woman is set free.

  • If a man wants to divorce his wife who hasn't given birth to children for him, he must pay her the equivalent of her marriage price and return the dowry she provided.

  • If a woman has shown her hatred for her husband by declaring, "You shall not possess me," her past will be looked into; nevertheless, if she has remained quiet, gone away, destroyed her home, and denigrated her husband, she will be drowned.

  • According to the law, a husband's children cannot contest a wife's entitlement to a field, garden, home, or other property if he gave it to her or gave her a deed of gift.

  • If a man has an illicit relationship with his daughter, he must leave the city.

  • If he has a maiden engaged to his son but the boy is unaware of her, she must pay half a mina of silver and turn over any belongings she took from her father's home before the spouse of her choice may wed her.

  • If a father decides to disinherit his son, the judges will review his criminal history.

  • If the son hasn't committed a crime severe enough to exclude him from sonship, the father is not permitted to do so.


The Hammurabi Code of Hammurabi, which is comprised of his legal judgements and engraved on a diorite stela in Babylon's Marduk Temple, is the most comprehensive and ideal compilation of Babylonian laws. It went beyond tribal tradition and disapproved of blood feuds, personal vengeance, and marriage by capture.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What did the Code of Hammurabi describe?

Ans. A "tooth for tooth, and an eye for an eye." This expression dates back to ancient Mesopotamian culture, which flourished long before the Bible was written or the Greek or Roman civilizations blossomed, along with the concept of written rules.

Q2. Why was the Hammurabi Code significant?

Ans. According to historians, the Hammurabi code is a symbol of an ancient Mesopotamian system for resolving conflicts, punishing crimes, and regulating business practises. Over many centuries, this system had a significant impact on the development of the legal and judicial systems that currently govern the United States and other modern societies.

Q3. What was Hammurabi's first law?

Ans. If a man accuses another man of murder but is unable to substantiate his claim, the accuser should be executed.

Updated on: 13-Apr-2023


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