Hammurabi Code


Talión’s law was clear, when committing a crime that violated the Hammurabi Code was paid with the death of the accused, hence the famous quote: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” . Represented as the prelude to many modern legal concepts, this code has undergone changes throughout history to create a balance with its laws and society. One of its most radical and famous laws was: “If a man accuses another man, and files a homicide complaint against him, but cannot prove it, his accuser will be punished with death.” First written law of the Code of Hammurabi.

What is the Code of Hammurabi?

The Code of Hammurabi is the first group of laws in history commissioned by the God Marduk to promote and govern well-being among human beings.

  • What does it consist of
  • Characteristics of the Code of Hammurabi
  • What culture did he belong to
  • History of the Code of Hammurabi
  • On what principle was the Code of Hammurabi based?
  • Laws
  • Women rights
  • Children’s rights
  • Importance of the Code of Hammurabi
  • Curiosities

What does it consist of

Through its set of established laws and norms, the Code of Hammurabi consisted of controlling, organizing and governing the society of the eighteenth century in ancient Mesopotamia, where there was a punishment for exchange equivalence,


Characteristics of the Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi is governed by three main characteristics:

  • Talion’s law: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth . ” That is, everything that the citizen did had to accept it in the same way.
  • Semi-private justice : The victim had to bring the accused to justice, the court fulfilled the function of arbitrator , the officers were present at the execution of the sentence
  • Inequality before the law: The sentence varied according to the type of person in which the individual was ruled (noble, free man and slave).

What culture did he belong to

The Code of Hammurabi belonged to the culture of the ancient East, in the year 1750-1790 BC in the city of Babylon .

History of the Code of Hammurabi

E n the culture of the ancient East, the gods were those who made the laws to men by driving a deeper sense of spirituality and balance, therefore, the laws have a character of divinity. In any case, it is the God Samash, the mighty Sun God and God of justice, who bestows the laws on King Hammurabi of Babylon (1750-1790 BC).

In fact, before Hammurabi came to power, it was the priests of the God Samash who fulfilled the function as judges, but Hammurabi established that only the key royal officials were to apply this work, thus limiting the power they wielded as judges. the priests and gaining strength for the monarch himself.

The law code unifies the different existing codes in the cities of the Babylonian empire. With this, it intends to establish applicable laws in all cases, and thus prevent each one from “taking justice into their own hands” , since without a written law that judges could apply in a mandatory way, it was easy for each one to act as best suits them. , For this epoch.

The Code of Hammurabi there is the presence of a distinction between the right civil and criminal, ie, laws regulating different situations of everyday life and laws that punish crimes apply. The regulation of commerce, work without salary, different types of loans, rents, inheritances for each family, divorces, property, death sentences for crimes of theft, murder, among others are used.

For the most part, the penalties that appear written in the Code of Hammurabi are pecuniary (fines or warnings), although there is also the penalty of mutilation and even the death penalty. In many cases, the law chooses to apply Talión’s motto, that is, to do the aggressor exactly the same as he did to his victim, this worked as long as both were of the same “category . 

The Talión law only applies between individuals of the same category. In the event that the aggressor is of a higher category than the attacked one (victim), the Talión law does not apply, but a pecuniary penalty is applied.

In the code is the presence of three ” categories of men “: the free, the slaves and an intermediate category called ” muskenu ” that could refer to being servants .

On what principle was the Code of Hammurabi based?

Its ideal was to be based on the law of Tailón, like symbol of equivalence of exchange or balance. That provided control through its laws a control between society.


Here are the most relevant laws of the Code of Hammurabi:

  • “If a man accuses another man and presents a homicide complaint against him, but cannot prove it, his accuser will be punished with death.”
  • “If a man imputes witchcraft practices to another man, but cannot prove them, the accused of witchcraft will go to the river and will have to throw himself into the river. If the river succeeds in carrying him away, his accuser will take away his property. But if this man has been purified by the river leaving it safe and sound, the one who accused him of witchcraft will be punished with death and the one who threw himself into the river will snatch the property of his accuser ”.
  • “If a man appears in a process to present a false testimony and cannot prove the word that he has said, if the process is a capital process such a man will be punished with death.”
  • “If you present yourself to testify falsely, in a process of grain or silver, you will suffer in its entirety the penalty of this process.”
  • “If a judge has tried a case, pronounced sentence and deposited the sealed document, if, afterwards, he changes his decision, it will be proven that the judge changed the sentence he had handed down and will pay up to twelve times the amount of what motivated the cause. Furthermore, publicly, he will be made to rise from his seat of justice and will not return again. You will never again be able to sit with the judges in a process
  • “If a lord steals religious or state property, that lord will be punished with death. Furthermore, the person who received the stolen goods from his hands will also be punished with death ”.
  • “If, from the hand of the son of a lord or the slave of a private individual, a lord has acquired or received in custody silver or gold, a slave or a female slave, an ox or a sheep or a donkey, or whatever Without witnesses or a contract, such a man is a thief: in those cases, he will be punished with death ”.
  • “If a lord steals an ox, a lamb, a donkey, a pig or a boat, if the stolen belongs to religion or if it belongs to the state, he will restore up to thirty times its value; if it belongs to a subordinate, it will restore it up to ten times. If the thief does not have what to pay back, he will be punished with death ”.
  • “If a lord, having lost an object, finds his lost object in the possession of another lord; if the man in whose possession the lost object was found declares: “A seller sold it to me, I bought it in the presence of witnesses”; if, on the other hand, the owner of the lost object declares: “I will present witnesses to testify about my lost object”; if the buyer presents the seller who has sold it and the witnesses in whose presence he bought it; If, on the other hand, the owner of the lost object presents the witnesses who give testimony of the lost object, in that case the judges will consider the evidence, and the witnesses, in whose presence the purchase was made, together with the witnesses who testify about it. lost object, they will declare what they know before God. And since the seller was the thief, he will be punished with death. The owner of the lost property will recover your lost property. The buyer will recover the silver that he had weighed from the seller’s estate ”.
  • “If the buyer has not presented the seller who sold him (the object) or the witnesses in whose presence the purchase was made, and the owner of the lost thing presents witnesses who testify about his lost thing, the buyer was the thief: it will be punishable by death. The owner of the lost property will regain his lost property ”.

Women rights

From the rights of women in the Code of Hammurabi, here are some quotes:

  • Law 151 : “If a woman who lives in a man’s house has been made a promise by her husband that it will not be taken by his creditors and has been given a tablet in this regard, if this man had debts before marrying, the creditor will not take the wife; and if the woman, before entering the man’s house, had debts, the creditor of the debt will not take her husband ”.
  • Law 152 : “If, after she entered the man’s house, a debt compels them, they will both pay the businessman.”
  • Law 153 : “If one’s wife makes him kill for another man’s sake, he will go to the gallows.”
  • Law 154 : “If one knew his daughter carnally, he will be expelled from the city.”

Children’s rights

  • “If a man knows his daughter carnally, that man will be banished from the city.”
  • «If a man wants to disinherit his son and affirms before the judges ‘I want to disinherit my son’, the judges will determine the facts of his case and, if he has not demonstrated the reasons for the disinheritance, the father cannot disinherit his child.”

Importance of the Code of Hammurabi

The Code of Hammurabi has a broad meaning, as it draws with it the laws and organizations that revere and protect the well-being of citizens, as well as pioneering inspiration in later centuries, for the creation of laws, in all the nations of the world.


  • It was created to humiliate the bad and the unjust.
  • It is the first legal body that is known.
  • The Code of Hammurabi referred to water as the maximum expression of purity, which showed its innocence.

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