Essay on Code of Hammurabi and the Book of Exodus

3201 Words Oct 26th, 2008 13 Pages
The secular laws of Babylon were laid down by Hammurabi in “The Code of Hammurabi”, and in the book of Exodus. These laws provided stability and order in those respective societies. As society depended upon them, it is natural to assume that the laws relied upon society as well and reflect the values held by each society, not only in the laws themselves, but also in how they are written, whom they pertain to and how they are executed. While at first glance the law codes appear similar, there are a number of differences that provide key insight to what was held dear in each society. How do differences in these two law codes attest to differences in the two societies which pronounced them, and likewise, what can be learned from their …show more content…
(Avalos 621). This furthers the impression that Israelite society was one more deeply rooted in tradition and religious customs. This is not to say that the temples were not used in Babylon, in fact court proceedings usually took place within the temple. The reason for this was that in the event of it being impossible to decide the outcome of a trial, the accused was usually required to make an oath to the gods proclaiming his or her innocence. (Greengus 473) Babylonian trials were usually recorded in writing and stored to prevent future lawsuits and confusion.
The greatest differences in the values of each society can be seen in the laws themselves, what they cover and how they do so. Many of the laws in Exodus relate to agriculture such as Exodus 22:5, which deal with allowing livestock to graze on another man’s property. Agricultural vocabulary is also used throughout the book, indicative of a more agrarian economy. However, the Code of Hammurabi has a vast number of laws relating to material goods reflecting a much more financially centered culture than we see in ancient Israel. Numbers 15 and 16 in the Code of Hammurabi concern runaway slaves and the consequences of harboring them.
15. If any one takes a male or female slave of the court, or a male or female slave of a freed man, outside the city

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