You may have heard of the "Code of Hammurabi" (called "Code" herein). This legal document is one of the oldest compilations of legal principles, laws and punishments for violations.

Hammurabi was a Babylonian king who came to power in about 1792 B.C. (date is uncertain because of three systems). About 1760 B.C. he defeated strong enemies and united a kingdom extending from the Persian Gulf to the Habur River. The history of Babylonia (now part of Iraq) is considered to have begin with Hammurabi. Hammurabi was an unusually active administrator giving personal attention to details (such as correcting the calendar and establishing irrigation canal cleaning). Hammurabi was a religious leader who helped elevate the Babylonian city god Marduk as leader of other gods.

Hammurabi was an outstanding law giver, and the author of the "Code". The "Code" contains 282 laws which were carved into a huge rock column. The term "an eye for an eye" came to symbolize the principle of the "Code". The Code was fair, but very strict. By modern terms much of it would be considered "cruel and unusual punishments". The "Code" dealt with many matter of today and some matters which no longer affect most people in the modern world. Death was a common punishment.

Law #1 of The Code of Hammurabi states "If anyone ensnare another, putting a ban upon him, but he can not prove it, then he that ensnared him shall be put to death". This law indicates two things: #1 the burden is on the Plaintiff, i.e. the one making the allegation; and #2 the measure of punishment was extremely severe.

The Code's 282 laws dealt intricately with many areas of life, such as: punishment for crimes (cutting off a man's finger for theft); marriage and extra-marital relationships (if a man kissed a married woman, his lower lip would be cut off); debts; slavery (#252 If he kill a man's slave, he shall pay one-third of a mina); property (#247 If any one hire an ox, and put out its eye, he shall pay the owner one-half of its value).

While physicians today may complain about malpractice cases, consider Law #218 "If a physician shall make a large incision with the operating knife, and kill him, or open a tumor with the operating knife, and cut out the eye, his hands shall be cut off".

Note: 402 words.

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