Sacred Texts  Ancient Near East 

The Code of Hammurabi

Translated by L. W. King

This, the earliest known written legal code, was composed about 1780 B.C.E. by Hammurabi, the ruler of Bablyon. This text was excavated in 1901; it was carved on an eight foot high stone monolith. The harsh system of punishment expressed in this text prefigures the concept of 'an eye for an eye'. The Code lays out the basis of both criminal and civil law, and defines procedures for commerce and trade. This text was redacted for 1,500 years, and is considered the predecessor of Jewish and Islamic legal systems alike.

At the other end of the evolution of Ancient Near Eastern law is the refined and considerably more merciful Talmud, composed two and half millenia later, also in Babylon, by expatriate Jewish scholars.

Title Page
Babylonian Law--The Code of Hammurabi (Encyclopedia Britanica, 11th Ed.)

Hammurabi's Code of Laws

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Paragraphs 100-199
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The Epilogue