Hammurabi’s Law: what is Just?

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Updated: Apr 10, 2023
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Did you know that almost 4,000 years ago, you could be punished by having the skin under your eyebrows peeled off just for pointing the middle finger at someone? During the times of Babylonia, there was a king named Hammurabi. He created an organized set of 282 laws called a Code. Some of them had extremely cruel punishments, such as having your hands cut off if you hit your father or getting your hands cut off for falsely accusing someone of theft (it seems like he was a little obsessed with cutting off people’s hands). This essay is on Hammurabi’s Code: was it just or unjust? It will argue that because of these many cruel and unusual punishments, Hammurabi’s Code was unjust.

The first reason that Hammurabi’s Code is unjust is that you could have your eyebrows peeled off for essentially getting mad at someone. If you get into an argument with someone and you get really mad and put up the middle finger, that doesn’t mean you should get your eyebrows pulled off. The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. What do eyebrows have to do with the middle finger? This goes to show that Hammurabi was a cruel person because who even thinks about peeling off people’s eyebrows?

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Additionally, the punishment for hitting your father is having your hands cut off. Even though it is not okay to hit your father, having your hands cut off is a very extreme punishment. Hammurabi may have thought that having someone’s hands cut off for hitting their father would prevent it from happening again, but what he failed to consider is that having no hands would also prevent the person from being able to farm, and farming was the way that most people made a living back then. If they can’t farm, then they won’t have any food for money, and they would live an extremely poor life. Getting your hands cut off is also just an unusually cruel punishment.

Finally, if you falsely accuse someone of theft, you are to have your hands cut off, and the person who supposedly committed the theft will remain unpunished. There are many problems with this law and how unfair it is. Nobody would purposely falsely accuse someone else of theft. For example, let’s say that someone was walking down the street wearing a gold necklace. Then somebody reaches out and yanks the necklace off of them. The victim begins chasing the thief, trying to get the necklace back. After a while, the thief turns a corner.

The victim also turns the corner and sees someone that looks a lot like the thief, so the victim brings him to the authorities, but he is found not guilty. Then they cut off the victim’s hands for a false accusation of theft, and the actual thief gets away. If there was a risk of getting your hands cut off, people would be too scared to accuse anyone of theft, and there would be a lot of crime because nobody would ever get caught. This is unjust because the accuser truly thought that the person they accused was the one that committed the crime.

In conclusion, why was Hammurabi’s Code unjust? The thesis statement has explored that even though some of the laws could be argued to be just, the majority of them could not. Hammurabi was not actually a good person, and his laws were unjust and cruel. The three laws presented above are just some of the many laws that show that Hammurabi’s Code was unjust.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the essay Code of Hammurabi?

The Code of Hammurabi is a Babylonian code of law dating back to the 18th century BC. It is one of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length worldwide. The code consists of 282 laws, with scaled punishments, arranged into ten tables.

What made the Hammurabi Code just?

The Hammurabi Code was considered fair and just because it upheld the principle of equality under the law. This meant that every individual, regardless of socioeconomic status or financial position, was entitled to receive the same treatment and punishment for their actions. Hence, the code was regarded as impartial and unbiased, and it earned the trust and confidence of the people.

Did Hammurabi's Code apply to everyone?

Hammurabi’s Code had limited jurisdiction and only applied to the people who lived within the Babylonian Empire.

Hammurabi’s Law: what is Just? essay

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Hammurabi's Law: What is Just?. (2022, Nov 18). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/hammurabis-law-what-is-just/