The Rise of Babylon

The period of the first Babylonian dynasty or Old Babylonian Empire ( 1894-1595 ) is an important era in the history of Mesopotamia. In the period of 300 years the southern part of Mesopotamia reached a high degree of economic development and political influence. At this time the Babylonian culture had been developed. She absorbed all the previous cultures of Mesopotamia. The Great City of Babylon, which at the beginning was an unimportant city now it had transformed into the greatest political, cultural, and trade center that had not lost its importance until the Hellenic period.

Conquests of Godlike Hammurabi

The submission of Mesopotamia under the rule of Babylon had been going underway for somewhat hundred years and it culminated during the rule of the rule of Hammurabi ( 1792-1750 ). In the middle of the XVIII century B.C.E. the unification of Mesopotamia under Babylon had been finished. Hammurabi at first conquered Sumer and the cities of Uruk and Isin had been integrated into Babylon. The southern part of Sumer was still under the rule of the Elamite and their ruler Rim-Sin. The rule of Babylon in the north wasn’t safe, even tho the ruler of Mari, Zimri-Lim had been the ally of Hammurabi and helped him on his conquests. The political situation at that moment was not in favor of Hammurabi. Finally after the conquest of Eshnunna and the stabilization of the northern border did Hammurabi take the fight to Rim-Sin and defeated him, uniting all of the south of Mesopotamia. The rising power of Babylon made Zimri-Lim fear Hammurabi and ceased his military aid. This forced Hammurabi to act against Zimri-Lim conquering the city of Mari and leveling it to the ground. After the conquest and destruction of Mari, Hammurabi didn’t stop there and went on north to conquer the small kingdom of Assyria. With this Hammurabi finished his conquests and Babylonians came to dominate all of Mesopotamia.

The ”Code of Hammurabi”

The laws of justice, which Hammurabi, the wise king, established. A righteous law, and pious statute did he teach the land. Hammurabi the protecting king am I. I have not withdrawn myself from the men, whom Bel gave to me, the rule whom Marduk gave to me, I was not negligent , but I made the a peaceful abiding-place. I expounded all great difficulties, I made the light shine upon them. With the mighty weapons which Zamama and Ishtar entrusted to me, with the keen vision with which Ea endowed me, with the wisdom that Marduk gave me, I have uprooted the enemy above and below, subdued the earth, brought prosperity to the land guaranteed security to the inhabitants in their homes; a disturber was not permitted. the great gods have called me I’m the salvation-bearing shepherd, whose staff is straight, the good shadow that is spread over my city; on my breast I cherish the inhabitants of Sumer and Akkad; in my shelter I have let them repose in peace; in my deep wisdom I have enclosed them. That the strong might not injure the weak, in order to protect the widows and orphans The king who ruled among the kings of the cities am I. My words are well considered; there is no wisdom like unto mine. By the command of Shamash, the great judge of heaven and earth, let righteousness go forth in the land: by the order of Marduk, my lord, let no destruction befall my monument. In E-Salig, which I love, let my name be ever repeated; let the oppressed, who has a case at law, come stand before this my image as king of righteousness; let him read the inscription and understand my precious words: the inscription will explain his case to him; he will find out what is just, and his heart will be glad, so that he will say:

” Hammurabi is a ruler, who is a father to his subjects, who holds the words of Marduk in reverence, who has achieved conquest for Marduk over the north and south, who rejoices the heart of Marduk, his lord who has bestowed benefits for ever and ever on his subjects, and has established order in the land. ”

Some of Hammurabi’s 282 Laws

II – If anyone brings an accusation against a man, and the accused goes to the river and leaps into the river, if he sinks in the river his accuser shall take possession of his house. But if the river proves that the accused is not guilty, and he escapes unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.

VIII – If anyone steals cattle or sheep, or an ass, or a pig or a goat, if it belong to a god or to the court, the thief shall pay thirty-fold therefore; if they belonged to a freed man of the king he shall pay tenfold; if the thief has nothing with which to pay he shall be put to death.

XXI – If anyone breaks a hole into a house (break in to steal), he shall be put to death before that hole and be buried.

XXII – If anyone is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death.

CVXII -If anyone fails to meet a claim for debt, and sells himself, his wife, his son, and daughter for money or gives them away to forced labor: they shall work for three years in the house of the man who bought them, or the proprietor, and in the fourth year they shall be set free.

CXXIX – If a man’s wife be surprised (in flagrante delicto) with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon his wife and the king his slaves.

CXXXII – If the “finger is pointed” at a man’s wife about another man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall jump into the river for her husband.

CXXXIII – If a man is taken prisoner in war, and there is a sustenance in his house, but his wife leaves the house and court, and goes to another house: because this wife did not keep her court, and went to another house, she shall be judicially condemned and thrown into the water.

CXLIII – If she is not innocent, but leaves her husband, and ruins her house, neglecting her husband, this woman shall be cast into the water.

CLIII – If the wife of one man on account of another man has their mates (her husband and the other man’s wife) murdered, both of them shall be impaled.

CLV – If a man betroth a girl to his son, and his son had intercourse with her, but he (the father) afterward defiled her, and be surprised, then he shall be bound and cast into the water.

CLVII – If anyone is guilty of incest with his mother after his father, both shall be burned.

CXCII – If a son of a paramour or a prostitute say to his adoptive father or mother: “You are not my father, or my mother,” his tongue shall be cut off

CXCV – If a son strike his father, his hands shall be hewn off

CXCVI – If a man puts out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. [ An eye for an eye ]

CC – If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out. [ A tooth for a tooth ]

CCXXIX – . If a builder builds a house for someone, and does not construct it properly, and the house which he built falls in and kills its owner, then that builder shall be put to death.