Code of Hammurabi (c. 1792-1750 BC)

1. If a man accuses a man, and charges him with murder, but cannot convict him, the accuser shall be put to death.

3. If a man, in a case before the court, offers testimony concerning deeds of violence, and does not establish [prove] the testimony that he has given -- if that case be a case involving life, that man shall be put to death.

4. If he offers testimony concerning grain or money, he shall himself bear the penalty imposed in that case.

6. If a man steals the property of god or palace, that man shall be put to death; and he who receives from his hand the stolen property shall be put to death.

16. If a man harbors in his house a runaway male or female slave of the palace or of a common man and does not bring him forth at the call of the commandant, the owner of the house shall be put to death.

53. If a man neglects to strengthen his dike and he lets the water carry away the farmland, the man in whose dike the break has been made shall restore the grain which he has damaged.

54. If he is not able to restore the grain, they shall sell him and his goods, and the farmers whose grain the water has carried away shall divide the results from the sale.

108. If a barmaid . . . makes the measure of drink smaller than the measure of grain [paid], they shall prosecute that barmaid, and they shall throw her into the water.

127. If a man points a finger at [accuses] a nun or the wife of a man and cannot justify it, they shall drag that man before the judges and they shall cut the hair of his forehead.

128. If a man takes a wife and does not draw up contract with her, that woman is not a wife.

129. If the wife of a man is taken in lying with another man, they shall bind them and throw them into the water. If the husband of the woman spares the life of his wife, the king shall spare the life of his servant [her lover].

131. If a man accuses his wife and she is not taken in lying with another man, she shall take an oath in the name of God and she shall return to her house.

135. If a man is taken captive and there is nothing to eat in his house, and his wife enters into another house and bears [the other man's] children; if later her husband returns and reaches his city, that woman shall return to her husband; the children shall go to their father.

136. If a man deserts his city and runs away, and afterward his wife enters into another house, if that man returns and seizes his wife, because he hated his city and fled, the wife of the fugitive shall not return to her husband.

138. If a man puts away [divorces] his wife who has not borne him children, he shall give her money in the amount of her marriage settlement and he shall make good to her the dowry which she brought from her father's house and then he may put her away.

142. If a woman hates her husband and says, "Thou shalt not have me," her past shall be inquired into for any deficiency of hers; and if she has been careful and is without past sin and her husband has been going out and greatly belittling her, that woman has no blame. She shall take her dowry and go to her father's house.

148. If a man takes a wife and disease seizes her, and he sets his face to take a concubine, he may do so. His wife whom disease has seized he may not put away. She shall dwell in the house which he has built and he shall maintain her as long as she lives.

156. If a man has betrothed a bride to his son and his son has not had sexual intercourse with her, and he the father lies in her bosom, he shall pay her one to two mina of silver, and he shall make good to her whatever she brought from the house of her father and the man of her choice may take her.

195. If a man strikes his father, they shall cut off his hand.

196. If a man destroys to eye of another man, they shall destroy his eye.

200. If a man knocks out a tooth of a man of his own rank, they shall knock out his tooth.

201. If a man knocks out a tooth of a common man, he shall pay one-third mina of silver.

202. If a man smites on the cheek a man who is his superior, he shall receive sixty strokes with an oxtail whip in public.

204. If a common man smites a common man on the cheek, he shall pay ten shekels of silver.

205. If a man's slave smites the son of a gentleman on the cheek, they shall cut off his ear.

267. If a shepherd is careless and allows disease to develop in the fold, the shepherd shall make good in cattle and sheep the loss through the disease which he allowed to develop in the fold, and give them to their owner.

 

Questions:

What sorts of behaviors did Mesopotamian society have trouble controlling?