Was Hammurabi's Code Just [dbq]

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About this sample


Words: 676 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Words: 676|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Many legal codes have been established to govern societies and ensure justice for all members. One such code is Hammurabi's Code, which was created by the Babylonian king Hammurabi around 1754 BC. This code is one of the oldest recorded sets of laws and has been the subject of much debate regarding its fairness and justness. Some argue that Hammurabi's Code was just, while others argue that it was not. This essay will explore both perspectives and ultimately argue that Hammurabi's Code was not entirely just due to its harsh punishments and unequal treatment of different social classes.

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One of the main arguments in favor of Hammurabi's Code being just is that it provided a set of clear and consistent laws that applied to all members of Babylonian society. This uniformity in the legal system was a significant achievement for its time and provided a sense of order and predictability for the people. Additionally, the code was based on the principle of "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," which was seen as a fair and equitable form of justice in ancient Mesopotamia. This principle aimed to ensure that punishments were proportionate to the crimes committed, thereby promoting a sense of fairness and balance in the legal system.

Furthermore, proponents of Hammurabi's Code argue that it played a crucial role in maintaining social order and stability in Babylonian society. The code addressed various aspects of daily life, including commerce, property rights, family matters, and criminal behavior, thereby establishing a comprehensive set of laws that governed all aspects of society. This broad scope of regulation was intended to prevent chaos and ensure that everyone abided by the same rules, thus contributing to the overall well-being of the community.

However, despite these arguments in favor of its justness, Hammurabi's Code was not entirely fair and equitable. One of the main criticisms of the code is its harsh and often brutal punishments for certain crimes. For example, the code stipulated that a false accusation against a man could result in the accuser being put to death, regardless of the severity of the accusation. Similarly, theft was punishable by amputation, and adultery could result in the death of both parties involved. These punishments were seen as excessively severe and disproportionate to the crimes committed, raising questions about the code's fairness and humanity.

Furthermore, Hammurabi's Code exhibited a clear bias towards different social classes. The punishments for the same crime varied depending on the social status of the individual involved, with harsher penalties imposed on lower-class citizens. For example, if a man of higher social standing caused the death of another man's slave, he was only required to compensate the slave's owner with a new slave. In contrast, if a lower-class man caused the death of a slave, he could be put to death as punishment. This unequal treatment of different social classes undermined the code's claim to justice and fairness, as it favored the privileged and disadvantaged the marginalized members of society.

Moreover, Hammurabi's Code did not provide equal protection under the law for all members of society. Women, in particular, were subject to discriminatory treatment under the code, as they had limited legal rights and were often treated as property. For instance, a woman accused of adultery could be subjected to a trial by ordeal, a cruel and unjust practice that placed her life in the hands of the gods. Additionally, women were not afforded the same legal protections as men in matters of marriage, divorce, and inheritance, further highlighting the code's inherent injustice.

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In conclusion, while Hammurabi's Code represented a significant step forward in the establishment of a legal system, it was not entirely just. The code's harsh punishments, unequal treatment of different social classes, and discriminatory practices towards women undermined its claim to fairness and equity. While it provided a sense of order and predictability for Babylonian society, it did so at the expense of justice and compassion. As such, while Hammurabi's Code may have had some just elements, it ultimately fell short of being a truly just legal code.

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Dr. Oliver Johnson

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Was Hammurabi’s Code Just [DBQ]. (2024, March 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Was Hammurabi’s Code Just [DBQ].” GradesFixer, 20 Mar. 2024,
Was Hammurabi’s Code Just [DBQ]. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Was Hammurabi’s Code Just [DBQ] [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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