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Development of India

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Throughout history belief systems as well as systems of governing have grown from one another and also built from the others ideas. In many instances civilization, government and religion have become one, they both play off the other. In the age of Hammurabi between 1792 and 1730 BCE a code of laws was constructed for all to see by witch the standards of Babylon were set. (Andrea. 13) The Jewish people also had a standard by which they lived and it was called the Torah. In this were set guidelines to show the ways that they should live. The Torah was created around 1000 BCE and is still a huge factor in the Jewish lifestyle today. (Andrea. 52) Both of these codes or guidelines were shaped by people before them and both shaped the civilizations that were to follow them. These historical texts both discuss the concepts of “an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”, as well as slavery and how it played a part in each civilization. It is very interesting to see how the texts compare in their look on both of these harsh topics.

In line 196 of the code of Hammurabi it is clearly stated, “If a man put out the eye of another may, his eye shall be put out.”(Historywiz) This may seem to be a harsh punishment when compared to the standards of judicial systems today, but in this time of a short lived united Mesopotamia this is what Hammurabi believed would be able to keep his kingdom a united front. This code was carved on a monumental stone for all to see. In doing this, the entire population would be able to know for sure what is expected of them and what the punishments would be if these codes were broken. We also see this same concept stated in the Jewish Torah which came into being about 700 years later then the code of Hammurabi.

From the book of Exodus, chapter 21 line 23, “But if any harm follow, thou shalt give life for life, Eye for Eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (mechon-mamre) This excerpt is stating the same concept almost identical to that of Babylon’s Hammurabi. It is also placed in full public view because of the fact that it is the key point of the Jewish lifestyle. When comparing these two texts it would seem that the Jewish Torah has built from the Hammurabi’s code and elaborated it into parts of their religious teachings and their way of life.

In the Torah, from the book of Exodus, we see a good example of the early Jewish views on slavery. “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod, and the slave dies under his hand, the death must be avenged. However, if the slave survives for a day or two, his death shall not be avenged, since he is his master’s property.” (ravkooktorah) Obviously this shows that slavery was something that was everyday life and that slaves were clearly property of their master. This same idea is stated in Hammurabi’s code. In Babylon slaves were clearly looked on as property and belonging to a master. In many separate lines where crimes can be committed against free man or slave the debt to be paid for harming a slave is drastically less than that of a free man. Yet, even though slaves were considered merely property, they at least were shown a little more respect in Babylon sense they were still worth enough to be able to draw some value from their losses.

The Jewish Torah seems to have built from the ideas that were stated more than 700 years earlier by Hammurabi in Babylon. The Jews took a code of laws and expanded on them to form crucial points in their ideology. This was also passed on to the Christians years later and would form into their belief systems as well and also to other governmental and religious groups, organizations, and civilizations that still exist to this day.


“Exodus Chapter 21.” Exodus 21 / Hebrew Bible in English / Mechon-Mamre. Accessed September 8, 2014.

“Code of Hammurabi Text – HistoryWiz Primary Source.” Code of Hammurabi Text – HistoryWiz Primary Source. Accessed September 9, 2014.

“Rav Kook on Mishpatim: Slavery in the Torah.” Rav Kook on Mishpatim: Slavery in the Torah. Accessed September 10, 2014.

Andrea, Alfred J., and James H. Overfield. The Human Record: Sources of Global History. 6th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

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