Did Mosaic Law Copy Hammurabi’s Code?
HAMMURABI’S Code, based on earlier legislation, is a collection of decisions or “casebooks” on clay tablets. These were later copied on a stele placed in the temple of Marduk in Babylon. After that, this stele was taken by a conqueror to Susa, where it was discovered in 1902.
Some parts of the Mosaic law are similar to certain sections of Hammurabi’s Code, and because of this certain scholars claimed that the Hebrews got their law from Hammurabi and not from Jehovah God. Modern scholars generally disagree. However, the book “Documents from Old Testament Times” states: “There is no ground for assuming any direct borrowing by the Hebrew from the Babylonian. Even where the two sets of laws differ little in the letter, they differ much in the spirit.”
Here are some examples of the differences:
[Chart on page 20]
Hammurabi’s Code Mosaic Law
Death penalty for theft of Thief punished by making
church or state property, or for compensation to victim.
receiving stolen goods. (Sect. 6) (Ex. 22:1-9)
Death for helping a slave to “You must not hand over a
escape or harboring a fugitive slave to his master when he
slave. (Sect. 15, 16) escapes from his master to
you.” (Deut. 23:15)
If a poorly built house causes “Fathers should not be put
the death of a son of the owner to death on account of
of the house, then the son of children, and children should
the builder is put to death. not be put to death on
(Sect. 230) account of fathers.”
Mere banishment for incest: Death penalty for incest.
“If a seignior [man of rank] has (Lev. 18:6, 29)
had intercourse with his daughter,
they shall make that seignior
leave the city.” (Sect. 154)
Class distinctions in judgment: “You must not treat the
Severe penalties for persons who lowly one with partiality,
harm others of a higher class. and you must not prefer the
Mild penalties for harming members person of a great one.”
of a lower class. (Sect. 196-205) (Lev. 19:15)