Questions From Readers
● How can the claim that the law of Moses was copied from the code of Hammurabi be answered?—F. M., United States.
Even if two law codes cover similar situations it would not prove one was copied from the other. People face the same general misdemeanors and crimes, and two separated groups might very logically cover these same crimes in their laws. Because of the faculty of conscience that Jehovah put in man, persons have similar reactions to what is right and what is wrong in human conduct, unless their conscience has been calloused. Romans 2:14, 15 (NW) says: “Whenever people of the nations that do not have law do by nature the things of the law, these people although not having law are a law to themselves. They are the very ones who demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them and, between their own thoughts, they are being accused or even excused.” So here is specific evidence or admission that sometimes nations without the Mosaic law took a course similar to that law, doing by nature what is right because of conscience and being accused by their conscience when they did what was wrong.
This must not be overlooked. Even before the Babylonian king, Hammurabi, who seems to have been contemporaneous with Abraham, there were organized groups and societies of men with laws and judicial precedents to govern their life and practice. From the time of the Noachian flood forward, for instance, Jehovah dealt with a patriarchal society, a society under the leadership of righteous family heads like Noah and Abraham. The actions of these societies were governed in such matters as contracts and purchases, property rights, rules of work, family and community responsibility for individual members thereof, real estate transfer, theft, violation of marital vows, slavery, and so forth, by written or unwritten codes of law.
So instead of godly law and order being drawn from Hammurabi’s code or other pagan codes, it seems to have been the other way around. Sir Charles Marston, on page 51 of his book The Bible Comes Alive, says: “It seems certain that Hammurabi’s laws were a codification of the older and existing laws and customs of the Semitic Race—the race that sprung from Noah’s son Shem, the race to which the Hebrews belonged.” The evidence is, therefore, that heathen nations carried over many ancient laws and customs from the Noachian system of law and order, which pattern the faithful Hebrew patriarchs followed.
Moreover, examining the two systems of law, that of Hammurabi and that given through Moses, the latter is seen to be the more just and equitable of the two and hence the more faithful to the original legal system that came into being among God’s faithful people. For instance, if an Israelite slaveholder became brutal and struck a male or female slave so that an eye was lost he was forced to let the slave go free, while under Hammurabi’s code he was let off with merely paying half the slave’s value. (Ex. 21:26; Ham. No. 199) Hammurabi’s code said: “If it [a poorly constructed house] cause the death of a son of the owner of the house, they shall put to death a son of that builder.” (Ham. No. 230) But the Mosaic law code specifically forbade putting to death a son for his father’s sin: “Fathers should not be put to death on account of children and children should not be put to death on account of fathers. Each one should be put to death for his own sin.”—Deut. 24:16, NW.
So it cannot be said that the statutes of the Mosaic law were borrowed from or mirrored the same spirit of the Hammurabic code. Rather, if anything, the Hammurabic code was a heathen corruption of earlier righteous statutes put forward by the Semitic patriarchal society under Jehovah’s direction.—The Watchtower, July 15, 1952, page 434, paragraph 8.
● Can man sin after the final test at the end of the thousand-year reign, and if he did could Jehovah put him to death, since Revelation 20:14 and Re 21:4 (NW) say “death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire” and “death will be no more”?—J. M., Mexico.
The death spoken of here is the death due to Adam’s sin, and then it will not have any power over mankind. Even its past effects will be nullified by the resurrection of its victims. All who are to remain permanently dead or in second death will be in that condition because of willful indifference or wickedness. So in the new world there will be no death due to Adamic sin.
But the passing of the final test at the end of the thousand years will not make men into robots. They will still be free moral agents, choosing their own course of conduct. Hence they could sin if they chose to do so. And if they did, Jehovah, with whom nothing is impossible, could put them to death, and it would be no contradiction of the above scriptures, since this death would not be Adamic death. We cannot conceive of the Creator’s being powerless to destroy a rebellious creature. He is the Almighty God. And the lake of fire, a symbol of second death, exists forever, which would suggest that any creatures becoming rebellious could be pitched into it by being destroyed.
On the other hand, we need not expect any such happenings. Jehovah made man, knows him inside out and knows how to test him to see how he will use his freedom of choice. So we may have complete confidence in the thoroughness of the test at the end of the thousand years, that it will ferret out all the unworthy ones and eliminate them, leaving only those of demonstrated reliability, in whom confidence can be placed, just as Jehovah accurately judged Job and knew he would not deflect even under extreme satanic pressure. For any to sin after passing the final test would imply that the test was faulty, that Jehovah was unable to test with sufficient searchingness. But his test will be a success and accomplish its purpose of weeding out any who would ever misuse their freedom of choice to choose sin.
Reasoning in the same way, there will be no danger of any of the heavenly class who have gained immortality later choosing to sin, and thus awkwardly having in the universe immortal rebels. But here again, even if such a thing did happen, we need not think that Jehovah would be powerless. Jehovah could destroy even an immortal creature. Immortality means to have the power of life within oneself. In other words, such a creature is not dependent on any outside source or environment to replenish energy or for the continuance of the life processes. Human creatures must eat, and spirit creatures apparently draw upon an outside source for continued existence, but immortal ones would not have to do this. They cannot die from a lack in their environment, but have life complete in themselves. Nevertheless, the all-powerful Jehovah could terminate their existence if he decided to do so.