Sunday, February 06, 2005

Hammurabi and the Torah

Here are anumber of examples showing the similarity of Biblical laws to the Code of Hammurabi which was written centuries before Moses ever was thought to write.

Exodus 21:2 : "If thou buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing."Similarly, Code of Hammurabi, section 117: "If a man become involved in debt, and give his wife, his son or his daughter for silver or for labor, they shall serve three years in the house of their purchaser or bondmaster: in the fourth year they shall regain their freedom."

Exodus 21:15 : "And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death." Compare Code of Hammurabi, section 195: "If a son strike his father, his hand shall be cut off."

Exodus 21:18 f.: "And if men contend, and one smite the other with astone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keep his bed; if he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed." Compare Code of Hammurabi, section 206: "If a man strike another man in a noisy dispute and wound him, that man shall swear, 'I did not strike him knowingly'; and he shall pay for the physician."

Exodus 21:22 : "If men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow; he shall surely be fined, according as the woman's husband shall lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine." Compare Code of Hammurabi, section 209: "If a man strike a free woman and cause her fruit to depart, he shall pay ten shekels of silver for her fruit."

Exodus 21:24 : "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." Compare Code of Hammurabi, section 196: "If a man destroy the eye of a free man, his eye shall be destroyed." section 197: "Ifhe break the bone of a free man, his bone shall be broken." section 200: "If a man knock out the teeth of a man of the same rank, his teeth shall be knocked out."

Exodus 21:28-32 : "If an ox gore a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be surely stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox was wont to gore in time past, and it hath been testified to its owner, and he hath not kept it in, but it hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. .... If the oxgore a man-servant or a maid-servant, there shall be given unto their master 30 shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned."Compare Code of Hammurabi, sections 250 ff.: "If an ox, while going along the street, gore a man and cause his death, no claims of any kind can be made. If a man's ox be addicted to goring and have manifested to him his failing, that it is addicted to goring, and, nevertheless, he have neither blunted his horns, nor fastened up his ox; then if his ox gore a free man and cause his death, he shall give 30 shekels of silver. If it be a man's slave, he shall give 20 shekels of silver."

Some are more similar than others but I think the resemblance is obvious. These laws of the Torah don't seem so unique anymore. Indeed, many of them seem quite derivative from older sources. I don't think they were copied from Hammurabi, but they do share a common source.

For more information see here.


Anonymous said...

Orthoprax said...

Right, it's brilliant. The blueprints of the universe for how mankind should live on earth, the book God Himself penned, just happens to look as if it was derived from the minds and cultures of Iron Age, Near Eastern people.

Sure, could be. Or maybe it really was simply derived from the minds of Iron Age, Near Eastern people.