When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven
and earth, who decreed the fate of the land, assigned to Marduk, the
over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man,
and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious
name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it,
whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then
Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared
God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the
wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so
that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and
enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.
Hammurabi, the prince, called of Bel am I, making riches and increase,
enriching Nippur and Dur-ilu beyond compare, sublime patron of E-kur; who
reestablished Eridu and purified the worship of E-apsu; who conquered the
four quarters of the world, made great the name of Babylon, rejoiced the
heart of Marduk, his lord who daily pays his devotions in Saggil; the
royal scion whom Sin made; who enriched Ur; the humble, the reverent, who
brings wealth to Gish-shir-gal; the white king, heard of Shamash, the
mighty, who again laid the foundations of Sippara; who clothed the
gravestones of Malkat with green; who made E-babbar great, which is like
the heavens, the warrior who guarded Larsa and renewed E-babbar, with
Shamash as his helper; the lord who granted new life to Uruk, who brought
plenteous water to its inhabitants, raised the head of E-anna, and
perfected the beauty of Anu and Nana; shield of the land, who reunited the
scattered inhabitants of Isin; who richly endowed E-gal-mach; the
protecting king of the city, brother of the god Zamama; who firmly founded
the farms of Kish, crowned E-me-te-ursag with glory, redoubled the great
holy treasures of Nana, managed the temple of Harsag-kalama; the grave of
the enemy, whose help brought about the victory; who increased the power
of Cuthah; made all glorious in E-shidlam, the black steer, who gored the
enemy; beloved of the god Nebo, who rejoiced the inhabitants of Borsippa,
the Sublime; who is indefatigable for E-zida; the divine king of the city;
the White, Wise; who broadened the fields of Dilbat, who heaped up the
harvests for Urash; the Mighty, the lord to whom come scepter and crown,
with which he clothes himself; the Elect of Ma-ma; who fixed the temple
bounds of Kesh, who made rich the holy feasts of Nin-tu; the provident,
solicitous, who provided food and drink for Lagash and Girsu, who provided
large sacrificial offerings for the temple of Ningirsu; who captured the
enemy, the Elect of the oracle who fulfilled the prediction of Hallab, who
rejoiced the heart of Anunit; the pure prince, whose prayer is accepted by
Adad; who satisfied the heart of Adad, the warrior, in Karkar, who
restored the vessels for worship in E-ud-gal-gal; the king who granted
life to the city of Adab; the guide of E-mach; the princely king of the
city, the irresistible warrior, who granted life to the inhabitants of
Mashkanshabri, and brought abundance to the temple of Shidlam; the White,
Potent, who penetrated the secret cave of the bandits, saved the
inhabitants of Malka from misfortune, and fixed their home fast in wealth;
who established pure sacrificial gifts for Ea and Dam-gal-nun-na, who made
his kingdom everlastingly great; the princely king of the city, who
subjected the districts on the Ud-kib-nun-na Canal to the sway of Dagon,
his Creator; who spared the inhabitants of Mera and Tutul; the sublime
prince, who makes the face of Ninni shine; who presents holy meals to the
divinity of Nin-a-zu, who cared for its inhabitants in their need,
provided a portion for them in Babylon in peace; the shepherd of the
oppressed and of the slaves; whose deeds find favor before Anunit, who
provided for Anunit in the temple of Dumash in the suburb of Agade; who
recognizes the right, who rules by law; who gave back to the city of Ashur
its protecting god; who let the name of Ishtar of Nineveh remain in
E-mish-mish; the Sublime, who humbles himself before the great gods;
successor of Sumula-il; the mighty son of Sin-muballit; the royal scion of
Eternity; the mighty monarch, the sun of Babylon, whose rays shed light
over the land of Sumer and Akkad; the king, obeyed by the four quarters of
the world; Beloved of Ninni, am I.
When Marduk sent me to rule over men, to give the protection of right to
the land, I did right and righteousness in ... , and brought about the
well-being of the oppressed.
CODE OF LAWS
If any one ensnare another, putting a ban upon him, but he can not
prove it, then he that ensnared him shall be put to death.
If any one bring an accusation against a man, and the accused go to
the river and leap into the river, if he sink in the river his accuser
shall take possession of his house. But if the river prove that the
accused is not guilty, and he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the
accusation shall be put to death, while he who leaped into the river
shall take possession of the house that had belonged to his accuser.
If any one bring an accusation of any crime before the elders, and
does not prove what he has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense
charged, be put to death.
If he satisfy the elders to impose a fine of grain or money, he
shall receive the fine that the action produces.
If a judge try a case, reach a decision, and present his judgment in
writing; if later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through
his own fault, then he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the
case, and he shall be publicly removed from the judge's bench, and never
again shall he sit there to render judgement.
If any one steal the property of a temple or of the court, he shall
be put to death, and also the one who receives the stolen thing from him
shall be put to death.
If any one buy from the son or the slave of another man, without
witnesses or a contract, silver or gold, a male or female slave, an ox
or a sheep, an ass or anything, or if he take it in charge, he is
considered a thief and shall be put to death.
If any one steal cattle or sheep, or an ass, or a pig or a goat, if
it belong to a god or to the court, the thief shall pay thirtyfold
therefor; if they belonged to a freed man of the king he shall pay
tenfold; if the thief has nothing with which to pay he shall be put to
If any one lose an article, and find it in the possession of
another: if the person in whose possession the thing is found say "A
merchant sold it to me, I paid for it before witnesses," and if the
owner of the thing say, "I will bring witnesses who know my
property," then shall the purchaser bring the merchant who sold it
to him, and the witnesses before whom he bought it, and the owner shall
bring witnesses who can identify his property. The judge shall examine
their testimony both of the witnesses before whom the price was
paid, and of the witnesses who identify the lost article on oath. The
merchant is then proved to be a thief and shall be put to death. The
owner of the lost article receives his property, and he who bought it
receives the money he paid from the estate of the merchant.
If the purchaser does not bring the merchant and the witnesses before
whom he bought the article, but its owner bring witnesses who identify
it, then the buyer is the thief and shall be put to death, and the owner
receives the lost article.
If the owner do not bring witnesses to identify the lost article, he
is an evil-doer, he has traduced, and shall be put to death.
If the witnesses be not at hand, then shall the judge set a limit, at
the expiration of six months. If his witnesses have not appeared within
the six months, he is an evil-doer, and shall bear the fine of the
[There is no 13th Law because, then as now, the number 13 was
considered to be unlucky.]
If any one steal the minor son of another, he shall be put to death.
If any one take a male or female slave of the court, or a male or
female slave of a freed man, outside the city gates, he shall be put to
If any one receive into his house a runaway male or female slave of
the court, or of a freedman, and does not bring it out at the public
proclamation of the major domus, the master of the house shall be put to
If any one find runaway male or female slaves in the open country and
bring them to their masters, the master of the slaves shall pay him two
shekels of silver.
If the slave will not give the name of the master, the finder shall
bring him to the palace; a further investigation must follow, and the
slave shall be returned to his master.
If he hold the slaves in his house, and they are caught there, he
shall be put to death.
If the slave that he caught run away from him, then shall he swear to
the owners of the slave, and he is free of all blame.
If any one break a hole into a house (break in to steal), he shall be
put to death before that hole and be buried.
If any one is committing a robbery and is caught, then he shall be
put to death.
If the robber is not caught, then shall he who was robbed claim under
oath the amount of his loss; then shall the community, and ... on whose
ground and territory and in whose domain it was compensate him for the
If persons are stolen, then shall the community and ... pay one mina
of silver to their relatives.
If fire break out in a house, and some one who comes to put it out
cast his eye upon the property of the owner of the house, and take the
property of the master of the house, he shall be thrown into that
If a chieftain or a man (common soldier), who has been ordered to go
upon the king's highway for war does not go, but hires a mercenary, if
he withholds the compensation, then shall this officer or man be put to
death, and he who represented him shall take possession of his house.
If a chieftain or man be caught in the misfortune of the king
(captured in battle), and if his fields and garden be given to another
and he take possession, if he return and reaches his place, his field
and garden shall be returned to him, he shall take it over again.
If a chieftain or a man be caught in the misfortune of a king, if his
son is able to enter into possession, then the field and garden shall be
given to him, he shall take over the fee of his father.
If his son is still young, and can not take possession, a third of
the field and garden shall be given to his mother, and she shall bring
If a chieftain or a man leave his house, garden, and field and hires
it out, and some one else takes possession of his house, garden, and
field and uses it for three years: if the first owner return and claims
his house, garden, and field, it shall not be given to him, but he who
has taken possession of it and used it shall continue to use it.
If he hire it out for one year and then return, the house, garden,
and field shall be given back to him, and he shall take it over again.
If a chieftain or a man is captured on the "Way of the King"
(in war), and a merchant buy him free, and bring him back to his place;
if he have the means in his house to buy his freedom, he shall buy
himself free: if he have nothing in his house with which to buy himself
free, he shall be bought free by the temple of his community; if there
be nothing in the temple with which to buy him free, the court shall buy
his freedom. His field, garden, and house shall not be given for the
purchase of his freedom.
If a ... or a ... enter himself as withdrawn from the "Way of
the King," and send a mercenary as substitute, but withdraw him,
then the ... or ... shall be put to death.
If a ... or a ... harm the property of a captain, injure the captain,
or take away from the captain a gift presented to him by the king, then
the ... or ... shall be put to death.
If any one buy the cattle or sheep which the king has given to
chieftains from him, he loses his money.
The field, garden, and house of a chieftain, of a man, or of one
subject to quit-rent, can not be sold.
If any one buy the field, garden, and house of a chieftain, man, or
one subject to quit-rent, his contract tablet of sale shall be broken
(declared invalid) and he loses his money. The field, garden, and house
return to their owners.
A chieftain, man, or one subject to quit-rent can not assign his
tenure of field, house, and garden to his wife or daughter, nor can he
assign it for a debt.
He may, however, assign a field, garden, or house which he has
bought, and holds as property, to his wife or daughter or give it for
He may sell field, garden, and house to a merchant (royal agents) or
to any other public official, the buyer holding field, house, and garden
for its usufruct.
If any one fence in the field, garden, and house of a chieftain, man,
or one subject to quit-rent, furnishing the palings therefor; if the
chieftain, man, or one subject to quit-rent return to field, garden, and
house, the palings which were given to him become his property.
If any one take over a field to till it, and obtain no harvest
therefrom, it must be proved that he did no work on the field, and he
must deliver grain, just as his neighbor raised, to the owner of the
If he do not till the field, but let it lie fallow, he shall give
grain like his neighbor's to the owner of the field, and the field which
he let lie fallow he must plow and sow and return to its owner.
If any one take over a waste-lying field to make it arable, but is
lazy, and does not make it arable, he shall plow the fallow field in the
fourth year, harrow it and till it, and give it back to its owner, and
for each ten gan (a measure of area) ten gur of grain shall be paid.
If a man rent his field for tillage for a fixed rental, and receive
the rent of his field, but bad weather come and destroy the harvest, the
injury falls upon the tiller of the soil.
If he do not receive a fixed rental for his field, but lets it on
half or third shares of the harvest, the grain on the field shall be
divided proportionately between the tiller and the owner.
If the tiller, because he did not succeed in the first year, has had
the soil tilled by others, the owner may raise no objection; the field
has been cultivated and he receives the harvest according to agreement.
If any one owe a debt for a loan, and a storm prostrates the grain,
or the harvest fail, or the grain does not grow for lack of water; in
that year he need not give his creditor any grain, he washes his
debt-tablet in water and pays no rent for this year.
If any one take money from a merchant, and give the merchant a field
tillable for corn or sesame and order him to plant corn or sesame in the
field, and to harvest the crop; if the cultivator plant corn or sesame
in the field, at the harvest the corn or sesame that is in the field
shall belong to the owner of the field and he shall pay corn as rent,
for the money he received from the merchant, and the livelihood of the
cultivator shall he give to the merchant.
If he give a cultivated corn-field or a cultivated sesame-field, the
corn or sesame in the field shall belong to the owner of the field, and
he shall return the money to the merchant as rent.
If he have no money to repay, then he shall pay in corn or sesame in
place of the money as rent for what he received from the merchant,
according to the royal tariff.
If the cultivator do not plant corn or sesame in the field, the
debtor's contract is not weakened.
If any one be too lazy to keep his dam in proper condition, and does
not so keep it; if then the dam break and all the fields be flooded,
then shall he in whose dam the break occurred be sold for money, and the
money shall replace the corn which he has caused to be ruined.
If he be not able to replace the corn, then he and his possessions
shall be divided among the farmers whose corn he has flooded.
If any one open his ditches to water his crop, but is careless, and
the water flood the field of his neighbor, then he shall pay his
neighbor corn for his loss.
If a man let in the water, and the water overflow the plantation of
his neighbor, he shall pay ten gur of corn for every ten gan of land.
If a shepherd, without the permission of the owner of the field, and
without the knowledge of the owner of the sheep, lets the sheep into a
field to graze, then the owner of the field shall harvest his crop, and
the shepherd, who had pastured his flock there without permission of the
owner of the field, shall pay to the owner twenty gur of corn for every
If after the flocks have left the pasture and been shut up in the
common fold at the city gate, any shepherd let them into a field and
they graze there, this shepherd shall take possession of the field which
he has allowed to be grazed on, and at the harvest he must pay sixty gur
of corn for every ten gan.
If any man, without the knowledge of the owner of a garden, fell a
tree in a garden he shall pay half a mina in money.
If any one give over a field to a gardener, for him to plant it as a
garden, if he work at it, and care for it for four years, in the fifth
year the owner and the gardener shall divide it, the owner taking his
part in charge.
If the gardener has not completed the planting of the field, leaving
one part unused, this shall be assigned to him as his.
If he do not plant the field that was given over to him as a garden,
if it be arable land (for corn or sesame) the gardener shall pay the
owner the produce of the field for the years that he let it lie fallow,
according to the product of neighboring fields, put the field in arable
condition and return it to its owner.
If he transform waste land into arable fields and return it to its
owner, the latter shall pay him for one year ten gur for ten gan.
If any one hand over his garden to a gardener to work, the gardener
shall pay to its owner two-thirds of the produce of the garden, for so
long as he has it in possession, and the other third shall he keep.
If the gardener do not work in the garden and the product fall off,
the gardener shall pay in proportion to other neighboring gardens. [Here
a portion of the text is missing, apparently comprising thirty-four
... interest for the money, as much as he has received, he shall give
a note therefor, and on the day, when they settle, pay to the merchant.
If there are no mercantile arrangements in the place whither he went,
he shall leave the entire amount of money which he received with the
broker to give to the merchant.
If a merchant entrust money to an agent (broker) for some investment,
and the broker suffer a loss in the place to which he goes, he shall
make good the capital to the merchant.
If, while on the journey, an enemy take away from him anything that
he had, the broker shall swear by God and be free of obligation.
If a merchant give an agent corn, wool, oil, or any other goods to
transport, the agent shall give a receipt for the amount, and compensate
the merchant therefor. Then he shall obtain a receipt form the merchant
for the money that he gives the merchant.
If the agent is careless, and does not take a receipt for the money
which he gave the merchant, he can not consider the unreceipted money as
If the agent accept money from the merchant, but have a quarrel with
the merchant (denying the receipt), then shall the merchant swear before
God and witnesses that he has given this money to the agent, and the
agent shall pay him three times the sum.
If the merchant cheat the agent, in that as the latter has returned
to him all that had been given him, but the merchant denies the receipt
of what had been returned to him, then shall this agent convict the
merchant before God and the judges, and if he still deny receiving what
the agent had given him shall pay six times the sum to the agent.
If a tavern-keeper (feminine) does not accept corn according to gross
weight in payment of drink, but takes money, and the price of the drink
is less than that of the corn, she shall be convicted and thrown into
If conspirators meet in the house of a tavern-keeper, and these
conspirators are not captured and delivered to the court, the
tavern-keeper shall be put to death.
If a "sister of a god" open a tavern, or enter a tavern to
drink, then shall this woman be burned to death.
If an inn-keeper furnish sixty ka of usakani-drink to ... she shall
receive fifty ka of corn at the harvest.
If any one be on a journey and entrust silver, gold, precious stones,
or any movable property to another, and wish to recover it from him; if
the latter do not bring all of the property to the appointed place, but
appropriate it to his own use, then shall this man, who did not bring
the property to hand it over, be convicted, and he shall pay fivefold
for all that had been entrusted to him.
If any one have consignment of corn or money, and he take from the
granary or box without the knowledge of the owner, then shall he who
took corn without the knowledge of the owner out of the granary or money
out of the box be legally convicted, and repay the corn he has taken.
And he shall lose whatever commission was paid to him, or due him.
If a man have no claim on another for corn and money, and try to
demand it by force, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver in every
If any one have a claim for corn or money upon another and imprison
him; if the prisoner die in prison a natural death, the case shall go no
If the prisoner die in prison from blows or maltreatment, the master
of the prisoner shall convict the merchant before the judge. If he was a
free-born man, the son of the merchant shall be put to death; if it was
a slave, he shall pay one-third of a mina of gold, and all that the
master of the prisoner gave he shall forfeit.
If any one fail to meet a claim for debt, and sell himself, his wife,
his son, and daughter for money or give them away to forced labor: they
shall work for three years in the house of the man who bought them, or
the proprietor, and in the fourth year they shall be set free.
If he give a male or female slave away for forced labor, and the
merchant sublease them, or sell them for money, no objection can be
If any one fail to meet a claim for debt, and he sell the maid
servant who has borne him children, for money, the money which the
merchant has paid shall be repaid to him by the owner of the slave and
she shall be freed.
If any one store corn for safe keeping in another person's house, and
any harm happen to the corn in storage, or if the owner of the house
open the granary and take some of the corn, or if especially he deny
that the corn was stored in his house: then the owner of the corn shall
claim his corn before God (on oath), and the owner of the house shall
pay its owner for all of the corn that he took.
If any one store corn in another man's house he shall pay him storage
at the rate of one gur for every five ka of corn per year.
If any one give another silver, gold, or anything else to keep, he
shall show everything to some witness, draw up a contract, and then hand
it over for safe keeping.
If he turn it over for safe keeping without witness or contract, and
if he to whom it was given deny it, then he has no legitimate claim.
If any one deliver silver, gold, or anything else to another for safe
keeping, before a witness, but he deny it, he shall be brought before a
judge, and all that he has denied he shall pay in full.
If any one place his property with another for safe keeping, and
there, either through thieves or robbers, his property and the property
of the other man be lost, the owner of the house, through whose neglect
the loss took place, shall compensate the owner for all that was given
to him in charge. But the owner of the house shall try to follow up and
recover his property, and take it away from the thief.
If any one who has not lost his goods state that they have been lost,
and make false claims: if he claim his goods and amount of injury before
God, even though he has not lost them, he shall be fully compensated for
all his loss claimed. (I.e., the oath is all that is needed.)
If any one "point the finger" (slander) at a sister of a
god or the wife of any one, and can not prove it, this man shall be
taken before the judges and his brow shall be marked. (by cutting the
skin, or perhaps hair.)
If a man take a woman to wife, but have no intercourse with her, this
woman is no wife to him.
If a man's wife be surprised (in flagrante delicto) with another man,
both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon
his wife and the king his slaves.
If a man violate the wife (betrothed or child-wife) of another man,
who has never known a man, and still lives in her father's house, and
sleep with her and be surprised, this man shall be put to death, but the
wife is blameless.
If a man bring a charge against one's wife, but she is not surprised
with another man, she must take an oath and then may return to her
If the "finger is pointed" at a man's wife about another
man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall jump
into the river for her husband.
If a man is taken prisoner in war, and there is a sustenance in his
house, but his wife leave house and court, and go to another house:
because this wife did not keep her court, and went to another house, she
shall be judicially condemned and thrown into the water.
If any one be captured in war and there is not sustenance in his
house, if then his wife go to another house this woman shall be held
If a man be taken prisoner in war and there be no sustenance in his
house and his wife go to another house and bear children; and if later
her husband return and come to his home: then this wife shall return to
her husband, but the children follow their father.
If any one leave his house, run away, and then his wife go to another
house, if then he return, and wishes to take his wife back: because he
fled from his home and ran away, the wife of this runaway shall not
return to her husband.
If a man wish to separate from a woman who has borne him children, or
from his wife who has borne him children: then he shall give that wife
her dowry, and a part of the usufruct of field, garden, and property, so
that she can rear her children. When she has brought up her children, a
portion of all that is given to the children, equal as that of one son,
shall be given to her. She may then marry the man of her heart.
If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no
children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the
dowry which she brought from her father's house, and let her go.
If there was no purchase price he shall give her one mina of gold as
a gift of release.
If he be a freed man he shall give her one-third of a mina of gold.
If a man's wife, who lives in his house, wishes to leave it, plunges
into debt, tries to ruin her house, neglects her husband, and is
judicially convicted: if her husband offer her release, she may go on
her way, and he gives her nothing as a gift of release. If her husband
does not wish to release her, and if he take another wife, she shall
remain as servant in her husband's house.
If a woman quarrel with her husband, and say: "You are not
congenial to me," the reasons for her prejudice must be presented.
If she is guiltless, and there is no fault on her part, but he leaves
and neglects her, then no guilt attaches to this woman, she shall take
her dowry and go back to her father's house.
If she is not innocent, but leaves her husband, and ruins her house,
neglecting her husband, this woman shall be cast into the water.
If a man take a wife and this woman give her husband a maid-servant,
and she bear him children, but this man wishes to take another wife,
this shall not be permitted to him; he shall not take a second wife.
If a man take a wife, and she bear him no children, and he intend to
take another wife: if he take this second wife, and bring her into the
house, this second wife shall not be allowed equality with his wife.
If a man take a wife and she give this man a maid-servant as wife and
she bear him children, and then this maid assume equality with the wife:
because she has borne him children her master shall not sell her for
money, but he may keep her as a slave, reckoning her among the
If she have not borne him children, then her mistress may sell her
If a man take a wife, and she be seized by disease, if he then desire
to take a second wife he shall not put away his wife, who has been
attacked by disease, but he shall keep her in the house which he has
built and support her so long as she lives.
If this woman does not wish to remain in her husband's house, then he
shall compensate her for the dowry that she brought with her from her
father's house, and she may go.
If a man give his wife a field, garden, and house and a deed
therefor, if then after the death of her husband the sons raise no
claim, then the mother may bequeath all to one of her sons whom she
prefers, and need leave nothing to his brothers.
If a woman who lived in a man's house made an agreement with her
husband, that no creditor can arrest her, and has given a document
therefor: if that man, before he married that woman, had a debt, the
creditor can not hold the woman for it. But if the woman, before she
entered the man's house, had contracted a debt, her creditor can not
arrest her husband therefor.
If after the woman had entered the man's house, both contracted a
debt, both must pay the merchant.
If the wife of one man on account of another man has their mates (her
husband and the other man's wife) murdered, both of them shall be
If a man be guilty of incest with his daughter, he shall be driven
from the place (exiled).
If a man betroth a girl to his son, and his son have intercourse with
her, but he (the father) afterward defile her, and be surprised, then he
shall be bound and cast into the water (drowned).
If a man betroth a girl to his son, but his son has not known her,
and if then he defile her, he shall pay her half a gold mina, and
compensate her for all that she brought out of her father's house. She
may marry the man of her heart.
If any one be guilty of incest with his mother after his father, both
shall be burned.
If any one be surprised after his father with his chief wife, who has
borne children, he shall be driven out of his father's house.
If any one, who has brought chattels into his father-in-law's house,
and has paid the purchase-money, looks for another wife, and says to his
father-in-law: "I do not want your daughter," the girl's
father may keep all that he had brought.
If a man bring chattels into the house of his father-in-law, and pay
the "purchase price" (for his wife): if then the father of the
girl say: "I will not give you my daughter," he shall give him
back all that he brought with him.
If a man bring chattels into his father-in-law's house and pay the "purchase
price," if then his friend slander him, and his father-in-law say
to the young husband: "You shall not marry my daughter," the
he shall give back to him undiminished all that he had brought with him;
but his wife shall not be married to the friend.
If a man marry a woman, and she bear sons to him; if then this woman
die, then shall her father have no claim on her dowry; this belongs to
If a man marry a woman and she bear him no sons; if then this woman
die, if the "purchase price" which he had paid into the house
of his father-in-law is repaid to him, her husband shall have no claim
upon the dowry of this woman; it belongs to her father's house.
If his father-in-law do not pay back to him the amount of the "purchase
price" he may subtract the amount of the "Purchase price"
from the dowry, and then pay the remainder to her father's house.
If a man give to one of his sons whom he prefers a field, garden, and
house, and a deed therefor: if later the father die, and the brothers
divide the estate, then they shall first give him the present of his
father, and he shall accept it; and the rest of the paternal property
shall they divide.
If a man take wives for his son, but take no wife for his minor son,
and if then he die: if the sons divide the estate, they shall set aside
besides his portion the money for the "purchase price" for the
minor brother who had taken no wife as yet, and secure a wife for him.
If a man marry a wife and she bear him children: if this wife die and
he then take another wife and she bear him children: if then the father
die, the sons must not partition the estate according to the mothers,
they shall divide the dowries of their mothers only in this way; the
paternal estate they shall divide equally with one another.
If a man wish to put his son out of his house, and declare before the
judge: "I want to put my son out," then the judge shall
examine into his reasons. If the son be guilty of no great fault, for
which he can be rightfully put out, the father shall not put him out.
If he be guilty of a grave fault, which should rightfully deprive him
of the filial relationship, the father shall forgive him the first time;
but if he be guilty of a grave fault a second time the father may
deprive his son of all filial relation.
If his wife bear sons to a man, or his maid-servant have borne sons,
and the father while still living says to the children whom his
maid-servant has borne: "My sons," and he count them with the
sons of his wife; if then the father die, then the sons of the wife and
of the maid-servant shall divide the paternal property in common. The
son of the wife is to partition and choose.
If, however, the father while still living did not say to the sons of
the maid-servant: "My sons," and then the father dies, then
the sons of the maid-servant shall not share with the sons of the wife,
but the freedom of the maid and her sons shall be granted. The sons of
the wife shall have no right to enslave the sons of the maid; the wife
shall take her dowry (from her father), and the gift that her husband
gave her and deeded to her (separate from dowry, or the purchase-money
paid her father), and live in the home of her husband: so long as she
lives she shall use it, it shall not be sold for money. Whatever she
leaves shall belong to her children.
If her husband made her no gift, she shall be compensated for her
gift, and she shall receive a portion from the estate of her husband,
equal to that of one child. If her sons oppress her, to force her out of
the house, the judge shall examine into the matter, and if the sons are
at fault the woman shall not leave her husband's house. If the woman
desire to leave the house, she must leave to her sons the gift which her
husband gave her, but she may take the dowry of her father's house. Then
she may marry the man of her heart.
If this woman bear sons to her second husband, in the place to which
she went, and then die, her earlier and later sons shall divide the
dowry between them.
If she bear no sons to her second husband, the sons of her first
husband shall have the dowry.
If a State slave or the slave of a freed man marry the daughter of a
free man, and children are born, the master of the slave shall have no
right to enslave the children of the free.
If, however, a State slave or the slave of a freed man marry a man's
daughter, and after he marries her she bring a dowry from a father's
house, if then they both enjoy it and found a household, and accumulate
means, if then the slave die, then she who was free born may take her
dowry, and all that her husband and she had earned; she shall divide
them into two parts, one-half the master for the slave shall take, and
the other half shall the free-born woman take for her children. If the
free-born woman had no gift she shall take all that her husband and she
had earned and divide it into two parts; and the master of the slave
shall take one-half and she shall take the other for her children.
If a widow, whose children are not grown, wishes to enter another
house (remarry), she shall not enter it without the knowledge of the
judge. If she enter another house the judge shall examine the state of
the house of her first husband. Then the house of her first husband
shall be entrusted to the second husband and the woman herself as
managers. And a record must be made thereof. She shall keep the house in
order, bring up the children, and not sell the house-hold utensils. He
who buys the utensils of the children of a widow shall lose his money,
and the goods shall return to their owners.
If a "devoted woman" or a prostitute to whom her father has
given a dowry and a deed therefor, but if in this deed it is not stated
that she may bequeath it as she pleases, and has not explicitly stated
that she has the right of disposal; if then her father die, then her
brothers shall hold her field and garden, and give her corn, oil, and
milk according to her portion, and satisfy her. If her brothers do not
give her corn, oil, and milk according to her share, then her field and
garden shall support her. She shall have the usufruct of field and
garden and all that her father gave her so long as she lives, but she
can not sell or assign it to others. Her position of inheritance belongs
to her brothers.
If a "sister of a god," or a prostitute, receive a gift
from her father, and a deed in which it has been explicitly stated that
she may dispose of it as she pleases, and give her complete disposition
thereof: if then her father die, then she may leave her property to
whomsoever she pleases. Her brothers can raise no claim thereto.
If a father give a present to his daughter either marriageable
or a prostitute unmarriageable) and then die, then she is to
receive a portion as a child from the paternal estate, and enjoy its
usufruct so long as she lives. Her estate belongs to her brothers.
If a father devote a temple-maid or temple-virgin to God and give her
no present: if then the father die, she shall receive the third of a
child's portion from the inheritance of her father's house, and enjoy
its usufruct so long as she lives. Her estate belongs to her brothers.
If a father devote his daughter as a wife of Mardi of Babylon (as in
181), and give her no present, nor a deed; if then her father die, then
shall she receive one-third of her portion as a child of her father's
house from her brothers, but Marduk may leave her estate to whomsoever
If a man give his daughter by a concubine a dowry, and a husband, and
a deed; if then her father die, she shall receive no portion from the
If a man do not give a dowry to his daughter by a concubine, and no
husband; if then her father die, her brother shall give her a dowry
according to her father's wealth and secure a husband for her.
If a man adopt a child and to his name as son, and rear him, this
grown son can not be demanded back again.
If a man adopt a son, and if after he has taken him he injure his
foster father and mother, then this adopted son shall return to his
The son of a paramour in the palace service, or of a prostitute, can
not be demanded back.
If an artisan has undertaken to rear a child and teaches him his
craft, he can not be demanded back.
If he has not taught him his craft, this adopted son may return to
his father's house.
If a man does not maintain a child that he has adopted as a son and
reared with his other children, then his adopted son may return to his
If a man, who had adopted a son and reared him, founded a household,
and had children, wish to put this adopted son out, then this son shall
not simply go his way. His adoptive father shall give him of his wealth
one-third of a child's portion, and then he may go. He shall not give
him of the field, garden, and house.
If a son of a paramour or a prostitute say to his adoptive father or
mother: "You are not my father, or my mother," his tongue
shall be cut off.
If the son of a paramour or a prostitute desire his father's house,
and desert his adoptive father and adoptive mother, and goes to his
father's house, then shall his eye be put out.
If a man give his child to a nurse and the child die in her hands,
but the nurse unbeknown to the father and mother nurse another child,
then they shall convict her of having nursed another child without the
knowledge of the father and mother and her breasts shall be cut off.
If a son strike his father, his hands shall be hewn off.
If a man put out the eye of another man, his eye shall be put out. [
An eye for an eye ]
If he break another man's bone, his bone shall be broken.
If he put out the eye of a freed man, or break the bone of a freed
man, he shall pay one gold mina.
If he put out the eye of a man's slave, or break the bone of a man's
slave, he shall pay one-half of its value.
If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked
out. [ A tooth for a tooth ]
If he knock out the teeth of a freed man, he shall pay one-third of a
If any one strike the body of a man higher in rank than he, he shall
receive sixty blows with an ox-whip in public.
If a free-born man strike the body of another free-born man or equal
rank, he shall pay one gold mina.
If a freed man strike the body of another freed man, he shall pay ten
shekels in money.
If the slave of a freed man strike the body of a freed man, his ear
shall be cut off.
If during a quarrel one man strike another and wound him, then he
shall swear, "I did not injure him wittingly," and pay the
If the man die of his wound, he shall swear similarly, and if he (the
deceased) was a free-born man, he shall pay half a mina in money.
If he was a freed man, he shall pay one-third of a mina.
If a man strike a free-born woman so that she lose her unborn child,
he shall pay ten shekels for her loss.
If the woman die, his daughter shall be put to death.
If a woman of the free class lose her child by a blow, he shall pay
five shekels in money.
If this woman die, he shall pay half a mina.
If he strike the maid-servant of a man, and she lose her child, he
shall pay two shekels in money.
If this maid-servant die, he shall pay one-third of a mina.
If a physician make a large incision with an operating knife and cure
it, or if he open a tumor (over the eye) with an operating knife, and
saves the eye, he shall receive ten shekels in money.
If the patient be a freed man, he receives five shekels.
If he be the slave of some one, his owner shall give the physician
If a physician make a large incision with the operating knife, and
kill him, or open a tumor with the operating knife, and cut out the eye,
his hands shall be cut off.
If a physician make a large incision in the slave of a freed man, and
kill him, he shall replace the slave with another slave.
If he had opened a tumor with the operating knife, and put out his
eye, he shall pay half his value.
If a physician heal the broken bone or diseased soft part of a man,
the patient shall pay the physician five shekels in money.
If he were a freed man he shall pay three shekels.
If he were a slave his owner shall pay the physician two shekels.
If a veterinary surgeon perform a serious operation on an ass or an
ox, and cure it, the owner shall pay the surgeon one-sixth of a shekel
as a fee.
If he perform a serious operation on an ass or ox, and kill it, he
shall pay the owner one-fourth of its value.
If a barber, without the knowledge of his master, cut the sign of a
slave on a slave not to be sold, the hands of this barber shall be cut
If any one deceive a barber, and have him mark a slave not for sale
with the sign of a slave, he shall be put to death, and buried in his
house. The barber shall swear: "I did not mark him wittingly,"
and shall be guiltless.
If a builder build a house for some one and complete it, he shall
give him a fee of two shekels in money for each sar of surface.
If a builder build a house for some one, and does not construct it
properly, and the house which he built fall in and kill its owner, then
that builder shall be put to death.
If it kill the son of the owner the son of that builder shall be put
If it kill a slave of the owner, then he shall pay slave for slave to
the owner of the house.
If it ruin goods, he shall make compensation for all that has been
ruined, and inasmuch as he did not construct properly this house which
he built and it fell, he shall re-erect the house from his own means.
If a builder build a house for some one, even though he has not yet
completed it; if then the walls seem toppling, the builder must make the
walls solid from his own means.
If a shipbuilder build a boat of sixty gur for a man, he shall pay
him a fee of two shekels in money.
If a shipbuilder build a boat for some one, and do not make it tight,
if during that same year that boat is sent away and suffers injury, the
shipbuilder shall take the boat apart and put it together tight at his
own expense. The tight boat he shall give to the boat owner.
If a man rent his boat to a sailor, and the sailor is careless, and
the boat is wrecked or goes aground, the sailor shall give the owner of
the boat another boat as compensation.
If a man hire a sailor and his boat, and provide it with corn,
clothing, oil and dates, and other things of the kind needed for fitting
it: if the sailor is careless, the boat is wrecked, and its contents
ruined, then the sailor shall compensate for the boat which was wrecked
and all in it that he ruined.
If a sailor wreck any one's ship, but saves it, he shall pay the half
of its value in money.
If a man hire a sailor, he shall pay him six gur of corn per year.
If a merchantman run against a ferryboat, and wreck it, the master of
the ship that was wrecked shall seek justice before God; the master of
the merchantman, which wrecked the ferryboat, must compensate the owner
for the boat and all that he ruined.
If any one impresses an ox for forced labor, he shall pay one-third
of a mina in money.
If any one hire oxen for a year, he shall pay four gur of corn for
As rent of herd cattle he shall pay three gur of corn to the owner.
If any one hire an ox or an ass, and a lion kill it in the field, the
loss is upon its owner.
If any one hire oxen, and kill them by bad treatment or blows, he
shall compensate the owner, oxen for oxen.
If a man hire an ox, and he break its leg or cut the ligament of its
neck, he shall compensate the owner with ox for ox.
If any one hire an ox, and put out its eye, he shall pay the owner
one-half of its value.
If any one hire an ox, and break off a horn, or cut off its tail, or
hurt its muzzle, he shall pay one-fourth of its value in money.
If any one hire an ox, and God strike it that it die, the man who
hired it shall swear by God and be considered guiltless.
If while an ox is passing on the street (market) some one push it,
and kill it, the owner can set up no claim in the suit (against the
If an ox be a goring ox, and it shown that he is a gorer, and he do
not bind his horns, or fasten the ox up, and the ox gore a free-born man
and kill him, the owner shall pay one-half a mina in money.
If he kill a man's slave, he shall pay one-third of a mina.
If any one agree with another to tend his field, give him seed,
entrust a yoke of oxen to him, and bind him to cultivate the field, if
he steal the corn or plants, and take them for himself, his hands shall
be hewn off.
If he take the seed-corn for himself, and do not use the yoke of
oxen, he shall compensate him for the amount of the seed-corn.
If he sublet the man's yoke of oxen or steal the seed-corn, planting
nothing in the field, he shall be convicted, and for each one hundred
gan he shall pay sixty gur of corn.
If his community will not pay for him, then he shall be placed in
that field with the cattle (at work).
If any one hire a field laborer, he shall pay him eight gur of corn
If any one hire an ox-driver, he shall pay him six gur of corn per
If any one steal a water-wheel from the field, he shall pay five
shekels in money to its owner.
If any one steal a shadduf (used to draw water from the river or
canal) or a plow, he shall pay three shekels in money.
If any one hire a herdsman for cattle or sheep, he shall pay him
eight gur of corn per annum.
If any one, a cow or a sheep ...
If he kill the cattle or sheep that were given to him, he shall
compensate the owner with cattle for cattle and sheep for sheep.
If a herdsman, to whom cattle or sheep have been entrusted for
watching over, and who has received his wages as agreed upon, and is
satisfied, diminish the number of the cattle or sheep, or make the
increase by birth less, he shall make good the increase or profit which
was lost in the terms of settlement.
If a herdsman, to whose care cattle or sheep have been entrusted, be
guilty of fraud and make false returns of the natural increase, or sell
them for money, then shall he be convicted and pay the owner ten times
If the animal be killed in the stable by God ( an accident), or if a
lion kill it, the herdsman shall declare his innocence before God, and
the owner bears the accident in the stable.
If the herdsman overlook something, and an accident happen in the
stable, then the herdsman is at fault for the accident which he has
caused in the stable, and he must compensate the owner for the cattle or
If any one hire an ox for threshing, the amount of the hire is twenty
ka of corn.
If he hire an ass for threshing, the hire is twenty ka of corn.
If he hire a young animal for threshing, the hire is ten ka of corn.
If any one hire oxen, cart and driver, he shall pay one hundred and
eighty ka of corn per day.
If any one hire a cart alone, he shall pay forty ka of corn per day.
If any one hire a day laborer, he shall pay him from the New Year
until the fifth month (April to August, when days are long and the work
hard) six gerahs in money per day; from the sixth month to the end of
the year he shall give him five gerahs per day.
If any one hire a skilled artisan, he shall pay as wages of the ...
five gerahs, as wages of the potter five gerahs, of a tailor five
gerahs, of ... gerahs, ... of a ropemaker four gerahs, of ... gerahs, of
a mason ... gerahs per day.
If any one hire a ferryboat, he shall pay three gerahs in money per
If he hire a freight-boat, he shall pay two and one-half gerahs per
If any one hire a ship of sixty gur, he shall pay one-sixth of a
shekel in money as its hire per day.
If any one buy a male or female slave, and before a month has elapsed
the benu-disease be developed, he shall return the slave to the seller,
and receive the money which he had paid.
If any one by a male or female slave, and a third party claim it, the
seller is liable for the claim.
If while in a foreign country a man buy a male or female slave
belonging to another of his own country; if when he return home the
owner of the male or female slave recognize it: if the male or female
slave be a native of the country, he shall give them back without any
If they are from another country, the buyer shall declare the amount
of money paid therefor to the merchant, and keep the male or female
If a slave say to his master: "You are not my master," if
they convict him his master shall cut off his ear.
LAWS of justice which Hammurabi, the wise king, established. A righteous
law, and pious statute did he teach the land. Hammurabi, the protecting
king am I. I have not withdrawn myself from the men, whom Bel gave to me,
the rule over whom Marduk gave to me, I was not negligent, but I made them
a peaceful abiding-place. I expounded all great difficulties, I made the
light shine upon them. With the mighty weapons which Zamama and Ishtar
entrusted to me, with the keen vision with which Ea endowed me, with the
wisdom that Marduk gave me, I have uprooted the enemy above and below (in
north and south), subdued the earth, brought prosperity to the land,
guaranteed security to the inhabitants in their homes; a disturber was not
permitted. The great gods have called me, I am the salvation-bearing
shepherd, whose staff is straight, the good shadow that is spread over my
city; on my breast I cherish the inhabitants of the land of Sumer and
Akkad; in my shelter I have let them repose in peace; in my deep wisdom
have I enclosed them. That the strong might not injure the weak, in order
to protect the widows and orphans, I have in Babylon the city where Anu
and Bel raise high their head, in E-Sagil, the Temple, whose foundations
stand firm as heaven and earth, in order to bespeak justice in the land,
to settle all disputes, and heal all injuries, set up these my precious
words, written upon my memorial stone, before the image of me, as king of
The king who ruleth among the kings of the cities am I. My words are
well considered; there is no wisdom like unto mine. By the command of
Shamash, the great judge of heaven and earth, let righteousness go forth
in the land: by the order of Marduk, my lord, let no destruction befall my
monument. In E-Sagil, which I love, let my name be ever repeated; let the
oppressed, who has a case at law, come and stand before this my image as
king of righteousness; let him read the inscription, and understand my
precious words: the inscription will explain his case to him; he will find
out what is just, and his heart will be glad, so that he will say:
"Hammurabi is a ruler, who is as a father to his subjects,
who holds the words of Marduk in reverence, who has achieved conquest for
Marduk over the north and south, who rejoices the heart of Marduk, his
lord, who has bestowed benefits for ever and ever on his subjects, and has
established order in the land."
When he reads the record, let him pray with full heart to Marduk, my
lord, and Zarpanit, my lady; and then shall the protecting deities and the
gods, who frequent E-Sagil, graciously grant the desires daily presented
before Marduk, my lord, and Zarpanit, my lady.
In future time, through all coming generations, let the king, who may be
in the land, observe the words of righteousness which I have written on my
monument; let him not alter the law of the land which I have given, the
edicts which I have enacted; my monument let him not mar. If such a ruler
have wisdom, and be able to keep his land in order, he shall observe the
words which I have written in this inscription; the rule, statute, and law
of the land which I have given; the decisions which I have made will this
inscription show him; let him rule his subjects accordingly, speak justice
to them, give right decisions, root out the miscreants and criminals from
this land, and grant prosperity to his subjects.
Hammurabi, the king of righteousness, on whom Shamash has conferred
right (or law) am I. My words are well considered; my deeds are not
equaled; to bring low those that were high; to humble the proud, to expel
insolence. If a succeeding ruler considers my words, which I have written
in this my inscription, if he do not annul my law, nor corrupt my words,
nor change my monument, then may Shamash lengthen that king's reign, as he
has that of me, the king of righteousness, that he may reign in
righteousness over his subjects. If this ruler do not esteem my words,
which I have written in my inscription, if he despise my curses, and fear
not the curse of God, if he destroy the law which I have given, corrupt my
words, change my monument, efface my name, write his name there, or on
account of the curses commission another so to do, that man, whether king
or ruler, patesi, or commoner, no matter what he be, may the great God
(Anu), the Father of the gods, who has ordered my rule, withdraw from him
the glory of royalty, break his scepter, curse his destiny. May Bel, the
lord, who fixeth destiny, whose command can not be altered, who has made
my kingdom great, order a rebellion which his hand can not control; may he
let the wind of the overthrow of his habitation blow, may he ordain the
years of his rule in groaning, years of scarcity, years of famine,
darkness without light, death with seeing eyes be fated to him; may he
(Bel) order with his potent mouth the destruction of his city, the
dispersion of his subjects, the cutting off of his rule, the removal of
his name and memory from the land. May Belit, the great Mother, whose
command is potent in E-Kur (the Babylonian Olympus), the Mistress, who
harkens graciously to my petitions, in the seat of judgment and decision
(where Bel fixes destiny), turn his affairs evil before Bel, and put the
devastation of his land, the destruction of his subjects, the pouring out
of his life like water into the mouth of King Bel. May Ea, the great
ruler, whose fated decrees come to pass, the thinker of the gods, the
omniscient, who maketh long the days of my life, withdraw understanding
and wisdom from him, lead him to forgetfulness, shut up his rivers at
their sources, and not allow corn or sustenance for man to grow in his
land. May Shamash, the great Judge of heaven and earth, who supporteth all
means of livelihood, Lord of life-courage, shatter his dominion, annul
his law, destroy his way, make vain the march of his troops, send him in
his visions forecasts of the uprooting of the foundations of his throne
and of the destruction of his land. May the condemnation of Shamash
overtake him forthwith; may he be deprived of water above among the
living, and his spirit below in the earth. May Sin (the Moon-god), the
Lord of Heaven, the divine father, whose crescent gives light among the
gods, take away the crown and regal throne from him; may he put upon him
heavy guilt, great decay, that nothing may be lower than he. May he
destine him as fated, days, months and years of dominion filled with
sighing and tears, increase of the burden of dominion, a life that is like
unto death. May Adad, the lord of fruitfulness, ruler of heaven and earth,
my helper, withhold from him rain from heaven, and the flood of water from
the springs, destroying his land by famine and want; may he rage mightily
over his city, and make his land into flood-hills (heaps of ruined
cities). May Zamama, the great warrior, the first-born son of E-Kur, who
goeth at my right hand, shatter his weapons on the field of battle, turn
day into night for him, and let his foe triumph over him. May Ishtar, the
goddess of fighting and war, who unfetters my weapons, my gracious
protecting spirit, who loveth my dominion, curse his kingdom in her angry
heart; in her great wrath, change his grace into evil, and shatter his
weapons on the place of fighting and war. May she create disorder and
sedition for him, strike down his warriors, that the earth may drink their
blood, and throw down the piles of corpses of his warriors on the field;
may she not grant him a life of mercy, deliver him into the hands of his
enemies, and imprison him in the land of his enemies. May Nergal, the
might among the gods, whose contest is irresistible, who grants me
victory, in his great might burn up his subjects like a slender reedstalk,
cut off his limbs with his mighty weapons, and shatter him like an earthen
image. May Nin-tu, the sublime mistress of the lands, the fruitful mother,
deny him a son, vouchsafe him no name, give him no successor among men.
May Nin-karak, the daughter of Anu, who adjudges grace to me, cause to
come upon his members in E-kur high fever, severe wounds, that can not be
healed, whose nature the physician does not understand, which he can not
treat with dressing, which, like the bite of death, can not be removed,
until they have sapped away his life.
May he lament the loss of his life-power, and may the great gods of
heaven and earth, the Anunaki, altogether inflict a curse and evil upon
the confines of the temple, the walls of this E-barra (the Sun temple of
Sippara), upon his dominion, his land, his warriors, his subjects, and his
troops. May Bel curse him with the potent curses of his mouth that can not
be altered, and may they come upon him forthwith.
While the precise date of Hammurabi's Code of Laws is disputed by
scholars, it is generally believed to have been written between the second
year of his reign, circa 1727 BCE, and the end of his reign, circa 1680
BCE, predating the Hebrew "Ten Commandments" by about 500 years.
Perhaps the single most striking feature of Hammurabi's Code is its
commitment to protection of the weak from being brutalized by the strong.
He believed that he had been ordained by his gods Anu (God of the Sky) and
Bel (The Lord of Heaven and Earth, the God of Destiny) to establish the
rule of law and justice over his people.
In his own words, Hammurabi said:
"Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted
prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the
land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should
not harm the weak..."
He referred to himself as the "shepherd of the oppressed and of the
slaves," and ordered that "these my precious words" be
written upon his memorial stone, before his image "That the strong
might not injure the weak, in order to protect the widows and orphans ...
in order to bespeak justice in the land, to settle all disputes, and heal
all injuries ..."
Hammurabi's Code addressed the right of the poor to seek redress from
wrongs committed by the wealthy or by the nobility. It also addressed the
rights of women, including the rights of women to own property in their
own names, and even the right to divorce a husband for grounds which would
be recognized even today.