Babylon under Hammurabis law

Babylonians started ruling over Sumer in 1900 BC. Hammurabi, the king of Babylon led his armies to occupy Mesopotamia and build an empire there. As the supreme ruler, Hammurabi established a set of rules of conduct for the Babylonians. The laws of Hammurabi were written in cuneiform and encrypted on stone, stating exactly how the Babylonian society was to behave. Lewis (pp.18) sates, the code is engraved in cuneiform writing on a seven-foot tall black stone pillar… This discussion is going to focus on the laws of Hammurabi concerning marriage, divorce, adultery, inheritance, and life in Babylon in general.

According to Hammurabi’s code, marriage was considered a contract between a man and a woman. Marriages were organized by parents and other relatives for their children, with the bride-groom’s parents obligated to pay bride price to the girl’s family. This type of marriage arrangement sounds authoritative since the lovers did have any say in their own marriage. Parents were in complete control of their children’s lives and marriages were not based on love or mutual agreement on the part of the ones getting married. This is very unfair, since a person would be forced to marry a person they did not want for a partner.

Divorce was handled very differently for men and women. Whereas men were allowed to divorce their wives at will, wives were only permitted to separate from their husbands on grounds of neglect or cruelty.