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Hammurabi's Laws

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Hammurabi's law code is similar to the Ten Commandments. They showed Babylonia various rules they were to abide by, and the consequences if they did not. I feel that many of these rules are similar to the laws of today, since they were created to set a standard for society. Yet, they are filled with double standards towards women, and the poverty stricken, and quick, and unjust punishments.
Law number 22 stated:
'If a man has committed highway robbery and been caught, he shall be put to death'1
I think this is quite unfair. Why does stealing deserve death? The description of robbery is, 'the taking or attempting to take anything of value from the care, custody, or control of a person or persons by force or threat of force or violence and/or by putting the victim in fear'2 How does taking something that is not yours, or even hurting someone equal death? Today, there are different degrees of penalties for robbery; none of them thankfully include death. Another example to illustrate the fact of the biasness of these codes is rule number 154:

'If a man have sexual intercourse with his daughter, he shall be expelled from this city'3

I do not think this punishment fits the crime. As stated before, the punishment for robbery is much harsher than for this crime. Incest only grants expulsion. To steal a tangible item and inflict fear, you die; to steal a girl's innocence and dignity, inflict pain, hatred, fear, and just an overall tainted feeling, you get to start your life over in a new city.

Another of these laws that show exactly what little worth the female gender had is number 141:

'If a wife, living in her husband's house, has persisted on going out, has acted the fool, has wasted her house, has belittled her husband, he shall prosecute her. If her husband has said, I divorce her, she shall go her way; he shall give her nothing as her price of divorce. If he has said, I will not divorce her, he may take another woman to wife, and the [first] wife shall live as a slave in her husband's house.'4

First off, what grounds does a person have for making another a slave? It seems anyway that the female is already one. The code basically says that the woman may not go out, fight with her spouse, or act foolishly. This law is a double standard. How come there is no law stating a punishment if the husband does these things to the wife? In America today, there are many factors that courts consider when distributing money and goods. As Hammurabi's law number 141 stated, 'The wife would leave with nothing'4 In general now, the length of marriage, the nature of the property, the responsibilities of each participant in the marriage, presence of children, education, and non economic contribution to the marriage, decides how much each party will receive at the time of divorce. Usually a 50-50 division of assets occurs.5

Another marriage related law by Hammurabi, number 128 states:

'If a man has taken a wife and not drawn up a marriage contract, that woman is not a wife'. 6

Today, certain states honor a concept called Common-law Marriages. Basically they are just a union of two people without a 'wedding' or judge. Prior to January 1, 1902, common law marriages were permitted in New York. From January 1, 1902 until January 1, 1908, they were abolished. They were once again honored from January 1, 1908 until April 29, 1933, when they were finally abolished. There are still states that recognize common law marriages. These include, Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Texas and Utah.7 I do not side with Hammurabi, or the state of New York on this subject. ...

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