The Code of Hammurabi is one of the most important monuments in the history of the human race. Containing as it does the laws which were enacted by a king of Babylonia in the third millennium BC, whose rule extended over the whole of Mesopotamia from the mouths of the rivers Tigris and Euphrates to the Mediterranean coast, we must regard it with interest. But when we reflect that the ancient Hebrew tradition ascribed the migration of Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to this very period, and clearly means to represent their tribe father as triumphing over this very same Hammurabi, we can hardly doubt that these very laws were part of that tradition. At any rate, they must have served to mold and fix the ideas of right throughout that great empire, and so form the state of society in Canaan when, 500 years later, the Hebrews began to dominate that region. Such was the effect produced on the minds of succeeding generations by this superb codification of the judicial decisions of past ages, which had come to be regarded as 'the right,' that 2,000 years and more later it was made a text-book for study in the schools of Babylonia. In Assyria also, in the seventh century BC, it was studied in a different edition, apparently under the name of The Judgments of Righteousness which Hammurabi, the great king, set up. These facts point to it as certain to affect Jewish views before and after the Exile, in a way that we may expect to find as fundamental as the Babylonian influence in cosmology or religion.
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