Front Page Titles (by Subject) INTRODUCTION. - The Code of Hammurabi
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INTRODUCTION. - Hammurabi, The Code of Hammurabi [2250 BC]
The Code of Hammurabi King of Babylon about 2250 B.C. Autographed Text Transliteration Translation Glossary Index of Subjects Lists of Proper Names Signs Numerals Corrections and Erasures with Map Fronticepiece and Photograph of Text, by Robert Francis Harper (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1904).
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The Monument on which the Code of Ḫammurabi is engraved was found in December, 1901, and January, 1902, on the acropolis of Susa by an Expedition sent out by the French Government under the Director General, M. de Morgan. It is a block of black diorite, nearly eight feet high, broken into three pieces which were easily re-joined. Another fragment was found which does not belong to this Monument, but which contains a text corresponding to Column 41, 72–80, and this leads to the conclusion that another copy of this famous Code existed in Susa. On the Obverse we have a bas-relief (see Frontispiece) exhibiting King Ḫammurabi receiving the laws from the Sun God, to which the story of Moses receiving the Ten Words from Yahweh corresponds. Under this relief are engraved sixteen columns of text, four and one-half of which form the Prologue. There were originally five more columns on the Obverse, but these have been cut off by the Elamitic conqueror. On the Reverse, there are twenty-eight columns, the last five of which form the Epilogue. There are many reasons for believing that this Code of Laws was published in many places. We may accept the opinion of Scheil and Winckler that the copy found at Susa may have been taken as plunder by Šutruk-Naḫunte (about 1100 ) and brought to his Elamitic capital. We have fragments of later copies on tablets and these have enabled me to restore the text in one or two places. These later fragments, with transliteration and translation, will form one of the Appendices to Part II.
Ḫammurabi, identified by most Assyriologists with the Amraphel of Genesis 14, 1, was the sixth king of the First Dynasty of Babylon and reigned for fifty-five years, about 2250 We have a good account of his life and deeds in the Letters which he wrote to Sin-idinnam and in The Chronicle of the Kings of Babylon, both of which have been edited with great care by Mr. L. W. King. From the Prologue and Epilogue we learn that he was a great soldier and a pious, god-fearing king, who destroyed all his enemies to the North and South, and made his people to dwell in peace and security. He codified the existing laws that the strong might not oppress the weak, that they should give justice to the orphan and widow, and for the righting of wrong. He rebuilt cities and canals, he restored temples and endowed them with means for sacrifices, he re-established cults, he reunited his people.
Society in the time of Ḫammurabi consisted legally of the following classes: 1) the awîlum, 2) the muškênum, and 3) the wardum-amtum, and their rights and privileges were clearly defined. The first, awîlum, included the house-holders, property owners, the wealthy and upper classes. Awîlum has been translated by man or person. In a few places, it is almost necessary to translate gentleman as over against freeman. The second, muškênum, has been variously translated, pauper poor man, serf, retainer, etc. The etymology of the word goes to show that the muškênum was poor. He could, however, hold property and slaves. He was free. He held a position half-way between the awîlum, upper class man, and the wardum-amtum, slave. I have used the term freeman. The third class, wardum-amtum, consisted of male and female slaves. There was also a class of public servants which received subsidies from the government. It is difficult to determine the exact duties of these officers. I have translated officer (recruiting officer), constable (military messenger, police officer), and taxgatherer (one in the public service). (Compare the Index of Subjects.) The position of women, which was a high one legally, of concubines, devotees, etc., will be discussed in Part II.
The Text as presented in Plates I-LXXXII has been reconstructed and edited from the photographs published by Scheil in Tome IV, Textes Élamites-Sémitiques of the Mémoires de la Délégation en Perse (Paris, Leroux, 1902). It was printed in the October (1903) number of The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures. Since then Ungnad’s excellent article, “Zur Syntax der Gesetze Ḫammurabis,” has appeared in the Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, November, 1903 (Vol. XVII, 4), and I have accepted and incorporated into my text the following readings: šumma instead of aššum, which had been restored by all in 6, 18, and this has led me to divide this section into two; it-te-[ip-ti], 15, 14, instead of it-te-[ip-tu-u]; na-ak-ka-a[m-m]a instead of na-ak-ka-p[u-u], 37, 53; and mu-ša-zi-ḳam a ir-ši-a, 40, 92, instead of MU.ŠA:ZI.KAR. IR.ŠI.A. In the transliteration and translation, I have also accepted Winckler’s reading [nu-r]a-am, 40, 21, for [u-s]i-am which stands in my text. To edit a text from a photograph is a very different task from editing an original copy. No one can appreciate this more keenly than I. In fact, I am of opinion that an edition of an Assyrian or Babylonian text which is to be final must go back to the originals. Hence there may be room for difference of opinion in regard to many small wedges which are not essential to any form of the Signs in which they are found. Some restorations have been attempted, and in these I have for the most part followed Scheil. I have, however, been obliged to differ from him in some places. Only such restorations were made as seemed to me to be fairly certain. Others, which were less certain, have been put in the Transliteration.
In the Transliteration I have used the mimation with the ideograms following the forms which have a syllabic spelling. In many places I have distinguished ḳ from k where no such distinction is made in the Text. Again, in many places, I have preferred to retain the k, where ḳ might have been used with accuracy. My readings in all these places are indicated in the Glossary.
The Translation which is placed opposite the Transliteration is rather literal. In most cases, the Babylonian idiom has been retained in the English, e. g.: to take a wife, to set one’s face, to cast one’s eyes upon, etc. In other cases, I have not hesitated to change the form of expression for the sake of clearness. An effort was made to avoid technical and legal language.
The Index to Subjects was made very complete to enable the reader to consult the Code with the greatest ease. In fact, it may be used as a commentary to the Code.
The Glossary has been arranged alphabetically. Under A, are placed all words beginning with a, e, i, o, u, and w. With the exception of a few words, e. g., šumma, la, ul, ina, ana, awilum, etc., it has been my aim to register every occurrence of every form found in the Code.
The List of Signs and Numerals was finished about November first, 1903, before the appearance of Ungnad’s article, “Zur Syntax der Gesetze Ḫammurabis,” in the November (XVII, 4) number of ZA. The values of No. 84, ḳu, ḳum, kum (cf. Jensen, KB, III, pp. 111, 113 and Hunger, Becherwahrsagung bei den Babyloniern, p. 7), No. 137, sa, za, No. 148, ud, ut, tam, No. 194, ṣu, zum (cf. Hunger, p. 7) had already been listed. I have, however, accepted two of Ungnad’s suggestions, viz., the reading wardu, instead of ardu, on account of the occurrence of wardûtu; and the substitution of ar for ri in 11, 34, cf. the List of Scribal Errors.
The values maš and bar are usually distinguished in the Code, cf. No. 34, and hence the reading E.UL.MAŠ is to be preferred to E.UL.BAR. For the reading E.MIŠ.MIŠ instead of E.DUP.DUP, cf. Nos. 65 and 66. Note the two forms of Ê listed in No. 121. The sign under No. 121, which has not been explained hitherto, has been made a gunu of No. 148, cf. List of Scribal Errors, 36, 89. In No. 142, ŠE.ZIR may be read zîru and ŠÀ.GAL in No. 150 ukullû. In No. 35 NU.TUR, as is well known, has the value labuttû; NU.IṢ.SAR has been read amêlu urḳu (Delitzsch), zikaru-kirû (Langdon), etc.; NU.TUK has the value ekûtu. These values will be noticed in the Glossary. No. 80 has been read incorrectly hitherto. It occurs twice and has the value šêru, flesh, 37, 32 and šîru, oracie, 43, 27.
In List II, 180 ḲA seems too large a number for the last sign. This is the usual reading, but 90 ḲA would suit the context better in the law in which it occurs. Compare §§ 271 and 272: If a man hire oxen, a wagon, and a driver, he shall pay 180 ḲA of grain per day; If a man hire a wagon only, he shall pay 40 ḲA of grain per day. In § 268, we have: If a man hire an ox to thresh, 20 ḲA of grain is its hire.
Lists III and IV are of necessity incomplete. One could easily be tempted to add other examples to those listed. The reading uḫ-tab-[bi]-it instead of uḫ-tab-da in two places may not commend itself. I am aware that in 38, 82, gu-u is usually read for AMAT=gu, and that lu in 13, 62 (la il-lu-u) is retained. In 32, 80, ba is an unfinished zu. In List IV only the most important erasures have been given. The first column shows what was written originally, the second the sign as corrected, and the third the sign intended.