Code of Hammurabi vs. Mosaic Law

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Code of Hammurabi vs. Mosaic Law

Postby Abiding in His Word on Wed Nov 15, 2006 8:51 pm

Hi Holly,

There were many collections of laws in ancient Mesopotamia during the time Abraham and Sarah lived, the most well-known being the Code of Hammurabi. I believe Sarah was acting within that law both in her giving Hagar to Abraham as well as her dismissal of Hagar on the grounds of not showing due respect to her mistress.

My question is; do you think the Mosaic law is foundationally built on such laws as were prevalent throughout the Mesopotamian region with the addition of the moral consequences of sinful activity? From the time of Adam till Moses was somewhere near 2500 yrs., after all, and people were governed by laws of the land during that time, but without the spiritual aspect.

So, did God "refine",so to speak, the laws that were already in existence?
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Postby Holly on Fri Nov 17, 2006 11:32 pm

Hi Mary!

Yes, there are similarities between the ancient law codes, especially the Code of Hammurabi and Israel's law code. The principle of "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," for example, is similar.

However, the differences between these two codes are great. Israel's law code, for example, placed greater value on human life. It gave greater dignity and fairer treatment to women, slaves and the young than the Code of Hammurabi did. It also made a distinction between a deed and intent (when a crime was committed).

Another key difference is that Hammurabi's code was based on pagan worship, and Israel's code was based on monotheistic worship of Yahweh.

I think it is very possible that Israel's law code was influenced by the Code of Hammurabi and perhaps other ancient law codes since God generally doesn't work in a vacuum. He works through existing peoples, cultures, etc. — consistent with His approach of redeeming humankind by Jesus becoming incarnate as a human being. Yet, the differences between the codes show that Israel's code was superior.

I hope this helps!
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Postby Abiding in His Word on Sat Nov 18, 2006 2:37 am

Thanks, Holly. Those were my thoughts too! Thanks for taking the time to respond!
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Postby Holly on Sat Nov 18, 2006 1:08 pm

You're welcome!
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