Source: Hammurabi, The Oldest
Code of Laws in the World, the Code of Laws Promulgated by Hammurabi,
King of Babylon, 2285-2242, B.C. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1911)
1. If a man weaves a spell and puts a ban upon
another man and has not justified himself, he that wove the spell upon him
shall be put to death.
2. If a man has put a spell upon another man
and has not justified himself, he upon whom the spell is laid shall go to
the holy river. He shall plunge into the holy river, and if the holy river
overcomes him, he who wove the spell upon him shall take to himself his house.
If the holy river makes that man to be innocent, and has saved him, he who
laid the spell upon him shall be put to death. He who plunged into the holy
river shall take to himself the house of him who wove the spell upon
3. If a man, in a case pending judgment, has
uttered threats against the witnesses, or has not justified the word that
he has spoken, if that case be a capital suit, that man shall be put to
4. If he has offered corn or money to the witnesses,
he shall himself bear the sentence of that case.
5. If a judge has judged a judgment, decided
a decision, granted a sealed sentence, and afterwards has altered his judgment,
that judge, for the alteration of the judgment that he judged, shall be put
him to account, and he shall pay twelvefold the penalty which was in the
said judgment, and in the assembly one shall expel him from his judgment
seat, and he shall not return, and with the judges at a judgment he shall
not take his seat.
6. If a man has stolen the goods of a temple
or palace, that man shall be killed, and he who has received the stolen thing
from his hand shall be put to death.
7. If a man has bought silver, gold, manservant
or maidservant, ox or sheep or ass, or anything whatever its name, from the
hand of a man's son, or of a man's slave, without witness and bonds, or has
received the same on deposit, than that man has acted the thief, and he shall
be put to death.
8. If a man has stolen ox or sheep or ass or
pig or ship, whether from the temple or the palace, he shall pay thirtyfold.
If he be a poor man, he shall render tenfold. If the thief has nought to
pay, he shall be put to death.
9. If a man who has lost something of his, and
something of his that is lost has been seized in the hand of a man, and the
man in whose hand the lost thing has been seized has said, "A giver gave
it to me," or "I bought it before witnesses," and the owner of the thing
that is lost has said, "Verily, I will bring witnesses that know my lost
property." The buyer has brought the giver who gave it to him and the witnesses
before whom he bought it, and the owner of the lost property has brought
the witnesses who know his lost property, the judge shall see their depositions.
The witnesses before whom the purchase was made and the witnesses knowing
the lost property shall say out before God what they know; and if the giver
has acted the thief he shall be put to death. The owner of the lost property
shall take his lost property, and the buyer shall take the money he paid
from the house of the giver.
10. If the buyer has not brought the giver who
gave it to him and the witnesses before whom he bought it, and the owner
of the lost property has brought the witnesses knowing his lost property,
the buyer has acted the thief. He shall be put to death; the owner of the
lost property shall take his lost property.
11. If the owner of the lost property has not
brought witnesses knowing his lost property, he has lied. He has stirred
up strife; he shall be put to death.
12. If the giver has betaken himself to his
fate, the buyer shall take from the house of the giver fivefold as the penalty
of that case.
13. If that man has not his witnesses near,
the judge shall set him a fixed time, up to six months, and if within six
months he has not driven in his witnesses, that man has lied. He himself
shall bear the blame of that case.
14. If a man has stolen the son of a freeman,
he shall be put to death.
15. If a man has caused either a palace slave
or palace maid, or a slave of a poor man or a poor man's maid, to go out
of the gate, he shall be put to death.
16. If a man has harboured in his house a manservant
or a maidservant, fugitive from the palace, or a poor man, and has not produced
them at the demand of the commandant, the owner of that house shall be put
17. If a man has captured either a manservant
or a maidservant, as a fugitive in the open country, and has driven him back
to his master, the owner of the slave shall pay him two shekels of
18. If that slave will not name his owner, he
shall drive him to the palace, and one shall enquire into his past, and cause
him to return to his owner.