Discuss the difference between a code of law with property as the center (Hittites and Assyrians) and a code of law with human beings as the center (Moses).
1 Answer | Add Yours
Although both dealt with both proprietary and personal relationships, the primary difference between the two is the presence or lack of social stratification. In those societies in which law was based primarily on property, social stratification was present, and much of the law dealt with that stratification. As a general rule, stratification was based on property ownership and power. The Code of Hammurabi is illustrative:
If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out.
If he knock out the teeth of a freed man, he shall pay one-third of a gold mina.
If any one strike the body of a man higher in rank than he, he shall receive sixty blows with an ox-whip in public.
If a free-born man strike the body of another free-born man or equal rank, he shall pay one gold mina.
If a freed man strike the body of another freed man, he shall pay ten shekels in money.
If the slave of a freed man strike the body of a freed man, his ear shall be cut off.
Note that in many instances, a fine rather than corporal punishment is provided for; however corporal punishment is readily administered to the slave who had no property.
The Law of Moses was handed down when the Hebrew People had no land, indeed they were wanderers in the wilderness. They likewise had no social stratification, only a leader. They had no king until they were settled for some time in Canaan. As there were no proprietary rights to be adjudicated, the law dealt almost entirely with interpersonal relationships. The Ten Commandments are illustrative:
Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
You must not murder.
You must not commit adultery.
You must not steal.
You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.
Interestingly, both shared the concept of lex talionis, the law of retaliation, or "an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth."
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes