How is modern law different from Hammurabi code?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a number of fundamental ways the Code of Hammurabi is different to today. Many of the differences demonstrate the difference in perspectives between people of the ancient world, with people of today. Hammurabi's ancient code assigned punishments that, by today's standards, would be considered cruel and unusual. Also, sometimes if you were accused of a crime, your guilt or innocence would be determined by your ability to emerge from being dumped in the Euphrates River. Today, judges and juries decide verdicts and not your swimming ability, but the superstition of the day dictated that the gods would choose to help a defendant if they were innocent.

The Code of Hammurabi was also much simpler than today's legal systems. The code was posted on a seven-foot-high piece of stone and contained 282 laws. How high would the piece of rock reach in the sky if all of our laws were posted on it? Modern law has more than 282 laws in even the smallest towns. The code of Hammurabi also established different codes for different classes of people, a notion that would be unacceptable in modern law.