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Danica Antonia Roberts

August 14, 2009

70 Block

Hammurabi’s Code and the Bill of Rights: Compare and Contrast

Over the centuries, different civilizations used different documents to

insure peace, justice, and a false sense of equality amongst the people. And

these documents are part of what make the civilizations. Without them, there

would be no governing statement to say what can, and cannot be done.

Hammurabi’s Law Code is an example of one of those documents. It is

actually one of the first documents of its kind, and is one of the foundations

for many documents in history, and even documents in today’s societies. A

stellar example is the Bill of Rights. And because Hammurabi’s Law Code has

been used as an influence, they share some interesting similarities, and

some equally interesting differences.

When it comes to the characteristics the Bill of Rights and

Hammurabi’s Law Code have in common, one realizes that they are a far less

amount than the amount of differences. The Bill of Rights and Hammurabi’s

Law Code are both, obviously, a set of laws. This means that they both have

decrees that must be followed. Also, the purpose of both of these laws is to

protect and bring justice to the people to whom the rules shall apply.

Hammurabi boasted of his purpose for his Law Code by saying, “…to
promote the welfare of the people, I, Hammurabi, the devout, god-fearing

prince, cause justice to prevail in the land by destroying the wicked and the

evil, that the strong might not oppress the weak.” One person even defined

that the Bill of Rights was created to “set the limits on what the government

can and cannot do in regards to personal liberties.” When looking at these

two documents, many forget to consider the artists behind the masterpieces.

Hammurabi and James Madison were both influential figures in their

societies. Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylon, and the first king of the

Babylonian Empire. Under his rule, Babylon had conquered most of

Mesopotamia’s land, and expanded the empire. James Madison was the

fourth president of the United States of America. He was also a leader in the

First United States Congress. Not only were Hammurabi and Madison both

politicians, but they were very well acquainted with law. Hammurabi was a

lawgiver; Madison went to college to study law.

There are many differences to be found the Bill of Rights and

Hammurabi’s Law Code. First of all, the Bill of Rights and Hammurabi’s Law

Code were written in two different time periods; the Bill of Rights was written

in the late 1780s, A.D., while Hammurabi’s Law code was created

somewhere near 3500, B.C. Because of the vast difference in the years, it is

accurate to say that the societies that these documents belonged to were

also different; Hammurabi’s Law Code belonged to the Babylonian civilization

in the Neolithic Period, but the Bill of Rights belonged to the government

during the Revolutionary War. Also, the Bill of Rights does not specifically
state the punishment of wrong actions; it simply tells American citizens what

they have the ‘right’ to do, as the name of the document implies (the Bill of

Rights). In Hammurabi’s Law Code, there is a specific punishment for each

unique crime. For example, according to Hammurabi’s Law Code, the

punishment for falsely accusing a man of any felony is death. In this law, it

specifically states the punishment that Hammurabi thought is fitting for the


So, all in all, Hammurabi’s Law Code and the Bill of Rights have many

differences, like the likeness of the persona from which they were created

and the actual content of the laws themselves and the images they present

in the mind of the readers. But despite their differences, they both are icon

figures in today’s society, and most of their rules, or more modern versions

of them, still stand firm today.