So what’s the deal with the Code of Hammurabi?
Hammurabi was a king of the First Babylonian Dynasty. He was around between 1810 B.C. and 1750 B.C. He had a code of 282 laws written on a piece of black diorite (a type of igneous rock) that was roughly 8 feet tall. It was discovered by a French archaeologist in the early 1900s and is currently housed at the Louvre, though there are replicas in many other institutions.
Don’t worry, I can already feel the “Why-should-I-care-about-this-o-meter” spiking. This matters for two reasons as we defend the authority of Scripture.
First, there’s often the argument that all of the stuff talked about in the Bible must have happened WAY later than it did because people were still too stupid way back then to write laws and codes and stuff. After all, “humans” were still shaking the water off after having crawled out of the ocean in the evolutionary process. This finding, however, shows that there were codes, and laws being written way before Moses and the story of the Exodus took place (1500 B.C. – 1400 B.C.).
Second, people will point to the Code of Hammurabi as evidence that all of that Mount Sinai and Covenant of God stuff was nothing new. However, when looking at what the laws actually are, who they are supposedly from, and what they mean for those who obey them, one can see that there’s way more different than the same. Hammurabi says he got the codes from the sun god, Shamash…but then in the intro and conclusion says he himself is giving all of the laws. Moses attributes it all to the one true God and claims himself as an instrument. Plus, one of the biggest differences is that the Babylonian Code has nothing holding it together about God’s love for the people or the call to love others. There are concepts of justice depicted, but not of love and love being the motivation for the people to follow the law.
Despite the dismissal of the Bible as a reliable historical resource, abundant archeological evidence points us to the accuracy of Scripture again and again. If you want to read more on this topic or about other apologetic issues in more detail, you can take a look at Josh McDowell’s apologetics book, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict. I have a copy in my office and there’s one available in the church library.
If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know.
Blessings on your day!