History of Law

The Code of Hammurabi

Hammurabi was the ruler who chiefly established the greatness of Babylon, the world's first metropolis. By far the most remarkable of the Hammurabi records is his code of laws, the earliest-known example of a ruler proclaiming publicly to his people an entire body of laws, arranged in orderly groups, so that all men might read and know what was required of them. The code was carved upon a black stone monument, eight feet high, and clearly intended to be reared in public view.

Societal Values

In Hammurabi's code there are numerous social values. Two big ones are that trade should be fair and honesty and justice are very important. For the latter an example is that one has to have proof that the person they are accusing actually did the crime. This is mentioned a lot showing that this is very important in Hammurabi's society. Another big value that was mentioned in Hammurabi's code was that trade should be fair and that you should be able to return the things you buy. For example in the code, it mentions that if you buy a slave and it gets sick, you can return it and get your money back.


Hammurabi, and the people of his empire, worshipped several gods. Their chief god was Marduk. The Babylonians built temples, called ziggurats, to worship their gods. The city of Babylon had an especially beautiful temple dedicated to Marduk. Hammurabi felt he had to write the code to please his gods. Unlike many earlier and contemporary kings, he did not consider himself related to any god, although he did call himself "the favorite of the gods". The principle of "an eye for an eye" shows that Hammurabi believed the gods had power over people and events. An accused person could jump in into the Euphrates River. "If he sinks in the river, his accuser shall take possession of his house but if the river proves that the accused is not guilty, and he escapes unhurt, then he whohad brought the accusation shall be put to death."

Mosaic Law

The Mosaic Law is the document that God gave to Israel through Moses, while Moses was on Mt Sinai. It was to govern the life of the Israeli theocracy—the priest nation. The law contained requirements, blessings, and cursings, along with narrative (Exodus 19-20.1). The law is that which points out God’s will for Israel. Mosaic law begins with commandments but includes the significant number of additional laws and rules set out in the first five books of the Old Testament.


The ten commandments that Moses brought down were the values that God commanded the Israelites to keep. The values of the Israelite people were defined by God through the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Mosaic Law. In addition to the commandments, Leviticus details the moral values for the Israelites to follow, including avoiding prostitution, occult practices, respect for the elderly and non-Israelites, reverence for the place of worship, justice in business dealings, caring for widows, orphans, and other disadvantaged people, and the avoidance of immodesty,adultery and bestiality.


The beliefs of the Israelites were the traditions, practices and beliefs of Abraham, which in the lifetime of Moses were recorded in the Torah. The central belief was and is the belief in God, who created the universe.

Roman Law

One famous Byzantine Emperor was Justinian I. Justinian ruled from AD 527 to 565. Justinian created a set of laws called the Justinian Code. This code said that the emperor made all of the laws and interpreted the laws as well. The Justinian Code was law throughout the empire. Many of our modern laws can be traced back to the Justinian Code.


At the very beginning of his reign, he deemed it proper to promulgate by law the Church's belief in the Trinity and the Incarnation; and to threaten all heretics with the appropriate penalties; Whereas he subsequently declared that he intended to deprive all disturbers of the orthodoxy of the opportunity for such offense by due process of law.

Napoleonic Code

The Napoleonic Code was a unified legal code produced in post-revolutionary France and enacted by Napoleon in 1804. Napoleon gave the laws his name, and they both largely remain in place in France today, and heavily influenced world laws in the nineteenth century.


Napoleon had a deep faith in God. He was raised Catholic. He is frequently quoted as saying: "As for myself, I do not believe that such a person as Jesus Christ ever existed; but as the people are inclined to superstition, it is proper not to oppose them." However, other quotes by Napoleon indicate a strong belief in Jesus Christ.

Laws back then vs now

Laws are a set of rules. They are enforced by the government, they are mandatory and involve consequences. Some laws today resemble some laws back then. For example, criminal laws can be compared to some mosaic laws ("Thout Shalt not Steal vs laws against theft). Punishments back then were severe. In the Mosaic law, the punishment for adultery would be stoning (death penalty). Ancient Greece also had harsh laws, which involved a lot of bloodshed. The law has been changed to create a sense of order, less chaos.