Thursday, February 17, 2011

Torah laws vs. Hammurabi's code

In the Jewish History text book, Jews a History, by John Efron , describes a historical, yet secular perspective on Jewish history.  While most historical are provided with certain evidential proof, Jewish history is among the most controversial.  Personally, I find most of its content disturbing and somewhat offensive.

The Claim:  Torah laws are very similar to those found in the Code of Hammurabi (which predated the Torah).  Hence, it must be composed by man, not God, because God has no need to plagiarize.

The Truth:  Efron cites one example, a comparison between Exodus 21:26-27 and its Hammurabi counterpart. While there are similarities, there are even more differences. To take this as a prime example of the Torah "plagiarizing" from Hammurabi seems rather weak. Even if the cases are similar, it is entirely feasible that Hashem chose a case that was similar to the then-modern-day law in order to contrast it with Torah law.

See for yourself below:
When a man strikes the eye of a male or the eye of a female slave, and destroys it, he shall free the person to compensate for the eye.  If he knocks out the tooth of a male slave or the tooth of a female slave, he shall free him from the tooth (Exodus 21:26-27) .

If a man of rank has destroyed the eye of a member of his aristocracy, they shall destroy his eye.  If he has broken the bone of another man of rank, they shall break his bone.  If he has destroyed the eye of a commoner or broken the bone of a commoner, he shall pay one mina or silver.  If he has destroyed the eye of another man's slave or broken the bone of a man's slave, he shall pay one-half his value.  If a man of rank has knocked out a tooth of a free-man of his own rank, they shall knock out his tooth.  If he has knocked out a commoner's tooth, he shall pay one-third mina of silver (Code of Hamurabbi) (Efron 31).

No comments:

Post a Comment