Code of Hammurabi


Selections from the Code of Hammurabi
Source: Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters, by C. H. W. Johns, in 1904, one of a series called the Library of Ancient Inscriptions, from a facsimile produced by The Legal Classics Library, Division of Gryphon Editions, New York in 1987. 

NOTE: Any words in brackets [ ... ] are editorial additions in the C. H. W. Johns text unless stated otherwise. 



Image: "Hammurabi, King of Babylonia." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 29 Dec. 2015. <http://www.britannica.com/biography/Hammurabi>.


  • 1. If a man has accused another of laying a nertu [death spell?] upon him, but has not proved it, he shall be put to death. 


  • 2. If a man has accused another of laying a kispu [spell] upon him, but has not proved it, the accused shall go to the sacred river, he shall plunge into the sacred river, and if the river shall conquer him, he that accused him shall take possession of his house. If the sacred river shall show his innocence and he is saved, his accuser shall be put to death. He that plunged into the sacred river shall appropriate the house of him that accused. 


  • 3. If a man has borne false witness in a trial, or has not established the statement that he has made, if that case be a capital trial, that man shall be put to death. 


  • 4. If he has borne false witness in a civil law case, he shall pay the damages in that suit. 


  • 5. If a judge has given a verdict, rendered a decision, granted a written judgment, and afterward has altered his judgment, that judge shall be prosecuted for altering the judgment he gave and shall pay twelvefold the penalty laid down in that judgment. Further, he shall be publicly expelled from his judgment-seat and shall not return nor take his seat with the judges at a trial. 


  • 6. If a man has stolen goods from a temple, or house, he shall be put to death; and he that has received the stolen property from him shall be put to death. 


  • 7. If a man has bought or received on deposit from a minor or a slave, either silver, gold, male or female slave, ox, ass, or sheep, or anything else, except by consent of elders, or power of attorney, he shall be put to death for theft. 


  • 8. If a patrician has stolen ox, sheep, ass, pig, or ship, whether from a temple, or a house, he shall pay thirtyfold. If he be a plebeian, he shall return tenfold. If the thief cannot pay, he shall be put to death. 


  • 9. If a man has lost property and some of it be detected in the possession of another, and the holder has said, "A man sold it to me, I bought it in the presence of witnesses"; and if the claimant has said, "I can bring witnesses who know it to be property lost by me"; then the alleged buyer on his part shall produce the man who sold it to him and the witnesses before whom he bought it; the claimant shall on his part produce the witnesses who know it to be his lost property. The judge shall examine their pleas. The witnesses to the sale and the witnesses who identify the lost property shall state on oath what they know. Such a seller is the thief and shall be put to death. The owner of the lost property shall recover his lost property. The buyer shall recoup himself from the seller's estate. 


  • 10. If the alleged buyer on his part has not produced the seller or the witnesses before whom the sale took place, but the owner of the lost property on his part has produced the witnesses who identify it as his, then the [pretended] buyer is the thief; he shall be put to death. The owner of the lost property shall take his lost property. 


  • 11. If, on the other hand, the claimant of the lost property has not brought the witnesses that know his lost property, he has been guilty of slander, he has stirred up strife, he shall be put to death. 


  • 12. If the seller has in the meantime died, the buyer shall take from his estate fivefold the value sued for. 


  • 13. If a man has not his witnesses at hand, the judge shall set him a fixed time not exceeding six months, and if within six months he has not produced his witnesses, the man has lied; he shall bear the penalty of the suit. 


  • 14. If a man has stolen a child, he shall be put to death. 


  • 15. If a man has induced either a male or a female slave from the house of a patrician, or plebeian, to leave the city, he shall be put to death. 


  • 16. If a man has harbored in his house a male or female slave from a patrician's or plebeian's house, and has not caused the fugitive to leave on the demand of the officer over the slaves condemned to public forced labor, that householder shall be put to death. 


  • 17. If a man has caught either a male or female runaway slave in the open field and has brought him back to his owner, the owner of the slave shall give him two shekels of silver. 


  • 18. If such a slave will not name his owner, his captor shall bring him to the palace, where he shall be examined as to his past and returned to his owner. 


  • 19. If the captor has secreted that slave in his house and afterward that slave has been caught in his possession, he shall be put to death. 


  • 20. If the slave has fled from the hands of his captor, the latter shall swear to the owner of the slave and he shall be free from blame. 


  • 21. If a man has broken into a house he shall be killed before the breach and buried there. 


  • 22. If a man has committed highway robbery and has been caught, that man shall be put to death. 


  • 23. If the highwayman has not been caught, the man that has been robbed shall state on oath what he has lost and the city or district governor in whose territory or district the robbery took place shall restore to him what he lost. 


  • 24. If a life [has been lost], the city or district governor shall pay one mina of silver to the deceased's relatives. 


  • 25. If a fire has broken out in a man's house and one who has come to put it out has coveted the property of the householder and appropriated any of it, that man shall be cast into the self-same fire. 


  • ... [The creator of this site omits sections 26 through 65 and sections 100 through 127. The intervening sections 66 through 99 appear to be erased and not decipherable on the stone.] 


  • 128. If a man has taken a wife and has not executed a marriage contract, that woman is not a wife. 


  • 129. If a man's wife be caught lying with another, they shall be strangled and cast into the water. If the wife's husband would save his wife, the king can save his servant. 


  • 130. If a man has ravished another's betrothed wife, who is a virgin, while still living in her father's house, and has been caught in the act, that man shall be put to death; the woman shall go free. 


  • 131. If a man's wife has been accused by her husband, and has not been caught lying with another, she shall swear her innocence, and return to her house. 


  • 132. If a man's wife has the finger pointed at her on account of another, but has not been caught lying with him, for her husband's sake she shall plunge into the sacred river. 


  • 133. If a man has been taken captive, and there was maintenance in his house, but his wife has left her house and entered another man's house; because that woman has not preserved her body, and has entered into the house of another, that woman shall be prosecuted and shall be drowned. 


  • 134. If a man has been taken captive, but there was not maintenance in his house, and his wife has entered into the house of another, that woman has no blame. 


  • 135. If a man has been taken captive, but there was no maintenance in his house for his wife, and she has entered into the house of another, and has borne him children, if in the future her [first] husband shall return and regain his city, that woman shall return to her first husband, but the children shall follow their own father. 


  • 136. If a man has left his city and fled, and, after he has gone, his wife has entered into the house of another; if the man return and seize his wife, the wife of the fugitive shall not return to her husband, because he hated his city and fled. 


  • 137. If a man has determined to divorce a concubine who has borne him children, or a votary who has granted him children, he shall return to that woman her marriage-portion, and shall give her the usufruct of field, garden, and goods, to bring up her children. After her children have grown up, out of whatever is given to her children, they shall give her one son's share, and the husband of her choice shall marry her. 


  • 138. If a man has divorced his wife, who has not borne him children, he shall pay over to her as much money as was given for her bride-price and the marriage-portion which she brought from her father's house, and so shall divorce her. 


  • 139. If there was no bride-price, he shall give her one mina of silver, as a price of divorce. 


  • 140. If he be a plebeian, he shall give her one-third of a mina of silver. 


  • 141. If a man's wife, living in her husband's house, has persisted in going out, has acted the fool, has wasted her house, has belittled her husband, he shall prosecute her. If her husband has said, "I divorce her," she shall go her way; he shall give her nothing as her price of divorce. If her husband has said, "I will not divorce her," he may take another woman to wife; the wife shall live as a slave in her husband's house. 


  • 142. If a woman has hated her husband and has said, "You shall not possess me," her past shall be inquired into, as to what she lacks. If she has been discreet, and has no vice, and her husband has gone out, and has greatly belittled her, that woman has no blame, she shall take her marriage-portion and go off to her father's house. 


  • 143. If she has not been discreet, has gone out, ruined her house, belittled her husband, she shall be drowned. 


  • 144. If a man has married a votary, and that votary has given a maid to her husband, and so caused him to have children, and, if that man is inclined to marry a concubine, that man shall not be allowed to do so, he shall not marry a concubine. 


  • 145. If a man has married a votary, and she has not granted him children, and he is determined to marry a concubine, that man shall marry the concubine, and bring her into his house, but the concubine shall not place herself on an equality with the votary. 


  • 146. If a man has married a votary, and she has given a maid to her husband, and the maid has borne children, and if afterward that maid has placed herself on an equality with her mistress, because she has borne children, her mistress shall not sell her, she shall place a slave-mark upon her, and reckon her with the slave-girls. 


  • 147. If she has not borne children, her mistress shall sell her. 


  • 148. If a man has married a wife and a disease has seized her, if he is determined to marry a second wife, he shall marry her. He shall not divorce the wife whom the disease has seized. In the home they made together she shall dwell, and he shall maintain her as long as she lives. 


  • 149. If that woman was not pleased to stay in her husband's house, he shall pay over to her the marriage-portion which she brought from her father's house, and she shall go away. 


  • 150. If a man has presented field, garden, house, or goods to his wife, has granted her a deed of gift, her children, after her husband's death, shall not dispute her right; the mother shall leave it after her death to that one of her children whom she loves best. She shall not leave it to her kindred. 


  • 151. If a woman, who is living in a man's house, has persuaded her husband to bind himself, and grant her a deed to the effect that she shall not be held for debt by a creditor of her husband's; if that man had a debt upon him before he married that woman, his creditor shall not take his wife for it. Also, if that woman had a debt upon her before she entered that man's house, her creditor shall not take her husband for it. 


  • 152. From the time that the woman entered into the man's house they together shall be liable for all debts subsequently incurred. 


  • 153. If a man's wife, for the sake of another, has caused her husband to be killed, that woman shall be impaled. 


  • 154. If a man has committed incest with his daughter, that man shall be banished from the city. 


  • 155. If a man has betrothed a maiden to his son and his son has known her, and afterward the man has lain in her bosom, and been caught, that man shall be strangled and she shall be cast into the water. 


  • 156. If a man has betrothed a maiden to his son, and his son has not known her, and that man has lain in her bosom, he shall pay her half a mina of silver, and shall pay over to her whatever she brought from her father's house, and the husband of her choice shall marry her. 


  • 157. If a man, after his father's death, has lain in the bosom of his mother, they shall both of them be burnt together. 


  • 158. If a man, after his father's death, be caught in the bosom of his step-mother, who has borne children, that man shall be cut off from his father's house. 


  • 159. If a man, who has presented a gift to the house of his prospective father-in-law and has given the bride-price, has afterward looked upon another woman and has said to his father-in-law, "I will not marry your daughter"; the father of the girl shall keep whatever he has brought as a present. 


  • 160. If a man has presented a gift to the house of his prospective father-in-law, and has given the bride-price, but the father of the girl has said, "I will not give you my daughter," the father shall return double all that was presented him. 


  • 161. If a man has presented a gift to the house of his prospective father-in-law, and has given the bride price, but his comrade has slandered him and his father-in-law has said to the suitor, "You shall not marry my daughter," [the father] shall return double all that was presented him. Further, the comrade shall not marry the girl. 


  • 162. If a man has married a wife, and she has borne him children, and that woman has gone to her fate, her father shall lay no claim to her marriage-portion. Her marriage-portion is her children's only. 


  • 163. If a man has married a wife, and she has not borne him children, and that woman has gone to her fate; if his father-in-law has returned to him the bride-price, which that man brought into the house of his father-in-law, her husband shall have no claim on the marriage portion of that woman. Her marriage-portion indeed belongs to her father's house.  


  • 164. If the father-in-law has not returned the bride-price, the husband shall deduct the amount of her bride-price from her marriage-portion, and shall return her marriage-portion to her father's house. 


  • 165. If a man has presented field, garden, or house to his son, the first in his eyes, and has written him a deed of gift; after the father has gone to his fate, when the brothers share, he shall keep the present his father gave him, and over and above shall share equally with them in the goods of his father's estate. 


  • 166. If a man has taken wives for the other sons he had, but has not taken a wife for his young son, after the father has gone to his fate, when the brothers share, they shall set aside from the goods of their father's estate money, as a bride-price, for their young brother, who has not married a wife, over and above his share, and they shall cause him to take a wife. 


  • 167. If a man has taken a wife, and she has borne him children and that woman has gone to her fate, and he has taken a second wife, and she also has borne children; after the father has gone to his fate, the sons shall not share according to mothers, but each family shall take the marriage-portion of its mother, and all shall share the goods of the father's estate equally. 


  • 168. If a man has determined to disinherit his son and has declared before the judge, "I cut off my son," the judge shall inquire into the son's past, and, if the son has not committed a grave misdemeanor such as should cut him off from sonship, the father shall [not] disinherit the son.
    [The word "not" as inserted here does not occur in the original C. H. W. Johns text, and is inserted by the creator of this site.] 


  • 169. If he has committed a grave crime against his father, which cuts off from sonship, for the first offense he shall pardon him. If he has committed a grave crime a second time, the father shall cut off his son from sonship. 


  • ...[The creator of this site omits sections 170 through 191.] 


  • 192. If the son of a palace favorite or the son of a vowed woman has said to the father that brought him up, "You are not my father," or to the mother that brought him up, "You are not my mother," his tongue shall be cut out. 


  • 193. If the son of a palace favorite or the son of a vowed woman has come to know his father's house and has hated his father that brought him up, or his mother that brought him up, and shall go off to his father's house, his eyes shall be torn out. 


  • 194. If a man has given his son to a wet-nurse to suckle, and that son has died in the hands of the nurse, and the nurse, without consent of the child's father or mother, has nursed another child, they shall prosecute her; because she has nursed another child, without consent of the father or mother, her breasts shall be cut off. 


  • 195. If a son has struck his father, his hands shall be cut off. 


  • 196. If a man has knocked out the eye of a patrician, his eye shall be knocked out. 


  • 197. If he has broken the limb of a patrician, his limb shall be broken. 


  • 198. If he has knocked out the eye of a plebeian or has broken the limb of a plebeian, he shall pay one mina of silver. 


  • 199. If he has knocked out the eye of a patrician's servant, or broken the limb of a patrician's servant, he shall pay half his value. 


  • 200. If a patrician has knocked out the tooth of a man that is his equal, his tooth shall be knocked out. 


  • 201. If he has knocked out the tooth of a plebeian, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver. 


  • 202. If a man has smitten the privates of a man, higher in rank than he, he shall be sourged with sixty blows of an ox-hide scourge, in the assembly. 


  • 203. If a man has smitten the privates of a patrician of his own rank, he shall pay one mina of silver. 


  • 204. If a plebeian has smitten the privates of a plebeian, he shall pay ten shekels of silver. 


  • 205. If a slave of anyone has smitten the privates of a free-born man, his ear shall be cut off. 


  • 206. If a man has struck another in a quarrel, and caused him a permanent injury, that man shall swear, "I struck him without malice," and shall pay the doctor. 


  • 207. If he has died of his blows, [the man] shall swear [similarly], and pay one-half a mina of silver; or, 


  • 208. If [the deceased] was a plebeian, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver. 


  • 209. If a man has struck a free woman with child, and has caused her to miscarry, he shall pay ten shekels for her miscarriage. 


  • 210. If that woman die, his daughter shall be killed. 


  • 211. If it be the daughter of a plebeian, that has miscarried through his blows, he shall pay five shekels of silver. 


  • 212. If that woman die, he shall pay half a mina of silver. 


  • 213. If he has struck a man's maid and caused her to miscarry, he shall pay two shekels of silver. 


  • 214. If that woman die, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver. 


  • 215. If a surgeon has operated with the bronze lancet on a patrician for a serious injury, and has cured him, or has removed with a bronze lancet a cataract for a patrician, and has cured his eye, he shall take ten shekels of silver. 


  • 216. If it be a plebeian, he shall take five shekels of silver. 


  • 217. If it be a man's slave, the owner of the slave shall give two shekels of silver to the surgeon. 


  • 218. If a surgeon has operated with the bronze lancet on a patrician for a serious injury, and has caused his death, or has removed a cataract for a patrician, with the bronze lancet, and has made him lose his eye, his hands shall be cut off. 


  • 219. If the surgeon has treated a serious injury of a plebeian's slave, with the bronze lancet, and has caused his death, he shall render slave for slave. 


  • 220. If he has removed a cataract with the bronze lancet, and made the slave lose his eye, he shall pay half his value. 


  • 221. If a surgeon has cured the limb of a patrician, or has doctored a diseased bowel, the patient shall pay five shekels of silver to the surgeon. 


  • 222. If he be a plebeian, he shall pay three shekels of silver. 


  • 223. If he be a man's slave, the owner of the slave shall give two shekels of silver to the doctor. 


  • 224. If a veterinary surgeon has treated an ox, or an ass, for a severe injury, and cured it, the owner of the ox, or the ass, shall pay the surgeon one-sixth of a shekel of silver, as his fee. 


  • 225. If he has treated an ox, or an ass, for a severe injury, and caused it to die, he shall pay one-quarter of its value to the owner of the ox, or the ass. 


  • 226. If a brander has cut out a mark on a slave, without the consent of his owner, that brander shall have his hands cut off. 


  • 227. If someone has deceived the brander, and induced him to cut out a mark on a slave, that man shall be put to death and buried in his house; the brander shall swear, "I did not mark him knowingly," and shall go free. 


  • 228. If a builder has built a house for a man, and finished it, he shall pay him a fee of two shekels of silver, for each SAR built on. 


  • 229. If a builder has built a house for a man, and has not made his work sound, and the house he built has fallen, and caused the death of its owner, that builder shall be put to death. 


  • 230. If it is the owner's son that is killed, the builder's son shall be put to death. 


  • 231. If it is the slave of the owner that is killed, the builder shall give slave for slave to the owner of the house. 


  • 232. If he has caused the loss of goods, he shall render back whatever he has destroyed. Moreover, because he did not make sound the house he built, and it fell, at his own cost he shall rebuild the house that fell. 


  • 233. If a builder has built a house for a man, and has not keyed his work, and the wall has fallen, that builder shall make that wall firm at his own expense. 


  • 234. If a boatman has built a boat of sixty GUR for a man, he shall pay him a fee of two shekels of silver. 


  • 235. If a boatman has built a boat for a man, and has not made his work sound, and in that same year that boat is sent on a voyage and suffers damage, the boatman shall rebuild that boat, and, at his own expense, shall make it strong, or shall give a strong boat to the owner. 


  • 236. If a man has let his boat to a boatman, and the boatman has been careless and the boat has been sunk or lost, the boatman shall restore a boat to the owner. 


  • 237. If a man has hired a boat and boatman, and loaded it with corn, wool, oil, or dates, or whatever it be, and the boatman has been careless, and sunk the boat, or lost what is in it, the boatman shall restore the boat which he sank, and whatever he lost that was in it. 


  • 238. If a boatman has sunk a man's boat, and has floated it again, he shall pay half its value in silver. 


  • 239. If a man has hired a boatman, he shall pay him six GUR of corn yearly. 


  • 240. If a boat, on its course, has run into a boat at anchor, and sunk it, the owner of the boat that was sunk shall estimate on oath whatsoever was lost in his boat, and the owner of the moving vessel, which sank the boat at anchor, shall make good his boat and what was lost in it. 


  • ...[The creator of this site omits sections 241 through 277.] 


  • 278. If a man has bought a male or female slave and the slave has not fulfilled his month, but the bennu disease has fallen upon him, he shall return the slave to the seller and the buyer shall take back the money he paid. 


  • 279. If a man has bought a male or female slave and a claim has been raised, the seller shall answer the claim. 


  • 280. If a man, in a foreign land, has bought a male, or female, slave of another, and if when he has come home the owner of the male or female slave has recognized his slave, and if the slave be a native of the land, he shall grant him liberty without money. 


  • 281. If the slave was a native of another country, the buyer shall declare on oath the amount of money he paid, and the owner of the slave shall repay the merchant what he paid and keep his slave. 


  • 282. If a slave has said to his master, "You are not my master," he shall be brought to account as his slave, and his master shall cut off his ear.