The Evolution Of Statutes Analyze The Morals Of Hammurabi, The Jews, And Dracon (And Possibly Solon) With Respect To The Modern Era And Its Morals

1290 words - 6 pages

The Evolution of StatutesIt is often said, and quite accurately at that, that history repeats itself. One might say that every day is a new day, and rightly so. What we misinterpret is not that we enter into a new day, but that because it is a new day everything is new. Therein lies our fault. Today might be a new day, but the statutes and morals that make the day are anything but new.One must realize that the statutes (laws) of Hammurabi, the Jews, and Dracon will probably not apply to us because their culture was greatly different from ours. For example, the ancient custom of a dowry for marriage is no longer practiced in American society, although gifts are given. This is because our society views women in a different light than Middle Eastern societies. For example, in the Middle East many parents still prearrange marriages for their children when they are young. Our society emphasizes freedom of choice, allowing our women to date and choose their mate. Women in Middle Eastern society have strict limitations upon them because of the religion that they follow. Jewish women from the Middle East are traditionally brought up in accordance with the Torah, while Muslim women from the Middle East are raised following the Qu'ran. Thus, because the culture and religion differs from that of our own, their laws will be molded around how they live their lives, not ours. Different cultures have different laws, with the exception of few fundamental laws which allow any society to function.For example, society (the citizens) regards stealing as wrong. This does not mean that everyone regards stealing as wrong, but that the majority agrees that it is not right to do so (idea of political correctness). As the legendary King Solomon of the Bible comments, "There is nothing new under the Sun." Just as modern society regards stealing as wrong, so also did the Ancient Greeks of Dracon and Solon, as well as the Jewish population of the Biblical Era and those under Hammurabi and his code. Commandment 8 of the 10 Commandments states, "Do not steal"; under Dracon's rule of Ancient Greece theft was a capital offense. Hammurabi also prohibited theft, making punishments for those who would not obey his law. Western Culture, more specifically the US, forbids theft in law and value due to the overwhelming Christian roots of our founding fathers. Because virtually all the founding fathers were Christian, they modeled a government after their morals (which matched those of Ancient Jews) and ideals they took from the Bible. Today it is illegal to steal because society and the government have deemed it so, being taught from youth that stealing is wrong. What we find here is that we are not the first to say stealing is wrong, but the idea is as old as law itself.Additionally, the laws of our country prohibit murder, polygamy, discrimination, and personal-right violations. As stealing was wrong throughout Ancient Law (referring to the law of the Bible, Dracon, Solon, and Hammurabi), so was murder. Society today shares this same view, the roots of which were planted by these such as Thomas Jefferson, who in turn took them directly from the Bible. The concept of murder is shown in the 10 Commandments, as well as in Dracon's court and Hammurabi's laws. All believed that murder is wrong. From this we find that different societies view this the same way regardless of their culture, thus making it an ordinary standard to live by.Although many of our laws are identical to many of those of ancient cultures, many are dissimilar due to the changing of circumstances. A change, such as technology, improves our way of life, therefore affecting our culture. Most laws of Hammurabi do not apply today because his culture greatly differed from our culture, therefore one can reason that the circumstances have changed. A rather specific instance is portrayed by Hammurabi's 35th law, "...or take away from the captain a gift presented to him by the King...shall be put to death." Today we do not have Kings, but democracies (with the exception of England who has a figurehead King). Thus, having this law in our Constitution and government could not apply to anything that goes on in our modern world. The absence of this law in our government would neither be benevolent nor malevolent, but merely irrelevant because the times have changed.Modern law emphasizes/exercises separation of Church and State. Dracon of Ancient Greece closely tied religion (the Greeks' polytheism) with their government (by saying the Gods rule everything). Under Dracon, sacrilege was a capital offense. Rather, Amendment 1 in the Bill of Rights states freedom of religion for all citizens; thus sacrilege to one may not be sacrilege to another because people can believe in what they please. One of the core values, as expressed in Luke 10:27, is to love each other as yourself (thus toleration of all religions). Society greatly values their right to believe what they please, even though they take it for granted.Another prime example would be polygamy, or the marriage of one man to two or more women. It is illegal to be married to two or more women (or men) today, just as it was over 2,000 years ago. According to Matthew 19:5, "...'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'" Hammurabi prohibited polygamy (although the practice of the time was that if your wife was barren you could take a maidservant and have a child). Although it is illegal to have more than one mate at a time, society does embrace the concept of unconditional divorce.Divorce is the perfect example of the changing times. The Jewish population in the Bible forbade divorce unless their partner was unfaithful (established by God through Moses around 3,000 BCE, also in Matthew 19:9). As time progressed Hammurabi of Mesopotamia came to power, and wrote his code of laws c. 1700 BCE. These laws were founded with a polytheistic-believing society, not the monotheistic religion in one God of the Bible. Hammurabi allowed divorce, but there was a price to it (you have to have reason, and then you must support her financially). Over time, we now find our society favoring divorce. Every citizen in our country is entitled to ", liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..." according to the Constitution. This allows men and women to divorce each other because they do so please. As you see, radical changes have occurred and morals have evolved over time. Religions have played a big role, with the rise of Islam after the Bible affecting much of the Middle East and Europe.Looking at our society and government today one can find many similarities between Ancient Law and modern-law. The basis of Western Civilization was laid from the "development" of religion, which has provided a basis for laws to be formed. The basis of our culture ultimately comes from the Bible from the Jews. Many laws of the Bible are exhibited throughout our Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other important documents that make our country and its inhabitants function and live. Any laws/morals that are present today are not new, but merely reappear as history continues to repeat itself.


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