Early in the eighteenth century BCE the Babylonian law code was written called the Code of Hammurabi. The best surviving copy is on a relatively large 'stele' and contains 282 laws controlling many aspects of society such as Religion, Military service, Trade, Slavery and the duties of workers.
Code Hammurabi stele - Louvre Top of stele at Louvre
The Code of Hammurabi stele, ca. 1792-1759 BCE, at the Louvre [P1050763]; at the right a closeup of the popular image atop the stele. This stela was discovered at Susa in 1901 by Jean-Vincent Sceil (1858-1940), French Orientalist, and is inscribed with the Code of Hammurabi, the laws of the kingdom. Hammurabi sits enthroned at top of the stela.

King of Babylon for 42 years, Hammurabi claimed divine authority for his laws. There was some control of worker's wages and ascribed penalties for shoddy work; about one third of the laws address familial relationships, including inheritance and divorce. One provision actually proscribed the removal of judges that made incorrect or unjust decisions - a feature that might appeal to some today. [If a judge try a case, reach a decision, and present his judgment in writing; if later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through his own fault, then he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case, and he shall be publicly removed from the judge's bench, and never again shall he sit there to render judgement1|.]

The stele referred to above is written in earlier Akkadian cuneiform, which leads one to wonder if it follows on the heels of earlier efforts. There are a few law codes known prior to Hammurabi's, but none quite so complete or broad-ranging in society. The Code of Hammurabi was written so that any citizen could read and understand what was expected of him1|.

The Hammurabi Code has a number of laws that would be considered 'moral'. For example, the penalty for theft was death; if one places something of value with another he should sign a contract and have it witnessed; anyone bearing false witness [against a woman] should be judged and have a mark placed on their brow; if a man surprise his wife in flagrante delicto with another man, both should be tied and 'thrown in the water'; if a man sleeps with a 'child wife' who has never known a man and still lives at home with her father, the man shall be put to death and the woman found blameless; if a man abandons his wife but later returns to claim her she has no obligation to take him back; a man who separated from his wife was required to pay child support - as well as returning her dowry; if a wife gave her maid servant to her husband to bear children, the man can take no other wife, and if that maid servant holds herself as equal to the wife the husband cannot sell her, but she remains a servant; if the maid servant bears no children the wife may then sell the servant; incest by a father was forbidden with a penalty of exile; incest of a son with the mother carried a penalty of both being burned; if a man put out the eye of another then his eye would also be put out [an 'eye for an eye'] - likewise a 'tooth for a tooth'; if any one hires an ox, and God strike it that it die, the man who hired it could swear by God and be considered guiltless; if a female tavern keeper should take corn instead of money for a drink, and the value of the corn is larger than the price in coin, 'she shall be convicted and thrown into the water.'

Interestingly, when a conflict arose between two litigants, one was required to 'swear before god' which, if he did so, then decided the issue in his favor - even if the claim for damages later proved false; such was confidence in a public 'fear of God'.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and writer is quoted in his Politics as saying that it is better to be ruled by law than by a person. Today we divide the 'law' into civil law, criminal law, common law, tort law and a variety of other nuances. It is obvious from the Code of Hammurabi that such distinctions were not particularly considered as separate before a Babylonian judge of the time.

In today's cultures 'religious laws' can raise contention and strife. The best recognized religious law historically in Western tradition is known as 'The Ten Commandments', which shares wide popular awareness with the Code of Hammurabi. The term 'Ten Commandments' was first coined by the Geneva Bible, 1660 CE.
Moses with the tablets at SCOTUS
Moses with the two tablets of the 'Law' bracketed by the Chinese philosopher Confucius and the Greek lawmaker Solon as seen on the Eastern Pediment of the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. The image is intended to highlight the source of the law in civilization.

In one sense at least the Ten Commandments are not really 'laws'; the Hebrew Scriptures terms them as the 'ten statements'. They serve as the foundation of Jewish law: the Halakha ['walking'], which the Jews say contains 613 mitzvoth ['ordinances'] from the books of Moses, as well as Talmudic and rabbinic laws. There is no doubt that the commandments serve to provide a moral code as a basis for the law, much the same as the Code of Hammurabi.

If 'Thou shalt not kill' seems more civil than moral, certainly 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me' is surely a commandment towards the moral; similarly 'Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother' and 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house'. While the latter two are a state of mind, murder is an open act that affects the whole community.

The Greek city-state of Athens in the sixth century BCE developed the first 'democracy', allowing the common citizen to directly participate in its government and laws. The political path was strewn with boulders. Democracy in Athens is best known from the period of Pericles. Since the goddess Athena was the patron of the city, religious mores and practices were implied in the law. After Pericles, democracy declined and was finally suppressed by the Macedonians, Philip and Alexander the Great.

Early Roman law was bonded to religion and religious practice. However, as the city-state grew to empire, Roman law became shaped by 'professional' jurists. The Corpus Juris Civilis was instituted by Emperor Justinian the First in 529 CE, and survived in the Eastern Roman Empire through the middle of the fifteenth century CE.

In Western jurisprudence mention must be made of the Magna Carta in 1215, rewritten in 1297. Lord Alfred Thompson Denning (23 January, 1899 – 5 March, 1999) described it as 'the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot2|.' The original document more accurately described the independence of the landed gentry from arbitrary monarchic rule. While it was partly motivated by the independence of the Papal church, and repeatedly involved Rome in English politics, the Magna Carta can be generally said to be bereft of any moral codes.
Leaders of the Continental Congress - LOC

John Adams, Gouverneur Morris, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson around table; 'Leaders of the Continental Congress' by Augustus Tholey, ca 1894. [Library of Congress:

After the founding of the American Constitutional Republic, John Adams said in a speech to the military in 1798, 'our Constitution is made only for a moral and religious people.' In another instance he said statesmen 'may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand2a|.' In signing the U.S. Constitution Gouvernor Morris stated, 'I believe that religion is the only solid base of morals and that morals are the only possible support of free governments.'

Jeremy Bentham (15 February, 1748 – 6 June, 1832) and John Austin (3 March, 1790, – 1 December, 1859) put forth a philosophy in the first half of the nineteenth century - somewhat prior to but contemporary with Charles Darwin - called 'positivism', which claims that the 'real law' is entirely separate from 'morality'3|. Positive law states what is - 'the penalty for murder is...' while moral law states what ought to be - 'a citizen ought to avoid public drunkenness'.

Carl Schmitt (11 July, 1888 – 7 April, 1985), a German political theorist and professor of law, rejected both positivism and the idea of the rule of law; he advocated a jurisprudence of the exception, which denied that legal norms could encompass all of political experience. He cut his philosophical teeth during the Weimar Republic; in 1933 he enthusiastically joined the Nazi Party and reportedly died an unrepentant Nazi theorist.

Today 'post-moderns' see a new evolution of philosophic and political thought: nihilism - the belief in nothing. It is said that Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) set the foundation for an early form of nihilism which he called leveling. He describes it this way, 'Leveling at its maximum is like the stillness of death, where one can hear one's own heartbeat, a stillness like death, into which nothing can penetrate, in which everything sinks, powerless4|.' Kierkegaard viewed leveling as the process of suppressing individuality to a point where the individual's uniqueness becomes non-existent and nothing meaningful in his existence can be affirmed... which certainly tends to describe much of contemporary life. In the socialist state the individual hardly exists at all, but is 'property of the state'. Modern complex societies also infringe upon the same self-identity.

Kierkegaard differs from the modern interpretation of nihilism, which states that there was never any meaning, purpose or value to begin with. When the post-modern [whatever that means] individual feels the desperation of not existing, the appeal of something intangible, like faith in Christ, takes on a whole new meaning.

History: We Should Have Paid Attention

Does the above vignette appear to be evidence for evolution of the law? Read what the ancient Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus (37 – ca. 100 CE), said about what happened at the Tower of Babel following the flood of Noah.
    Now the sons of Noah were three, - Shem, Japhet, and Ham, born one hundred years before the Deluge. These first of all descended from the mountains into the plains, and fixed their habitation there; and persuaded others who were greatly afraid of the lower grounds on account of the flood, and so were very loath to come down from the higher places, to venture to follow their examples.
        Now the plain in which they first dwelt was called Shinar. God also commanded them to send colonies abroad, for the thorough peopling of the earth, that they might not raise seditions among themselves, but might cultivate a great part of the earth, and enjoy its fruits after a plentiful manner.
        But they were so ill instructed that they did not obey God; for which reason they fell into calamities, and were made sensible, by experience, of what sin they had been guilty: for when they flourished with a numerous youth, God admonished them again to send out colonies; but they, imagining the prosperity they enjoyed was not derived from the favor of God, but supposing that their own power was the proper cause of the plentiful condition they were in, did not obey him.
        Nay, they added to this their disobedience to the Divine will, the suspicion that they were therefore ordered to send out separate colonies, that, being divided asunder, they might the more easily be oppressed.

        Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power.
        He also said he would be revenged on God, if He should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers!

        Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower. . . 5|

Notice carefully the parallels with today's Western cultures. God commanded them... Now, as then, people are encouraged to disregard the 'commandments' of God, because some fanatic made them up as 'stories', because they no longer apply, or due to outright hostility towards the Divine. Josephus says that God was concerned that they might raise seditions, but people refused to believe that God had their best interests at heart, that He wanted them to enjoy the fruits of the earth. They believed that God wanted them to migrate to 'low ground' in order to slay them in another flood.

. . . they were so ill instructed, that they did not obey God, for which reason they fell into calamities. . . In our times we would say that the educational system is badly failing, that the media information organs are withholding important information - or misstating it negatively. We fall into worse and worse calamities as our dependence on a loving God continues to diminish. Due to media suppression of information many people today do not know the extent of the persecution of the Christian church all throughout Western civilization.

Poorly informed people say, 'If God is a loving God, why would He send people to Hell?' The Bible makes it clear that God 'sends' no one to Hell. Isaiah 5:14 states, 'Hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without measure . . .', and Isaiah 14:9 explains, 'Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming. . .' Hell enlarges its mouth constantly because people are pressing to get in... they are 'coming' of their own choice. Christians tell these people, 'If I am wrong I have just wasted my time; if you are wrong you face a horrible eternity.'
Flavius Josephus - Whiston

Jewish / Roman historian Flavius Jospehus in a somewhat fanciful rendering appearing in the translation quoted here by William Whiston.

. . . they, imagining the prosperity they enjoyed was not derived from the favour of God, but supposing that their own power was the proper cause of the plentiful condition they were in, did not obey him . . . Our founding fathers in the United States encouraged us to constantly thank God for our blessings and prosperity. The Western education and information institutions are dedicated to pushing secular humanism and the idea that everything good derives from the 'government' as a result of our clever choices in the polling booth. Yet, when things go awry, people are encouraged to curse God.

. . . Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, -- a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness . . . Our Western 'charismatic' political leaders scare their constituents into believing that if they are removed from power all the benefits that accrue due to government policy will be lost. Even when the whole economic deception teeters on collapse, like one or two European economies in 2011-12, the people are encouraged to violence to maintain their 'free gifts'. There is no call to prayer and faith.

. . . He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, -- seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power . . . More and more we see Western governments turning to oppressive actions against the Christian church in order to strip any faith in God and encourage it to give way to manufactured fear. A century ago, the Christian church dominated Western politics and culture; today the church is on the run, fighting rear actions just to maintain its survival. The more the church digs in, the worse the 'official' attacks on it grow. Judaism and Islam seemingly face these 'official' perils in the twenty-first century to a lesser extent; Christianity appears to be the greatest threat in contemporary Western culture.

Along with the diminishing of the Christian church, freedom is also diminished in American society as the founding fathers warned. As was seen in Nazi Germany and in Stalinist Russia, it is impossible to oppress a portion of the population without threatening the rest of the population, holding them at bay with fear. Similarly, the family - the foundation of all societies and essential to a Christian up-bringing - must be undermined, replacing family security with government 'official' security, a security that can either be tendered or withdrawn contingent on individual reception. In America today the public school system is lobbying to feed the children all three meals a day, relieving the parents of virtually all responsibility for their children and binding the children to dependence on the government for their survival. The relief of cost and responsibility will seduce many parents to relinquish their children to government control.

. . . Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God . . . Some who are captured by the lure of authority are heard saying that Christians are 'mindless robots' that are incapable of thinking for themselves, but blindly follow the dictates of their leaders; this is the work of Babel: projecting your worst faults onto your opponents, thus fooling people of the truth. Of course, it is the helpless victims of those dependent upon the carpet-bagger politicians that believe they will not survive without their tyrannical leaders.
Carpetbagger cartoon - Brian Mór

This rather pithy - if passionate -
rendering of a carpet-bagger is
by the late Brian Mór, an
advocate for Irish freedom. It
captures the essence of the
deceptive traveler come to
help the faceless and helpless -
and thus to help themselves.

Why should we refer to these politicians as 'carpet-baggers'? Because they arrive with little or nothing, help themselves at the public trough, stuffing their bags full, and disappear into the night when all their implanted fantasies turn to naught.

It would appear that at least some things have not changed, have not evolved. Certainly there has been introduced some new ways of looking at creation. Before the time of Charles Darwin there was little thought of an universe without a Creator. Only after such a concept was broadcast across the population did such things arise as 'Marxism', the 'Big Bang' theory, philosophies of hopelessness such as 'nihilism', animalistic behavior excused as 'insanity'. . .

God intervened at Babel by scrambling the languages; it is the last 'recorded' time that God has entered into world affairs with intent. Bible prophecy indicates that the next time may be nigh.

Holman's Bible Dictionary defines the name Nimrod as 'we shall rebel'6|; in the Aramaic marad means 'rebel', and in Arabic to be 'boldly disobedient'. Micah 5:6 identifies Assyria as 'the land of Nimrod.' Some relate the name to Assyrian and Akkadian nimru 'a leopard', as 'spotted' or 'stained'. Such an association may support Nimrod being identified as a 'hunter' and 'mighty'.

One of the Ten Commandments compels us to honor our mother and our father. As a spirit of rebellion [nimrod] pervades our society we can observe the breakdown of the family and the rise of rebellious youth; those youth feel isolated and are subject to be victims of nihilism. Socialistic government policies only reinforce a sense of isolation and, for some, rebellion. This suits the plans of the 'post modern' carpet-bagger politicians.

Today Christian preachers entreat from the pulpit, 'They are the Ten Commandments, not the ten suggestions!' The comment points towards the modern rejection of moral values as being opposition to the oppression by the minority. Such is the dynamic of the Babel phenomenon: re-labeling terms to suit a deception, redefining the language.

        [All web links acquired in Summer of 2014]
1| The full translation by L.W. King (1915) of the Code plus the Prologue and the Epilogue text,
     boastfully written by Hammurabi, can be read at:
2| For example, see Rights and Responsibilities: Civic Duty and the Rule of Law, Denning lecture;
     Master of the Rolls, Inner Temple, 23 November, 2009. Also see:
2a| John Adams, letter to Zabdiel Adams, 21 June 1776
3| It will not perhaps surprise the reader that Jeremy Bentham pushed a philosophy of 'separation of church
     and state', a right to divorce, decriminalization of homosexual acts and abolition of slavery and the
     death penalty - certainly a 'forward-thinking' individual.
4| Søren Kierkegaard, The Present Age, translated by Alexander Dru with Foreword by Walter
     Kaufmann, p. 51-53; (1949).
5| Flavius Josephus, The Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, Chapter IV (ca. 94 CE); translated by
     William Whiston, A.M.; Kregel Publications; (1960; 1978).
6| Trent Butler, et al., eds., Holman Bible Dictionary, Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, TN; (1991)

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