The code of Hammurabi
By far the most remarkable of the Hammurabi records is the code of laws, the earliest known example of a ruler proclaiming publicity 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.1 The code was carved upon a black stone monument, eight feet high, and clearly intended to be reread in public view.2
The Code made known, in a vast number of cases, what the decision would be, and many cases of appeal to the king were sent back to the judges with orders to decide in accordance with is. The code itself was carefully and logically arranged and the order of its sections was conditioned by their subject matter.3
Landowners frequently cultivated their land themselves but might employ a husbandman or let it. The husbandman was bound to carry out the proper cultivation, raise an average crop and leave the field in good condition. In case the crop failed the Code fixed a statutory return.4 Land might be let at a fixed rent when the Code enacted that accidental loss fell on the tenant. If let on share-profit, the landlord and tenant shared the loss proportionately to their stipulated share of profit. If the tenant paid his rent and left the land in good condition, the landlord could not interfere nor forbid subletting. Wasteland was let to reclaim, the tenant being rent-free for three years and paying a stipulated rent in the fourth year. If the tenant neglected to reclaim the land the Code enacted that he must hand it over in good condition and fixed a statutory rent.5
Gardens or plantations were let in the same ways and under the same conditions; but for date-groves four years' free tenure was allowed. The meatier system was in vogue, especially on temple lands. The landlord found land, labor, oxen for plowing and working the watering-machines, carting, threshing or other implements, seed corn, rations for the workmen and fodder for the cattle. The tenant, or steward, usually had other land of his own.6 If he stole the seed, rations or fodder, the Code enacted that his fingers should be cut off. If he appropriated or sold the implements, impoverished or sublet the cattle, he was heavily fined and in default of payment might be...