The Code of
Laws 1 - 50
1. If any one ensnare
another, putting a ban upon him, but he cannot prove it, then he that
ensnared him shall be put to death.
2. If any one bring an
accusation against a man, and the accused go to the river and leap into
the river, if he sink in the river his accuser shall take possession of
his house. But if the river prove that the accused is not guilty, and
he escape unhurt, then he who had brought the accusation shall be put
to death, while he who leaped into the river shall take possession of
the house that had belonged to his accuser.
3. If any one bring an
accusation of any crime before the elders, and does not prove what he
has charged, he shall, if it be a capital offense charged, be put to death.
4. If he satisfy the elders
to impose a fine of grain or money, he shall receive the fine that the
5. 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 judgement.
6. If any one steal the property
of a temple or of the court, he shall be put to death, and also the one
who receives the stolen thing from him shall be put to death.
7. If any one buy from
the son or the slave of another man, without witnesses or a contract,
silver or gold, a male or female slave, an ox or a sheep, an ass or anything,
or if he take it in charge, he is considered a thief and shall be put
8. If any one steal cattle
or sheep, or an ass, or a pig or a goat if it belong to a god or to the
court, the thief shall pay thirtyfold therefore; if they belonged to a
freed man of the king he shall pay tenfold; if the thief has nothing with
which to pay he shall be put to death.
9. If any one lose an
article, and find it in the possession of another: if the person in whose
possession the thing is found say "A merchant sold it to me, I paid
for it before witnesses," and if the owner of the thing say, "I
will bring witnesses who know my property," then shall the purchaser
bring the merchant who sold it to him, and the witnesses before whom he
bought it, and the owner shall bring witnesses who can identify his property.
The judge shall examine their testimony -- both of the witnesses before
whom the price was paid, and of the witnesses who identify the lost article
on oath. The merchant is then proved to be a thief and shall be put to
death. The owner of the lost article receives his property, and he who
bought it receives the money he paid from the estate of the merchant.
10. If the purchaser does
not bring the merchant and the witnesses before whom he bought the article,
but its owner bring witnesses who identify it, then the buyer is the thief
and shall be put to death, and the owner receive the lost article.
11. If the owner do not
bring witnesses to identify the lost article, he is an evil-doer, he has
traduced, and shall be put to death.
12. If the witnesses be
not at hand, then shall the judge set a limit, at the expiration of six
months. If his witnesses have not appeared within the six months,
he is an evil-doer, and shall bear the fine of the pending case.
13. (There is no 13th Law because,
then as now, the number 13 was considered to be an unlucky and evil number.
See LAWMuseum Archives.)
14. If any one steal the
minor son of another, he shall be put to death.
15. If any one take a
male or female slave of the court, or a male or female slave of a freed
man, outside the city gates, he shall be put to death.
16. If any one receive
into his house a runaway male or female slave of the court, or of a freedman,
and does not bring it out at the public proclamation of the major domus,
the master of the house shall be put to death.
17. If any one find runaway
male or female slaves in the open country and bring them to their masters,
the master of the slaves shall pay him two shekels of silver.
18. If the slave will
not give the name of the master, the finder shall bring him to the palace;
a further investigation must follow, and the slave shall be returned to
19. If he hold the slaves
in his house, and they are caught there, he shall be put to death.
20. If the slave that
he caught run away from him, then shall he swear to the owners of the
slave, and he is free of all blame.
21. If any one break a
hole into a house (break in to steal), he shall be put to death before
that hole and be buried.
22. If any one is committing
a robbery and is caught, then he shall be put to death.
23. If the robber is not
caught, then shall he who was robbed claim under oath the amount of his
loss; then shall the community, and . . . on whose ground and territory
and in whose domain it was compensate him for the goods stolen.
24. If persons are stolen,
then shall the community and . . . pay one mina of silver to their relatives.
25. If fire break out
in a house, and some one who comes to put it out cast his eye upon the
property of the owner of the house, and take the property of the master
of the house, he shall be thrown into that self-same fire.
26. If a chieftain or
a man (common soldier), who has been ordered to go upon the king's highway
for war does not go, but hires a mercenary, if he withholds the compensation,
then shall this officer or man be put to death, and he who represented
him shall take possession of his house.
27. If a chieftain or
man be caught in the misfortune of the king (captured in battle), and
if his fields and garden be given to another and he take possession, if
he return and reaches his place, his field and garden shall be returned
to him, he shall take it over again.
28. If a chieftain or
a man be caught in the misfortune of a king, if his son is able to enter
into possession, then the field and garden shall be given to him, he shall
take over the fee of his father.
29. If his son is still
young, and can not take possession, a third of the field and garden shall
be given to his mother, and she shall bring him up.
30. If a chieftain or
a man leave his house, garden, and field and hires it out, and some one
else takes possession of his house, garden, and field and uses it for
three years: if the first owner return and claims his house, garden, and
field, it shall not be given to him, but he who has taken possession of
it and used it shall continue to use it.
31. If he hire it out
for one year and then return, the house, garden, and field shall be given
back to him, and he shall take it over again.
32. If a chieftain or
a man is captured on the "Way of the King" (in war), and a merchant
buy him free, and bring him back to his place; if he have the means in
his house to buy his freedom, he shall buy himself free: if he have nothing
in his house with which to buy himself free, he shall be bought free by
the temple of his community; if there be nothing in the temple with which
to buy him free, the court shall buy his freedom. His field, garden, and
house shall not be given for the purchase of his freedom.
33. If a . . . or a .
. . enter himself as withdrawn from the "Way of the King," and
send a mercenary as substitute, but withdraw him, then the . . . or .
. . shall be put to death.
34. If a ... or a ...
harm the property of a captain, injure the captain, or take away from
the captain a gift presented to him by the king, then the . . . or . .
. shall be put to death.
35. If any one buy the
cattle or sheep which the king has given to chieftains from him, he loses
36. The field, garden,
and house of a chieftain, of a man, or of one subject to quit-rent, can
not be sold.
37. If any one buy the
field, garden, and house of a chieftain, man, or one subject to quit-rent,
his contract tablet of sale shall be broken (declared invalid) and he
loses his money. The field, garden, and house return to their owners.
38. A chieftain, man,
or one subject to quit-rent can not assign his tenure of field, house,
and garden to his wife or daughter, nor can he assign it for a debt.
39. He may, however, assign
a field, garden, or house which he has bought, and holds as property,
to his wife or daughter or give it for debt.
40. He may sell field,
garden, and house to a merchant (royal agents) or to any other public
official, the buyer holding field, house, and garden for its usufruct.
41. If any one fence in
the field, garden, and house of a chieftain, man, or one subject to quit-rent,
furnishing the palings therefor; if the chieftain, man, or one subject
to quit-rent return to field, garden, and house, the palings which were
given to him become his property.
42. If any one take over
a field to till it, and obtain no harvest therefrom, it must be proved
that he did no work on the field, and he must deliver grain, just as his
neighbor raised, to the owner of the field.
43. If he do not till
the field, but let it lie fallow, he shall give grain like his neighbor's
to the owner of the field, and the field which he let lie fallow he must
plow and sow and return to its owner.
44. If any one take over
a waste-lying field to make it arable, but is lazy, and does not make
it arable, he shall plow the fallow field in the fourth year, harrow it
and till it, and give it back to its owner, and for each ten gan (a measure
of area) ten gur of grain shall be paid.
45. If a man rent his
field for tillage for a fixed rental, and receive the rent of his field,
but bad weather come and destroy the harvest, the injury falls upon the
tiller of the soil.
46. If he do not receive
a fixed rental for his field, but lets it on half or third shares of the
harvest, the grain on the field shall be divided proportionately between
the tiller and the owner.
47. If the tiller, because
he did not succeed in the first year, has had the soil tilled by others,
the owner may raise no objection; the field has been cultivated and he
receives the harvest according to agreement.
48. If any one owe a debt
for a loan, and a storm prostrates the grain, or the harvest fail, or
the grain does not grow for lack of water; in that year he need not give
his creditor any grain, he washes his debt-tablet in water and pays no
rent for this year.
49. If any one take money
from a merchant, and give the merchant a field tillable for corn or sesame
and order him to plant corn or sesame in the field, and to harvest the
crop; if the cultivator plant corn or sesame in the field, at the harvest
the corn or sesame that is in the field shall belong to the owner of the
field and he shall pay corn as rent, for the money he received from the
merchant, and the livelihood of the cultivator shall he give to the merchant.
50. If he give a cultivated
corn-field or a cultivated sesame-field, the corn or sesame in the field
shall belong to the owner of the field, and he shall return the money
to the merchant as rent.