3,700-year-old tablet found in Israel may link Hammurabi Code and Biblical Law

July 27th, 2010

Very cool. From MSNBC:

Israeli archaeologists say they have found two 3,700-year-old clay tablets that appear to contain legal pronouncements similar to the Code of Hammurabi and the biblical “tooth for a tooth” rule.

The clay fragments, bearing Akkadian cuneiform script, were unearthed this summer during the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s excavations at Hazor National Park in northern Israel. They date to roughly the same time frame as the BabylonianHammurabi Code, which is considered the world’s oldest surviving written collection of laws. And the fact that the tablets were found in Israel suggests they might have had an influence on Old Testament writers.

Wayne Horowitz, a professor at Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, told theJerusalem Post that a team of experts is preparing the Hazor code for publication as part of a book. He said the discovery could open up interesting new connections between the Hammurabi Code and biblical law.

They even had legalese back then!

Horowitz told the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz that the first word he deciphered was a legalistic Akkadian term meaning “if and when.” There are references to “master” and “slave,” as well as a word referring to a body part, most likely a tooth.