Historical Importance of Civil Codes and Laws Essay

740 Words Feb 6th, 2012 3 Pages
Amy Webb
HIS 121-02
WESTERN CIVILIZATION I
Fall, 2011

Historical Importance of Civil Codes and Laws

When studying history we must consider the importance of law. Before there was written word, and set guides for what we consider civil behavior, there was no way for a civilization to grow under a centralized government with set laws and order to influence the actions of its population. When a crime was committed there was no set punishment. “Where there is no law there is no transgression” (KJV Bible, Romans 4:15). Historically civil code and laws have set forth social order, encouraged education of the population and provided for identity of class and gender. The first known set of written laws, or code of conduct
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This leads us to consider the expansion of literacy within the civilization. In order to have an effective written law, the general population under the law must be able to read the said law. This tells us that if a civilization had a written law, then its people had to be literate. Cuneiform was the type of writing found in the era of Hammurabi. Cuneiform itself had to be competent enough to be taught for the expansion of literacy. When a government writes down a law for public consumption, it places a responsibility on the public to be able to read that law. This promoted the expansion of literacy, which in turn allowed the public to use that literacy toward other vices. Those other vices left traces of writings, such as poetry, that give archeologist insights into their historical culture today. Historically written laws and codes have been used to separate class and gender, and to provide a stable identity to a said culture. The Hammurabi Code gave different punishments for the same crimes, according to class and gender of the victim/perpetrator. In doing so, Hammurabi not only set forth social order, but also laid out class distinctions for his citizens. Biblically, the law was said to be ascribed to Moses through the first five books of the bible, called the Torah (Law). The Torah set the ancient Israelites as “Chosen People” and exalted them as decedents of Abraham and heirs to the

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