Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hammurabi's Law Code and Adoption

When dealing with family matters in the Old Babylonian Period, it is reasonable to see what Hammurabi’s law code has to say on the matter. “Laws” 185 – 191 contain relevant information. The translation I am giving here comes from Hammuarabi’s Laws by M. E. J. Richardson (see my review of the book).

#185 “If a man has taken in a tiny child at birth as a son and has brought him up, that ward shall not be reclaimed”

#186 “If a man has taken in a tiny child as a son, and then soon after he has taken him in his father and mother search him out, that adopted child shall return to his father’s house”.

#187 “The son of an official with a position in the palace and the son of a priestess shall not be reclaimed”.

#188 “If a professional craftsman has taken in a child as a ward and instructed him in manual skills, he shall not be reclaimed”.

#189 “If he has not instructed him in manual skills, that ward shall return to his father’s house”.

#190 If a man has not counted together with his own sons, the child whom he has taken in as a son and whom he has brought up, that ward shall return to his father’s house”.

#191 “If a man has established his house after taking in a son as a child and bringing him up, and then has his own children and reaches a decision to expel the ward, that child shall not go away empty handed.

The father who brought him up shall give him as his inheritance one-third of his wealth and then he shall go away.

He shall not give him any field, orchard or house”.


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