Monday, March 2, 2009

Hammurabi’s Law Code and Adoption (Part 3)

There are a number of other laws that are pertinent to this topic in Hammurabi’s code (these translations are also from Dr. Richardson’s book Hammurabi’s Laws):

#168 “If a man has come to the decision to dispossess his son and he has stated before judges, ‘I will dispossess my son,’ the judges shall make the decisions about his affairs and the father shall not dispossess his son from his inheritance unless the son has committed an offence serious enough to be disinherited.”

#169 “If he has committed an offence against his father serious enough to be disinherited, on the first occasion they will turn a blind eye. If he has committed an offence for the second time the father shall disinherit his son.”

Note that neither of these laws specifically deals with adopted sons. As far as we can tell from the texts, these laws apply to all sons, natural born and adopted. They provide a way to disinherit a son who has done something very wrong, but even then, his first offence shall be forgiven (#169).

Children could not easily disown their parents. Hammurabi Code #192 – 193 deal with the punishment a son could expect for trying to disown his parents:

#192 “If the son of an official or the son of a priestess has said to the father who brought him up, ‘You are not my father. You are not my mother,’ they shall cut out his tongue.

#193 “If the son of an official or the son of a priestess declares he knows his father’s house, and he hates the father and the mother who have brought him up, and he has gone away to his father’s house, they shall pull out his eye.”

Law #193 clearly is intended to mean that the son has left his adopted father’s house and returned to the house of his biological father. Law #193 does not seem to make a distinction between an adopted child and a biological son.

1 comment:

  1. Hey John
    It's Mike C From Woodside. Just thought we could catch up. I've been enjoying your reviews