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Bible Encyclopedias

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Hammurabi

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ḥam - oo - ra´bē̇ :

1. Etymology of His Name, with Reference to Amraphel; His Dynasty

2. The Years Following His Accession

3. Military Operations and Further Pious Works

Inauguration of His Image

4. The Capture of Rim-Sin

5. Various Works, and An Expedition to Mesopotamia

6. His Final Years

7. No Record of His Expedition to Palestine

8. The Period When It May Have Taken Place

9. Hammurabi's Greatness as A R uler

1. Etymology of His Name with Reference to Amraphel; His Dynasty

The name of the celebrated warrior, builder, and lawgiver, who ruled over Babylonia about 2000 bc. In accordance with the suggestion of the late Professor Eb. Schrader, he is almost universally identified with the AMRAPHEL of Genesis 14:1 , etc. (which see). H̬ammurabi was apparently not of Babylonian origin, the so-called "Dynasty of Babylon," to which he belonged, having probably come from the West. The commonest form of the name is as above, but H̬amu (m )-rabi (with mimmation) is also found. The reading with initial "b" in the second element is confirmed by the Babylonian rendering of the name as Kı̂mta -rapaštum , "my family is widespread," or the like, showing that rabi was regarded as coming from rabû , "to be great." A late letter-tablet, however (see PSBA , May, 1901, p. 191), gives the form Ammurapi , showing that the initial is not really "kh", and that the "b" of the second element had changed to "p" (compare Tiglath -pil -eser for Tukulti -abil -ešar , etc.). Amraphel (for AmArapel , Amrabel , Amrabe ) would therefore seem to be due to Assyrian influence, but the final "l" is difficult to explain. Professor F. Hommel has pointed out, that the Babylonian rendering, "my family is widespread," is simply due to the scribes, the first element being the name of the Arabic deity ‛Am , making ‛Ammu -rabi , "Am is great." Admitting this, it would seem to be certain that H̬ammurabi 's dynasty was that designated Arabian by Berosus. Its founder was apparently Sumu - âbi , and H̬ammurabi was the fifth in descent from him. H̬ammurabi 's father, Sin - mubaliṭ , and his grandfather, Abil-Sin, are the only rulers of the dynasty which have Babylonian names, all the others being apparently Arabic.

2. The Years Following His Accession

Concerning H̬ammurabi 's early life nothing is recorded, but since he reigned at least 43 years, he must have been young when he came to the throne. His accession was apparently marked by some improvement in the administration of the laws, wherein, as the date-list says, he "established righteousness." After this, the earlier years of his reign were devoted to such peaceful pursuits as constructing the shrines and images of the gods, and in his 6th year he built the wall of the city of Laz. In his 7th year he took Unug (Erech) and Isin - two of the principal cities of Babylonia, implying that the Dynasty of Babylon had not held sway in all the states.

3. Military Operations and Further Pious Works

Inauguration of His Image

While interesting himself in the all-important work of digging canals, he found time to turn his attention to the land of Yamutbālu (8th year), and in his 10th he possibly conquered, or received the homage of, the city and people (or the army) of Malgia or Malgâ . Next year the city Rabiku was taken by a certain Ibik - Iškur , and also, seemingly, a place called Šalibu . The inauguration of the throne of Zēr - panitu m , and the setting up, seemingly, of some kind of royal monument, followed, and was succeeded by other religious duties - indeed, work of this nature would seem to have occupied him every year until his 21st, when he built the fortress or fortification of the city Bazu. His 22nd year is described as that of his own image as king of righteousness; and the question naturally arises, whether this was the date when he erected the great stele found at Susa in Elam, inscribed with his Code of Laws, which is now in the Louvre. Next year he seems to have fortified the city of Sippar, where, it is supposed, this monument was originally erected.

4. The Capture of Rı̂m - Sin

Pious works again occupied him until his 30th year, when the army of Elam is referred to, possibly indicating warlike operations, which paved the way for the great campaign of his 31st year, when, "with the help of Anu and Enlil," he captured Yamut - bālu and King Rı̂m - Sin , the well-known ruler of Larsa. In his 32nd year he destroyed the army of Ašnunna or Ešnunnak .

5. Various Works, and an Expedition to Mesopotamia

After these victories, H̬ammurabi would seem to have been at peace, and in his 33year he dug the canal H̬ammurabi - nuhuš - niši , " H̬ammurabi the abundance of the people," bringing to the fields of his subjects fertility, "according to the wish of Enlila." The restoration of the great temple at Erech came next, and was followed by the erection of a fortress, "high like a mountain," on the banks of the Tigris. He also built the fortification of Rabiku on the bank of the Tigris, implying preparations for hostilities, and it was possibly on account of this that the next year he made supplication to Tašmêtum , the spouse of Nebo. The year following (his 37th), "by the command of Anu and Enlila," the fortifications of Maur and Malka were destroyed, after which the country enjoyed a twelve-month of peace. In all probability, however, this was to prepare for the expedition of his 39th year, when he subjugated Turukku, Kagmû and Subartu, a part of Mesopotamia. The length of this year-date implies that the expedition was regarded as being of importance.

6. His Final Years

Untroubled by foreign affairs, the chief work of H̬ammurabi during his 40th year was the digging of the canal Tišit - Enlila , at Sippar, following this up by the restoration of the temple Ê-mete-ursag and a splendid temple-tower dedicated to Zagaga and Ištar . The defenses of his country were apparently his last thought, for his 43year, which seemingly terminated his reign and his life, was devoted to strengthening the fortifications of Sippar, a work recorded at greater length in several cylinder-inscriptions found on the site.

7. No Record of an Expedition to Palestine

Unfortunately none of the documents referring to his reign makes mention of his attack, in company with the armies of Chedorlaomer, Tidal and Arioch, upon the rebel-kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. This naturally throws doubt on the identification of H̬ammurabi with the Amraphel of Genesis 14:1 . It must be remembered, however, that we do not possess a complete history either of his life or his rule. That he was a contemporary of Arioch seems undoubted, and if this be the case, Chedorlaomer and Tidal were contemporaries too. Various reasons might be adduced for the absence of references to the campaign in question - his pride may have precluded him from having a year named after an expedition - no matter how satisfactory it may have been - carried out for another power - his suzerain; or the allied armies may have suffered so severely from attacks similar to that delivered by Abraham, that the campaign became an altogether unsuitable one to date by.

8. The Period when It May Have Taken Place

If Eri-Aku was, as Thureau-Dangin has suggested, the brother of Rı̂m - Sin , king of Larsa (Elassar), he must have preceded him on the throne, and, in that case, the expedition against the kings of the Plain took place before H̬ammurabi 's 30th year, when he claims to have defeated Rı̂m - Sin . As the date of Rı̂m - Sin 's accession is doubtful, the date of Eri-Aku's (Arioch's) death is equally so, but it possibly took place about 5 years before Rı̂m - Sin 's defeat. The expedition in question must therefore have been undertaken during the first 25 years of H̬ammurabi 's reign. As Amraphel is called king of Shinar (Babylonia), the period preceding H̬ammurabi 's accession ought probably to be excluded.

9. H̬ammurabi 's Greatness as a Ruler

Of all the kings of early Babylonia so far known, H̬ammurabi would seem to have been one of the greatest, and the country made good progress under his rule. His conflicts with Elam suggest that Babylonia had become strong enough to resist that warlike state, and his title of adda or "father" of Martu (= Amurrū , the Amorites) and of Yamutbālu on the East implies not only that he maintained the country's influence, but also that, during his reign, it was no longer subject to Elam. Rı̂m - Sin and the state of Larsa, however, were not conquered until the time of Samsu-iluna, H̬ammurabi 's son. It is noteworthy that his Code of Laws (see 3, above) not only determined legal rights and responsibilities, but also fixed the rates of wages, thus obviating many difficulties. See AMRAPHEL; ARIOCH; CHEDORLAOMER; TIDAL , etc.

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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Hammurabi'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/h/hammurabi.html. 1915.

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