The day justice is served
An eye for a eye, a tooth for a tooth— it sounds like barbaric jurisprudence, but it is in fact the basis of all social coexistence. Before these legal codes were drafted, vigilante justice, revenge, and chaos prevailed. Around 1700 BC the Babylonian King Hammurabi commands a black stele (pillar) to be built and inscribed with legal text. Hammurabi’s Code is 282 paragraphs long; among other things, it describes the right to private property. In the event of a capital offense, the plaintiff, witnesses, and judge had to convene: “It’s the fruition of law and justice,” writes legal historian Herbert Petschow. The concepts don’t hold up today because “eye for an eye” can hurt innocents: If a man’s son is killed, the killer’s son is punished instead of the killer himself.