CCP 5.1 - Codex Hammurapi

Catalogue information
British Museum
BM 59739
Sippar(Sippar), 82-7-14 consignment
Akk Duppl 6 (Fs Finet) p. 98

Lambert, 1989W. G. Lambert, The laws of Hammurabi in the First Millennium, in Reflets des deux fleuves: Volume de melanges offerts a André Finet, M. Lebeau and Talon, P. , Eds. Peeters, 1989, pp. 95-98.: 96-98

LegalLaws of Hammurapi

ṣâtu 3b

Base text: 
Codex Hammurapi
Tablet information
1 (?)
obv 7, rev 7
3,65 × 3,65 cm
Chaldean / early Achaemenid (late 7th / 6th cent) (mostly "Sippar Collection")
[...] ... [...]

Barmash, 2008P. Barmash, Scribal Initiative in the Clarification and Interpretation of Mesopotamian Law Collections, in Birkat Shalom: Studies in the Bible, Ancient Near Eastern Literature, and Postbiblical Judaism Presented to Shalom M. Paul on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, C. Cohen, Hurowitz, V. A. , Hurvitz, A. , Muffs, Y. , Schwartz, B. K. , and Tigay, J. H. , Eds. Eisenbrauns, 2008, pp. 551-563.
: 552

Frahm & Braun-Holzinger, 1999bE. Frahm and Braun-Holzinger, E. , Liebling des Marduk – König der Blasphemie. Große babylonische Herrscher in der Sicht der Babylonier und in der Sicht anderer Völker, in Babylon: Focus mesopotamischer Geschichte, Wiege früher Gelehrsamkeit, Mythos in der Moderne. 2. Internationales Colloquium der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 24.-26. März 1998 in Berlin (Saarbrücken 1999), J. Renger, Ed. SDV, 1999, pp. 131-156.: 145

Frahm, 2011E. Frahm, Babylonian and Assyrian Text Commentaries. Origins of Interpretation. Ugarit-Verlag, 2011.: 52, 63, 242, 288, 378

Genty, 2010aT. Genty, Les commentaires dans les textes cunéiformes assyro-babyloniens. MA thesis, 2010.
: 237

Jiménez, 2014aE. Jiménez, On the Commentary to the Code of Hammurapi and the God of Ordeals, N.A.B.U. Nouvelles Assyriologiques Brèves et Utilitaires, vol. 2014/84, 2014.
[Reading of lines 2' and 4', Ea as god of ordeals]

Lambert, 1989W. G. Lambert, The laws of Hammurabi in the First Millennium, in Reflets des deux fleuves: Volume de melanges offerts a André Finet, M. Lebeau and Talon, P. , Eds. Peeters, 1989, pp. 95-98.
: 96-98

Leichty, 1986E. Leichty, Catalogue of the Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum. Volume VI: Tablets from Sippar 1. British Museum Publications, 1986.
: 290

Maul, 2012S. M. Maul, Tontafelabschriften des 'Kodex Hammurapi' in altbabylonischer Monumentalschrift, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie, vol. 102, pp. 76-99, 2012.: 81 fn. 32

Neumann, 2004H. Neumann, Prozessführung im Edubba'a. Zu einigen Aspekten der Aneignung juristischer Kenntnisse im Rahmen des Curriculums babylonischer Schreiberausbildung, Zeitschrift für Altorientalische und Biblische Rechtsgeschichte, vol. 10, pp. 71-92, 2004.: 74 fn. 10

Radner, 2005K. Radner, Die Macht des Namens. Altorientalische Strategien zur Selbsterhaltung. Harrassowitz, 2005.: 249 fn. 1258

Jiménez, 11/2014 (Collation)
Jiménez, 11/2014 (ATF Transliteration)
Jiménez, 11/2014 (Translation)
Jiménez, 11/2014 (Introduction)
Jiménez, 08/2016 (Commentary markup)
By Enrique Jiménez | Make a correction or suggestion
How to cite
Jiménez, E., 2014, “Commentary on Codex Hammurapi (CCP 5.1),” Cuneiform Commentaries Project (E. Frahm, E. Jiménez, M. Frazer, and K. Wagensonner), 2013–2024; accessed April 16, 2024, at DOI: 10079/hqbzkw0
© Cuneiform Commentaries Project (Citation Guidelines)

The Code of Hammurapi is a famous text that celebrates the achievements of king Hammurapi of Babylon (1792-1750 BCE) and, most importantly, includes a long collection of laws that are said to have been promulgated by that king. Although the text was composed in the Old Babylonian period, it became part of the "stream of tradition," and was transmitted uninterruptedly until the Late Babylonian period, in both Assyria and Babylonia.1

Its fame was such that a commentary on it was composed at some point of the first millennium. All that survives of that commentary is this small fragment, which in fact represents the only known exegetical treatise on any legal text from ancient Mesopotamia. It was identified and first published by W. G. Lambert.2

The fragment belongs to the upper left corner of the tablet, and it contains some lines from near the beginning of the text and some from near the end. A rubric is preserved, which classifies the contents of the tablet as a ṣâtu-commentary on the text "If [a man...]," i.e., the first line of the law section of the Code.

The first preserved lines of the obverse of the fragment comment on the second law of the Code, whereas the last ones before the rubric correspond to the twenty-fifth law. It is uncertain whether commentaries covering all 300 laws of the code ever existed. The tablet to which this fragment belongs did not comment on the prologue of the Code, and it is unknown whether a commentary on it also existed.

The few preserved lines contain several interesting equations. In at least two cases (r 3' and 5') the commentary provides glosses with contemporary equivalents for words that were outdated at the time it was composed: so for instance the Old Babylonian word numātu, "possessions," is explained with the more common word unâtu, "utensils." Line 2', previously undeciphered, contains in fact another contemporizing gloss: the divine River (díd) is equated with the god Ea, an equation that also underlies the ordeal section of the text dubbed King of Justice.

In three of the lines however the commentary seems to be not of strictly philological character, but rather of speculative nature. Thus for instance the very common preposition ina, "in," is rendered by means of the highly learned logogram éš(ku). This logogram was probably then used by the commentator for some other hermeneutical operation. In a similar manner, line 2' of the text (coll.) equates a rather common verb (šalû, "to submerge") with the very uncommon writing gir₅.gir₅, taken from the lexical list Diri. This probably was intended to prove that the apodosis could be deduced from the protasis, i.e., that the clauses were internally consistent, which is also a main concern of the commentaries on divinatory and medical texts.


The fragment was collated in January 2014, and important new collations for lines o 2' and 3' are incorporated in the edition below.


Powered by Oracc
(Base textCommentaryQuotations from other texts)


Fs Finet I, 098 [commentaries]

o 1'o 1'

[...] x x [...]


o 2'2'

[i-šal-li]-am*-ma* : GIR₅*.GIR₅* : šá*-[lu-ú ...]1

[“He will sub]merge (himself) (= Hammurapi Law Code §2), GIR₅.GIR₅ means “to sub[merge” ...],

o 3'3'

[dÍD :] d*IDIM : dÍD : na-a-ri [...]2

[The “River god” (= Hammurapi Law Code §2)] is Ea; the River god” is a “river"; [...],

o 4'4'

[ik-ta]-šad-su : SAR : ka-šá-du [...]

[“If (the river) overw]helms him” (= Hammurapi Law Code §2), SAR means “to overwhelm."

o 5'5'

[... i]-na di-i-ni : KU : i-[na ...]

[... “in a] lawsuit” (= Hammurapi Law Code §3), KU, read //, means “in” [...],

o 6'6'

[...] x-ri : ši-bu-tu : x [...]3

[...] “witness” [...]

o 7'7'

[...] x x x x [...]


r 1'r 1'

[...] x x [...]


r 2'2'

[... ḫab?]-ba?-tu : da?-[a?-i?-ku? ...]4

[...] “plunderer” (Hammurapi Law Code §23) means murderer” [...]

r 3'3'

[... ra]-ba-an-nu : ḫa-za-nu : x [...]

[...] rabannu (Hammurapi Law Code §23) means “mayor” [...],

r 4'4'

[... KI : er]-ṣe- : KI : qaq-qar : [...]

[... KI] means “land,” KI means “earth"; [...]

r 5'5'

[... nu-ma]-at : ú-na-a- : [...]

[...] numātu means “possessions"; [...]

r 6'6'

[ṣa-a]- šu-ut KA šá šum-ma [a-me-lu ...]

[Lemma]ta and oral explanations relating to “If [a man ...]."

r 7'7'

[IM?] m?d?AG?-[...]5

[Tablet] of Nabû-[...].

1Pace Lambert, the signs should be read as GIR₅.GIR₅, rather than KÁ.KÁ. The line thus represents a commentary on CH §2 (i-ša-al-li-a-am-ma). On GIR₅.GIR₅ = šalû see e.g. Diri II 44.

2The first sign, not read by Lambert, is probably the divine determinative. The writing of Ea's name as¨d.idim, instead of d.é.a, pinpoints his syncretism with the River god in the commentator's eyes: on the one hand, their names are similar (d.íd, “River god” : d.idim, “Ea”), on the other, also their functions are comparable (since d.idim literally means “the divine water spring").

3The first word is perhaps amāri, “to see,” a verb which is said to be etymologically related to the word “witness” in the commentary CCP 7.2.u24 l. 11.

4The restoration follows Lambert’s. It is inspired by the lexical list Malku I 99.

5The tentative reading of the name in the colophon follows Frahm GMTR 5 (2011) p. 242.

Photos by Enrique Jiménez

Courtesy of the Trustees of the British Museum