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The date of the Law Code of Hammurabi and The Ten Commandments

The date of the Law Code of Hammurabi and The Ten Commandments

The importance of dating for archeology[1] cannot be underestimated.  However, dating does not give the definitive answer to human inquiry.  Take for example the Law Code of Hammurabi, (Hammurabi was a king who reigned in Babylonia between 1792 and 1750 B.C.).

The Ten Commandments, also known as The Decalogue, are traditionally estimated to have been given around 1446 B.C.  Others estimate a later date (i.e. 1290 B.C.).[2] Regardless of the acceptance of either date, the dating indicates that Ten Commandments came after the Law Code of Hammurabi.  This has led some to the conclusion that The Ten Commandments were borrowed from Hammurabi’s Law Code.

Nevertheless, dating only demonstrates timing, not necessarily influence.  It gives a chronology, but it does not lay the foundation.

Resemblances between the two do exist.  But a D. Thomas states that, “Despite many resemblances, there is no ground for assuming any direct borrowing by the Hebrew from the Babylon.  Even where the two sets of laws differ little in the letter, they differ much in the spirit…”[3]

Thomas’ assessment, I believe, is correct.  Similarity does not always imply dependence.  Especially is this so with the Commandments and Hammurabi’s Code.

The Old Testament Scriptures make known that God Himself gave the Commandments to His people through Moses (Exodus 20).  Any question or doubt of this assertion is a question or doubt of the Old Testament Scriptures.  And any question or doubt cast upon the Old Testament Scriptures (and/or upon the New) is a question or doubt cast upon its One Holy Author.[4]

Dating items of antiquity does not either prove or disprove the Bible to be God breathed and God give.  Neither does archeology.  What archeology can do is to estimate the dates of documents and artifacts, make assessments of the land and its people in comparison with those living at or around the same time, and draw theoretical conclusions where the evidence is lacking.

Dating, as in archeology, is a helpful tool concerning peoples and cultures of the past.  However, archeology has limitations, as does the Bible.  The Bible is not a science text book.  It is not a ‘how-to’ book to better oneself.  It is a book through which God reveals the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 20:31).

Archeology has its sphere, and it is helpful and useful as long as it remains there.  But where archeology and other disciplines cross their respective boundaries, mischief against God and His Word and His ways more clearly appear, as do those of any who wish to discredit the Scriptures, God, and Christ.


[1] ar·chae·ol·o·gy

/ˌɑrkiˈɒlədʒi/ –noun

1. the scientific study of historic or prehistoric peoples and their cultures by analysis of their artifacts, inscriptions, monuments, and other such remains, esp. those that have been excavated.

2. Rare . ancient history; the study of antiquity.(http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/archeology)

[2]Robert G. Hoerber (Ed.), Concordia Self-Study Bible, New International Version, (St. Louis: CPH), 83-84.

[3] D. Winton Thomas (ed.), Documents from Old Testament Times (New York: Harper Touchbooks, 1958), 28.

[4] “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (1 Timothy 3:16); “No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came

by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – Commentary: Flunking the religious knowledge test

Gene Edward Veith–

“…It is regrettable when people are ignorant about other people’s religion.  But it is even worse when they are ignorant about their own religion.  Roman Catholics believe that the bread and wine of Communion become the Body and Blood of Christ.  Only 40 percent of Americans realize that.  But only 55 percent of Roman Catholics are aware that this is what their church teaches, meaning that 45 percent do not!

But the most disturbing news from the Religious Knowledge Survey is how few Christians are aware that Protestants believe that salvation is through faith alone.  Only 16 percent of the general public is aware of that teaching, which is the same percentage (16 percent) of Christians who are aware of that teaching!  Only 9 percent of Catholics realize that Protestants believe that.

It gets worse.  Among Protestants, only 19 percent were aware that Protestants believe that salvation is through faith alone.  That includes 14 percent of the mainliners and 9 percent of black Protestants.  Among Evangelicals, whose name suggests an emphasis on the Gospel, only 28 percent know that Protestants believe in salvation through faith alone, which means that 72 percent do not…”

The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod – Commentary: Flunking the religious knowledge test.

“Your Redemption is Drawing Near”

In the Nicene Creed, Christians everywhere confess that the Jesus Christ “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” This confession we confess because it is true according to the Holy Scriptures, as heard in today’s Gospel reading. The Lord Jesus will one day return, not in humility as before, being born of the virgin. When He comes again, He will come in glory. Every eye will see Him, the Bible says (Revelation 1:7).

This is good news indeed for all who long to be without sin, for all who desire God’s mercy in Jesus. But for all others, the day of Christ’s return will not be a welcome day. It will be a day of fear and dread. It will be a day of fear and dread because for those who in Christ do not believe, who ignore His calling now to repent and believe the Gospel, they will be called to account. For them, Christ’s return is not for their salvation. It is for their judgment. But for the Christian, for the one who calls upon the Name of the Lord, who seeks God’s favor through the obedience of His Son, Christ comes to bring them to Himself, to take home all who belong to Him…

Lk21.5-36, Pentecost 25, 2010C

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