JERUSALEM-the 50 sites you may overlook

In a historic and religious city like Jerusalem there is so much to see no matter how much you tour. When time is a limiting factor, even the most efficient tour guides have to compromise while deciding what to incorporate in the itinerary. Although it depends on the interest of the individual visitor as well, there is still a huge must-see-list in Jerusalem that cannot be avoided. At every stop so much information is thrown on a visitor that sometimes s/he tends to forget the details after leaving the place.

I remember when I first visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, it appeared to me more like a small museum than a church. I was virtually clueless inside a dark and dull overcrowded massive complex of more than 25 chapels with several curious artifacts and antiques scattered under some dusky arches and dingy columns. It took me at least three visits with a proper map in hand to understand the Church complex. A normal visitor for instance would be satisfied with Golgotha, the ‘Stone of Unction’ and the ‘Holy Sepulcher’, but the oldest part of the complex, viz. the first century tombs inside the Syrian Orthodox Chapel could be easily missed.

In the upcoming posts I plan to upload 50 such sites from Jerusalem that I believe can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed by an average visitor. I am incorporating the following sites from my previous visits, again with no specific order of importance. I am sure that a serious traveler who loves history, traditions and the Bible has noticed or been to most of them.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Code of Hammurabi (1772 BC)-one of the earliest code of laws discovered. Displayed in the Louvre Museum of Paris, France.

One of the oldest deciphered writings of significant length, the Code of Hammurabi is the longest surviving legal text from the Old Babylonian period. Although Hammurabi's Code is not the oldest code of laws in the world, it is the best preserved legal document from the ancient Near East. The code was issued by Hammurabi, the 6th King of ancient Babylon who ruled for 42 years from 1792 to 1750 BC. The almost complete code survives today on a 7.4 ft tall shining black diorite stele in the shape of a huge index finger. A total 282 laws, carved in 49 columns and 28 paragraphs in ancient Akkadian language, the code deals mainly on civil, criminal, and family matters of the Babylonian society.  The stele was discovered from ancient Susa, Elam (modern Khūzestān in Iran) by French archaeologists in 1901 and currently on display in the Louvre Museum of Paris, France. Here is a link to an English translation of the complete Hammurabi Code. 

The discovery of the Hammurabi Code is important for Biblical studies as it supports the authenticity of the Law of Moses. The similarities between the Code of Hammurabi and the Law of Moses are so much,  some even hypothesize that Hammurabi influenced Moses while writing the Torah. The closest parallel comes in the common wording of "eye for an eye" and "tooth for a tooth" (Hammurabi Code 196, 197, 200 and Exodus 21:23-25). Although there are certainly similarities, there are also many differences. Mosaic Law is based in the worship of one God and involves spiritual principles, whereas Hammurabi Code is mainly civil and criminal. The Hammurabi Code written at least three centuries before Moses (1500-1400 BC) is also an answer for Bible critics who believed that Moses could not have written the first five books of the Old Testament because the art of writing was not developed until well after his death.

The Hammurabi Code (1772 BC). A total of 282 laws inscribed on a black basalt stele in 49 columns and 28 paragraphs.